Author Crush Friday with Meg Kassel
Glitter girls, you have pressing questions for your favorite authors and we have their answers. Welcome to our weekly segment, Author Crush Fridays.
We love asking questions and we love the answers from some of our favorite authors. Today we’re talking to Meg Kassel, the author of the YA romance with a paranormal novel, Black Bird of the Gallows (September 5, 2017; Entangled Teen). This dark psychological romance is perfect for fans of Holly Black and Maggie Stiefvater, and should be on your Must Read list for September. Thank you for talking to us today, Meg! We’re honored!
GLITTER: Tell us five random facts about yourself.
- The best part time job I ever had was cutting flowers at a dahlia farm.
- I can make soap from scratch.
- It takes me a minimum of two hours to come up with a decent comeback.
- Most jokes sail straight over my head.
- Once, I snuck onto a movie being shot on location and was mistaken for an extra. Months later, I saw myself in the movie and it was weird.
GLITTER: Tell us about your journey to become a writer.
MEG: I wrote my first full novel the first summer we moved to Maine. The hubs and I had moved from NJ and had planned for a summer off, with camping and hiking, to recharge after taking buyouts from the newspaper we both worked at. But it rained every single day that summer, so we stayed inside and I wound up feverishly writing this book. It was a terrible book, but it was a BOOK, and for the first time in my working life, I felt like my wheels had finally locked onto a set of tracks. Now, I’d always written, but poetry, short stores, beginnings of grand ideas that never found middles or endings. I joined RWA and a local writing chapter, found critique partners and set myself to getting better. That was pretty much my mindset for four years. I wrote a bunch of books, sent out a bazillion query letter and finally signed with an agent. My writing career hasn’t been a rocket into orbit, but a trudge up a mountain with a few hard falls along the way. I don’t think I’d change one thing about it.
GLITTER: Describe Black Bird of the Gallows in 140 characters or less.
MEG: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.
GLITTER: How do you find the emotional truths in your writing?
MEG: For me, emotional truths are found by tapping into the grief, elation, fear, hope, etc. which I’ve felt in my own life. That’s the first step of it. Emotional truths in writing need a real origin from within the writer, in my opinion. I’m not sure they can be truthful, otherwise. It’s hard to do that sometimes, and sometimes it doesn’t feel good. You have to empathize with a fictional character who you have complete control over. I think that’s why it’s sometimes easier to ease off the petal on emotionally charged scenes, but you don’t do readers any favors by doing that. The second step is to filter those emotions through the character. You can’t just put YOUR emotions down there—they have to be consistent with the personality and backstory of the character.
GLITTER: Did you always want to be an author?
MEG: I did always want to be an author, but as a kid it seemed like an unattainable goal, like beating a video game or owning a motorcycle. Honestly, it seemed pretty unattainable until a few years ago.
GLITTER: Did you ever feel like giving up?
MEG: There was one time I felt like giving up, and that was when my first book contract (for this book) was canceled because the publisher (Egmont) closed their U.S. division. I wondered for real if the universe was sending a message, but then I got a new idea for a story and got back to work.
GLITTER: Did you receive rejection letters in the beginning? How did you get over them?
MEG: I have received hundreds of rejection letters. But I got over them by not taking them personally in the first place. It’s disappointing, yes, but I didn’t get bent out of shape over a form letter sent by someone who just didn’t think my skills were there yet.
GLITTER: What’s your favorite ‘80s cartoon?
MEG: That’s a tie between Voltron and Thundercats. Don’t make me choose one.
GLITTER: We know you love to write creepy novels, and wondered if the novels you’ve written so far have ever haunted you in your dreams afterwards?
MEG: When I’m really deep in drafting a book, it haunts my dreams—sleeping and waking. It’s all I think about. Even when I’m doing other things, like driving, cooking, or whatever, the project I’m working on is always chugging away in the back of my head. At peak times, it complicates mundane tasks, so I wind up vacuuming some parts of the floor over and over and missing other parts entirely. And when I go to bed at night, I’m thinking about what I plan to write the next day, and if I’m really, REALLY lucky, I’ll dream the scene in vivid detail. But I’m not usually that lucky.
GLITTER: Do you have any crazy writing rituals?
MEG: I wouldn’t call them crazy, but I drink a cup of green tea and three dark chocolate peanut butter cups (preferably Trader Joe’s) at about two in the afternoon. Only three. Two, and I’m craving more. Four and I feel gluttonous.
GLITTER: One thing you can’t write without?
MEG: A computer with Scrivener installed. I would not want to write a book without that program. I’ve become completely dependent on its features. Like jumping from chapter to chapter to check things and character references in a nice folder? I wouldn’t want to go back to the one giant scrolling document again. Meg & Scrivener 4-evah.
GLITTER: What is one thing you are most passionate about in life?
MEG: I will say, aside from my family—specifically the health and wellbeing of my little daughter—I’m passionate about the environment. I know, it has nothing to do with writing, but I get excited over ways we can put less stress on the natural world. We have strict composting/recycling rules in our house. I will spend extra for paper products that are from recycled materials. I am conscious about the energy we use and find ways to use less. I believe that keeping the planet healthy for all things living on it, is very important.
GLITTER: What are you currently working on?
MEG: I’m working on something new that isn’t fleshed out enough to talk much about. But it will be set in Maine, where I live, and it will involve a girl who vanishes and a variety of supernatural creatures of my own design, of course. There will also be some creepy folklore and a forest that sometimes takes things, and sometimes gives you things. That’s all I got. Check in with me in six months and I should have a story.
Meg Kassel is an author of paranormal and speculative books for young adults. A New Jersey native, Meg graduated from Parson’s School of Design and worked as a graphic designer before becoming a writer. She now lives in Maine with her husband and daughter and is busy at work on her next novel. She is the 2016 RWA Golden Heart© winner in YA.