Meg Eden is one of the most beloved and prolific writers in the DC area, and brings a special flare to the literary community. She is known for her online workshops, and can make an online experience feel more personalized than many can in the classroom! We caught up with Meg to talk about her new book, Post High School Reality Quest.
TWC: What was the inspiration behind your book? Do you have a personal connection to the subject matter?
Meg: I think it started with me playing with friendship dynamics in my life, and what it looks like when we transition from high school to college. I struggle with change, and I think writing this book allowed me to process my struggles and cope with them in a healthy way.
TWC: Your book is pretty popular with gamers. If this was intentional, what was it like writing for a niche audience?
Meg: I’m a pretty niche-y person with unusual tastes, and often struggle relating with mainstream media. I often struggle to find protagonists whose perspective and experiences I can relate to, so I tried to write a book that and experiences I can relate to, so I tried to write a book that I would want to read. I didn’t want to worry about audience while writing, and as I edited, I definitely did think about the gamer audience. For me, writing for a niche audience is freeing because it allows me to be myself and not really worry if the “mainstream” will like it or not. It creates a space for me to just be me.
TWC: What was the most fun part of writing? Inevitable next question: What were the less-than-fun moments?
Meg: The most fun part was when I was doing final editing, knowing the characters and knowing the plot, and writing a few new scenes to accommodate changes. I knew what I was playing with which let it be more fun than some of the earlier stages, where I was still figuring so much out. Everything that involved playing with writing the perspective of a video game was fun too. The harder part was going back and editing, especially when my editor wanted me to cut a character. I’m a very character driven writer so this was like asking me to cut my arm off!
TWC: How is Post High School Reality Quest unique among your writings?
Meg: I’ve written quite a few novels, but PHSRQ is the first one to get published. It’s the only one I’ve written in second person, and the only one using the text adventure form. If I tried writing anything like it again, I think it would come off as gimmicky.
TWC: What do you hope the reader is left with after finishing the book?
Meg: In whatever I write, I hope that it makes my readers think about the world around them, and interrogate their own worldviews and assumptions. I know every time I write, I’m constantly interrogating myself. I hope that readers will walk away with the message of redemption—that even though Buffy made choices she later regretted, there were opportunities for her to make
a new path and do things differently. Even if we can’t re-spawn at save points in our everyday life, there are always opportunities to start over, change and grow.
TWC: Any advice for aspiring novel writers out there?
Meg: The best advice I can give is to read, write, and submit! I have done thousands of submissions to get my relatively few acceptances. Keep reading, keep writing, keep sending, keep editing. Go to local readings and conferences. Learn about literary magazines and presses. Don’t be afraid of mistakes, and don’t be afraid to declare what you have done. Also: Publish smaller work before sending out a full novel. In high school, I sent out my poems and short stories to literary magazines. Then when I queried an agent, I was able to mention places I had already been published. I think this helps a query letter stand out. It says that you’ve already been vetted as a writer, that what they’re about to read is probably pretty good, and can get them excited about reading your work.