Megan Frazer Blakemore is the author of The Water Castle (Walker, 2013), Secrets of Truth & Beauty (Disney-Hyperion 2009), and The Spy Chasers of Maple Hill (Bloomsbury, 2014). She lives in Maine with her family. For more info, visit her website.
You are going to an island with no electricity or internet. What three items are you going to pack?
Well, books, of course. And a pen and paper. I feel like I could get a ton of writing done without electricity or the internet, especially if I’m alone on this island. The problem would be transferring it all into a digital file when I get back. For fun, I’ve been thinking about doing cross-stitch or other needle-work again, so maybe I would use my time on the island to start that. Oh, wait, scratch that, I would bring a snorkel set so I could see all the underwater animals.
If the past year of your life was a slogan, what would it be?
See what happens.
If you had to assume a secret identity, what name would you choose, and what occupation would you claim to have?
Marian Paroo, and I would be a librarian. I was a school librarian for nine years, and worked in public libraries before that. If had to assume a secret identity, I would find a tiny town, preferably on the coast, with a quaint little library and work there.
If you could only wear one color for the rest of your life, what would it be?
The first color that pops into my head is orange, which I do love. But looking at my closet leads me to believe blue or pink. I look better in blue, so let’s go with blue.
As a teenager, what was your favorite musical group?
The Beatles. I’ve listened to them so much I almost can’t listen to them anymore. There are still a few songs that get me every time, though: “Across the Universe,” “Two of Us,” and “Blackbird.”
What initially inspired you to pursue a career in writing?
I’ve been writing all my life – little story books and poems. But I knew I wanted to be a writer in sixth grade. Our teacher read us the first half of a scary story and then asked us to write the second half. I liked my version better than the author’s.
What books are you reading right now?
I just finished Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, a beautiful love story about an unlikely couple who fall in love over music and comics on the school bus. It makes you swoon, and breaks your heart, but leaves you hopeful. Sometimes when I love a book this much I don’t want to read another book by that author for fear of being disappointed, but I am excited to read Fangirl.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I write very, very messy first drafts that are just skeletons of what they will be. I know some authors write a lot – way more than they need – and then cut back. It’s more like I build a frame, then in revision I layer on the depth and details. Which is not to say that I don’t cut a lot – I do – but I see myself more as a builder than a pruner.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing? What comes easily?
The challenging part is making it through the first draft. It’s a shaky thing, and it’s hard not to judge it too harshly. You have to have faith in yourself, and the process, to believe that you aren’t just creating a pile of garbage.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
For middle grade, writing now, it is probably Rebecca Stead. She is spare and efficient – every word matters. Yet even with this sparseness, her worlds are lush and vibrant; the characters are alive. She also is a master of tight plotting.