13 Apr 2015

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Author Interview / Megan Tayte

IN SEARCH OF THE MEANING OF DEATH, SHE’LL FIND THE MEANING OF LIFE.

Seventeen-year-old Scarlett Blake is haunted by death. Her estranged sister has made the ultimate dramatic exit. Running away from school, joining a surfing fraternity, partying hard: that sounds like Sienna. But suicide? It makes no sense.

Following in her sister’s footsteps, Scarlett comes to the isolated cove of Twycombe, Devon, with grand plans to uncover the truth. Alone. But she hasn’t reckoned on meeting two boys who are determined to help her. Luke: the blue-eyed surfer who’ll see the real Scarlett, who’ll challenge her, who’ll save her. And Jude: the elusive drifter with a knack for turning up whenever Scarlett’s in need.

As Scarlett’s quest for the truth unravels, so too does her grip on reality as she’s always known it. Because there’s something strange going on in this little cove. A dead magpie circles the skies. A dead deer watches from the undergrowth. Hands glow with light. Warmth. Power.

What transpires is a summer of discovery. Of what it means to conquer fear. To fall in love. To choose life. To choose death.

To believe the impossible. 

Once upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess fireman. 'Write, Megan,' her grandmother advised. So that's what she did.

Thirty-odd years later, Megan writes the kinds of books she loves to read: young-adult paranormal romance fiction. Young adult, because it's the time of life that most embodies freedom and discovery and first love. Paranormal, because she's always believed that there are more things in heaven and on earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy. And romance, because she's a misty-eyed dreamer who lives for those 'life is so breathtakingly beautiful' moments.

Megan grew up in the Royal County, a hop, skip and a (very long) jump from Windsor Castle, but these days she makes her home in Robin Hood's county, Nottingham. She lives with her husband, a proud Scot who occasionally kicks back in a kilt; her son, a budding artist with the soul of a paleontologist; and her baby daughter, a keen pan-and-spoon drummer who sings in her sleep. When she's not writing, you'll find her walking someplace green, reading by the fire, or creating carnage in the kitchen as she pursues her impossible dream: of baking something edible.


1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
Meg Cabot. I love her style, and very much admire her versatility in writing across different genres and her work ethic – I’d love to be as prolific as she is. I like the sassiness of her heroines, and the humour she injects into everything she writes.

2.  What would be a typical writing day for you? When and where do you write?
I write for as many hours as I can around work and family commitments. I’m an early bird, so I try to start by 7.30 a.m., and I go through solidly until lunch. Then I’ll go back until the school pick-up at 3, and then try to do some editing in the evening. Occasionally, I take a writing sabbatical and do a ‘writing binge’ for a few days. Before my daughter came along I spent every Sunday night for a couple of months at a local hotel, writing from check-in at 2 p.m. until midnight, and then 6 a.m. to checkout at 12. It was a very productive time for me, away from distractions.

At home I write in my writing room, which has a big desk overlooking the garden. But sometimes I need a change of scene and a bit of a buzz – and coffee! – so I decamp to a local cafe. My other favourite writing spot is in the arts library on the university campus near my home. The smell of old books there is intoxicating.

3.  What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
The way it consumes me. When I’m in the concept, first draft and rewrite stages, the story takes me over. I love the feeling, but it can make focusing in other areas of my life tricky. The day job becomes more challenging, and at times I find I’m washing up/cooking/building Lego towers/finger-painting with the kids in a dreamy haze. At its worst, that can mean slightly charred dinners and Technicoloured children. Thankfully, my family is very understanding!

4.  When and why did you first start writing?
I’ve been writing for as long as I could write. In my ‘treasures’ shoebox I have my very first story, written aged six. Reading it now, I assume my school was offering a Most Adjectives Crammed Onto a Page Prize – I can’t fathom why else I felt the need to be quite so descriptive. From there, I wrote many stories through my childhood and teens, but I didn’t quite get the courage together to write a book until adulthood. I’d written a lot of non-fiction books before I took a stab at fiction, and then I was hooked. When I write fiction, I feel like that six-year-old again, totally enchanted by writing. I think that’s the crux of why I write - it’s the most ‘me’ I can get; it’s what I always knew I wanted to do. So it takes me to a really happy, calm, fulfilled place.

5.  How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Death Wish – and the Ceruleans series – began life as four discrete ideas that I planned to make into four discrete books. Then one day as I was walking (something I do when I’m looking for inspiration) the ideas knitted together, and from there the overall story arc of the series took form.
There are many inspirations for the book. The story is quite personal to me, based on a mix of experience and fiction woven from my imaginings and ponderings. The setting – in a part of coastal Devon where I spent every summer as a child – was a key inspiration. But the story, about love and loss, light and darkness, good and bad, is based on my own efforts to make sense of a world in which people close to you can die; in which being true to yourself can be incredibly difficult; and in which love – for people, for places, for a way of being, for a passion and an ethos – is the only reason to hold on.

6.  Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
Oh yes! I don’t cope well with being ‘between books’, so I always have a stack of paperbacks and a few novels lined up on the Kindle ready. I have to read a lot of books for my day job, but I also make time to read according to my personal preferences. At the moment I’m reading an early Richelle Mead novel called Storm Born. I only recently discovered Richelle, and as I always do when I find a new author whose work I love, I get hold of the entire back catalogue. This edition of Storm Born is pretty battered, as I bought it second hand on Amazon, but I think I’m enjoying it all the more for that – I love ‘loved’ books.

7.  Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Have fun and keep writing! I’ve worked with plenty of authors who risk killing the joy of writing by getting bogged down in the business of being an author (and, consequently, give up after one book). I try not to take myself too seriously. I love to write, and if others enjoy reading what I write, that’s a brilliant bonus – but either way, I’ll still write.

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