So Megan, ‘How We Were Lost’ – who’s it for and what’s it about?
‘How We Were Lost’ is a dark coming of age story. It begins with 14-year-old Janie’s obsession with two young girls who have disappeared from her small coastal town. But Janie’s compulsion to find the missing girls masks a deeper need to unravel the secrets of her own dysfunctional family, and to face the truth about herself . . .
The novel wasn’t written with any particular reader in mind, it just wanted to be written! But because it has a teenage protagonist it gained a couple of Young Adult reviews along with the others.
To be honest, I don’t mind who reads it – I’m just very happy it’s being read.
It’s been out for a little while now, what’s the reaction to it been?
I’ve been very, very lucky. I had some really warm reviews (including mentions in Mslexia and Time Out) and then over a year later, it received a fresh boost when it was selected as one of the first titles to be promoted with ‘Exclusively Independent’ (Legend Press’s Arts Council funded initiative, which seeks to bring together independent publishers and bookshops to champion new writing). I’ve also had some wonderful feedback from readers. I’m very grateful.
Does writing it feel like something you did a long, long time ago?
Yes! ‘How We Were Lost’ was written before my Creative Writing MA, when I wasn’t brave enough to even admit I was a writer and when my youngest was still very young. Much of that novel was written sitting at the edge of sandpits and during nap-time.
Has your approach to writing changed since How We Were Lost’s publication?
Not really. I do think about potential readers a little more, but I’m still basically a pretty selfish writer. I still write because I love it. So I write to please myself.
(oops, that sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? Never mind . . .)
In terms of the writing itself, hopefully it’s tighter now. I’ll never stop striving to improve – but though there are patches of ‘How We Were Lost’ I’d probably write differently now, I still have a lot of affection for Janie and her story.
What have you learned since its publication?
I’ve learnt how naive I was about the whole business of publishing – but also how amazingly generous and supportive people can be.
What’s your writing routine?
I’m still juggling writing around children, so most mornings I get up early in order to outfox them. I’m lucky that my job’s part time, so I also get another hour or so each day after they’re dropped at school. I’m a bit useless by the evening, but I snatch other moments – lately I often seem to be editing on the bus.
Why do you blog?
It all began with an experimental interactive blogstory, which was indeed mental. But also brilliant. At the moment I’m blogging more generally about the writing process and with various news and events (although there might well be another blogstory at some point). I blog to connect with others – with other writers and with readers. I blog to promote my writing, but also to see how this whole mad business works for everyone else.
What advice would you give to people who are trying to get published?
Take on others feedback and criticism, but don’t compromise the true writing voice inside you. Mostly, don’t give up. You really don’t know what might be about to happen . . .
And what advice would you give to people who are going to be published?
Enjoy every minute of it (though they probably don’t need telling that)
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
Lick a leaf
Tell us a secret.
I might – but you have to go first. And it has to be juicy.*
What’s next for you?
Hopefully – another published novel. Or two. Or three. Or more . . . My second novel ‘Before the Light’ is out there floating amidst the publishing ether right now. And my (very recently completed) third, ‘The Lives of Ghosts’, has also had some interest, so fingers crossed – in fact, EVERYTHING crossed. And touching a whole forest full of wood. Etc.
Definitely – more writing. I’ve just started novel 4. I’m really excited about it.
Anything you’d like to add?
If anyone would like to find out more about my writing (and perhaps even read some!) please drop by my website http://www.megantaylor.info
But most of all, thank you tons Nik!
After placing second in the Yeovil Prize, Megan Taylor’s debut novel, a shadowy coming-of-age story,‘How We Were Lost’, was published by Flame Books in 2007. It went on to be one of the first titles to be selected for promotion in the Arts Council funded ‘Exclusively Independent’ scheme, an initiative bringing independent bookshops and publishers together to champion new writing.
Megan has recently completed a Creative Writing MA with Manchester Metropolitan University, where she wrote her second novel, another dark family drama,‘Before the Light’. She was awarded a Distinction, alongside MMU’s annual Janet Beer Award for ‘outstanding contribution to the life of the Writing School.’
Megan lives in Nottingham with her husband and two children, where she is working on her third novel ‘The Lives of Ghosts’.
* You want me to tell you a secret? A juicy one? Okay. I have a considerable crush on Dr Alice Roberts. Your turn, Taylor.