A Conversation With Meg Tilly by Deb Danielle

Meg TillyA few weeks ago I met author (and former actress) Meg Tilly at a reading of her novel, Porcupine. I was so moved by her reading that I devoted the next day’s blog to it. I was also impressed with her writing and she was so open and lovely to chat with that I invited her to The Ball.

And so I am obviously thrilled today, to have Meg Tilly as my guest. Meg is the author of two adult novels, Singing Songs and Gemma. The newly released Porcupine is her first young adult novel. She is 47 years old, happily married and the mother of three children. Molly, a German Shepard/collie mix is her dog. She adopted her from a rescue service in July. Meg has finally managed to teach Molly to stop leaping over the back of the sofas. That dancing on the kitchen table is a no-no. And the butter and whatnot on the counters is not a smorgasbord for doggies.

Welcome, Meg!

Porcupine by Meg TillyI have just finished Porcupine and it is a gorgeous, heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful story about a young girl, Jack, coping with life when her father is killed in peacekeeping efforts in Afghanistan. This is a young adult novel, but an equally wonderful read for adults.

Porcupine will speak to any kid who has felt abandoned or whose family has broken down for whatever reason. In finding a way to survive your heroine (the twelve-year-old Jack) seems to find a new way to define family, among other things. What ideas, what message do you want your readers to walk away with from this story?

I want my readers to know that challenges happen. And sometimes these sorrows seem so huge that you think they might drown you. But deep inside, everybody has hidden strengths and resources. I also feel that in those times of hardship, it is important to stop and notice, breath in the beauty around you. It could be something as small as a tiny wildflower forcing it’s way through a crack in the concrete. Notice it, take it in and it will fill you.

The three siblings go fishing at one point in the book (a great scene!) and they actually make their fishing poles from tree branches and dig up their own worms on site. I was amazed by this; I just assumed everyone who fished did it with a store-bought pole! Do you have personal experience fishing “from scratch” or is this something you researched?

That’s funny. Growing up I thought that most people fished the way we did, with homemade poles, and it would be only the super fancy and rich that would have store bought ones. I remember one summer when I was 7. We were travelling across the country painting post offices. And at one of the creeks we camped at the fish were having a run of some sort. Our fancy grown-up step brother (the one who molested me in Singing Songs) had a store bought fishing pole, complete with fancy flashing baits and weights and feathered hooks. Well..those fish were having none of it. They were just trying to cram their way (I can’t remember if they were swimming up, or down stream) I just remember that the water was dancing with their writhing silver bodies. Anyway, us kids, we were always hungry and there was a veritable feast passing before our very eyes. So we rolled up our pants and strode in. We would grab a slippery body, hold on tight and then fling it to the shore. Then race up after it and pound it on the head until it was dead. We caught a lot of fish that day. Enough for everyones dinner. And our stinky step-brother with his fancy pole? Zip! Boy did that feel good!

Jack feels like a character that could have arrived, fully formed on the doorstep of your imagination, whereas Gran feel like someone you, the writer, may have had to discover as you went along. I love them both and I’m curious about how they each developed.

That is absolutely true, Danielle. Jack is very much a part of me. Gran revealed herself to me as we went along. Constantly surprising me.

Maybe this is a harsh question, but are there some people who just shouldn’t be parents? I didn’t hate Jack’s mom and even had some sympathy for her throughout the book but in the end I almost felt she shouldn’t ever have been a mother. And yet if she hadn’t been, there would have been no Jack, Tessa or Simon…

There are some people who are ill-equipped to take on the responsibilities of parenthood. However, that being said. Look at me. I didn’t have, by any stretch of the imagination, model parents. And yet, I have grown up to have a very blessed and wonderful life.

Your writing is incredibly rich and descriptive but also very”economical” in places. I think you strike a great balance. (A great example: early in the book Jack describes her mother as having become “a puddle of a person” which says so much with so little.) When you’re editing, do you find your work is more in filling in/fleshing out or in paring down, getting things to their essentials?

I find my editing process is a lot of both. Paring down and fleshing out. I get it the very best that I can, and then I put it away for a bit. Take it out, look at it with fresh eyes and start the whole process again.

You’ve been doing a tour for Porcupine that has included reading to kids in schools and libraries. What has that experience been like, especially in comparison to reading to adult groups?

I have loved going to the schools and libraries. To see the kids faces light up, asking questions, talking about Jack and her family, me and mine. I especially love when I visit a book club or a school that has read Porcupine before I come. It takes the question and answer section to a whole deeper level.

Do you find it tough to transition from the solitary world of writing and get in to publicity mode?

I think going from the tucked away, safe life of creating in ones writing room to suddenly be expected to stand in front of a group of strangers and form cohesive sentences is like belonging to the PolarBears club and plunging into the ice cold ocean on New Years Day. You know it’s coming. You dread it, and at the same time there is a terrified excitement anticipation. You feel very naked, very vulnerable. And then when it’s all over, it’s an exhilarating feeling. Like, “I did that! I was scared and yet I stood up and did that! Not only did I do it…but I actually liked it!” It is very moving for me as an author, to meet my readers. A privilege, really.

And related to that, you’ve created a very private life for yourself since your acting days and yet the publicity/marketing aspect of publishing can place you back in the spotlight. I was struck by your description, in one of your recent blogs, of arriving at a reading to find cameras waiting for you. Obviously getting press is an advantage in terms of getting the word out about your books, but how do you feel about it? And how do you deal with it?

I don’t know why, but when ever the t.v. crews decide to come by an event it is always the ones with the minuscule attendance. It’s funny really, in a sad ego busting way. I’ve done reading where a hundred and fifty, two hundred people show up. But it is the ones that are documented are the ones that are attended by a sparse enthusiastic few.

At the reading where I met you a few weeks ago, you mentioned that Porcupine went through many drafts. Was is 18?

Gemma was the book that I went through 18 drafts. And to be honest, I wish I’d done 19. Porcupine had I think around 7?

What kind of research did you do for Porcupine?

I researched on-line a lot. I bought a bunch of books on both Newfoundland and Alberta. And even more importantly read them.

What does your writing day look like?

I get up at 6:45 a.m. My husband and I alternate weeks in terms of breakfast duty and/or lunch duty, doing the morning salutations with the dogs and driving Will to school. When the lunch person is driving the breakfast person puts the tea pot on to boil. Then when the driver arrives home we both go into our writing rooms.

What inspires you?


In your second book, Gemma, your protagonist is young, but the book was sold as an adult novel and there is a big notice on your website that the book is not appropriate for ages 15 and under. Do you think this kind of subject matter (sexual abuse, pedophilia) can be covered in YA? And if so, how?

I do. The manuscript I’m going to be working on in January, when I finish this draft of Big Muckle, deals with that as a sidebar issue. I think it is important to talk about these things since, according to a U.S. justice report I read while doing Gemma research, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually assaulted before they reach the age of 18. These kids need a voice. And they need to not feel alone.

That being said, I’m not positive yet that I’m going to publish it as YA. I’m running it by 3 of Christianne Haywards YA book clubs. They are reading the manuscript now and will be giving me their feedback in January and February and I’ll make my final decision based on that.

Because I also had a career in acting (mostly theatre in my case and not spectacular) I’m particularly curious about your transition from that to being a writer and how one career has affected the other. Do you find the creative process of writing very different from that of acting?

As you know, Danielle from your own background the creative process is both different and the same all at once. In acting you are a part, or a piece of the whole. You have no control over what shots they ultimately use. You have no control over who you act with, how you are lit, what the score sounds like. As an author, all those decisions are in your hands. It’s a heady experience!

How does your experience as an actor shape/impact your work as a writer, in creating characters, writing dialogue, using language, etc?

I think the actor training helps enormously in writing dialogue. I think it also helps me trust my gut, to know when something I write resonates in a true way. It has developed my youโ€™re-bullshitting-yourself-this-doesn’t-feel-right gauge and guides me in the editing process as well.

Do you ever find writing lonely in comparison to acting?

Sometimes, yes. But I’m lucky. I have a husband who writes and we share our work with each other and give suggestions for fine-tuning (or large tuning) as well.

What direction do you want to grow as a writer? What new territory do you hope to explore?

I have no set plan. I know one is supposed to. Have a master plan. Career build and all that. But I don’t. I just want to write true. What is in my belly. And my hope is that some people will respond to it. That enough people will buy my books so that it will make business sense to the publishers to continue to publish me.

Your website and blog are wonderfully warm and real. How have you enjoyed blogging?

I love blogging! A real surprise to me. I hadn’t intended to. I started the “Chewing the fat” portion of my blog as sort of a fluke/joke.

Since we are all publishing “debutantes” here, what was your debut experience like? What did you learn? And what changes with the second book and then the third?

My first experience was the release of Singing Songs. And it was both wonderful and terrifying. I was lying about the origin of the book and was scared that someone would discover the truth. I didn’t feel like a “real” author by any stretch of the imagination. I felt numb when the book was out there. Bereft, really. The writing of it had been my conversation with myself. A recording of my memories and now suddenly it was this public thing and anybody who wanted could pick it up and buy it. Have access to that deeply private part of me. I felt like the book wasn’t mine anymore. Very mixed feelings.

Where as now. Sharing my books, although it is still terrifying, it is also the most wonderful thing. A deeply moving gift to me, to meet and share and talk about things with my readers.

Do you have any advice to us, as debut authors?

When you know you are going to have the opportunity to read you work in public, don’t hide your head in the sand. Practice the pieces you are thinking about reading. Choose carefully. Practice some more. And when you are sick and tired of practicing, go through it again.

You have spent years imagining and toiling, writing and re-writing this precious book of yours. Stand tall. Give your words weight. Allow the readers to hear how you hear the book in your own ears and heart when you wrote it. This is VERY important. I see so many beautiful, talented writers shoot their books in the foot, because us writers? For the most part we are a shy bunch. That’s why we chose a profession that is mostly solitary. Allow your words to shine. That’s what you wrote them for. To not prepare for a reading, to mumble and shuffle your feet is the equivalent of sending your child off to Kindergarten
smeared in shit. Why would you do that?

Some of us here at The Debutante Ball (sadly not me) are great cooks and we’ve all be salivating over the pie recipes and cooking advice on your website. Just for fun, how would you compare making a pie to writing a book?

A pie is so much easier!

Thanks so much, Meg. I hope you have fun with this!

Thank you Danielle. And good luck with your upcoming novel, Falling Under. It has a great cover and I’m looking forward to reading it!

Please feel free to post comments and questions for Meg, who will be “here” today to respond. Meg also has a great website and blog where you can learn more about her work, read her blog, get recipes and cooking tips and all sorts of other interesting things. Check it out: www.officialmegtilly.com.

73 Replies to “A Conversation With Meg Tilly by Deb Danielle”

  1. Wow – what a great, thorough series of Q&A – Danielle, you left no stone unturned and I’m afraid I can’t think of something I’d like to ask Meg! Meg, thanks for being here; I know that meeting you had a big impact on Danielle and I’m so glad she was able to bring you here. Wishing you all the best with Porcupine and your other works!

  2. Thanks danielle, i usually read meg’s blog and i love her. I have her books and she’s really genuine, haven’t read Porcupine yet, look forward to. To me she is one of “the beauty around” that i breath in. Sorry for my english… ๐Ÿ˜‰ Not perfect

  3. Meg,
    Great post today, thank you so much for joining us! I have a question: Do you find any similarities in the way you prepared for acting roles versus how you develop a character for a book?



  4. Welcome, Meg. I expect you’re just getting into the day, since you’re on the other coast. I just heard from a friend who teaches grade 10 boys and a few of them are reading Porcupine right now.

    So much of YA is very gender directed but it occurs to me that Porcupine really is a book that will appeal to young adults of both genders. Did you write it with that in mind?

  5. Hi Meg! Welcome to the Ball and thank you so much for joining us today! I loved this interview and when you compared the whole “getting the book out there in the world” thing to the Polar Bear Club I knew instantly what you meant–with my book coming out in less than two months, I am bracing for the plunge and while I know it will be exciting and insane, I’m so nervous about it! My book got two amazingly amazing reviews today and am beyond thrilled because that officially took the edge off of my anxieties ๐Ÿ˜‰ .

    After Danielle met you in Toronto I visited your website & blog had a fun time perusing it. I am the pie maniac so am curious about that lard you’re using…is this something I can get online? I’ve always been a Crisco kinda gal (and I’ll reveal something most charming about my father–that he’d call me the Crisco Kid–fat in the can–when I was a kid. Nice, huh?) but recently learned that it’s made from cottonseed oil which sounds sort of rank, doesn’t it? Maybe we can get a little pie-off going to test the two out ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Can’t wait to reading your book–any book Danielle loves I know I’ll love as well!

  6. Meg,
    Loved the interview with Danielle. I remember watching your movies. Masquerade with Rob Lowe comes to mind. Your books sound fascinating and I look forward to reading them. Thanks for the advice on doing readings. Best of luck with your future projects.
    Leanne Tyler

  7. Hi Everybody. Please forgive my spelling during my posts today. I don’t know how to access the spellcheck on this and I’d rather just answer and not worry about it, than spend the whole day with my head in a dictionary. Thanks!

    Lisa, it’s sort of the same process but in reverse. With acting, I was handed a script, all the words that come out of the characters mouth are already decided and written. Then I’d have to become an excavator and figure out why these words were written? What the writer wanted to say? How this characters story fit into the whole piece? Why these particular words come out of her mouth at this point in her life? I’d have to dig and search and make up back stories, and figure out her point of view about everything and everyone. And then I’d put all that work together and if I had been through enough, I’d be able to slip inside her skin and become her.

    With writing, my characters slip inside of me, and tell/show me who they are, what they want, and how they feel. It is my job as a writer to get myself and my ego out of the way so that I can carve away until I feel they are true.

    I didn’t write Porcupine with the appealing to both gender idea in mind. I’m not that forward thinking. I wrote Porcupine because there was something in my heart that needed to be expressed and I wasn’t even sure what it was until the completed manuscript was finally sitting on my desk. But life works in wonderful ways, and I’m finding that the response to Porcupine has been equally passionate from boys as well as girls.

  8. Jenny, congratulations on your two great reviews! And two weeks before pub-date. Wow. That means your publisher is on the ball. Nice.

    I use “Tenderflake” lard. If you live in Canada you should be able to get it in the supermarket. If not, I went to my cupboard and checked the box. There is a contact phone # 1-800-268-3708.

  9. Meg, though you’ve been one of my favorite actors — intense, luminous — after reading through your blog and then excerpts of your novels, I have to say I’m thrilled you turned to writing. I’m heading to my local bookstore this weekend and your books are now on my list. My goodness, you’re a magnificent writer. I think what I like best is your honesty on the page and deftness with phrasing. How exciting to “discover” your work.

  10. Welcome, Meg!! When Danielle said she’d met you and that you were going to join us for the day, I was THRILLED! I read Singing Songs years ago and remember absolutely LOVING it and feeling inspired to write because of it. I also remember your haunting performance in The Big Chill. SO wow… I’m a bit star struck. Can’t wait to read the rest of your books.

  11. Hi Meg,

    Your interview was so comprehensive, I can’t come up with a question that hasn’t been asked. That said, I just finished visiting your website, which was lovely. Like several others who’ve posted, I “discovered” you in your previous career as an actor. BIG CHILL goes without saying, it’s such a classic, but I also loved your performance in the period piece based on DANGEROUS LIASONS.

    How exciting, and affirming to women in the arts, that you’ve had not one but two successful careers and have built a warm, loving family as well. (Your children are beautiful). Thanks so much for being “here” and best wishes for your future writing projects.

    Hope Tarr

  12. Big Chill was a very fun movie to shoot. What a lot of people don’t know, but might be interesting to all you writers out there, is that Larry Kasdan, the writer/director wrote a whole other script of what took place in between the scenes that we actually shot for the movie. We had the luxury of a whole month to rehearse, and we worked equally on the scenes that we were going to shoot and the ones that we weren’t. We also did some improv and so on during that time. (A month is definitely not the norm for movies. You’re lucky if you get a couple of days.)

  13. Thanks for being here today, Meg! I am an avid reader of your blog and have always greatly admired you in your acting. I love “The Big Chill” and, although I know it’s not one of your favorites, “Psycho II.” My question is, when you first begin a manuscript, how much of the story and characters have you already got planned out in your mind, and how much reveals itself as you write? Thanks again!

  14. Hi Meg, the first book reading I went to was in Pasadena in 10/06 for Gemma and it was an experience I want to repeat. I so enjoyed you, as the author, reading excerpts for us and doing a Q & A afterwards. You were so talkative and answered everything even though, to me, it would have been quite difficult to discuss the abuse topics. My question is, in your blog you are clearly proud of Will in his school productions, but how do you feel about him venturing into the hard world of professional acting, knowing how difficult it can be to have a successful career? Do you encourage him or discourage him, or a little of both perhaps? Thank you.

  15. Hi Meg! We had a chance to meet at the recent Surrey conference. You read a portion of my new YA and offered some advice. It was great to meet you then- and this Q and A has been great.

    As a transplanted American living in Vancouver I find the differences between the States and Canada interesting. For example- I think Tenderflake lard does make a better pie than Crisco. What made you choose a Canadian publisher for your work?

  16. Thank you, Meg, for sharing today. I am anxious to read “Porcupine” now. I love your blog. Your honesty, compassion and happiness come through daily. It is also obvious that you are proud of your children for their accomplishments and the people they are becoming. Are your children equally proud of your writing? Your books seem to deal with difficult topics. Do your children discuss your books with you? Speaking of your former acting career, you were perfect in “Agnes of God”

  17. Hi, I’m living in Stockholm, Sweden and a few weeks back I was watching Agnes of God, googled you and found your blog. Very connected this little world! Anyway, My question is connected a bit to another. How do you “guide” your child with their desire to become an actor. Having experienced the fame (with its pros and cons), what piece(s) of wisdom can you give to other parents who have children wishing for the life of “celebrity” and perhaps not so dedicated to the actual craft of acting. Thanks…

  18. Dustin,
    Every manuscript is different and they all surprise me. Many times I think I have it all charted out and then I find the character and situation taking me in a different direction. It’s sort of like, lets say you’ve decided you’re going to get out of a relationship. This is not something that emotionally is easy to do. So you sort of go over your reasons, your arguments, the little niggling things that have been bothering you. You pick her up in the car, you feel prepared, you’re going to do this thing in a kind and gentle but firm way.

    But somehow things don’t work out the way you anticipated! Let’s say right before you get down to the nitty-gritty of it, she announces that she’s pregnant. You are in shock. You are scared. You both cry, and yet at the same time, there’s something else in your belly and you find yourself down on one knee proposing in the restaurant!

    Or lets say, you start off the conversation calm, but you aren’t dealing with a pretend person in your living room, nodding their head and saying “Yes…I see what you mean. You’re absolutely right. I’ve been a total bitch. You should break up with me.” Instead, you find yourself in a screaming match that culminates with the warm chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis dribbling down your forehead.

    Writing, for me, is like that. I can have the best intentions in the world, but once I sit down, all hell breaks loose and I just try to keep up.

  19. Eileen-you are so funny!
    Meg–I love your break-up scenes. Very imaginative!
    Reminds me of TELL ME YOU LOVE ME–does anyone here watch that? I just watched a bunch of TiVo’d episodes yesterday and saw the finale. I SOOO LOVE that show.

  20. Meg – I love love love your books and read your blog every day. You are such a sincere, interesting, genuine writer. I know you’ve said that you don’t want a comments section on your blog. But, really, you should reconsider that. So many times I have wanted to respond to something you’ve written – but there’s no way to do it. I would think you’d enjoy reading what people are thinking about what you write. And you wouldn’t have to respond to everyone, if that’s what you’re worried about. So that’s my two cents… you have lots of cyber-friends out here. I really enjoy my Meg Cyber-friend!

  21. Diane,
    I feel that there are difficult things about every profession. Even though I might not understand or always agree with the choices my children choose. Be it a partner, a friend, whether using ones fingers instead of a fork is appropriate, there comes a point where you have to let go. And trust them to make the choices that are right for them. They will make mistakes. They will have joys and triumphs and sorrows as well. But that is part of life. The beauty and texture of it. So even if I was God, and knew what was “best” would I risk making that choice for them? Only they know what is truly right. Only they are in their body. Only they can hear the purity of their heart.

  22. Hi Eileen from SWIC!
    For those of you who don’t know, this is the Eileen Cook debutante whose picture is at the top of the page. (congratulations on the release of your first book, Unpredictable. Very exciting!)

    As far as choosing a Canadian publisher for Porcupine, it was more of an instance of her choosing me. She had read Gemma and wrote asking me if I’d be interested in writing a book for young adult. I was!

  23. “Writing, for me, is like that. I can have the best intentions in the world, but once I sit down, all hell breaks loose and I just try to keep up”

    LOVE this. As someone who has been struggling to plan more before I write, this really spoke to me. Those days when the scene takes over and goes somewhere completely unexpected but real, are my favourite days as a writer.

    And Tenderflake pie crust ROCKS! I didn’t realize you couldn’t get it in the US. I lived there for almost 10 years, but guess I didn’t bake much. I did make butter tarts a few times for friends… but I think I used frozen tart shells. Shame on me. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But reading some of your recipes (the cornbread one, which I must try) reminded me of my grandmother’s butter tart recipe — which has measurements like “cream a piece of butter the size of a walnut”

  24. Thanks Judith,
    My children are proud of me. My daughter was one of my very biggest supporter with Gemma. She was the reason anybody even came to my Toronto readings. ( For all you writers out there Toronto, Washington, New York and Vancouver are very tough towns to get people to show up for things. There are so many options for people and so much is going on at all times. The good thing for your book, going to these town is there is media, which can get the word out. But if very small numbers show up for readings, don’t take it personally. You aren’t alone. And the people who do show up, really want to be there.)

    Oh, I seem to have sidetracked a bit.

    Yes, my children support me. I checked with them before I went forward with Gemma. My son, Dave has my blog as his homepage right now. How sweet is that? And poor Will, since he still lives at home, he’s manfully showed up to many of my readings. Again, and again, and again. And every time he say, “You did good, Mom.” I’m very lucky.

  25. To the other Meg,
    The lucky thing is, it’s not being a celebrity that draws Will. If anything, he wants to be an actor in spite of the downside that celebrity brings to ones life. Because trust me, there is a huge, huge downside. But we’ve had conversations about the challenges. If he is fortunate enough to be successful, at least he won’t be totally blind-sided like I was.

  26. Maureen,
    I’m glad to hear that there are other writers out there like me! My husband is sooo disciplined. Outlines everything. I try…but..

    Oh hey, and if you have it lying around and feel like sharing, I’d love to try out your grandmother’s butter tart recipe. I’ve been looking for a good butter tart filling and yours might be it!

  27. Maureen,
    I’m glad to hear that there are other writers out there like me! My husband is so disciplined. Outlines everything. I try…but..

    Oh hey, and if you have it lying around and feel like sharing, I’d love to try out your grandmother’s butter tart recipe. I’ve been looking for a good butter tart filling and yours might be it!

  28. ” he wants to be an actor in spite of the downside that celebrity brings to ones life.”

    I think that is one of your charms, Meg, is that you are someone who has so adroitly handled professional success with grace, in an industry that revels in putting it’s best under a microscope for far too much dissection.

    And your son’s career choice certain mimics what many of us face as writers. None of us is in it for the big bucks! We’re doing it because that is what calls to us.

  29. Ha! That’s funny. Being a writer for the big bucks! I’m sure all you writers out there appreciate Jenny comment.

    Yeah, we do what call us. And even though there are hard times and challenges, to be blessed to find a job that you like, that fills you, who need big bucks? (Well, let’s not kid ourselves a few bucks would be nice…but…what the heck! I rather earn less doing something that I love. Oh…hey, I do.)

  30. Hi, Meg! I was with Danielle at the Type reading for Porcupine, and wanted to tell you that I and my fifteen year old daughter absolutely loved the book. My twelve year old son (who, poor thing, is laid up at home with a combination of mono and vestibular neuritis) is about to start it, and I’m sure he’ll love it as well. Tremendous accomplishment. Congratulations. Can’t wait for the next one. Danielle, great interview–I can’t think of any other questions to ask!

  31. Now’s my chance to ask questions and comments, so here goes…

    1. What kind of writing does your husband do? A completely different genre? Does it ever happen that one of you might has an idea and it triggers something for the other one?
    2. Your way with words reminds me of Bono. Both you and he use simply stated phrases that paint word pictures. How you can say so much with so few words amazes me. I rarely see that done as well as you do it (and Bono – not bad company to keep)
    3. I’m so sorry about the struggles you had with your ill friend who lived with you. It’s so hard to let go and let people live their lives when you can see the effects of their bad choices. That has been one of the hardest life lessons for me… not going too far into rescue mode.
    4. Can’t wait for your next book! I’ve given Porcupine as gifts to friends. Everyone loves it.
    5. I wish you would come to California for a book reading. I live in Long Beach Calif. but was in Seattle the day you were in Bellingham. I nearly made the drive to see you – but I lived in Seattle most of my life and knew that to be a long journey in heavy traffic. But if you come to L.A., I am so there!

    Thanks, Meg, for the opportunity to talk to you today.

  32. Hi, Meg!
    I think it great that you are now a novelist.
    It is funny to me that we have not heard from you in such a long while and now we get treated to books from you on a regular basis…and a screenplay as well. And even a daily blog, wow! Keep it coming.
    And what a blessed life you are now having after all that mess early in your life. I like to believe that writing for you has been a healing process and am curious if it included going back to any of your child hood homes or making peace with folks from your past. I did that and I am so very glad I mustered up the courage.
    Meanwhile, good luck with everything….and where can I get those luscious chocolates?

  33. Meg:

    Your blog is wonderful. I imagine it serves to bridge a gap between the solitary act of writing and being with others.

    You are so thoughtful in your blog about the lives of those who are close to you, so I’m wondering if you’ve given thought to the type of training or drama school you might recommend to your son who has decided to become an actor.

    My daughter is now in her 3rd year at a liberal arts college in the U.S. and is a drama major. She feels the acting training she’s getting in the classroom is not adequate, although her opportunities for performing are good. I am encouraging her to finish college to get her degree, and then seek more intense training, but, that’s me in the role of practical mom rather than the supporter of dreams she was hoping I’d be.


  34. Hi, Meg.

    Your books sound wonderful. I accidentally found out you were now writing when I was perusing the Surrey conference info for this year. Unfortunately, I wound up not going.

    I’ll never forget your performance in Agnes of God. It was incredible. I always wondered if you had indeed left acting, and I look forward to checking out your books!

    A fellow British Columbian

  35. Hi Sheri,

    My husband writes both screenplays and fiction. If I think of an idea that he would do a great job with, of course I tell him. There are somethings that he can write a zillion times better than me. He is very tolerant of all my “ideas” We encourage each other, help each other keep focused, we are each other’s first, second and third editor. Nothing either one of us writes goes out of the door without the other one proof-reading several drafts and offering feedback.

    Bono is a brilliant artist. I’m happy for the comparison. I met him once. I expected him to be larger than life, not merely a human size. Funny that. He was very kind, polite. Unfortunately he was suffering from a horrific cold and I was sitting next to him at the event, so I got the full force of both his Irish charm and his cold. I spent the next week in bed eating chicken soup and tea.

    In terms of my friend. Yes, it is hard. I feel much better though. I did what I could. It’s difficult sometimes, but when I start feeling like somehow I failed or that there was something more I could have done, or get swamped with worry and concern, I remind myself of all the enormous blessings in my life. Of which I have many. And I turn my thoughts to them. To all that I’m grateful for. And I remind myself that I am not God. That I am not in charge. And that my friend is following his path. That life is like walking a labyrinth and sometimes people walk side by side and sometimes their different paths diverge and I have to trust in that.

  36. Hi Meg,
    I’ve only just discovered that you are, not only an amazing actress, but also an author. cool!
    Being a teacher, my experience is that there is a great need for YA novels covering topics such as abuse and pedophilia. Unfortunately no small number of children experience these things and, as you say, need to know that they are not alone and also that they are not in any way responsible (as many feel guilty and ashamed)

    I also wanted to let you know that I, too, love many of your movies, in particular “Agnes of God”. You were an unforgettable Agnes. She still haunts me – in a good way! As do Sven Nykvist’s beautiful cinematography.

    Last but not least, I read your lovely blog like many of the others who have posted. I, too, hope that you might consider adding a comment section.

    (Please make allowance for my spelling. English is not my native language.)

    Best regards,

  37. David, thanks for your kind words. I have tried the going back thing. It didn’t work for me. I’ve found oddly enough, after years of trying to “fix” things, is that what works for me ,is limit my exposure. It’s weird, but in doing this I’ve found that I’m able to let go of those old hurts and patterns and find I can forgive and love so much more deeply. I can love in a way that is healthy, doesn’t gouge so deep, hurt and cut. But this probably isn’t the solution for most people. Each person has to find what is the best way to cope with those old challenges in a way that can heal and stop the continuation of the cycle.

    Now for the important stuff…The Chocolates! I’m not sure which one’s you are talking about? The truffles are at http://www.charbonnel.co.uk/erol.html The brandy liquor cherry chocolates can be ordered at: orders@bernardc.com

    And…I’ve just been introduced to a new chocolate place, by Scottie. I don’t know whether to shake my fist and curse, or kiss her. Because these ones are…oh my! Their website is http://www.thomashaas.com. She gave me a big box of them and I love their Jamaican rum, marc de champagne, caramel with fleur de sel and cognac truffles. And then of their regular chocolates, try the passion fruit and the raspberry one. I’m sure the rest are great too, but I didn’t get to try them all. I had to…sniff…share.

  38. Ruth,
    I wish I knew of a good drama coach. I’m going to be doing a little research in the next little while. Good luck to your daughter. Whether she becomes a professional actor or not, acting is great training for any job that requires understanding and empathy.

  39. MEG,

    im sorry if these questions have aready been asked i was woundering is there anything you do when you get writers block,like once some one told me when you get stuck pick a word and write on your paper tell you get an idea,i tryed that and i ended up writing one word like 200 times down my page.my other question is where do you get you insperation when you write.well thats all i have to ask.THANKS sorry about the spelling

  40. Thanks Cindy and Maddie for writing in.

    And Maddie, I was so sorry when I heard that Sven Nykvist had passed away. He was a great cinematographer. One of the best I’d ever had the privilege of working with, but even more importantly he was a kind, thoughtful, dear, sweet man who made the world a better place with his quiet unassuming presence.

  41. Meg, I’ll post the recipe on my blog tomorrow. Must double check my memory with my mom. It’s been a few years since I’ve made them. I believe my grandma’s secrets involved vanilla and lemon juice. Butter tarts aren’t so crazy sweet if you add some lemon juice.

  42. Kellye,
    What I find helps me the most with writers block is not giving it permission to take up residence. I have to write at least five times a week whether I feel like it or not. The only exceptions to this rule are if I’m out on book tour promoting my book, or if somebody is in the hospital, or when one of my children needs me, or comes into town for a short visit, (but even one these occasions I can usually get a couple of hours in. I make myself get up earlier. Or write when they go out to visit friends or go into the basement to play video games or ping pong.

    Another VERY important trick is, never correct the days work. So that the next day, while your mind, fingers, and every other part of your body is resisting, you say to yourself, “what are you whining for, all you have to do is go over what you did yesterday, spell check and stuff. Nobodies asking you to be creative for god sakes!” And then by the time you have fiddled and corrected and changed the wording of this, and thrown out that, by the time you get to where you left up, you are already back deep into the story and your fingers just keep typing.

    Hope this helps!

  43. Maureen,
    Lemon! That’s smart. I’ll check your blog tomorrow. (Can you give us the address?) Don’t worry if you can’t find it though. I know Christmas is roaring up on us and you probably have plenty to do. ๐Ÿ™‚

  44. Meg, thank you so much for sharing such candid and insightful thoughts with us! It’s been said by previous commenters, but I am in awe of your many accomplishments–your performance in The Big Chill never fails to give me goosebumps. You are truly inspiring, and I’m so looking forward to reading all of your work!!

  45. Dear Meg, what an honor to have you here! I can’t contain myself enough not to mention my love of several of your movies- Leaving Normal, for instance, with some lines that still ring in my head from time to time,(re- the dialogue in the boy’s bedroom with macho themed sheets) and Agnes of God, which I am compelled to rent and watch at least once a year, as it strangely fascinates me.
    I love your transition and the courage it took to tackle the issues in Gemma. Coming from a family my old therapist liked to refer to as “the stuff lifetime movies are made of” I have a deep appreciation of the subject matter. My husband keeps telling me there is a book in me about it all but I keep telling him I’ll wait till they are all dead, thanks. In the meantime I find I often weave it into the backstory of my heroines. Sometimes only I know it’s there LOL.

    And Hello, Washington and Vancouver, been there, live there! I have to round up relatives and die-hard friends for events. I’m positive this is why Debbie Macomber took up knitting,to fill the empty echoing hours while the book seller freaks out. She could buy knitting books and make them feel better. Booksignings are scary aren’t they?

    I’m so glad you came here and shared and I will definitely pick up your books. Thank you so much~! Suzanne

  46. Hi All! Just checking in while in transit in the praries. Meg, thanks so much for your detailed responses. I think you can see from the outpouring of comments, questions and good wishes, that you are very loved!

    And if Maureen doesn’t post it, I can get you the address of her blog later today. I can probably get the recipe from her too.


  47. Hello Meg!

    I’m excited that you’re here today, as I love your daily blog. I haven’t yet had the priviledge to read “Porcupine”, but I have it on order.

    I was just wondering about the character Gemma. Writers always know their characters more completely than the reader. Gemma is obviously a survivor. If you were to take her into adulthood, what kind of person would she be? What would she do for a living? Did she have children?

  48. Suzanne,
    Funny, you watch Agnes once a year. I haven’t seen it since it opened. Leaving Normal either. None of my movies actually. I find it uncomfortable to see myself up on the screen.

    In terms of fiction vs life story. I’ve found that sometimes weaving my truth into the back story of my fictional characters can be a very powerful way to say what I need to. After Singing Songs was published, it quite a few years to learn how to write fiction and still be true. There is something to be said for the growth that occurs working in either form.

  49. Hi Linda,

    I think Gemma would be kind of like me. It was interesting writing that book because Cindy was sort of like me grown, talking to me young, giving me courage. Of course both of them were fictional characters, but that’s how it felt.

    This is why I wrote this book. Put it out there even though no one was willing to take a chance on it. Because I felt it was something I had to say. I needed to shine a light on this issue in a stark, realistic way. I needed people to know what it is like to be trapped in the power of a man like this. To understand why sometimes it is impossible to run, to tell. For people to experience on a visceral level the sorts of power, torture and controls these men use. What it likes to be in the shoes of a child at the mercies of this type of man. It needed to be said truthfully. Not candy coated and white washed for polite consumption. To do that would have been a disservice, not just to me, but to the hundreds of children, boys and girls who are being abused by these men on a daily basis.

    My hope was, that when a child who suffers the kind of thing that Gemma had to endure then hopefully, we as a community would have a better understanding of things and would no longer sit in our comfortable armchairs and say, “Why didn’t he/she run? Right out there in broad daylight, plenty of opportunities. Must have liked it.” It is my hope that me and the other people who have experienced these really challenging times never have to hear this type of ignorant comment again.

  50. Hi Meg!

    I hope you had enough string there for all your old pants, and from the sounds of it lately….possibly some newer ones as well lol.

    I’m just taking a break from work, and happen to be home because I deliver my own organic groceries. Yes I drive a truck and bring groceries to peoples homes Wed-Fri. Ever see those purple trucks? So I had to take the chance to write something and say hi. And at the same time get my daily fix from my favorite actor, and second favorite writer (first is Mark Twain).

    As for questions, ack! I wasn’t going to post anything here because I couldn’t think of anything that someone hadn’t already asked. Well….I thought of a few things, not necessarily about your books. So I’ll just ask (a few interesting things that some of the Meg fans out there would like to know). First, your singing in Agnes of God was amazing. Some people might not think it was you, but it sounds like your voice so I’m pretty sure it was. So if you could let us all know for sure. Second, what is your favorite colour/colours? Third, do you know a band called Sparks (brothers Ron and Russell Mael)? They’re the best band next to the Beatles, for me anyways, so just curious. And what kinds of music and bands are your favourites?

    Thanks so much for your time here Meg, I loved Porcupine it was the best read of the three I think. And as you have said…it’s not just for children.

    And I’m late!


  51. Okay, things seem to be slowing down. Thanks to the debutants who invited me to share their space today. Good luck with your books. Thank you to all of you bloggers for your interesting comments and..ahem…all the nice things you said about…everything actually! It was really fun.
    I hope you have a good evening. Sweet dreams!

  52. Oh, Mark,
    I was signing off for the night, but just as I was leaving I saw that it was you! Yes, you are correct. It was me singing in Agnes of God.

    I’m glad you loved Porcupine best of all. It’s my wish that with each book I write, I get to be a little better of a writer. So that by the time I am in my eighties I will be able to well and truly kick literary butt. (Okay, maybe that’s a little bit of an extreme ambition. Let me modify it a little.) Maybe by the time I’m in my eighties, I be a much better writer than I am now.

    Nite everybody!

  53. Meg, it’s been an absolutely wonderful day here and I’m thrilled with the range of subjects and issues that have been covered. Thank you for being so generous with your time and for being you–incredibly warm, honest and caring, not to mention just a little bit talented!!

    And thanks to all of you readers and those of you who entered into the dialogue today–you are what makes this all worthwhile and so much fun!

    Meg, I fully expect you to be be kicking literary butt in your eighties and would argue that you are already doing so. I can’t wait to read more of your work and next time you come to Toronto, I will be there at the readings again. And I’ll bring hordes of those apathetic/harried Torontonians if I can.

    Thank you on behalf of all the debs here at the ball. We wish you the absolute best with Porcupine and with your upcoming books.


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