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An Interview With Meagan Brothers

By Gary Wien

originally published: 11/21/2015

An Interview With  Meagan Brothers

Meagan Brothers is the author of the young adult novels Supergirl Mixtapes, which was a 2012 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults nomination; Debbie Harry Sings in French, which was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, won a GLBT Round Table ALA Award, and was named a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age; and her latest, Weird Girl and What’s His Name.

A native Carolinian, Meagan currently lives in New York City.  She formerly lived in Monmouth County, NJ, and played guitar for the punk rock band, Steel Pier Sinners.

New Jersey Stage caught up with Meagan to learn more about her latest novel, which is getting great reviews.

Tell me about Weird Girl.

Weird Girl and What’s His Name is about a pair of best friends, Rory and Lula, who are uncool sci-fi nerds.  Rory’s gay, which Lula knows, and he’s dating his boss, which she doesn’t.  When she finds out, they have a huge fight, and then she goes missing.  The first half is told from his perspective, the second is from hers.  They’re both on the precipice of trying to figure out all this adult stuff – identity, sexual identity, family relationships, romantic relationships, friendships.

This story deals with a girl in a small North Carolina town and an obsession with the X-Files…. sounds like things you know quite a bit about.  Are these characters based on people you knew in real life?

Yeah, it’s true, I grew up in North and South Carolina.  And a couple of weeks ago over at Videology in Brooklyn, I totally killed it on X-Files trivia night.  But, ultimately, this is a work of fiction.  None of my friends or I were having affairs with our bosses or disappearing in the night like the kids in this book.  My real life is way too boring to write about!  



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I’ve heard other authors say the best way to write for young audiences was to treat them as a regular audience instead of talking down to them.  Is that how you feel?

Absolutely.  I hate books that talk down to teenagers – or to anybody, really.  Not that curse words are particularly sophisticated, but I think that, when you’re a teenager, you want to be an adult, and I know for my friends and I growing up, our impression was that being an adult meant peppering your speech with a lot of “colorful metaphors” (as Mr. Spock would say.)  Of course, then you actually grow up and realize that the adult world, linguistically speaking, is not necessarily the Reservoir Dogs scenario you’d imagined.  (Unless you end up working in a urologists’ office, in which case it’s much, much worse.)

How did you get into writing young adult novels? Are there any books you read as a kid that truly stuck with you?

I have to admit, I sort of stumbled into it.  I wrote what I thought was a comedic coming-of-age story, and my agent was the one who told me it was YA.  I was pretty young myself at that point, and I just wasn’t savvy enough to say “oh, of course we should market this book about teenagers for teenagers.”  It all seems obvious in retrospect, but with the first book, I didn’t sit down and say “and now I shall write YA.”  I thought I was writing a zany Catcher in the Rye.  Or, like, a book version of “Rock and Roll High School.”

But then as I approached rewrites, yeah, I started thinking back to the YA books that really made an impression on me as a kid.  I was a huge fan of Cynthia Voigt’s Tillerman books when I was young, as well as Gordon Korman, Francesca Lia Block, Judy Blume, Norma Fox Mazer, Margaret Willey, Lois Lowry.  JD Salinger is a big touchstone, all of his Glass family stories, and Ray Bradbury, too.  One of my absolute favorite YA books is Midnight Hour Encores by Bruce Brooks, which I still go back to for inspiration.  It’s a book about a very self-assured young cellist being raised by her hippie father, and she’s had all this success, but she’s never met her mother.  I’m always hoping that, one of these days, I’m going to write a book half as good as Midnight Hour Encores.

I’ve written an “adult” novel, but it didn’t sell – yet!  I like writing YA – I like the lack of cynicism.  And, in YA, my chronic immaturity is finally an asset!

I first met you from your days in Steel Pier Sinners.  Do you still play music - solo or with a band - these days? If not, do you miss it?

I’m still playing a little, but just in my apartment.  The neighbors are thrilled.  Yeah, I miss the camaraderie of playing in bands, and the traveling was fun, but I don’t miss lugging amps through the snow and getting paid in beer tickets.

If you could be your choice of a rock and roll star, famous poet, or a best-selling author… which would you choose?

Hey, I’m already all of those things and a medical receptionist.  I’m the total package!  Well, “best-selling” is a bit of a stretch, and fame is relative, but you feel me.  I’ve done it all.  And what a life it’s been!  Frankly, I’m ready to retire to a life of sun worship and golf in Miami Beach like my hero, Iggy Pop.

 







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(NEWARK, NJ) -- Next in line for the L+M Lecture Series is "I See Myself in You:" A Conversation with Deborah Willis and Hank Willis Thomas, moderated by Rutgers University–Newark (RU-N) Professor Salamishah Tillet. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the lecture hall of Express Newark (54 Halsey Street-Room 213, Newark, NJ) on Friday, December 14 from 6:00pm-8:00pm. A joint book launch of Willis's In Pursuit of Beauty: Imaging Closets in Newark and Beyond and Thomas's All Things Being Equal will follow the lecture. The evening will culminate with an after party featuring a photo session with Akintola Hanif and music by DJ Fauzi at Shine Portrait Studio.


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An Interview With Meagan Brothers
Meagan Brothers is the author of the young adult novels Supergirl Mixtapes, which was a 2012 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults nomination; Debbie Harry Sings in French, which was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, won a GLBT Round Table ALA Award, and was named a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age; and her latest, Weird Girl and What’s his name.
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Reading Between The Lines: Der Vang And Whitehead @ Newark

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Last week saw the continuation of the year-long academic showcase Writers at Newark Reading Series, hosted by Rutgers University-Newark’s MFA Creative Writing program. On Tuesday, February 6, students, professors and Brick City residents welcomed Walt Whitman award-winning poet Mai Der Vang and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead to the Express Newark’s lecture hall on Halsey Street.








Event calendar
Tuesday, Dec 11, 2018


MUSIC

ALAN SCARDAPANE @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:00pm


THEATRE

Elf, The Musical @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 2:00pm

The Night Before Christmas Carol @ The Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College (RVCCArts), Branchburg - 1:00pm and 7:00pm

A Christmas Carol @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:30pm


KIDS

The Shoemaker & the Christmas Elves @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 10:30am


MISC

Sam Darnold Meet & Greet @ iPlay America, Freehold - 5:00pm






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