I'm now a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of four novels, including The Wednesday Sisters and The Wednesday Daughters, but I didn't start out that way. I started out with no idea how one went about becoming a writer of any sort—much less any faith in my own talent. For me, being a novelist meant being able to leap tall literary buildings in a single bound, and that, sadly, I cannot do. So I went off to the University of Michigan thinking I would become a doctor, and emerged as a corporate lawyer in a tidy blue suit. I was thirty-two by the time I worked up the nerve to give writing a serious try, and pregnant with my second son, who was eleven when my first novel was published. Writing, I've discovered, is a lot harder than it looks.
Along the way, I wrote short stories and essays, and more than a few pages that are in the proverbial drawer. I had great luck on the first piece I ever published, an essay called "What the Medal Means," which sold quickly to the only publication I could imagine it in: Runner's World. My fiction was slower going, though. I sent stories out again and again, revising each time until they did finally start appearing in publications like Shenandoah, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Literary Review.
My fiction is not closely autobiographical, but I do draw heavily from my emotions and experiences as I write. You can see the gory details on the Book Groups pages for each book, but suffice it to say that:
Like Nelly in The Language of Light, I moved two young sons to the Maryland horse country fictionalized in that novel (where I started writing in earnest);
Like Frankie in The Wednesday Sisters, I can, as a result, write anywhere and anytime; and
anything clever any child has done in my novels was likely first done by Chris and Nick.
I lived in ten different homes in Washington D.C., Kansas City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New Jersey before I went off to Ann Arbor, and in five more homes—in the Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Nashville—during and after my years in Ann Arbor, before finally settling in Palo Alto. In the process, I have waved good-bye to so many dear friends.
Friendships are at the core of my writing, because they are at the core of my heart. I'm blessed with remarkable friends who are forever refilling that well for me, especially Jennifer Belt DuChene (my lawschool roommate and my closest friends in the world), my Tuesday sister and fellow novelist, Brenda Rickman Vantrease, and my Tuesday brother and husband, Mac Clayton. Like Betts from The Ms. Bradwells, I miss sitting on that ratty old couch on our law school house porch with friends who, like The Wednesday Daughters, have known me since before I knew myself. My writing is certainly an homage to their love.
As much as I loved practicing law, my dream for as long as I can remember was to be a novelist. I feel incredibly grateful to be able to call myself one. Thanks to all of you who, in giving a little of your busy lives to follow my characters, allow me the pleasure of this life. - Meg
The video interview below was done by Lisa Van Dusen and Rachel Hatch for Palo Alto Online. More video, including book trailers here.
If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.
Favorite Classic Books
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Middlemarch by George Eliot Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger Excellent Women by Barbara Pym The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Charming Billy by Alice McDermott A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley Last Orders by Graham Swift A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien Three Junes by Julia Glass Bel Canto by Ann Patchett Empire Falls by Richard Russo Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler Inventing the Abbots and Other Stories by Sue Miller The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
And Short Story Collections:
You Are Not a Stranger Here by Adam Haslett Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri