Author Interview with Meg Long

SP: Hi Meg! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to know a bit about you and your writing journey!
Sure! I started getting serious about writing back in 2014. By 2016, I was attending some writing conferences and had even finished a YA sci-fi book which I pitched to a few agents but didn’t get far with it. A few manuscripts/years later, I applied to Pitch Wars in a different genre, adult mystery, and got chosen by Kellye Garrett and Mia P. Manansala to be their mentee. Even though I worked really hard on that story, it didn’t go far in the query trenches. But while I was lamenting through query rejections, I started drafting a wild story about a girl and a wolf and a sled race! And that was the book that my agent’s grabbed out of their slush pile and is also about to become my debut at Wednesday Books.

SP: Can you tell us about your book, COLD THE NIGHT, FAST THE WOLVES? How long did it take you to write it and how did this story come about? 
The story came about from a very eerie and atmospheric Twitter thread written by a famous Iditarod sled racer, Blair Braverman. It was about a creepy night that she and her dogs experienced while sledding through the wilds of Alaska during the Iditarod sled race one winter. A friend shared it with me and the image basically sparked the kernel of an idea that I mashed up with every sled dog story I loved growing up. (Balto, White Fang, Call of the Wild, Stone Fox and many others!)

At first, I planned on writing it as a fantasy in a wintery land with magic but I couldn’t get anything to quite flow. When I switched it to sci-fi, everything fell into place and it only took me about four months to draft and revise (which is super fast!) The story started as a simple dog sled race but, through the relationship between the main character, Sena, and the wolf she has to heal, Iska, it became a story about finding family and how they help each other survive even the harshest conditions.

Short blurb:
After angering a local gangster, seventeen-year-old Sena Korhosen must flee with his prize fighting wolf, Iska, in tow. A team of scientists offer to pay her way off her frozen planet on one condition: she gets them to the finish line of the planet’s infamous sled race. Though Sena always swore she’d never race after it claimed both her mothers’ lives, it’s now her only option. But the tundra is a treacherous place, and as the race unfolds and their lives are threatened at every turn, Sena starts to question her own abilities. She must discover whether she’s strong enough to survive the wild – whether she and Iska together are strong enough to get them all out alive.

SP: What was your favorite part about writing this book? Which character surprised you most?
Really, drafting this entire book was so fun. The story just exploded out onto the page and somehow it was easy to write a draft for almost every scene—which isn’t the always the case when it comes to first drafts! I think Sena and Iska’s story was so vibrant and alive that it practically wrote itself. Though I will say, my absolute favorite part of writing this book was creating the very dramatic chapter endings. 😈

The character who surprised me the most is probably Remy. She’s an engineer, new to the race, who befriends Sena as things get harder. But Remy’s tougher than she looks and sees problems not as obstacles but more like fun challenges she needs to conquer. She also has a more positive outlook on things which really balances out Sena’s cranky demeanor. Remy also likes to make things explode and generally cause chaos which is also the most fun to write.

SP: What part of the writing process do you least enjoy and why?
This really depends on each book for me as every book has its own demands and differing needs. For CTNFTW, copy edits were by far my least favorite part of the process. Apparently, I am not good with commas or timelines. For the sequel to CTNFTW, getting a first draft complete was really, really hard and not always enjoyable. I’m also working on another WIP now that’s got a very complex plot, so plotting has been killing me this go-round. I guess my answer is that my enjoyment of the writing process changes with each book. 😅

SP: What excites and terrifies you about your book coming into the world?
The most exciting thing is that it’s (hopefully) the beginning of a new career path—who knows what opportunities will come next! I like that feeling of setting off in a new direction. The most terrifying thing…is that I know there will be people who don’t like the book and will leave reviews that would probably make me feel like a giant failure. I don’t plan on reading them but the anxiety is real regardless.

SP: How involved in marketing and promotion are you? Any marketing tips for other writers?
As far as marketing and promotion goes, I try to do what I can to build a stronger relationship with readers in ways that I am comfortable with and feel inspired to do. My tip is to do whatever feels natural and fun for you. I make my own graphics because it’s a skill I have and I find them fun to make. If you’re not great at that, it might turn out more frustrating than fun. I also have a monthly newsletter but that might feel too often for someone else. I have done some giveaways and things on Instagram but I’m a little less involved on Twitter because that’s where my comfort levels are with those platforms. I have a TikTok and occasionally post videos when I get inspired, but otherwise I don’t try and force myself to produce marketing content. It’s important to do what comes naturally, rather than force things you don’t enjoy. Do what you like, do what’s fun, otherwise you’ll burn out. Writing a great book should always be an author’s primary job, more so than becoming a social media influencer. (At least, that’s my goal!) 

SP: How do you have time to work on developing your craft now that you have a book deal and deadlines and such to worry about?
I sneak time for craft whenever I can (I also have a full-time day job.) Sometimes it means reading a new craft book during my lunch break or researching specific story structures online. When I watch movies, there’s always a part of my brain looking for the beats and focusing on the characters’ journeys. (A lot of times, I even take notes on lessons I learned afterwards.🤓) I’m always trying to learn as much as I can about storytelling from as many outlets as possible.

SP: Sadly, we’re running out of time here. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Anyone can learn to write a compelling story. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your education or experience is. I know successful writers without degrees and some with. I know successful writers who are older than me but I also know many who are much younger (and sometimes wiser.) There is no age limit or required degree to be a writer. Storytelling is a skill that can be studied, improved, and developed by anyone, from any walk of life. And never let anyone tell you otherwise.

SP: Ok, speed round. Favorite place you’ve traveled?
Probably my favorite place is Thailand. When I lived in China, it was easy and cheap to visit and I would go to train at the Muay Thai (kickboxing) camps whenever I got the chance. It’s definitely not a typical ‘holiday’ but it’s hands down my favorite type of vacation.

SP: Plotter or pantster?

I’m more of a plotter though once I get to the actual writing, I often deviate from my original outlines and follow what the story needs instead of sticking exactly to my plan.

SP: Most obscure hobby?

I’ve been doing Muay Thai for about fourteen years now. (Hence all the trips to Thailand!) It doesn’t seem obscure to me, though I know it seems extreme or obscure to some. But I co-own a gym with my partner and spend most of my evenings kicking things. It’s the best!

SP: Early bird or night owl?

Definitely not a night owl anymore! In college it was easy to stay up and pull an all-nighter but now I feel like death the next day if I stay up past midnight. So, I guess that makes me a pumpkin and puts me in the early bird camp (though I never wake up before six A.M. That’s too early!)

Thanks for your time Meg! We look forward to hearing more from you about future books! 😀

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