Today I have the awesome Megan Abbott on the blog. Her brand new book, Dare Me, is out on the 31st, and it’s pretty awesome (feel free to read my review, I’ll be here when you get back). She was kind enough to take some time out of her insanely busy schedule and answer a few questions for me, so please welcome her to the blog! Also, be sure to check out the giveaway at the bottom of the post!
Megan, you’re the author of 7 books, of which your newest, Dare Me, is out at the end of this month! You’ve also written for numerous publications. Have you always wanted to be a writer? What’s one of the first things you remember writing?
No, I still have trouble calling myself a writer, even after all those books! I was always a compulsive reader, but it wasn’t until the end of grad school, working on my dissertation on hardboiled fiction and film noir, that I started writing fiction regularly—started the story that became my first novel, Die a Little Growing up idolizing novelists, it felt presumptuous, even ridiculous, to ever think I could be one myself.
Will you tell us a bit about Dare Me?
It’s the final result of an obsessive descent into the world of high school cheerleading. About two years ago, I started becoming fascinated with how cheer has transformed since I was a teenager. Today, these girls perform death defying stunts and seem to embrace the risk. They’re proud of their wounds, like boxers, even marines. Sort of a Fight Club for teenage girls. So I began writing about story about a power struggle among a squad of cheerleaders under the sway of a charismatic coach. Trouble ensues.
What do you love most about writing crime fiction and suspense?
I think it speaks to all the primal things in us—all the most essential urges and drives. Desire, greed, anger, temptation, revenge. So it always feels urgent, real, authentic. People often dismiss crime fiction as escapist, but to me it’s precisely the opposite. It sends us to the most dangerous places in ourselves. The only escapist element is we can close the book at the end. But the feelings linger. And that’s powerful.
Do you have any particular writing quirks?
Oh goodness, hundreds of them! But I would never admit to any of them.
What are some of your favorite authors or novels?
I end up reading really widely—from my crime fiction heroes (Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, James Ellroy, Dorothy B. Hughes) to gothic (Brontës, DuMaurier) and southern gothic, to my special love of mid-century American literature (Faulkner, Fitzgerald). And I love true crime.
What makes you put a book aside in frustration?
What a great question. I think it’s when I feel the author is talking down to the reader. Doesn’t respect the reader. I’m pretty forgiving and finish almost every book I start, but that really drives me to distraction.
What’s one of your favorite lines from a book?
“Only the few know the sweetness of the twisted apples,” Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg Ohio.
You won the Edgar award for Best Paperback Original for Queenpin in 2008. How did you celebrate?
The fact that I can’t quite remember is probably the answer!
When you manage to find free time between writing and teaching, how do you like to spend it?
Movies. Luckily, New York City is a movielover’s paradise. My favorite way to spend an afternoon is to tuck myself into a seat at Film Forum and watch an old movie with a pal.
What one piece of advice would you offer to struggling writers?
Read constantly. And write the book you’d love to read.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about upcoming projects or events?
I’m about to hit the road for Dare Me’s book tour, and my goal is to find a hidden oddity (an unusual historic site, a great dive bar, an obscure local food item not to be missed) in every town. So if anyone lives in or around Boston, Austin, Houston, Phoenix, LA, San Diego, Seattle or Oxford, MS, please pass your tips along!
Keep up with Megan: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Pre-order Dare Me: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound
I featured Megan in a post for Criminal Element recently, and you can read that here.
About Dare Me:
Addy Hanlon has always been Beth Cassidy’s best friend and trusted lieutenant. Beth calls the shots and Addy carries them out, a long-established order of things that has brought them to the pinnacle of their high-school careers. Now they’re seniors who rule the intensely competitive cheer squad, feared and followed by the other girls — until the young new coach arrives.
Cool and commanding, an emissary from the adult world just beyond their reach, Coach Colette French draws Addy and the other cheerleaders into her life. Only Beth, unsettled by the new regime, remains outside Coach’s golden circle, waging a subtle but vicious campaign to regain her position as “top girl” — both with the team and with Addy herself.
Then a suicide focuses a police investigation on Coach and her squad. After the first wave of shock and grief, Addy tries to uncover the truth behind the death — and learns that the boundary between loyalty and love can be dangerous terrain.
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