Megan Miranda started her writing life as a YA author, but now also writes best-selling adult psychological thrillers.
Megan Miranda studied Biology and Anthropology at M.I.T. where she won awards in bioengineering. She worked in biotechnology for several years before teaching high-school Science. She is the author of a number of novels for young adults and adults, published by Bloomsbury, Crown (Random House) and Simon & Schuster. Her adult debut, ALL THE MISSING GIRLS, was a top title of 2016 and featured on the New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists for many weeks, as well as the extended USA Today bestseller list. THE PERFECT STRANGER followed in 2017, and THE LAST HOUSE GUEST also hit the NYT bestseller list in 21019. THE GIRL FROM WIDOW HILLS will follow in 2020.
She has a young family and lives in North Carolina.
When and how did you start writing?
I was always a big reader, and I’ve always loved writing, but I didn’t start trying to write for publication until I was in my late twenties. Though I loved writing when I was growing up, I also loved science, and I didn’t know anyone who was an author—I didn’t know what that career path would look like. So I pursued a degree in Biology, worked in biotechnology for a few years, and then taught high school science. It wasn’t until I was home with two small children of my own that I finally started writing seriously again.
Can you remember the first book that made an impact on you? Who were your childhood storytelling heroes?
I was a kid who loved both reading/writing and science, and in middle school, one of my teachers handed me a book by Michael Crichton. His books had a big impact on me. My mom also had a bookshelf full of mysteries and thrillers, so I grew up on those types of books.
Can you talk us through the writing of your first book? What were the key moments?
I had the idea for the premise and the character first, but hadn’t given as much thought to plot when I started the first draft of my first book. But I set myself a goal of reaching the end, no matter what, to prove to myself that I could finish it. My kids were one and three at the time, and I wrote that first draft in my bedroom at night when they were sleeping. Then I would edit what I’d written during nap time (if there was a nap time). That first draft needed a lot of work, but I did reach the end after three or four months, and from there, started researching next steps.
Was it hard to get an agent? Can you talk us through the process?
Well, I did send out that first draft, which in hindsight needed a lot of work—but I was lucky in that a few agents offered encouraging feedback, while acknowledging there was still work to be done. Sarah was one of the first agents I queried, and though we discussed that I would probably need to rewrite the book, I was fortunate to begin working with her then. I then rewrote that first book twice before we sent it out on submission to publishers.
Describe your writing day. Where do you write? How do you organize your time? Where do you look for inspiration?
I have pretty structured work hours. Now that my kids are older, I write when they are at school. I have an office space set aside, and at the end of the day, I leave my computer there, to divide my work and home life.
For me, inspiration comes from everywhere—mostly, when I’m out of the office. So I do a lot of thinking away from my desk, and then when I’m back at work, I’m ready to write.
Are there any tips you could give aspiring writers who are looking to get published?
To read widely, and to write what you love—because it’s your unique voice and experiences and interests that will make your work stand out.
Can you describe three aspects of writing craft that have been most important as you've developed as an author?
Thinking about the structure of storytelling, and how format and story go hand-in-hand; seeing setting as a character, to infuse the story with a real sense of place; and concentrating on pacing and tension, especially during revisions.
Which favourite authors would you invite to a dinner party? Which fictional character do you wish you'd invented?
Since I can’t cook, I’m going to imagine that this dinner party takes place in an alternate reality where the rules of life and death no longer apply. So I would invite Michael Crichton and Mary Shelley.
As for characters, I’ll pick Poe’s Raven. How a single creature in a poem who utters but one word can be so unnerving, and resonate with so many.