Registration is open for the 2022 Connecticut Book Awards!
When: October 23, 2022 | 3:00-5:00 p.m.
Where: Hartford Public Library
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COVID is still with us, although easing off a little, thank goodness. Did you have a favorite comfort genre to turn to when things were looking bleak? Something that lifted you away and to a different place for a while?
Funnily enough, as things turned bleak, my reading turned even bleaker. I gravitated toward thrillers, like always, and I even started to explore horror. It was difficult for me to read stories that leaned more light-hearted or comedic, because that was the opposite of how I was feeling at the time. It felt cathartic for me to indulge in the darkness a bit—mainly because the darkness in the books I was reading was very different from the kind happening in real life, and in that way, it granted a kind of reprieve. I liked reading domestic suspense, where characters’ lives would be turned upside down by secrets and/or crimes—but then have some kind of resolution in the end. I liked reading horror, where the monsters or situations were frightening—but not, outside the world of the book, real.
Where do you get your inspiration?
It’s difficult for me to pin this down because I get inspiration everywhere and anywhere—books, shows, podcasts, newspaper headlines, creepy houses, the ocean, conversations with friends, social media, photographs, paintings, music, etc. I don’t go to one specific place looking for inspiration because I never know what will inspire me at any given moment. Instead, I just try to consume a lot of words and images and trust that something will nudge me toward words and images of my own.
Who made reading important to you?
I never wanted for books as a kid. Whether it was the Goosebumps paperbacks my parents bought me for our summer vacations, or the trips to the library for another Nancy Drew, I always had plenty of options for reading. But I think I need to give a lot of credit to my high school English teacher, Mrs. Teed. She introduced me to two books that have been pivotal for me both as a writer and reader: Beloved by Toni Morrison and The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. Of course, I’d already loved reading way before eleventh grade English, but those books changed the kinds of stories I sought out. They made me hungry for stories with exquisite language, devastating secrets, and nuanced family portraits.
What’s the last book that had you reading past your bedtime?
Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister. I remember, on the night I finished it, I had 120 pages left. I was already pretty tired when I got in bed, so I figured I’d read twenty pages so I only had 100 left to finish the next day. Nope! Blew right past those first twenty pages and kept on going until I finished because it is such a brilliantly plotted and propulsive thriller with truly surprising twists.
What is your favorite book to give an adult or a child?
My favorite book to give an adult is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, because it’s a masterpiece and I truly believe that there’s something for everyone in it—art, music, Star Trek, Shakespeare, comic books, cults! I could go on and on—and I do, if someone gets me on the topic!
Who is the most supportive person in your life when it comes to your writing?
I’m very blessed to receive support from a lot of people—my parents, friends, former students, other writers—but my husband, Marc, has definitely been my biggest support. He’s witnessed all my ups and downs over the years in my publishing journey, and he’s encouraged me every step of the way, believing in me even when I didn’t. Not only that, but he helps me with plot problems, too! I’ve lost count of how many walks we’ve taken where I yammer on and on about an issue and—frustratingly, I’m sure—shoot down all his ideas until one finally clicks. I’m extremely grateful to be able to benefit from his brilliance.
Megan Collins is the author of The Family Plot, Behind the Red Door, and The Winter Sister, which was a 2019 Book of the Month Club selection. She taught creative writing for many years at both the high school and college level and is the managing editor of 3Elements Review. She lives in Connecticut.
At 26, Dahlia Lighthouse is haunted by her upbringing. Raised in a secluded island mansion deep in the woods and kept isolated by her true crime-obsessed parents, she is unable to move beyond the disappearance of her twin brother, Andy, when they were sixteen. Following her father’s death, Dahlia returns to the house, where the family makes a gruesome discovery: buried in their father’s plot is another body—Andy’s.
Dahlia is quick to blame Andy’s murder on the serial killer who terrorized the island for decades, but as she grapples with her own grief and horror, she realizes that her eccentric family, and the mansion itself, may hold the answers to what happened to her twin