Hey guys! Hope you’ve all been doing well. I took on The Space Between as my book for our second readathon and I’ve already finished it and adored it! Which is why I’m super excited today to welcome Meg Grehan, a fellow Irish writer, to my blog for an interview for #LGBTQMonth! Don’t miss it below!
1. Is there any particular reason you decided to write The Space Between in verse?
I started writing in prose but it didn’t feel right. I was writing a section filled with a lot of panic and I really wanted to capture that feeling but it just wasn’t working. I kept adding more and more words, more description but it started feeling too weighed down with words and eventually ridiculously over-written. So I got to thinking about the nature of mental illness, especially depression and agoraphobia and how isolating they can be and how quiet your world can get when you’re in the depths of them. I realised that at my worst I very rarely spoke. Sometimes my girlfriend would arrive home at 6pm and I would speak for the first time that day. Verse felt like the perfect way to express that because it has no rules, you can use as many or as little words as you want, you can use format and form and shape and punctuation however you like to show how a character feels. It’s such a fun, liberating way to write. But also, I just really, really love it!
2. Have you ever written in prose? If so, how did you find it compared to writing verse?
I have! I still do, I’ll usually go with whichever fits the story best but I much prefer verse. Prose is a little harder for me, I tend to stress more about pacing and worry about over-writing. Verse just comes naturally!
3. What’s some of your favourite books with LGBTQ characters?
Ooh here we go! My very favourite is Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue, it’s a collection of fairytale retellings with a very feminist, queer twist and I could read it over and over and over. I’ll always have a soft spot for Sugar Rush by Julie Burchill since it was the first I’d ever read. Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour is one of my favourites, it’s gorgeous. The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness is my absolute favourite series. Ash by Malinda Lo is incredible. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire, Nina is Not Ok by Shappi Khorsandi, Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler, Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown, Why be Happy When You Could Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson, Read Me Like a Book by Liz Kessler, George by Alex Gino, Wildthorn by Jane Eagland, The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg, Lumberjanes… I could go on and on! Oh and Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley is a special one for me because it’s also about agoraphobia!
4. Who’s your favourite character from The Space Between and why?
I’m not sure I could choose! I’m tempted to say Mouse the dog because nothing would have happened without Mouse! I don’t think I could ever choose between Beth and Alice and there’s only one other character, a delivery guy who pops up once in the whole book but so many people have told me they loved him, so we’ll go with the delivery guy!
5. Do you have a writing schedule that you follow?
I have a writing schedule that I try to follow!
6. When did you first realise you wanted to be an author?
Probably when I read The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton for the first time as a kid. It made me so certain that magic was real, I believed in the Faraway Tree 100%. It made me want to have adventures and go to magical places but I was such a shy, quiet kid so I started writing adventures instead. I was a bookish kid, if I wasn’t reading I was writing. I had a tiny writing desk in my room and I would sit and write ‘books’ and staple them together and draw covers. It was always something I loved, that made me feel calm and happy.
7. How do you select the names of your characters?
I kind of wait until a name appears and feels right, if it takes a while I’ll use a stand-in name and replace it later. Beth and Alice actually had very different, very Irish names for the longest time. My emails with my my publishers are full of debates over names!
It’s different with each project though; sometimes I start with a name, sometimes I change names a million times, sometimes the perfect one just pops up out of nowhere. A story I’ve been working on recently needed very specific names so I’ve had to do a lot of research to make sure I picked the right ones, that’s been a lot of fun!
8. How long did it take you to write The Space Between?
A couple of weeks, it was my Camp Nanowrimo project last April. I wrote it during the first half of the month, spent the second half piecing it all together and sent it off in May. It was all very fast! It had been sitting in my brain for months beforehand though, it had plenty of time to grow before I actually felt I could sit down and write it.
9. Do you have any advice to aspiring writers?
Try everything! I had never written verse before and now I love it with my whole heart. Try anything and everything that interests you, write melodramatic poems or noir crime stories or haikus or whatever it is that you have hiding behind that little bit of doubt in your head.
Be nice to yourself, being creative can be hard and inconsistent so try to be understanding and treat yourself with the patience and kindness you would show anyone else.
Take lots of dance breaks.
10. And finally, what are you working on at the moment?
Too many things! A verse story, a super exciting project with a friend, a script…