Megan Miranda is the author of the YA thrillers Fracture, Hysteria, Vengeance, and the upcoming Soulprint. With a degree in Biology from MIT, she taught high school science before becoming an author. She currently lives near Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and two young children. Find her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.
1. What inspired you to write and publish your first novel, Fracture, about a girl who survives drowning?
I was really drawn to stories about the brain, and the things science couldn’t quite explain yet. I’d also read stories of people whose personalities would change after developing a tumor, or having one removed, which to me begged the question: Which person are we? Are we more than just the wiring in our brain?
So in Fracture, I knew I wanted a girl to survive something that would typically be unsurvivable, to be changed in a way that you couldn’t necessarily see on the surface. I wanted to explore the repercussions of that change—and in this case, it took the form of a girl who’s able to sense when someone is near death.
As far as publishing, I pursued it the traditional way. I researched agents, wrote a query letter, sent it out, and crossed my fingers. At the time, I had the concept and the voice, but, as I learned, I still had a lot of work to do on the story itself. I signed with my agent with the understanding I needed to do some serious work. I rewrote the book twice over the course of six months before we went on submission to publishers, but when we did, I was very fortunate in that it sold pretty quickly.
I think, by definition, the books would be classified as paranormal—in that they contain an element that science isn’t able to explain….yet. But for me, I wrote the stories in a contemporary world. And I tried to base the paranormal element on science as much as possible. So in Fracture, the ability of the brain to sense illness after a trauma is based on a few things: synesthesia, neuroplasticity, pheromones, and anecdotal stories of animals that could predict deaths.
3. The theme of this year’s Geek Gala is time travel. What’s your favorite time travel story?
In theory I love time travel stories, but most of the time when I actually sit down to read/watch a time travel story, my mind goes into full WAIT WHAT’S HAPPENING I DON’T UNDERSTAND mode, and I spend the majority of the story trying to wrap my head around the concept of time travel, instead of enjoying the actual story. I’m fascinated by it, but I can’t get a grasp on it. I guess because I’m still held up by the concept of time itself (Whether it’s a real thing—whether it’s a concept we use to give context to things. And if it’s not a thing, can we actually travel through it? See? There I go. Tangents. I don’t understand time.)
So mostly I enjoy time travel stories where the plot doesn’t hinge on the logistics, but the time travel is more the setting, or the hook of the story. In books: Outlander; in movies: The Terminator (and Terminator 2).
4. Your upcoming book, Soulprint, is about “soul-fingerprinting.” Is this science fiction or supernatural?
I’d classify this as science fiction, with a really contemporary feel to it. It takes place in our normal world, but with one added change. Just as we can now screen for DNA, we can also screen for someone’s soul, discovering the people it had belonged to in previous lives. There’s not a biological basis for it that I know of, though I did try to base the science of it, and the way the information was stored, on DNA/CODIS/etc. For me, this was the question I thought about in high school and in college when I was studying biology. I was fascinated by the idea that we might scientifically find the “soul.” What might that be? What might that mean? Who would that information belong to?
I loved writing this book and researching ideas for it, but it’s completely based on a “what if” question from my imagination.
5. Based on your degree in Biology, what do you think aliens might look like?
Oh, interesting question! I think that our definition of “life” and how we define it is probably not the same way “life” would be defined in a completely different world. I believe we wouldn’t necessarily recognize it if we stumbled upon it. If life is random, and its origin was random, then wouldn’t it make sense that it would exist in some completely other form, taken in the context of another planet’s history, in a completely different environment? I don’t imagine alien life would look anything like life here on Earth.
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Your host for 5 Questions is J.L. Hilton, the author of the Stellarnet Series published by Carina Press, and a contributor to CharlotteGeeks.com and the Contact-Infinite Futures SF/SFR blog. She is the founder of Raleigh’s Can’t Stop the Serenity event and a CSTS global sponsor. Her jewelry designs are featured in the books Steampunk Style Jewelry and 1000 Steampunk Creations. Visit her at JLHilton.com or follow her on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads and deviantART.