~ Interview by Melina Kantor
There sure is some incredible talent among the RWA Chick Lit Writers! And we’re showcasing some of that talent today.
We’re delighted to have chapter member and fabulous author Megan Crane visiting the blog to share some of her thoughts on reading, writing, and the chick lit genre.
Clearly, you love to read. You’ve got an MA and a PhD in literature (extremely impressive, by the way). What got you so interested in books?
I do love to read. It’s how I relax, how I quiet my mind, and, frankly, my favorite thing to do. I come from a long line of big readers. It’s not uncommon for my extended family to be gathered somewhere and spend an afternoon all tucked up in our different books. My mother was a huge influence on me as well. She took us to the library every week, and there were always lots and lots of books to read. She never censored any of my reading, either. Anything and everything I wanted to read, I could. It created a huge appetite for books–one that continues to this day. I’m very lucky!
Both of your post graduate degrees are from the University of York. Why did you choose to study abroad?
Obviously, my intention was to find Mr. Darcy and live happily ever after, preferably in his great country estate. Why else would you go to England?? Sadly, it turns out he really *is* fictional. So I sat in the pouring rain and got a couple of degrees instead…
What inspired you to start writing? Why did you choose to write chick lit?
I’ve always written. I just read a really great post on this topic that really resonated with me, by the incomparable Judith Arnold: http://girlfriendbooks.blogspot.com/2011/01/becoming-writer.html I’d definitely suggest giving it a read. I was like that, too. I always wrote. I read, I wrote, and that was simply who I was.
When I wrote my first book, I was still living in England. I was reading books by Anna Maxted and Marian Keyes, and and all those great British and Irish chick lit and women’s fiction authors that were displayed on the front tables of the local bookshop in York. I loved them! I was a long time romance reader, and for me, chick lit seemed like a logical off-shoot of romance. The focus was just a bit tighter on the heroine. I don’t remember *deciding* to write a chick lit book, but when I sat down and started writing, chick lit is what happened.
Can you describe your journey to publication?
A long and torturous trek to Mordor… No, I’m just kidding. I was very lucky. The agent I expected to reject me ended up representing me, and she sold the book shortly after she took me on. On the one hand, that particular part of the journey took less than a year, from initial contact with her to the sale of the book to Grand Central. But on the other hand, I’d been practicing for that book my whole life. I wrote everywhere. I carried black and white notebooks around to classes like Harriet the Spy, and often got in trouble for writing in them rather than paying attention. I was always madly scribbling in diaries, notebooks, or typing on my computer into the wee hours of the night. Hours and hours, days and weeks and months, so many years of so many words. All of it practice. Much of it bad. And I read, too. Anything and everything. All genres. Books I loved and books I hated and worse than both, books that bored me silly. And somehow, out of all this, across all those years, I found my own voice and I told my own story. You can too.
In addition to chick lit, you write category romances. What is it like writing in two different (although related) genres? Does your writing process change depending on what you’re writing?
It’s fun! And a good sort of challenge. I think that if you write too many of any one kind of book too fast (and in my case, I’ve written eight Harlequin Presents between my sale to them in February 2009 and now), you can get into a rut. It’s good to switch it up. I wrote six work-for-hire teen books in the last few years (can’t tell you what they were–it’s still a secret!) and that was a great exercise for me. The teen voice and the category romance voice couldn’t be more different, but switching back and forth makes both better, I think. It’s the same with longer women’s fiction/chick lit books. And no, my process is pretty much the same for all: grueling. I’m kidding. (Sort of.)
What advice do you have for aspiring and as of yet unpublished chick lit authors who keep hearing that the genre is “dead?”
Pay it no mind. There will always be a market for great, funny books about women. Our job is to write the best books we can, and let other people worry about how to market them.
Thank you so much for visiting our blog, Megan! We hope you’ll visit us again.
USA Today bestselling author Megan Crane has written five women’s fiction novels, a bunch of work-for-hire young adult novels, and a lot of category romances (under the name Caitlin Crews) since publishing her first book in 2004. Her third novel, Frenemies, was a BookSense Notable in July 2007. She teaches creative writing classes both online at mediabistro.com and at UCLA Extension’s prestigious Writers’ Program, where she finally utilizes the MA and PhD in English Literature she received from the University of York in York, England. Megan lives in Los Angeles with her comic book artist/animator husband and too many pets. For more info visit her at www.megancrane.com or www.caitlincrews.com.