10 Questions with Meg Gardiner
Meg Gardiner was born in Oklahoma and raised in Santa Barbara, California. She graduated from Stanford University and Stanford Law School. She practiced law in Los Angeles and taught writing at the University of California Santa Barbara. Ransom River is her tenth novel.
10 Questions with Meg Gardiner
Ms. Gardiner, thank you for this opportunity to be interviewed for my blog. Your thriller, Ransom River, came out today. Tell us a bit more about this work.
It’s my first stand-alone novel. Heroine Rory Mackenzie is a juror on a high-profile murder trial in her hometown of Ransom River, California. It’s a place she vowed never to visit again, and her return dredges up troubling memories from the childhood she spent as an outsider. Then gunmen launch a desperate attack on the courthouse and take the entire courtroom hostage. Rory realizes that the attack is connected to the dark skeletons in her past – and to an old case that was never solved. But bringing the truth to light just might destroy her.
By writing. Before starting the book I sketched her biography, but characters only pop to life when they’re put into action in scenes – when they walk, talk, and react to the situations and people around them. Rory turned out to be smart and guarded. She has a pitch-black sense of humor. And if she finds herself boxed into a corner, she’ll battle her way out.
When did you know you wanted to become a writer and how did it happen?
I wanted to tell stories from the time I learned to speak. After that, becoming a professional writer only took a few decades. I wrote for the high school paper. I took a creative writing class while studying Economics at Stanford. While I was practicing law, I wrote short stories and magazine articles. I started a family and taught legal writing at the University of California Santa Barbara. I began to attend writers’ conferences. Finally, when my kids started school, I decided it was time to put up or shut up, and began working on a novel. After that it took several more years, and multiple false starts, before I wrote something publishable. I got a literary agent and eventually got a publishing deal, for China Lake.
What do you do in your free time?
Read. Spend time with my family. Hike the Alps, go to London museums, tweet, play Solitaire on my phone.
What was your experience like when you first broke into the publishing world as an author?
Thrilling. It was validation. It was an amazing opportunity to see the story I’d spent years creating find an audience. Then, because I wanted to make writing a career, it became work. And it’s a job I’m immensely lucky to have.
A word of advice for new writers?
Learn the craft. Learn exactly how high the bar is, and how to improve your writing so you can clear it. Persevere.
What is your typical writing day?
2,000 words, come high water, snakebite, or my mother-in-law.
What other books are you working on at the moment?
A new thriller. It’s about people who disappear and go off the grid. That’s all I’ll say for now, because it’s my job to keep people in suspense.
What do you like to read and what are you reading now?
Thrillers, political nonfiction, science fiction. Right now I’m reading George R.R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings.
What can readers expect to find in Ransom River?
High tension, intense suspense, action, plot twists, black humor, and characters I hope readers will love and care about – characters who have to put everything on the line to have any hope of coming out alive.