February 8th, 2019
I asked Meaghan where she would like to chat:
For once, it was cold outside and there were snowflakes lightly falling from the sky. The weather here in Texas was almost never like this. It snowed maybe once every three years, and when it did, the entire city shut down. Except for the little cafe on the corner. The owners were from up north, so the weather didn’t bother them one bit. Today, the cafe glowed with a welcoming warmth.
Inside, the smell of coffee and pastries permeated the air. Two women sat at a table by the window. They’ve only just met, but from the looks of it, you would think they’ve known each other forever. They sat chatting and laughing with their coffee, forgotten, in front of them.
Laura Mae: Hey there Meaghan! How’s your day been today?
M.J. Slate: It’s been good! A little cold and rainy here, but good.
L: This weather has been crazy this year! I’m not okay with it! Haha! Where is it you’re from?
M: My family and I live in San Antonio, Texas, but I technically grew up all over.
L: Texas, nice! Do you travel a lot then, or is it military related?
M: My parents divorced when I was little, and we would move back and forth between them every school year. My mom lived here, but my dad was in the military. There was a lot of travel on both parts though.
L: I’m sorry to hear that about your parents. Does traveling put a hindrance on your writing or do you find it helps?
M: That’s okay, it was for the best. They both have been happily remarried for almost 20 years. I think all the traveling I’ve done has helped my writing in so many ways. It opened my eyes to different cultures and different ways of thinking. I try to put some of that into my stories, and I probably got the college degree I did because of it.
L: That’s awesome and great that you had that opportunity! What is it that you’re currently working on right now?
M: My mom and I are actually getting ready to publish the first book in a series we co-authored about the adventures of a brother and a sister. It’s an early chapter book geared for 4-8 year olds, inspired by my daughter. There are just a few last minute touches before we are ready to set a launch date!
L: Really? That’s really cool! I didn’t know you wrote kids books. And even cooler that it’s with your mom! Congrats by the way! That’s so exciting! How long have you been writing that?
M: Thank you! I’m super excited about it. We started writing this book over the summer, but I didn’t start off writing kids books. I normally write historical or fantasy fiction, but we saw a need in the market and my daughter’s bookshelf, so we thought we would give kid’s books a try.
L: How neat! I wish you all the best on it! What would you say is your favorite part about writing?
M: Thanks! I’d say my favorite part about writing is the creative need it satisfies. I love being able to take the stories I see in my head and breathe life into them.
L: Same. It’s the best feeling in the world. Are there authors out there you take inspiration from and apply to your own writing?
M: There are so many, but I would have to say J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were some of the first that inspired me to start writing. I love the worlds they created – fantastical, yet based on real places – and can only hope to create a world even half as impressive.
L: Great influences! They do create the most magical worlds! And I agree, to be half of what they do would be amazing! What is your least favorite part of writing, Meaghan?
M: I’d say my least favorite part about writing is struggling with my inner editor. It takes everything I have not to go back over every sentence and fix it right then and there, but the only way I can get any words down is to tuck my inner editor away in my pocket until I’ve finished writing the first draft.
L: Oh man that has to be really hard! I feel for you, girl. But the good thing is, you probably have less editing to do in the end, right?! Haha! Do you have any favorite literary characters? And why are they your favorite?
M: Ooh, that’s a good question! It would have to be a toss up between Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables, Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, or Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. I’m a big fan of strong female characters that give girls and women a good example they can relate to.
L: Love those! All very strong female characters! I agree. I try to do that same thing in my own writings. What about tropes? Any favorite or least favorite tropes you’ve seen in YA lately?
M: Hmmm. As far as least favorite tropes, I have nothing against a romantic subplot, in fact sometimes I’m a hopeless romantic, but I really don’t care for some of the love interests in YA lately. Some either seem completely out of the blue or they are not a good example of a healthy relationship.
L: It seems all to common lately. I’m glad most authors are realizing it and are stopping that terrible trend. What about words? Is there a word or phrase you’ve heard that you just can’t stand?
M: None that come to mind. I love it when authors use phrases like “Once upon a time…”.
L: Such a classic, though! Haha! How long have you been writing for Meaghan and do you recall the first thing you ever wrote?
M: I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but the first time I remember writing something that had an affect on me was right after 9/11. I didn’t fully understand what had happened, and I remember writing everything – all the events, my parents’ reactions, and my feelings- down in this little 2″x3″ pocket spiral. Ever since then, if there is something I need to work through or a story I need to tell, I write it down.
L: Interesting! That’s really cool that you recorded it though, very smart. And that’s such a hard habit for me, is writing things down when I think of something. I just hope I remember! What are some of your favorite books, Meaghan?
M: I carry a notebook and several pens with me everywhere I go, just in case inspiration strikes. My favorite books… do we have five hours? There are so many, but I’d have to say, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Anne of Green Gables, The Hobbit, The Princess Bride, and I have to include Harry Potter since I grew up with it!
L: I know, that’s always a tough question, but I wanna know! Great choices again! And the Princess Bride! I forgot about that one! So good! Besides writing and reading, what else do you like to do in your spare time?
M: I love to go hiking, canoeing, and spending time outdoors with my family.
L: Ooh, you and I could be best friends, girl! I love the outdoors too! Well, it’s been so fun getting to know you Meaghan! Would you mind leaving us with your best writerly advice?
M: My best writerly advice would be to get the words on the page. It doesn’t matter if your sentences are choppy, words are misspelled, or your grammar needs a visit from your 10th grade English teacher. Get the words on the page first, everything else can be fixed later.
L: Great advice!! Thank you so much Meaghan!
M: It’s been fun. Thanks for having me!
M.J. Slate is a writer, mom, and creative entrepreneur. As a dream come true, she runs Quill and Tome with her mom and sister, an indie bookstore that carries used and indie published books. She is a total nerd and loves to inspire and support others in their creative journeys. In 2019, she will release her first three books under the pen name MJ Slate: The Adventures of Mackenzie and Dylan, Book 1 (an early children’s illustrated chapter book), a nonfiction book on writing and being a mom, and her first YA/NA novel. When not writing or working on Quill and Tome, you can find her spending time with the family, usually hiking or canoeing.
In 2019, Quill and Tome will feature an indie author every week on their blog, along with literary trifles and writing advice. You can buy the Writer’s Planner that Meaghan uses to organize her writing business in their online store. https://quillandtome.com
While her upcoming book doesn’t have a cover yet, you can subscribe to her newsletter to keep updated when it releases!