“Hysteria” by Megan Miranda: An Author Interview


What are 3 fun facts about yourself?

1) My favorite food is and always has been Kraft Mac & Cheese

2)  I write thrillers, but I’m pretty much scared of everything… including clowns

3) I worked in biotech and then as a high school teacher before becoming a writer.

 Hysteria was very different from what you normally see on YA shelves. You usually don’t see a book with a main character dealing with murder and the guilt from it. What inspired you to write such a unique story?

First of all, I should probably confess that I’ve always been drawn to the darker stories…they were my favorite stories to read growing up, and they still are. As for this book, I had the character of Mallory in my head before I had a story for her. I gave myself a writing prompt, which was, in this case, the first line of the book (“My mother hid the knife block”), and just started free-writing to see where it would take me. I developed this idea of a girl who had done a “very bad thing” and was being haunted because of it… but then I got carried away with research into the idea of haunting. And that, for me, became the inspiration for the book. It was about all the things that could haunt, in all the ways they could do so. So, yes, it’s definitely a story dealing with murder and guilt, but for me, it’s also a story about memories and friendship and the way the mind works, which fascinates me.

 The added touch of psychology, like hysteria as the title suggests, was very cool. It was one of those details that as a reader I love to see. Do you have an interest in psychology or was it something you researched because it fit the book?

I have a strong interest in the connection between the psychological and the physical—the way psychological things can manifest in physical ways. But I hadn’t done much research on it before the book. I started reading scientific journals on the subject while I was writing, and I read as many case-studies as possible. That said, this book is purely a fictional “what if”

 What made you leave the world of science to become a writer? Do you think that because of your background in science it’s always going to be an aspect in your books?

I’ve always loved both science and writing, and I do think there will probably always be some aspect of science in my books, because even though I’m not in that world anymore, it’s still a passion of mine. Moving from science to writing was a gradual process. I left biotech when I moved to the states, and saw it as an opportunity to try something I’d always wanted to do, which was teaching high school science. Then I had kids of my own and became a stay-at-home-mom. It wasn’t until my youngest turned one and was sleeping through the night that I told myself to take a real shot at writing, since it was something I loved to do.

 Colleen was an amazing friend, completely loyal and always there for Mallory. I definitely wish I could have a friend like her. Was she inspired by someone you know?

Oh, I wish I did too! Colleen is my favorite character I’ve ever written. She’s not based on anyone in particular, but she definitely has a few traits from people I knew growing up. Mostly, I wanted to have this friendship be the most important relationship in the book, and to have it reflect the intensity of the type of relationship of people who’ve grown up together, know everything about each other, and spend so much time together that they start to see themselves either as a reflection or comparison to the other. I think Mallory and Colleen have such a rare, powerful, and intense friendship, but they also both have difficulty figuring out who they are without the other when they’re separated.

 What’s next for you?

My next book comes out in early 2014, and it’s a sequel/companion to my first book (Fracture). It takes place about 9 months after the events in Fracture and is told from a different character’s perspective. It’s about the idea that a place can become cursed, and all the ways people come to believe that, or come to use that… and it’s a thriller.