The time it was about a backwards book

Posted July 12, 2016 by Stacee in Signings | 4 Comments

As I’ve said a zillion times, All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda is one of my top books of 2016.  So when I saw that she was going to be coming to MG, I squee’d like a little girl and made definite plans to go.


Hubs and I got to the store early at our usual time and chatted with Rob and Sam and Kelly.  I tried to sell Hamilton to someone {he wasn’t having it at all} and we discussed Disney movies and RHPS and all things Tim Curry.  You know, the usual.

Megan got to the store at 7 and she chatted with a few people in the crowd before the signing started.   She came out right at 7:30 and jumped right in.


I wrote 5 YA thrillers before I wrote an adult. I’m interested in the big events that happen when we’re 16 and 17. Five years after finishing my first book, I was wondering what happened to those characters. It made me wonder if those big events would make an impact on someone as an adult.

I always get the question why I wanted to tell it backwards. Each step you go back, you peel back another layer. It took me a really long time to make to work. I wanted it to have to go back to the past to get the answer.

The first time I attempted it was back in 2012. It was a different story. I got about 50 pages and it wasn’t working, so I set it aside. I probably have about 10 false starts. It wouldn’t leave me alone.

I grew up in New Jersey, but live in North Carolina. The drive feels like a character shift. When I got back to NJ, I felt like I was going back to the person I was when I was a teenager.

Megan then talked about the synopsis of the book and then read a passage.


What do you mean that it didn’t work?

Character is always first. I don’t outline. The character and the plot didn’t click. There was a lot of trial and error in where I could loop to the next day. I learned that I had to write it episodically. I would keep lists of what the narrator knows and what the reader knows.

It’s more of a feel. Sometimes it takes a couple of false starts. I have to write my way in. I know what’s going to happen at the half and the end.

Were you inspired by someone who wrote that way?

I love anything that’s different structurally. I loved the first season of Revenge. You know the end and the rest of the show is how it works up to that outcome.

Will your next book be that way?

No. My next YA book is told by objects. {She gave a brief description, but I didn’t get it}


You graduated from MIT. Do you have another life?

I write full time now. I went to school for biology and I worked in biotechnology for about 2 1/2 years. When I moved to NC, I taught high school science. I think my science background helped with the structure.  I could see it as an experiment.

Can you tell us about the Ferris wheel?

It’s the last time that nic and Corinne and Bailey were all together. It’s the moment that starts everything. It’s my favorite scene and I’m so happy that it made the cover.

You’ve been compared to Gillian Flynn. Do you agree?

She’s one of my favorite authors, so that’s flattering. They’re very different books. They’re similar in that they’re psychological and with a woman as a main character.

What did you read growing up?

Lee Child. Michael Crichton. I think it’s one of the reasons why I love writing the books I do. It’s fun to create the mystery and unravel it as well.


Who are your favorite authors now?

Megan Abbott. Tana French.

What makes a psychological thriller?

To me, it’s an underlying tension and the threat might not be apparent. You know someone is after you, but not who. A lot of things like “did my husband do this crime?”

Do you use people you know for characters?

Says my family member. After my first book, my aunt called me laughing and told me that I named the parents in the book one letter off from my parents. I didn’t even notice. I always want to say no, but I probably pull things. Characters are my favorite part. You write and you get to know them. Especially draft after draft. I try to filter perception. It’s not my perception, it’s the character’s.

Do you find a lot of adults have read YA?

Yes. And I read a lot of YA now too. There’s a really big range of things out there right now. I think there’s something universal about that time in out lives. It’s easy to connect back to that.


Did you have training in writing?

I took technical writing at MIT. I loved to read and write in high school. I never stopped reading and deconstructing what worked for me as a reader is what made me want to write. I didn’t take formal writing classes.

When they reject you, do you get feedback?

Sometimes? For my first book, I had an idea, but not a working plot. They would pinpoint places that needed help.

Did you get a lot?

*laughs* Yes. I got a lot. I figured the worst thing that could happen was that they said no and they did. It was hard for me to put myself out there.


Now that you have a following, is it easier?

It’s the same process. You still have to come up with an idea, but that doesn’t mean it’ll work as a book. I’ll usually pitch an idea and give them 50 pages.

Where do you get the ideas?

Usually it’s when I’m in the middle of something because the middle is the hardest. I have to force myself to finish.

What’s the store about changing publishers?

This is an adult book, so it had to go to an adult imprint. I wrote the entire book and then sent it out. It was like the first time.

Your next book is YA?

I have one of each. My next one will be another adult, it should be out in May. YA is done, but not edited. So maybe it’ll be out in a year and a half.

The signing started then and Megan came around the podium to me.  We hugged and she thanked me for coming. I started gushing to her about the new Megan Abbott book and then gushing about her book and how much I loved it. After I made a total fool of myself, I thanked her again and then left to say goodbye to my MG people.

mm1 mm2

I can’t recommend All the Missing Girls enough.  And if you want to read more about Megan, check out the interview I just did with her.

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4 responses to “The time it was about a backwards book

  1. Tim Curry! Well, I don’t go looking for Psychological Thrillers, but I have stumbled upon a few of them I have loved, and this one sounds intriguing with its backwards timeline. I am going to add it to my tbr. I love your recap posts so much because it is fascinating to see the huge differences in writing motivations and planning (not planning) that go into each author’s writing process. Thanks again for taking the time for these posts. :)

    La La in the Library recently posted: TOP FIVE FRIDAY #29
    • Stacee

      I love that you’re always so enthusiastic about the recaps. I really appreciate it. They’re my favorite part of blogging.

      As for this book, I thought it was amazing. I hope you give it a chance and that you love it.

      Thank you for always reading and commenting!!

    • Stacee

      I’m so happy you enjoyed this book!! I can’t stop pushing it on people.
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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