She practiced law in Los Angeles and taught writing at the University of California Santa Barbara.
So yeah . . . quite an impressive resume for anyone to have, but for a woman as gracious and funny and beautiful as her . . . let’s just say she got her fair share of awesome during her dip in the gene pool.
Even Stephen King backs me up on this one. He wrote a glowing review of her work at EW.com and made sure her books were published on American soil. So thank you, Mr. King, for letting us ‘merican folks get a hand on such quality storytelling.
And she’s here with me today in cyber space! That’s right. I rolled out the red carpet (my way of saying I vacuumed), and made my world-famous (a slight exaggeration there) home made eggrolls and asked her a few questions about life, the universe, and everything.
Without further adieu (which means none of you should go away now) may I introduce to you Meg Gardiner:
I’ve heard on the streets that your first novel was a tragic romance about Indy car racing. And there were lots of explosions and tears. It sounds GREAT to me. I love fast cars. Why didn’t it work?
Aside from the fact that I was sixteen, and knew far more about Indy cars than I did about romance, the main problem was the “tragic” part. The heroine fell in love with a dashing race driver, who immediately drove into a wall at 200 mph, burst into flames, and died. She mourned, but eventually found the courage to love again… another race driver, who promptly drove his car into a wall at 200 mph, burst into flames, and died. By page 63 I had killed all the men in the novel. End of story.
You came from a house that encouraged both reading and writing. How can parents instill a love of reading/writing in their kids?
Name the book you’ve read the most.
The Black Stallion. Followed closely by Sol Stein’s Stein on Writing.
Name one of your favorite childhood books.
See above. And I don’t mean Stein on Writing. My friends and I checked The Black Stallion — and all the books in the Black Stallion series — out of the school library so often that our names filled the check out card.
When the kids were little, writing was extremely sporadic. The longest piece I got published was 700 words. But once they were all in school, I knew it was time to put up or shut up, and write the novel I’d been thinking about for years. The school bus came at 7:50 and brought them home at 3:45. That’s when I wrote. Of course, once I got a novel published, and started working to deadlines, things got more complicated. The kids would instant message me from the next room – things like, FOOD? And I once came out of my office to discover they’d stuck a note to the door. It read, “Warning: she eats her young.”
When are you perfectly at peace?
Do you have a favorite book you’ve written, or are they like your kids in that you like them all equally?
Okay, let’s pretend I’m your psychologist (I charge $500 fake dollars an hour, btw). Tell me your greatest weakness as a writer, and tell me about your biggest struggle.
You’ve said you used to write by the seat of your pants, but now you plan ahead. Tell me about the preparation process that goes on before you write the first word to the novel?
Two months of brainstorming the big idea for the story, plus research, character sketches, story development, better story development, revised story development, more research, and then… Chapter 1.
In your opinion, what makes a successful author?
The ability to grip readers and give them a deep, surprising, satisfying emotional experience through the story.
Tell me three authors I should know about:
Jeff VanderMeer (dark fantasy, SF, Weird, Steampunk – and he can write scenes that truly exhilarate.)
If you had to swim across a sea of any beverage, what would it be?
What does your writing space look like?
A room with wall-to-wall bookcases, a good office chair, and our old kitchen table. Which looks as if a moving van dropped a 20 foot container of papers, pens, pencils, and random notes on it from a great height.
What does it take to be a good editor (whether self-editor or editor for someone else).
A sense of the story – the pulsing wire that should run through a piece from beginning to end. The ability to see the possibilities an author hasn’t spotted, or has only developed vaguely. An ability to sharpen a story in a way that amplifies the author’s own voice. An ability to explain all this to the writer in a way that makes the writer eager to revise.
Have any new projects? What are some things to look forward to on your horizon?
And . . . the final question to end all questions . . . if you had to choose between any apocalypse (solar, comet, environmental changes, zombie, robots, or alien) which would it be?! (and why)