Meg Rosoff was born in Boston, educated at Harvard and St. Martin’s College of Art in London, and worked in New York City for ten years before moving to England permanently in 1989. She worked in publishing, journalism, politics and advertising before writing How I Live Now (released in 2013 as a feature film directed by Kevin MacDonald and starring Saoirse Ronan). Her books have won or been shortlisted for 19 international book prizes, including the Carnegie medal, the Michael J Printz award, the Orange prize and the National Book Award. Picture Me Gone is her latest novel. She lives in London with her husband and daughter. For more info, visit her website.
What is the most vivid or realistic dream you’ve ever had?
When I was about 2, I dreamt that a gorilla took my sister away. It was terrifying.
If you could make something in life go away, what would it be?
All the writer-y things I do out of obligation not desire.
If you had to be trapped in a TV show for a month, which show would you choose?
The only thing I’ve watched on TV lately was Breaking Bad and I sure wouldn’t want to be trapped in that.
What’s your favorite zoo animal?
I don’t like zoos.
What dead person would you least want to be haunted by?
What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen?
I once saw a ghost dog.
What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever been to?
The Home Plate in San Francisco. I have breakfast there every day when I’m visiting.
What is the dumbest thing you’ve ever seen someone do?
I watched my friend leave a bar with a man she’d just met to drive to Coney Island in a convertible in the middle of the night. It turned out fine.
What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever done?
I ride slightly crazy horses. That’s pretty dumb.
If you were a cartoon, who would you be?
I’d be Calvin out of Calvin and Hobbes. For obvious reasons.
What’s your motto in life?
I stole it from Napoleon: “If you set out to take Vienna, take Vienna.”
What’s the funniest prank ever played on you?
I hate practical jokes. I’d kill someone who played a prank on me.
Do you believe in UFOs?
Yes and no.
Define the worst day ever.
The day after being struck by lightning.
What song best describes your work ethic?
Reasons To Be Cheerful by Ian Dury.
If you were a road sign, what would you be?
Diversion. Because I always seem to be on one.
If you were to attend a costume party, who would you be?
I always go as something creative like a cardboard box while all the other women go as Cat Woman.
What food item would you remove from the market altogether?
All meat and fish.
What’s the worst thing you did as a kid?
I didn’t quite dare be friends with the mixed race boy in my class who I liked — it was social suicide to be friends with him.
Have you been told you look like someone famous?
I used to look like Glenn Close, apparently. A long time ago. And I never much liked the way she looked.
If you could eliminate one thing from your daily schedule, what would it be?
Cooking. I’d much rather have someone deliver delicious meals to me on a tray.
If you were to get a tattoo, what would it be?
I think I’d have GO AWAY tattooed on my forehead.
How do you deal with creativity blocks?
Can you visualize a finished product before you begin a book?
Absolutely not. And if I do, it’s always wrong.
Do you feel that you chose your passion, or did it choose you?
Most of my passions chose me. Writing and horses, particularly.
Is there a particular place where you feel most creative?
On the coast of East Anglia in England. In my little house on the beach. In a thunder storm.
Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
Panic. My family would starve if I didn’t write for money.
If you were no longer able to write, how else would you express your creativity?
I’d do sudoku and complain all the time.
What has been your greatest sacrifice that has enabled you to become the author you are today?
I worked in advertising for 15 years. It was hell. But I learned a lot about writing.
What words of inspiration were given to you that you would like to pass along to others?
My agent told me to write fiercely.
If you knew that you had only one last opportunity to express yourself creatively, what message would you want to convey to others?
Run away!! Run away!!
When did you realize that you had a gift?
I’ve always known I was a writer. I didn’t know I could write a novel until I wrote one, age 46.
How do you balance your personal life and your creative endeavors?
I neglect my family, friends and everything else when I’m writing.
What is your typical day like?
I walk the dogs for an hour, waste about five hours on the computer, and then (if I’m lucky) do a bit of writing.
How much of your own life is reflected in your work?
All of it, eventually, in some form or another. Usually heavily disguised.
Do you have family members who like to write too?
My sister and mother are both good writers.
What was your childhood like? Did your upbringing influence the way you write today?
My childhood wasn’t exceptional – a typical suburban American upbringing. I thought it ruined my chances ever to be a writer, but it didn’t. I write a lot about running away.
Which of your books gives you the most pride or satisfaction?
Whichever one I’m least sick of.
How do you think you differ from other creative people in your genre?
Secretly, I think I’m a better writer than most. But a worse storyteller. I’m terrible at plot.
Has your creativity changed stylistically as you’ve matured? If so, in what ways?
I can’t tell. You’ll have to ask one of my readers.
When do you feel the most energized?
When the writing is going well, which isn’t very often. Or when I’m riding a horse.
Does your writing reflect your personality?
Of course! Whose personality would it reflect if not mine?