First a bit of background on our author:
Meg Wilson grew up in a huge blended family and spent summers aboard various vessels as her father made his living on the ocean. She now raises a smaller blended family with husband Jim in southern Maine.
Her newly published novel for adults, Mourning Dove, earned semi-finalist status in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition.
For her current project, Meg followed ten women who attempted a thru-hike of the entire Appalachian Trail in 2012
Thank you for joining us at Scribbler’s today Meg!
What would you like your readers to know about you that they might not read in your official bio?
The World According to Garp is not only my favorite book, but it’s also my favorite movie.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Just four years ago, when my second husband convinced me to quit my latest unsatisfying job, and put my energy into following my lifelong dream.
Tell us a bit about what Crappy New Year is about?
It explores the grief, angst and insecurities that come with divorce, death, and blending families. It’s also about adolescence, and finding humor in even the crappiest situations.
What inspired this story?
I grew up in a blended family of eleven in the 60s and 70s. Later, I ended up with my own blended family of seven. Because I’ve kept a diary or journal since I was 9-years-old, it’s easy to identify the hardest times. For me, those were the teen years, which seem(ed) to be equally hard on my own kids and step-kids.
What is the first thing you know for sure about a new story concept? Plot? Character? Something else?
Good question. In Crappy New Year, I had the character of Tess first. She was a bit younger when I stuck her in this long and awful narrative poem called “A Friend Named Janie.” Poor thing; she had some growing up to do for Crappy New Year.
For my crossover novel, Mourning Dove, I knew for sure that I had the theme down – that a little boy’s death could change two families in surprisingly positive ways.
When creating characters what are the strongest influences for you?
They should be characters who play off one-another well. Crappy New Year has Tess who is angry – but for good reason, Felicity who is chronically misunderstood, and Ian who provides necessary (pragmatic) comic relief. The adults (Annie, Rob, Mr. Royer) have to be flexible and respect a teen’s need for autonomy. Otherwise, they’re just three more grown-ups that kids don’t want to associate with. All of these characters have flaws, however. I think that’s key to making them human.
Do you develop a deep backstory for all your characters before sitting down to write or do you have a general idea of who they are?
I don’t know how to explain this, but my life ended up imitating my art. Nine years after writing the first draft of Crappy New Year, I found myself working from home like Annie Amory, and married to a hospital staffer like Rob. Under a preexisting farmhouse roof, we blended our “Tess” and “Felicity” and a few more characters. We have cat allergies, fruit that needs harvesting every year…even a little pond. It felt like Crappy New Year met The Twilight Zone! Honestly? I’m not sure how the backstory got into this novel, but there must have been a clairvoyant muse sitting next to me as I tapped away on that keyboard.
If you could cast anyone to play the roles of Tess and Felicity, whom would you pick?
I’d choose a pre-General Hospital Demi Moore for Tess, and a post ET Drew Barrymore for Felicity.
Can we have an excerpt?
Sure! Almost every chapter before the pivotal Open Mic begins with one of the poems Tess is writing in hopes of winning the contest and flying away to Florida. Here are the first lines of the novel; it’s the first poem:
Happy New Year
Crappy New Year
The House shakes and quivers
From my slamming door.
He just popped the question.
She just gushed her answer.
And now my life’s ruined
For. Ever. More.
Is there a secondary character in Crappy New Year that you feel deserves their own story?
I have a soft spot in my heart for smart and funny Ian. He deserves his own book, I think.
What’s your process for coming up with character names?
Tess is a name I love. Felicity is interesting and goes well with Fishface. Ian looks and acts like an Ian. Annie is my sister. Rob “robbed” Annie away from Tess. It’s not a process as much as it’s a lot of fun. I also got my local coffee shop in there, and my best friend’s name for the travel agency.
What’s the funniest thing anyone has ever said to you about your writing? Or the oddest?
The funniest is a comment a reader left on Goodreads about what Rob Holden says once or twice. “You look ravishing!” was a tiny stab at humor, but funny enough to earn a comment from someone with perhaps a little crush on Rob.
Is there any genre you won’t read? Write? Can you tell me why?
My respect for fantasy and sci-fi writers is huge! Although there are some movies in these genres that I enjoy, I don’t have what it takes to read or write about imaginary worlds. This weakens my enjoyment of pop culture, and I am sad about that.
What are you most proud of about your writing?
My novel Mourning Dove finished in the top 50 of 5,000 novels in the 2012 ABNA. My parents would have been proud of that, I think.
How do you respond to negative reviews?
Fortunately, I haven’t had to respond to any yet, but I’m sure I will just try to ignore them. What I find negative is the glass ceiling I keep bonking my head on while trying to promote my indie titles. That’s why I am especially grateful for interview opportunities like this one. Thank you, Bobbi.
If you were to give only two tips to an aspiring writer what would they be?
Write what you know, and never give up.
How much time do you spend promoting your books?
Too much. As an indie, I have to do it myself, but it’s finally paying off with some good event opportunities and some really nice publicity. I hope sales will catch up soon!
Do you belong to a critique group or have a critique partner?
Yes, I rely on, and owe a great deal to, my three critique partners. Deb, Gro, and Ning – you rock!
What historical figure do you wish you could have met?
My great uncle Ben. He cofounded Yankee magazine and wrote a ton of essays about practically everything.
If you could meet any author dead or alive whom would it be?
Do you have a particular daily writing schedule or process you stick to?
I do when I’m knee-deep in a novel. With Mourning Dove, I had a raw new chapter ready for every critique meeting. But my newest project is nonfiction, and a bit too scattered for that routine.
What kind of music do you listen to while you write?
Usually I need silence, or music without lyrics. I’m too easily distracted.
What sound or noise do you love?
The funny squeaky voice I can make – after much practice – that gets my entire family laughing.
What sound or noise do you hate?
Cat or dog person?
Dog, but we own two of each anyway!
Go to snack when writing?
Almonds. Chocolate if I’ve been good, and most likely coffee.
Favorite curse word?
Crap, of course! If that’s not a curse word, then one that keeps mother out of it.
What’s coming up next for you?
My first nonfiction project is called Wander Women: What Ten Thru-Hikers Taught One Angel about Pleasure, Pain, and Pink-Blazing. In 2012, I caught up regularly with ten young women, backpacking solo and in pairs, while they hiked the 2,184-mile Appalachian Trail. Their adventures – and mine – will be chronicled in my next book, scheduled for 2014.
To keep up with Meg go to:
To purchase your own copy of Crappy New Year or other wonderful stories by Meg go to:
Readers who visit Meg’s Facebook author page will find a discount code and pay 40% less for Crappy New Year and Mourning Dove in paperback. Shipping is speedy-quick: https://www.facebook.com/megwilsonauthor