I met Megan at our first torkidlit tweetup in October 2009. She was one of the very first people I’d contacted via twitter who thought meeting up on a monthly basis sounded like a good idea. And I’m glad she did: She invited two other people to come along, too! Three Toronto MG/YA writers in one shot! The group was growing even before we had our first meeting, thanks to Megan.
Megan’s full of great ideas, tips, and advice – definitely the kind of person you want to have be part of a writers’ group! Everytime I’ve spoken to Megan I’ve come away having learned something new.
Meet YA author, Megan Crewe.
Please introduce yourself to us.
Hey! I’m Megan Crewe, Toronto YA author at large. I love reading and writing all sorts of speculative fiction: fantasy, paranormal, science fiction, you name it. When I’m not writing, I work as a behavioural therapist with children with autism. You can also find me hanging out with my husband and three cats, planning our next overseas trip (Japan next year!), or practicing Fut Gar kung fu.
Tell us a bit about your writing history.
I’ve been writing pretty much all of my life. My mom used to have a file of my childhood stories—the earliest of which were My Little Pony fanfics she had to write out with me dictating, as I didn’t yet know how to literally write. Telling stories is just something I’ve always loved and felt an urge to do.
I started aiming for publication in my mid-teens, sending short stories out to a variety of magazines. Since then I’ve had a few short stories published in magazines and anthologies—you can read some of them online on my website. But about four years ago, when I signed with my first agent, I decided to focus on my real love, which is novels. (Most of my short stories were really novels I’d forced into little boxes anyway.)
How and when did you make your first sale?
My first short fiction sale happened when I was 16. I’d gotten a subscription to a Canadian magazine written by authors in their teens and early twenties called In 2 Print, which is sadly no longer around, and had sent a few poems and stories to them. When I got the letter telling me they wanted to publish the latest story I’d sent, I’d opened it expecting a rejection, so it was both a total surprise and a complete thrill.
Selling my first book was a long process, even with an agent. We had a few close calls, and I did a couple of revisions for editors, and at the end of a year on submission GIVE UP THE GHOST found its home at Henry Holt. And of course that was the biggest thrill ever!
Tell us about GIVE UP THE GHOST.
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GIVE UP THE GHOST is about a teenage outcast who can talk to ghosts, and uses the secrets she learns from them to confront the popular kids at her school with all their wrong-doings. But then one of those popular kids discovers her secret and, to her surprise, comes to her for help.
What inspired the story? Why did you write it?
A lot of elements came together to produce the story. I’d read a lot of books where the main character hated his/her paranormal ability and wanted to be normal, and I thought it’d be fun to write about someone who embraced her special talent. I’ve always found the idea of ghosts, bits of past personalities hanging on, incredibly fascinating. And as I started to imagine this girl who considered ghosts her real friends, it seemed obvious that they’d be able to tell her all sorts of things no one was supposed to know.
Can you tell us a bit about your writing process, ie: How do you get from having an idea to finishing a first draft? And, are you a plotter or a seat-of-your-pantser?
I am definitely a plotter. I’ve learned never to try writing a novel unless I have some sort of outline. I often deviate from my outline and seat-of-the-pants it here and there as I go, but the outline is my trial run of the idea. If I can’t stay enthusiastic while planning the book out, I know the idea’s not gripping enough to hold my attention and interest for the amount of time it takes to write and revise the actual book. It also lets me find gaping holes in the story ahead of time so I can figure out how to fill them in before I’m in the middle of things.
The other important part of my process is that I’m a rewriter. I don’t just revise my rough drafts, I retype the entire book from beginning to end, inserting changes as I go. It may seem like a lot of work, but I find it allows me to integrate edits more seamlessly, and to more easily make overarching changes to aspects like character voice.
What do you think is the most important skill/quality a writer should have?
I think the most important quality you need to become a writer is curiosity. An interest in understanding what makes people tick, and in questioning “what if”s of different situations. But I think the most important quality you need to become a published writer is perseverance. There are very few overnight successes in this business, and even authors who look like one probably have years of work behind them that you just aren’t aware of. You have to be willing to keep trying and accepting rejection and moving on.
Do you have any other artistic talents? What are they?
I’m a decent website designer (my website is completely my creation), but that’s about it. Mostly I appreciate other arts like film and music without having any actual talent of my own!
Do you have any current and/or upcoming projects you can tell us about?
I wish I could! I always have new projects in the works, but I don’t like to share until I have official news.
Ooooo… Megan’s got book secrets! Well, I hope it isn’t too long before we hear some news! But in the meantime, pick up a copy of GHOST and check out her website, where you can watch the GIVE UP THE GHOST book trailer and follow her blog. You can also follow Megan on Twitter.
Thanks for joining us for an interview, Megan!