Tuesday, 29 March 2011

INTERVIEW: Megan Crane

As massive fan's of the 80's Lady Eleanor and I just couldn't resist the chance to revisit the decade of Legwarmers, Fame and Aha (to name but a few things).

So having loaded up the MP3 with some classic music that symbolised the decade, we spoke to another 80's fanatic by the name of Megan Crane, whose new novel (funnily enough entitled I Love the 80's) to see about her inspiration, her guilty pleasures, writing, and discover that she's nearly as voracious a reader as we are...

Falcata Times: Writing is said to be something that people are afflicted with rather than gifted and that it's something you have to do rather than want. What is your opinion of this statement and how true is it to you?

Megan Crane: I think that's true--but I also wonder if it makes me a bit precious to think so. Probably. What I think is true about those statements is that gifts strike me as being pleasant, love-infused, etc. I feel that way about music. I love to sing, listen, enjoy. Writing, on the other hand, is hard work and in order to be any good at it you have to be willing to tear it apart, hate it, figure it out. Far more a compulsion and an affliction than a gift, I'd say. But that's what makes it rewarding.

FT: When did you realise that you wanted to be a writer?

MC: When I realized I had few other marketable skills. In fact, none.

FT: It is often said that if you can write a short story you can write anything. How true do you think this is and what have you written that either proves or disproves this POV?

MC: I think short stories are a very specific form, and if you can write them, you may learn how to write them well. But a short story is not a book, or for that matter, a poem. I think the only way to learn how to write something well is to write it, and then write another, and carry on like that for a long time, hoping that you improve as you go. I wrote a lot of short stories once upon a time. I think one or two might have been decent, but once I started writing books, I realized I much preferred that form. Also, I've learned that anything shorter is always, always harder. But maybe that's just me.

FT: If someone were to enter a bookshop, how would you persuade them to try your novel over someone else's and how would you define it?

MC: If I was standing right there, I would employ guilt. It's unlikely that every other author will also be there, isn't it? I'd have the clear advantage.

FT: How would you "sell" your book in 20 words or less?

MC: What would you do if you woke up in 1987 with your famous rock star girlhood crush?

FT: Who is a must have on your bookshelf and whose latest release will find you on the bookshops doorstep waiting for it to open?

MC: Oh, I have a lot of autobuys. I'm very loyal to the authors I love. I import all Marian Keyes novels to the States, for example, as I can't bear to wait for the books to come out over here. The new Karen Marie Moning FEVER book comes out today (as I write this, in fact) and I plan to head to my local bookshop shortly to pick it up and devour it.

FT: When you sit down and write do you know how the story will end or do you just let the pen take you? ie Do you develop character profiles and outlines for your novels before writing them or do you let your idea's develop as you write?

MC: A mixture of both. I usually have a vague idea of where I'm heading, but it's vague enough to allow a lot of variation along the way.

FT: What do you do to relax and what have you read recently?

MC: I read to relax. Lately I've read the first two books in Stacia Kane's UNHOLY GHOSTS series, a couple of Jennifer Echols books, the new Michelle Rowen, BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, the first Lee Child Jack Reacher novel, the latest Natalie Anderson, a book I really disliked for my book club...

FT: What is your guiltiest pleasure that few know about?

MC: I don't believe pleasures should engender guilt. I happily read romance novels, watch teen-focused television shows, and stopped feeling guilty about such things ages ago. A good story is a good story.

FT: Lots of writers tend to have pets. What do you have and what are their key traits (and do they appear in your novel in certain character attributes?)

MC: I have three cats and a dog. They are all spoiled, lazy, and demanding. I love them dearly. Two of the cats appeared in an old book of mine, but I think that's it.

FT: Which character within your latest book was the most fun to write and why?

MC: I just loved Tommy Seer. Maybe I have a crush on him, just like Jenna.

FT: How similar to your principle protagonist are you?

MC: I have yet to find myself transported through time to face my (numerous) 80s-era crushes, but I understand how you can get caught up in those things. I remember being a lovestruck twelve year old girl quite clearly, and I still listen to old Duran Duran songs. It's hard to let go of the things that first made your heart beat harder.

FT: What hobbies do you have and how do they influence your work?

MC: My major hobby is reading, which obviously helps with writing, as it's always instructive to see how other writers solve narrative problems. Also, reading is fun.

FT: Where do you get your idea's from?

MC: I keep looking for an online store like iTunes, but have so far been out of luck. Some ideas simply appear, fully formed. Others come slowly, over time. I don't have any idea where they come from. LIfe? Dreams? Books? All of the above?

FT: Do you ever encounter writers block and if so how do you overcome it?

MC: I take a good, hard look at my bank balance and bills, and soldier on. If that doesn't cut it, I try to figure out what about the scene isn't working. Sometimes I have to back up a ways to see it, but it's almost always a case of not knowing my characters well enough or taking the easy way out of a story problem.

FT: Certain authors are renowned for writing at what many would call uncivilised times. When do you write and how do the others in your household feel about it?

I am becoming more and more nocturnal the longer I write, which I'm not pleased about. My husband is an artist, however, and keeps far stranger hours than I do, so I suppose it works out well.

FT: Sometimes pieces of music seem to influence certain scenes within novels, do you have a soundtrack for your tale or is it a case of writing in silence with perhaps the odd musical break in-between scenes?

MC: I have to do the actual writing in silence, as music (particularly with lyrics) distracts me. But I compile long playlists for each book, to help get me into the mood for each. The I Love the 80s playlist was particularly fun to put together!

FT: What misconceptions, if any, did you have about the writing and publishing field when you were first getting started?

MC: That once I was published, everything would be easy. That has not proved to be the case. But it's still so rewarding, and so exciting. I doubt I would feel that way about any other job.

FT: If music be the food of love, what do you think writing is and please explain your answer?

MC: The vanity of fools. I'm just kidding. For me, it's always been a compulsion.

FT: What can you tell us about the next novel?

MC: I really wish I'd already written it... But I feel certain it will be delightful once I do.

FT: What are the last five internet sites that you've visited?

MC: Jezebel, Twitter, Facebook, Mediabistro, Goodreads

FT: Did you ever take any writing classes or specific instructions to learn the craft? If so please let us know which ones.

MC: I took a creative writing course in college, but that was while I was still writing very pompous short stories in which I took myself very, very seriously. My professional craft lessons since then have mostly come from RWA Conferences and getting to know other authors. And from writing book after book. I'm currently writing my nineteenth published/soon-to-be-published book. I don't know any better way to learn how to write books than to... write a lot of books.

FT: How did you get past the initial barriers of criticism and rejection?

MC: Well, you don't ever really "get past" those things. But you do learn to take them in stride. I think you have to be so stubborn to sit down and write a book in the first place. Eventually, you learn to apply that stubbornness to the criticism and the rejection, too. Everyone is criticized and rejected. The trick is learning from it, not letting it knock you down for too long, and getting right back up and starting over again.

FT: In your opinion, what are the best and worst aspects of writing for a living?

MC: The worst part is that you never have any holidays and you've essentially signed up for having school papers due for the rest of your life. But the best part is that you get to write for a living. What's better than that?

1 comment:

Bridgid Gallagher said...

Great interview! I loved Megan's NAMES MY SISTERS CALL ME. I'm looking forward to reading this one!