Today we are hosting an interview with Megan Crewe on her new book The Lives We Lost, the sequel to The Way We Fall. Check out my review of The Lives We Lost.
Was "The Lives We Lost" any easier or harder to write than the first book in the series, "The Way We Fall"?
I'd have to say both. In some ways, writing a sequel was easier because I already knew my characters and their world intimately, so I didn't have to spend anywhere near as much time discovering who they were in the process of writing and then needing to adjust the story to fit the things I'd discovered. Also, THE LIVES WE LOST is written in regular first person, not the journal format of THE WAY WE FALL, which I'm more used to and requires fewer narrative considerations.
On the other hand, I'd never written a sequel before. So I was faced with some completely new challenges, like how to remind readers of events and character traits from the first book without hitting them over the head with it. And making sure everything in the second book fit what I'd established in the first book, which, by the time I was working on revisions, I could no longer change. And then there was the really really big challenge of realizing that what I thought was a single sequel actually needed to be split in two, and then trying to make that middle book as satisfying as possible even though the characters' journey wasn't over.
So probably in the end the two sides balance each other out, and it was equally hard. 🙂
Is there anything in particular that you find challenging in your writing?
Every book brings new challenges–partly because I'd get bored if I wasn't always trying out new things. With THE WAY WE FALL it was the journal format, with THE LIVES WE LOST it was writing a sequel and balancing a large cast of characters. When I wrote GIVE UP THE GHOST, my debut novel, it was the first book I'd written in first person.
The one on-going challenge that's come up with my writing is that I tend to like complications. If a story seems too straight-forward to me, it makes me nervous that it's boring or unoriginal, so I have a habit of throwing in more subplots and twisting motivations to the point that everything gets a little muddled. I've learned to watch for that, and make myself scale back and focus on the real heart of the story.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
My ideas come from all sorts of places, but the most important one is other stories. I often get ideas while reading books, watching movies or TV shows, or even listening to song lyrics: an off-hand remark or a character development that spins in my head into an entire premise. When it comes to the actual information I need to write a story, the internet is a huge resource, of course. But I do also turn to print books. I list the main reference books I used in learning about viruses and epidemics in the acknowledgements for THE WAY WE FALL, and I also read a number of books on animal behavior and wilderness survival.
What are some of your favorite books?
My all-time favorite book of my childhood was Zilpha Keatley Snyder's THE CHANGELING, and my all-time favorite book of my teens was Meredith Ann Pierce's BIRTH OF THE FIREBRINGER. These days it's very hard for me to narrow my favorites down to a concise list, but to name a few authors, in YA I'm very fond of E. Lockhart, Megan Whalen Turner, and Elizabeth Wein's work, and in adult fiction I particularly enjoy Peter S. Beagle, David Mitchell, and Connie Willis.
Do you have a favorite theme or genre that you like to write about? Is there a genre that you'll probably stay away from and why?
I really enjoy writing all sorts of speculative fiction: fantasy (traditional and contemporary), paranormal, science fiction, horror, etc. Anything that steps at least a little outside the boundaries of our current world. I think I'd have trouble writing a totally non-speculative book, because while I do enjoy realistic contemporary and historical novels, those sorts of premises usually don't get me passionate enough to devote months to working on a story. I like the immense possibilities that are available when I'm not restricted by reality. 🙂
If you could travel back in time, what time and place would you choose? And if you can only take 3 things with you, what would they be?
You know, if I had to *stay* in the past, I'd probably choose to stay here. I like my present time quite a bit! (If I was going to permanently time travel anywhere, I'd want to see the future.) But if it was just a "vacation", I think I'd travel around Renaissance-era Europe. It'd be amazing to see some of the master artists at work, and to experience that atmosphere of excitement and innovation. I'd take with me a large notebook, so I could write about everything I was seeing; a pack of water purification tablets, to make it easier to find drinking water that wouldn't make me sick; and an academic who's fluent in as many European languages as possible, so s/he could tell me exactly what's going on!
What's next for you? Are you currently working on or have plans for future projects?
I always have plans! I just finished my first round of editorial revisions on the third book in the Fallen World trilogy, and am currently working on a new project that hasn't yet sold, so I can't share much about it other than it's another science fiction-y YA. And I'm excited about another new idea, which is actually a revamping of an old idea I think I've finally found the right way to tell, that I'll be diving into after that.
Thank you Megan for answering my question!
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