Teen Read Week is officially October 16th through 22nd, but here at The Hub, we’re celebrating all month long with 31 Days of Authors. On each day in October, we’ll bring you author interviews and profiles and reflections on what YALSA-recognized books have meant to us.
Megan Miranda is a debut author with her first book, Fracture, coming out in January 2012 from Walker/Bloosmbury. You can find out what Fracture is about at her website. In Fracture’s heart-stopping opening chapter, seventeen-year-old Delaney Maxwell falls through the ice of a Maine lake where she is trapped for an eternal eleven minutes. Against all odds, Delaney survives, but from then on she finds herself inexplicably and terrifyingly linked to the deaths in her small town. Add to this her struggle to come to grips with her complicated relationship with childhood best friend and rescuer Decker, and the sudden appearance of a mysterious boy named Troy, who appears to have the same connection to death as she does. But are Delaney and Troy death’s heralds, or are they its cause? Riveting from beginning to end, the novel raises thought-provoking questions about the fragility and value of life, and its overwhelming beauty even as it draws to its inescapable end.
A Conversation with Megan Miranda
What inspired you to write Fracture?
I’ve always been drawn to facts and concrete answers. I think that’s probably why I went into the field of science. But the more I learned, the more I was drawn to the things we still don’t understand. I mean, we know how the common cold works, we know how cancer works. Doctors can detect a tiny heart defect in utero and perform an operation to correct it before the baby is born. We know so much. But there is still so much unknown about how the brain works. Why people can have the same injury and have completely different recoveries. Why some people who are supposed to die, live. Why some people who are supposed to live, die.
I’ve also wondered for a long time how much of the brainâ€”and therefore who we areâ€”is predetermined by DNA. I don’t know. But I do know that I want to believe that I am something more than just the product of the wiring of my brain. I believe we are all something more than that.
Writing Fracture was kind of my outlet for all these questions that were churning away inside of me.
You have a strong science background and even studied at MIT. How did that influence the novel?
Well, I think my background influences the way I think, which therefore influences the way I write. I tend to think a lot about the Why and the How of things, and then I get carried away daydreaming about the What-ifs.
Studying at MIT was kind of intense: it’s the type of place where you learn things you didn’t even know you didn’t know, and then you learn that there’s so much more that you still don’t know. But it’s also the type of place where you realize that nothing is really impossible.
Are any of the characters based on people you know?
No, not the characters. Though the core relationship sparked from a vague what-if question from a real history. I grew up across the street from a boy my age, and we were inseparable, in a very casual way. He moved away when we were still in elementary school, but now I have a young daughter in the same situation. Boy next door, growing up as best friends. They never knew life without each other. I think a lot of people grow up like that, and I wondered at what point things start to change, or would’ve changed for me, at least. When the friendship starts to shift, becoming more complicated and layered and hard.
How long did it take you to write Fracture?
It took me about 4 months to write the first draft of Fracture, very little of which made it into the finished product! It took me another 6 months to rewrite it (and rewrite it again) until I got it right.
What do you hope a reader will take away from Fracture?
I have pages and pages of a notebook filled with ideas I had while I was writing. Concepts, or themes, or vague half-thoughts about morality and the past and love and life and death. But I think it can all be whittled down to this: carpe diem.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I was able to pull on my background quite a bit, especially for the random science partsâ€”though, to be honest, I can’t pinpoint exactly where I originally learned it. In addition to that, years ago, I watched a friend recover from a traumatic brain injury, so I was able to pull on my memory for that, as well. Then I double-checked and triple-checked my memory of that experience against resources dedicated to the recovery of brain injuries.
What were you like when you were Delaney’s age?
Hindsight is kind of funny. I think I was a nerd without really knowing I was a nerd. I was other things, tooâ€”but I was very single-minded in my future goals back then, a little bit like Delaney (though that’s where our similarities end). I was going to go to a math/science school (check), study math/science stuff (check), and do math/science work (whatever that was) for the rest of adulthood (This is the sound of the universe laughing).
I worked pretty hard at school. But unlike Delaney, I wasn’t as concerned with the outcome or class rank or anything. I guess you could say I liked learning for the sake of learning. I’m also pretty sure that’s the definition of a nerd…
What kind of books did you read when you were her age?
I was an eclectic reader, which hasn’t changed much since then. I loved to read the darker classics (Heart of Darkness, Lord of the Flies, Edgar Allan Poe), commercial thrillers of any kind (John Grisham, Dean Koontz), and of course, Michael Crichtonâ€”whose books taught me that you can, in fact, embrace both the science and the writing.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Growing up, I can’t remember thinking that I wanted to be a writer. I knew I wanted to write, but being a writer seemed like such a dream. So I wrote, but only as a hobby. I don’t think it occurred to me that it was something I could pursue for real.
It wasn’t until after I had kids and quit my job to stay home with them that I thought maybe I could really become a writer. They were 3 and 1 at the time, and everyone was finally sleeping through the night, and I thought to myself that this was my chance to take a real shot at it.
If you were to cast a film version of Fracture, who would you cast in some of the main roles?
Hard question (mostly because I stopped watching television when I started writing seriously, so I’ve gotten really bad about keeping up with current actors and actresses)! I’m thinking Hayden Panettiere as Delaney, Mark Salling as Troy, and… I have no idea who to cast for Decker! To me, Decker is just Decker.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a psychological thriller. It’s about a girl with a questionable (to put it lightly) past. And it’s about memories. It’s about things that can haunt, and the thin line between the real and imagined. And it’s about friendship. Oh, and there’s a boy.
Of course, we have to ask: If you had one day left to live, what would you do?
I think the process of writing this book did change me a bit, because I definitely thought about this question a lot, since Delaney had to think about it. So I try not to wait. I try to call people when I think of them and spend time with the people I care about and not put things off on the â€œsomedayâ€ list. But I also realized that there’s no Big Thing I’m waiting for. And, in fact, if I had one day left to live, I’d spend it doing exactly what I do most days. I’d spend it with my kids. Doing something they absolutely love.
— Sarah Wethern, currently reading Pearl by Jo Knowles
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