Friday, April 27, 2012

Megan Shepherd Takes the Truth


Hello! I am excited to be back and tackling another entry for the blog. This week I chose a truth from Joan Stradling that has been a question I’ve been getting more and more recently:

Tell us at least one thing you added to a character in your upcoming work that is based on your personality (or that of someone you know).

This truth made me think of a lunch recently I was having with a writing friend who claimed that in one way or another, all novels are autobiographical. I had a hard time agreeing with her, so I tried to draw any parallels in my own work. I mean, here’s the gist of my book:

16-year-old girl travels to her estranged father's island and finds murder, madness, and a love triangle with an enigmatic castaway and her father's handsome young assistant.


Here’s the gist of my life right now:

29-year-old writer travels to the kitchen for another cup of tea and finds hungry cats, dirty dishes, and a husband with an enigmatic desire for Spam.


If The Madman’s Daughter really were autobiographical in even the vaguest sense, I’d probably be locked away in an institution somewhere. I’ve never been involved in dark scientific experimentation (OK, I did participate in some psych studies in college, but that was just to earn money for beer). In real life, my dad is the most zen, calm, sane person I know. I mean, he’s a bookseller. The craziest scientific experimentation he would do is to move a book from sci-fi to mainstream fiction and see if anyone notices.

But here’s the thing. Even though the facts of The Madman’s Daughter are entirely fiction, many of the emotions and themes are borrowed from my life. I know what it feels like to be walking alone at night and feel afraid you’re being followed. I know what falling in love feels like. I know what disappointment, anger, and hope feel like, too. And those aspects of the book are absolutely taken from the emotional impact of real experiences I had.

And there are some fun smaller details taken from my daily life. A dog in The Madman’s Daughter sequel is modeled after my neighbor’s dog. I haven’t told them that yet, which I should, because they’re probably wondering why I keep staring at their dog and then taking notes. I am using a friend’s last name for a particularly devious villain, but luckily she took that as a compliment. And one of my favorite lines in the book, which shall remain a mystery for now, is something my husband often says.

Thanks for submitting such a great truth, Joan!

Alexandra Duncan will be doing the next Truth or Dare on Tuesday, May 1. Be sure to leave a question for Alexandra on the Truth/Dare page, because it’s her first one!

______________________________________


Megan Shepherd is a young adult writer living in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Her debut novel, The Madman's Daughter, comes out in early 2013 from Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins, and is the first in a Gothic thriller trilogy. She’d love to hear from you at her blog, Twitter, Facebook, or on Goodreads.



28 comments:

  1. Great post! I have to agree that I'm not sure every book is autobiographical but definitely has bits and pieces of us and our lives in their. I freely admit that my MC's demon sniffing abilities are based on my uncanny hounddog nose and the amount of misery it has given me over the years!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ellen, I will always think of your hound dog nose now :)

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  2. Loved this post, Megan! I think many authors put smaller details from their daily life into their stories -- sometimes purposely, sometimes subconsciously.

    Oh, and this made me laugh: The craziest scientific experimentation he would do is to move a book from sci-fi to mainstream fiction and see if anyone notices. I sort of love your dad.

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    Replies
    1. Erin, ha! I doubt my dad has ever actually tried that experiment. But you never know what those crazy booksellers get up to :)

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  3. Your husband eats SPAM? That *is* kind of scary. :) Great post! I laughed at the thought of your neighbors catching you staring at their dog and taking notes. lol What would they think of that?

    But I agree with everything you said. My stories are not based on my life, but I definitely borrow emotions. And I use my sisters' first names as my evil villains. They aren't quite as flattered as your friend. But I find this even more amusing. Ha.

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    Replies
    1. Kasie, SO MUCH SPAM! We had a whole spam-themed holiday party.

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  4. I know exactly what you mean, Megan. If anyone thought I took my book from real life, I'd be locked away. But there are definitely little things I've borrowed from life experiences.

    Side note: has anyone told you that you look kind of like Skylar from American Idol this season? Because you do a little. :) (it's a compliment, you're both lovely)

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    1. J.R., this is the first season I haven't watched Idol, so I don't know Sklyar. But I will definitely Google her picture!

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  5. Murder, madness, and a love triangle. Maybe that's not your life, Megan, but I wish it were. Then I would base a fictional character on you--a gothic, mad, murdering, two-boy-loving character. Oh, the things I would do to her, fictionally-speaking. Yessssssss.....

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    1. April, as far as murder, madness, and a love triangle in my own life, I think I have one of the three. And here's a hint: it's not murder or a love triangle :)

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  6. Megan, YES to your entire post! We really can't help but put a bit of ourselves in our books--it's all got to come from somewhere :)

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