Today I'm so excited to share my interview with Megan Davies, a writer of fantasy and bearer of fantastic advice. Megan talks about her first assumptions about writing, her current project, and how it is important to put yourself out there. I hope you enjoy!
Tell us a little about yourself!
My name is Megan Davies. I live on the South Coast of England with my fiancé and dog. I studied French and Classical Studies at the University of Exeter and I now work as in Marketing. I have worked in a range of different industries from TV to Publishing (hoping that experience will come in handy later down the line), but currently I am working for a Cloud Technology company. It is rather ironic that what I write about for a living (cloud computing networks and cyber security architectures) is pretty much the exact opposite of what I like to write about in my novels; magical systems and fairytale creatures. It is a form of escapism for me.
What has your writing journey looked like?
Writing has been the enduring theme throughout my life. I have written here and there, started blogs that never really amounted to much, but it was not until recently that I actually set out to put my dream of writing a book into reality (I think turning 30 made me realise that it was a dream I didn’t want to put off anymore).
The first thing I did was to research the tools I would need to write a novel. I realised very early on that I have always been rather naive in thinking that writing an entire novel was straightforward. I thought that the author wrote the first draft and sent it off to the editor after maybe a read through and some minor tweaks. I thought that they had one brilliant idea and the words would just flow until they were done. In fact, these assumptions had caused me to think that I was a failure because I could not accomplish these things and that every first draft I started seemed to be so far from what I thought it should be. Now I know that is just what first drafts are like.
Can you pitch the book you’re currently working on?
My current WIP is a fantasy novel called Rise of the Sorceress (working title and subject to change).
Set in the land of Bryth, a world where men have stolen magic from women and now use it as a tool for power and sttatus, a young woman from an ancient line has grown up with no knowledge of who she is or the powers she will inherit. Bryth is governed by a king who uses his power to rule with fear, while all magic is suppressed from the female lines out of superstition of the ancient sorceress’ immense power. Tamwen escapes this fate when her mother flees her controlling husband, bestowing her precious daughter upon a local farmer. With no restrictions, her natural abilities start to surface in a way that has not happened for hundreds of years.
After a terrible incident, Tamwen is forced to flee. Her only hope, an idealistic nobleman with his own agenda who claims to know how to help her control her temperamental and dangerous abilities. Now she faces a choice: suppress her powers to live a normal life or use them to overcome centuries of oppression.
Rise of the Sorceress is a story about the delicate balance of power, the importance of self belief and the desire to belong.
How have you evolved as a writer, both in attitude and style?
I have evolved so much already and I know that my evolution is far from over, especially in my attitude towards sharing my writing. I remember when I first ever posted a snippet of my work on Instagram, I was so nervous. What if nobody liked it? What if they picked holes in it? I needn't have worried, the Instagram writing community is one of the most supportive I have ever come across. Everyone was kind and commented words of encouragement, but the real lesson I learned from sharing my work was that it is an important part of the process. Even if people had picked holes in the writing, then that would have just provided me an opportunity to grow. Now I actively post snippets and use my posts to get advice or opinions on what I am writing. The writer in me that was so scared of rejection or criticism is gone and I now openly welcome it so that I can grow.
What advice would you give to your younger writer self?
Don’t just assume you know it all, read the books, do your research, ask people what it takes to write a book. If I had thought that it would be this hard and this time consuming, I would have started years ago. As young people we tend to think we have it all figured out so we put things off, we don’t dedicate the time needed to be as good as we possibly can be. I am older and wiser now (I hope) and I am making the time to do that.
What have been some differences in tackling the first and second drafts?
With the first draft my main aim was to get the story down on paper. I knew it wasn't going to be pretty, I knew there were going to be a lot of mistakes and plot holes and there would be a lot that I would need to fix/ rewrite. The second and third drafts are more for refinement and I am focusing on different elements. For example on the second draft I am focusing completely on character arcs. I want to make sure my characters are likable, believable and interesting to read. There has been a lot of rewriting in the second draft. In fact, by the time I finish I think I may have rewritten around 60%+ of the book. This felt really overwhelming and demotivating at first, but then I realised that it was a positive step. I had written my first draft and that has shown me exactly what didn't work and what did. This was the purpose of the first draft and so a success in my eyes - even if I wasn’t looking forward to rewriting swathes of text.
What are your writing goals? How do you expect to achieve these goals?
My current goal is to finish and publish this book and I have set myself a goal of doing that over the next 18 months. Support from friends and family will be key to achieving this goal, as will self discipline and self motivation, but most of all, being kind to myself and realistic with what life may have to throw at us in the next few years.
Do you have any advice for fellow writers?
Don’t hide your writing away. When you start writing it can feel very precious, like it may break if you show it or discuss it with someone. Trust me, it wont. In fact discussing your writing with people will strengthen both your creativity and your confidence. I remember sitting down with one of my best friends and telling her I was writing a book. I expected her to be dismissive or downplay it, but she didn’t. Instead she wanted to know all about it, wanted to know when she could read it and wanted to know if she could help.
A few glasses of wine later and I had sheepishly told her my entire plot and asked her what she thought. She said she loved it (obviously, she’s a good friend) but what she did after was even better. She spent the next few hours with me asking me a series of questions that made me stop and think. That night we hashed out character arcs and came up with alternative endings, she pointed out some plot holes and a number of dubious escapes. In short, she helped me develop my story in a way I wasn't able to do churning it around my own head.
Don't be too precious about your story. Get it out there, discuss it on Instagram, talk about it with your family and friends. I have heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child and also to write a book, and it really does. Surround yourself with a good community and let them help, you owe that to yourself and to your book.
Follow Megan on Instagram: @mrs_word_smith