My Tote Bag


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Megan Crane

Megan Crane is a New Jersey native who had great plans to star on Broadway, preferably in Evita, just like Patti LuPone. Sadly, her inability to wow audiences with her singing voice required a back up plan. Accordingly, she graduated from Vassar College and got her MA and PhD in literature from the University of York in England. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on AIDS literature, mostly so she could wallow in her obsession with the remarkable multi-media artist David Wojnarowicz and her idol, the bitter and hilarious David Feinberg. After many years in the rain and subject to the whim of seasons, she followed the sun to Los Angeles, where she lives with a dog, a cat, two crazy kittens, and an artist named Jeff. She is still plotting her Broadway debut.

Names My Sisters Call Me

Courtney, Norah and Raine Cassel are about as different as three sisters can get. Norah, the oldest, is a typical Type A obsessive who believes there is a right way and a wrong way to do everything. She maintains a constantly-updated spreadsheet of slights and alliances, and six years later has not forgiven Raine, their middle sister, for ruining her wedding day.

Raine is Norah’s opposite – wild child, performance artist, follow-your-bliss hippie chick who fled to California after the wedding fiasco. The only thing the two sisters have in common is their ability to drive Courtney, their youngest sister, crazy.

When Courtney’s long time boyfriend proposes, she decides it’s finally time to call a family truce and bring the three sisters together. After all, they’re all grown ups now, right? But it turns out that family ghosts aren’t easily vanquished, and neither are first loves. Reconnecting the sisters also means re-examining every choice Courtney has made in the last six years, right down to the man she’s about to marry.

Beyond The Book - Megan Crane on Names My Sisters Call Me

Lee : Megan, thanks so much for chatting with me! You’ve got a new book out on the shelves right now. Can you tell us about it please?

Megan: Names My Sisters Call Me is the story of Courtney Cassel, who decides that her engagement is the perfect opportunity to reunite her estranged sisters. Which, naturally, causes all hell to break loose, in the form of family secrets, first loves, and the truth about love.

Lee: How did you come up with the idea for this story? And why 3 sisters?

Megan: I wish I could point to something and tell you it was the building block, but books come from pieces and whispers and dreams more than building blocks. One day I was driving through Larchmont Village in Los Angeles, and I saw a redheaded woman carrying a cello across an intersection. Courtney came from there. The sisters seem to have come into the story organically-- meaning, I didn't sit down and decide to have three sisters, they just sort of happened. I knew Courtney had to have a justifiable reason for going to San Francisco, and there needed to be someone seriously opposed to the whole idea. Making them all family just made the whole thing juicier. And more or less, that's how the book happened. Needless to say, I am not a plotter.

Lee: What’s your process for putting a story together from concept of idea to the final draft? Do you plot it all out before you write or does it come together in bits and pieces as you go along? Would you say your stories are mostly plots based around characters or vice versa?

Megan: Well, as I kind of told you in the previous question, I don't really have a process. Bits and pieces come to me, and that's how I start to figure out the main character. I'd say my books are character studies, first and foremost. So I spend a lot of time figuring out the characters first. It often takes the entire first draft to figure out the main character and her journey, but that's why it's fun! If you want more, over on my blog ( Liza Palmer and I had a long conversation about writing and characters and all sorts of other things.

Lee: Which of the three sisters did you identify with the most? Why?

Megan: I'm usually pretty much in the main character's camp, so I'd have to say I identified with Courtney the most. But I have a huge soft spot for Norah, who's just trying to do what she thinks is the right thing. And I'm sympathetic to Raine, who I think, in some way, feels marginalized by her sisters-- not to mention, betrayed by Courtney. On some level I guess I can identify with all of them. That's why it's so much fun to write about them!

Lee: What do you do when you get Writer’s Block or get stuck on a particular scene?

Megan: There's the whole indulging yourself thing, which involves long drives to the sea, or reading (which actually isn't always helpful when I'm trying to solve problems in my own books), or listening to music. Taking a shower usually works, for some reason. But at the end of the day, you sometimes just have to push on through. Some scenes I know don't work immediately, but I have to leave them in and move on to get to other scenes, and usually those scenes turn out to be placeholder scenes-- as if my subconscious had to work some things out further along before figuring out exactly what it wanted there. If all else fails, I lie across the sofa like an opera heroine and feel sorry for myself!

Lee: Writing is such a solitary profession. How big a part do friends and family play in helping you stay focused and excited about your stories and your goals? And how do you like to relax when you’re not writing?

Megan: I'm lucky that my husband is an artist, another creative professional, so he understands the way the creative process and creative life work. That's an enormous gift; I can't imagine what I'd do without him. I think it's very important to get out and interact with people. See friends, see a movie, be outdoors where people are living their lives. Being alone in the house all day, making stuff up in your head, can make you pretty strange, pretty fast.

My major form of relaxation is reading. It soothes me. Luckily, there are no shortage of great books!

Lee: You’ve got a really cute quiz on Facebook for NAMES MY SISTERS CALL ME. Was it fun putting it together? How did you get the artwork done for it?

Megan: The artwork is courtesy of my husband, the very talented Jeff Johnson. But I can't take credit for the quiz-- that was all the work of the awesome Miriam Parker from Grand Central Publishing. Isn't it fun? Which sister are you?

Lee: What are you working on at the moment? What can readers except from you next?

Megan: I'm currently working on two projects. One another 5 Spot book, one a bit of a departure. We'll see where they end up-- because I'll admit, I never know in advance!

Lee: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Megan!