Hello y’all! As part of The Bibliophile Confessions’s First Blogoversary, we’ll be having a guest post for today. Megan Tayte, author of the Ceruleans series, is here to share her secret writing trick. Hope you all enjoy it! But first, let’s get to know Megan in a quick interview!
- If you could read only one book for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
A poetry anthology containing works spanning hundreds of years and by poets from all walks of life. I especially love the Romantics; the following from William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence was a key inspiration in the Ceruleans:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
- Favorite ice cream flavor.
Mandarin cheesecake. I used to buy it from this little ice-cream shop in the city. Best food in the world, with massive cheesecake chunks. Sadly, the shop’s since closed so I’m forced to make do with Haagen Daz strawberry cheesecake for now. Poor me…
- What are some of your favorite books?
On my ‘favourites’ shelf are plenty of classics. I specialised in African-American history and literature as part of my degree, and Maya Angelou and Alice Walker in particular have always been firm favourites. My copy of Oliver Twist is yellowed and well-thumbed, as are Wuthering Heights and The Phantom of the Opera. I read plenty of women’s fiction, a fair amount of crime and thriller fiction, some literary fiction and the odd humour title. But of course it’s YA that dominates my shelf: Stephenie Meyer, Cassandra Clare, Maggie Stiefvater, Rachel Vincent, Richelle Mead, Veronica Roth, Lauren Oliver, Becca Fitzpatrick, Jenny Downham, John Green, Lauren Kate, Suzanne Collins. I also have a soft spot for Harry Potter, which was the catalyst for my love of epic series fiction and is now my son’s passion. But my absolute favourite book is a teeny-tiny leather-bound one the size of my thumbnail. I love miniature things!
- Describe your writing process.
The process for each book I write begins with idea brainstorming, research and planning, and then I write the first draft as intensively as possible alongside my day job and being a mum. I take a break after the first write, and read the book several times. Then I edit and rewrite for however long it takes to be happy with the manuscript. I run through it another couple of times, proofreading. Then, finally, I screw my courage to the sticking place… and publish!
A writing session for me can take place in the early morning or in the evening – when the kids are asleep and the house is quiet. Then I write at my desk, overlooking the garden in the daylight, or by candlelight if it’s very early or very late. When I can, I grab a coffee out of the house and write in a cafe, or at the university library, breathing in the intoxicating scent of old books.
- Lastly, how did you come up with your idea for the Ceruleans series?
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.
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.
Toni Morrison once wrote, ‘If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.’ These are the books I wanted to read – now but especially, I think, then: back when I was a teenager, like Scarlett, and making my own way in the world, dealing with loss, messing up over and over, finding someone to love, finding myself.
Okay. We’ve definitely learned a lot about Megan. So, I’m giving the floor to her and let’s all discover her secret writing trick!
My Ceruleans series stands at more than 400,000 words. That represents many, many hours of writing. And writing means sitting at a desk or a table and typing and typing and typing. Eventually… yawn! My mind drifts, my vision blurs and a glance at my reflection in the window confirms my shoulders have done a Quasimodo.
Now, before you start conjuring a picture of my pirouetting gracefully around my writing room, know this: I’m not talking pretty, clever dancing, the type you toil over for hours to showcase at a dance recital or that makes you Queen of the Dance Floor. I’m talking artless, eccentric, unchoreographed and ungainly ‘dance like no one is watching’ grooving.
I first began to dance it out when I was writing Death Wish, Book 1 of the Ceruleans. I was staying in a hotel, and after several hours of writing non-stop I hit a brick wall. No. More. Words. Coming. So I clicked over to iTunes, chose any old song, got up and stretched. But as the song built, I found that instead of sitting back down and getting on, I was toe-tapping. And then, when the chorus set in, that was me gone, dancing – the crazier, the better – to Body Rockers ‘I Like the Way You Move’. And I decided I did quite like the way I moved in that instance. And when I sat back down and started writing again, I really liked the new energy flooding out of me.
Since then, dancing it out has become a core part of my writing process. I inject all sorts of songs into a writing session, from dance to cheese, rock to ballad. For Forget Me Not, one dance-it-out interlude resulted in my writing a flash mob scene into the book; another resulted in characters dancing it out themselves to Fun’s ‘We Are Young’. While working on Wild Blue Yonder, my new book, Ed Sheeran’s Live Lounge cover of ‘Take Me to Church’ was a core anthem; just typing that song title makes my feet jiggle.
I’m not a great dancer. In fact, if I ever want to make my husband smile, all I need do is break out some moves. But I think that’s what makes dancing it out so effective. At my desk, I’m trying to do a decent job of writing, of creating good art. But when I’m dancing, the fact that I’m no longer trying to ‘get it right’ is liberating. All that movement and energy and artless art delights my muse, it seems… or perhaps she’s just so relieved I’ve stopped that she performs when I sit back down to write! Either way, dancing it out works for me.
So there you have it: Megan Tayte, writer and – ah hem – dancer.
About Megan Tayte
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.
Purchase Death Wish on Amazon
Purchase Forget Me Not on Amazon
Thank you so much for celebrating with us, Megan!
Check out Jem’s review of Death Wish!