Saturday, April 4, 2015

Interview with Megan Tayte Author of Death Wish

Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?

I’m Megan, I’m a writer, and I live in Nottingham with my husband, a proud Scot who occasionally kicks back in a kilt; my son, a budding artist with the soul of a paleontologist; and my tiny daughter, a keen pan-and-spoon drummer who sings in her sleep.

Writing is a way of life for me. I write on commission for my day job, but for myself I create the kinds of books I love to read: young-adult paranormal romance fiction. Young adult, because it’s the time of life that most embodies freedom and discovery and first love. Paranormal, because I’ve always believed that there are more things in heaven and on earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy. And romance, because I’m a misty-eyed dreamer who lives for those ‘life is so breathtakingly beautiful’ moments.

Please tell us about your latest release.

Death Wish is the first of the Ceruleans series. The protagonist, seventeen-year-old Scarlett Blake, is haunted by death. Her estranged sister has made the ultimate dramatic exit. Running away from school, joining a surfing fraternity, partying hard: that sounds like Sienna. But suicide? It makes no sense.

Following in her sister’s footsteps, Scarlett comes to the isolated cove of Twycombe, Devon, with grand plans to uncover the truth. Alone. But she hasn’t reckoned on meeting two boys who are determined to help her. Luke: the blue-eyed surfer who’ll see the real Scarlett, who’ll challenge her, who’ll save her. And Jude: the elusive drifter with a knack for turning up whenever Scarlett’s in need.

As Scarlett’s quest for the truth unravels, so too does her grip on reality as she’s always known it. Because there’s something strange going on in this little cove. A dead magpie circles the skies. A dead deer watches from the undergrowth. Hands glow with light. Warmth. Power.

What transpires is a summer of discovery. Of what it means to conquer fear. To fall in love. To choose life. To choose death.

To believe the impossible. 

What inspired you to write this book?

The Ceruleans series began life as four discrete ideas that I planned to make into four discrete books. Then one day as I was walking (something I do when I’m looking for inspiration) the ideas knitted together, and from there the overall story arc of the series took form.

There are many inspirations for the book. The story is quite personal to me, based on a mix of experience and fiction woven from my imaginings and ponderings. The setting – in a part of coastal Devon where I spent every summer as a child – was a key inspiration. But the story is based on my own efforts to make sense of a world in which people close to you can die; in which being true to yourself can be incredibly difficult; and in which love – for people, for places, for a way of being, for a passion and an ethos – is the only reason to hold on.

Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?

Many of the names in the Ceruleans have significance. Scarlett, for example, is so named for the colour, which has connotations of passion and blood, and which doesn’t blend well with the blue of the Cerulean light. Luke and Jude, the two main guys in the series, have similar names in terms of length and letters, and each is an old biblical name. Luke means ‘giver of light’, which is significant; and as for Jude... well, his name is short for Judas: make of that what you will!

Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?

I found writing Scarlett’s mother a challenge. In the first book she’s a total nightmare – selfish, over-dramatic, needy. She has a long history of depression and alcohol dependency, and her grief over losing her daughter, Sienna, has pushed her into a meltdown. She’s not much of a mother, and as a mum myself I found it challenging to write her that way, because she behaves so differently to how I would with my own kids. But then, I try not to judge her. She’s carrying a lot of baggage and some harrowing secrets, and deep down she’s not a bad person, just a weak one.

Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?
Cara, Scarlett’s best friend. She’s been left horribly disabled and scarred by a car accident, but she doesn’t let that hold her back in life; she doesn’t want sympathy or special attention, just to be seen as an equal. She’s also one of those brilliantly blunt people who tell it like it is – a few minutes into her first meeting with Scarlett she comes out with: ‘So, your sister’s dead and my legs are mangled.’
I’m so fond of Cara I’m considering making her the protagonist of her own book someday.

What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?

I think I would have to say Luke and Scarlett’s first kiss, because in a romance story, that first kiss is everything. They’re at the top of an ancient stone folly that teeters precariously on a very high cliff over the ocean – ‘on top of the world and a step from death’, as I put it in the book. Both are trying hard to face the fear, not only that induced by the setting, but also that created by the past – they’ve lost people very close to them recently, and to let themselves love, to trust each other, knowing that people can be ripped away from you, is terrifying. The choice they make at the top of that tower is to stop being safe, stop holding on – and fall for each other. The folly is a real place; there’s a picture of it here if you’d like to see it. The view from the top is spectacular.

With the book being part of a series, are there any character or story arcs, that readers jumping in somewhere other than the first book, need to be aware of? Can these books be read as stand alones?

You could – I provide some background at the start of each. But it would be a little like reading Breaking Dawn before Twilight or Mockingjay before The Hunger Games. The Ceruleans is one story, and I think you’d connect to it best if you began at the beginning.

Do any of your characters have similar characteristics of yourself in them and what are they?

Scarlett and I have some stuff in common. Some of her experiences are my own – for example, in her last summer before adulthood, between leaving school and going to university, she lives alone, independently, and that’s something I did at her age (which I found difficult but also hugely empowering). I’m also, like Scarlett, happiest someplace calm with a view, and more likely to prefer a meal cooked at home and a DVD than living it up at a rowdy party. I’m not as courageous as Scarlett, though: she conquers her fear of the ocean and becomes a pretty kick-ass surfer, but I’d probably always remain as Scarlett is at the start of Death Wish: bobbing about on the waves, clinging to a surfboard for dear life and in dire need of rescue. Ideally, by a very hot surfer, of course.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

Not for my fiction writing. In fact, I have the opposite problem – a constant desire to write, which I can’t always fulfil because I’m a mum and a businesswoman (and sometimes I need to sleep!). I try to schedule regular writing sessions, otherwise I feel off-kilter. Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winner Pearl S. Buck explained the sensitive person’s need as “the overpowering necessity to create, create, create – so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.” That’s me, in a nutshell.

Do you write in different genres?

Yes. I’m a ghostwriter, so I write for publishers and authors across genres, and under my professional name and pen names I’ve published books in various genres. As Megan Tayte, though, I’ll only ever write romance – for now, in the YA and paranormal genres.

When did you consider yourself a writer?

I’d been a professional writer for years before I actually considered myself as that. I think writing on commission, for other people, feels quite different to writing for yourself. Getting my first publishing contract for a book I wrote for myself was the point I thought, ‘Aha! I’m a writer now.’

What are your guilty pleasures in life?

Cake, chocolate, fruit toast, iced coffee, frothy coffee... you get the idea! And boxsets. I’m a DVD boxset addict. 

Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?

Most of them centre on spending time with my kids. We love being out and about, exploring.  Nottingham has loads of great parks and nature reserves, as well as the sprawling Sherwood Forest. My son is fact-mad, so we visit a lot of museums, and I try to fit in the odd art gallery. Our all-time favourite outing is into the city: lunch out at an Italian restaurant, followed by an hour or two at the bookshop, and then a drink in Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, the oldest inn in England that’s built into caves under the castle.

What was the last amazing book you read?

I recently finished Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series (I know – I jumped on board very late), and I was totally hooked by the writing. Rose/Dmitri: I was entirely convinced.

Where is your favorite place to read? Do you have a cozy corner or special reading spot?

In bed, at bedtime. Because it’s the one time and place I can be completely alone and give myself permission to read purely for pleasure. Before I had children, when I had a lot more time to myself, I also loved reading outdoors, on park benches. I read my way around London’s parks when I lived there; my favourite spot became the Kyoto Garden in Holland Park – the water feature is really soothing.

What can readers expect next from you?

The next book in the Ceruleans series will be out in May, and from there I’ll publish the remaining two. Then I’ll be starting work on my next novel. I intend to repeat the process ad infinitum; I learnt many years ago when I wrote my very first book that there will always have to be a next one. It’s a way of being for me, and a very happy one.

Where can readers find you on the web?

Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?

Here’s a teaser...

You can get Death Wish at 

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