Author Interview: Meg Donohue

When did you start writing? What do you love about it?
I've been writing for as long as I can remember. I still remember a creative writing class--and the poem I wrote for it--in third grade, so certainly as long as that, though I suspect longer. I love losing myself in a story, whether it's one I am writing or one I am reading. Though I am a fairly social person, I really enjoy and crave the solitary act of writing--the quiet contemplation, the hours that zip by when I'm lost in another place, discovering new people and their desires and dilemmas. 

Why do you write women's fiction?
I write stories populated by smart, funny, ambitious women facing the complexities of their own desires and relationships and choices. Women are fascinating and I love exploring those dynamics.

Describe your typical day/writing routine when you're working on a novel.
Every day of my week is a little bit different because I have two young daughters and their various preschool and nanny schedules are different every day. But I aim to write at least ten pages each week, or one chapter, and I work about four hours per day four days week. I wish I had more time to write, but I also don't want to lose any of the time I spend with my daughters. I guess I really wish for more hours in the day!  

What inspired you to write How to Eat a Cupcake?
I loved the idea of writing about two women who are completely different in almost every way except for their mutual love of cupcakes, and how that love could bring them back together years after having a falling out. I also knew I wanted to write about the dynamic between daughters of a mother and her nanny--two women who grow up almost as sisters until they begin to understand how complicated their relationship really is. And I wanted a mystery element.  

How did you get your novel published? Tell us about your journey to publication.
I am incredibly lucky to have a friend who is an editor -- Jeanette Perez at HarperCollins. She had read some of my writing over the years, so I sent her the summary of How to Eat a Cupcake and the first two chapters, and she ended up making me an offer to publish it. I completed the manuscript about nine months after that and about a year after that the book was published! Even when the deal happens relatively easily, the path to publication is pretty slow.  

What have been the best parts of the publishing process? What have been the most challenging?
I have absolutely loved receiving emails and Tweets and Facebook posts from readers who have enjoyed How to Eat a Cupcake. Those notes really do not get old--they make my day each and every time! It is still so surreal to think of strangers out there reading my book and feeling moved to email me. It means so much to me!

I've learned that it's quite challenging to balance the marketing and publicity aspects of publishing with the writing/creative aspects. Like most (if not all) authors, I want to do everything I can to get my book into as many readers' hands as possible, and those efforts end up taking quite a bit of time. I am still figuring out how to balance that work with the writing I want and need to be doing to move forward with my next book.

What are you working on now?
I am writing the final pages of the first draft of my new book, All the Summer Girls. It's about three childhood friends whose lives are unraveling in three separate cities--Philadelphia, New York, and San Francisco. They escape to the beach town of Avalon, New Jersey, where they spent the summers of their youth and end up confronting the secrets about one fateful summer night seven years earlier and how that night has affected their lives since. It will be published by William Morrow in early Summer 2013.
Thank you for answering our questions, Meg!