Peggy: You have an incredible ability to write compelling, complex, real characters that readers fall in love with. Tell us a little about your process-- do your characters come to you fully formed, or do they become who they're going to be as you are writing and editing?
Meagan: My main characters are usually greatly informed by the worlds they live in and what the story needs them to be. I had the setting of the Skylark trilogy before anything else, and thought about whose story would be most interesting to tell in this world where magic is a fuel source, and rapidly dwindling. The answer: a girl with the power to generate magic herself. Of course, for those who've read Skylark, the first book, they know that's not really the whole story on Lark and her abilities, but I won't spoil the twists for those who haven't! For side characters it's usually an archetype that first comes to me. Like "the teacher" or "the familiar." That allows me to see how the character will fit into the story, and lets me build him or her (or it, in Nix's case!) out from there into a more realistic person.
Those touches inevitably come from the characters' histories, most of which never show up in the books themselves. Kris, for example, has a lengthy origin story that will probably never see the light of day. Oren does as well--I wrote quite a bit of what happened to him in his childhood and what happened to his parents, and how he survived on his own. Sometimes you see side characters who only exist on the page, seemingly coming into existence for the first time when they're introduced in the manuscript. But real people have stories that span years or even decades, and for me, figuring out what brought each character to the place they enter my story makes them feel more real for me.
Peggy: You have been applauded by so many advance readers for writing a satisfying ending packed with action, tension, tough choices, romantic conflict, and reveals, with an incredible series arc and character arcs. Was the ending one you knew from the start, or did it surprise you?
Meagan: Let me tell you first what a relief that is to hear! Any series writer will tell you that there's nothing more terrifying than trying to end a series. If you can't please everyone with one book, you certainly can't please everyone with three! For me, the ending of Lark Ascending feels inevitable. I wasn't 100% certain exactly how it would end, but I knew the feeling I wanted to end with. For me, that's often where my plot structures and twists come from. I figure out how I want my reader to feel at any given point in the story arc, and then I figure out what would make them feel that way. So I knew exactly the note I wanted to strike with the ending, and by the time I got there, I knew how to do it.
The real trick was to keep that feeling of inevitability, like everything was always leading to that climax, that decision that Lark has to make in the end (no spoilers, don't worry!) from the very first words of the very first book—while also keeping it surprising. You don't ever want to feel like you can see what's coming--what you want is for readers to look back after finishing and think "Oh my god, I should have seen it!" That's what I aim for with every book—surprising yet inevitable.
That said... it surprised me, so I hope it surprises readers too!
Peggy: I think readers are going to LOVE it! Want to find out more about Megan and her books? Check out the links below.
Meagan Spooner grew up reading and writing every spare moment of the day, while dreaming about life as an archaeologist, a marine biologist, an astronaut. She graduated from Hamilton College in New York with a degree in playwriting, and has spent several years since then living in Australia. She’s traveled with her family all over the world to places like Egypt, South Africa, the Arctic, Greece, Antarctica, and the Galapagos, and there’s a bit of every trip in every story she writes.
She currently lives and writes in Asheville, North Carolina, but the siren call of travel is hard to resist, and there’s no telling how long she’ll stay there.
In her spare time she plays guitar, plays video games, plays with her cat, and reads.