Megan Tayte – Writer
What inspired you into writing? Your website explains that it was a long-held ambition, but what pushed you to go pro?
It’s really the only thing I’ve ever felt truly passionate about (well, there was a brief dalliance with the theatre, but that’s best left in the past!). I always wanted a job that involved writing, and I fell into one after uni, but then realised pretty soon that any old writing wasn’t going to cut it – the writing had to be meaningful to me. I’d been writing professionally for years, for companies, publishers and authors, before I considered myself a ‘proper writer’: the day my first book was published.
Tell us a little about your career so far (especially about the Ceruleans).
Well, as Megan Tayte it’s a pretty new career. I have several books published under my professional name, and there are plenty more in the shops with my name in the credits as editor or ghostwriter. But I decided to lay down a new path for the Ceruleans, and self-publish initially, rather than trying to get a publishing contract. I like the creative freedom that affords, and I believe in working hard to create your own success.
From the day I sat down and began writing the first book, Death Wish, I knew this was different to anything I’d written before. Far more personal. Far more ‘me’. So when I’d finished the books, it made sense to continue the journey myself: design, publish, market. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s rewarding. And I like to think it’s a good example for my kids to grow up with two self-employed parents who work hard on their own creative projects. Already I can see how that’s affecting my son, who’s six: he’s got such creative vision and direction, and has a great work ethic with his art projects (usually dinosaur related).
What is your creative process? Up at 5am to kick out 1,000 words before breakfast? Or are you someone about to reach peak midnight oil?
It’s been a mixed bag, because I have to balance writing with being a mum and running my business. I fit in writing time around everything else, which often means writing at odd times when others are asleep. When pregnant with my daughter I had chronic insomnia, which was exhausting but really helpful in giving me quiet time in which to write. I also do ‘writing binges’, when I write solidly for a weekend, or sometimes a few days. I checked into the Orchard Hotel on the uni campus every Sunday night for a couple of months at one stage, and that was very productive (although disastrous for the diet, as the nachos are on bar menu are seriously good).
What is it that particularly draws you to YA fiction?
‘Write about what you know’ is an old adage, but a good one. I could write fiction about my life these days – about being a frazzled career mum who’s bumbling from one culinary disaster to the next. But, frankly, it doesn’t appeal. Instead, I cast myself back to my teens – when life was stretching out in front, full of possibility; when love was new and exciting and full of lessons to learn; when the potential to screw up hilariously and horrifically was enormous; when being yourself was essential, but frequently difficult. I write the kind of books I’d have loved to have read then.
The launch party we had the day Death Wish was published. Sounds swanky, right? Not at all! My family wanted to do something to mark the day, since I’d been working hard for a long time to get there, so we had a little party at home. I let my son plan it all, which resulted in cake, candles, balloons, indoor sparklers, cheesy party tunes and (essential launch party kit) animal masks. I don’t think publishing gets more fun than trying to ingest chocolate cake through a penguin mask.
Has living in Beeston inspired your work in any way?
Absolutely. In fact, I’ve discovered I need to live in Beeston in order to write. I first lived here years ago when I was a student at the uni. Then I moved to London, and all inspiration dried up. I finally wore my husband down a few years ago and we moved ‘home’ to Beeston (interesting for him, given that he’s Scottish). Since then, it’s been a case of fighting ideas off with a stick. The Ceruleans is set in Devon largely, but when I read it back to myself I feel Beeston in the words, because I wrote them here – in cafes, mainly. Our cafes are so brilliantly supportive of writers!
*TOKEN GLIB QUESTION ALERT* Favourite word?
Mellifluous – because it means pleasingly smooth and musical to hear and it is pleasingly smooth and musical to hear. Plus, I have fond memories of being the only member of my pub quiz team who could define the word back in my student days, when The Cow pub was still standing.
Your plans for the future?
Write a book, publish a book, write a book… ad infinitum. The second book in the Ceruleans series will be out in the next couple of weeks – from there I’ll be editing the remaining three and releasing them. Then I’ll start work on the next novel. Which, if Death Wish is anything to go by, will end up being an intricate, epic story that spans several books and consumes me for many, many months. So if you see a woman sitting in the corner of a cafe in Beeston chain-drinking cappuccinos and muttering darkly at her laptop screen, that’ll be me, wrestling with the next book.
Find out more about Megan at www.megantayte.com