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My First Time...with Megan Hunter

Megan Hunter was born in Manchester in 1984 and now lives in Cambridge with her young family. She has a BA in English Literature from Sussex University, and an MPhil in English Literature: Criticism and Culture from Jesus College, Cambridge. Her poetry has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and she was a finalist for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award with her short story ‘Selfing’.

Megan’s first book The End We Start From is published by Picador in UK, has been optioned by publishers everywhere from Germany to Canada and the film rights have been snapped up by Benedict Cumberbatch's production company no less. We can't wait to see it!

Here's the blurb for The End We Start From:

In the midst of a mysterious environmental crisis, as London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, the family are forced to leave their home in search of safety. As they move from place to place, shelter to shelter, their journey traces both fear and wonder as Z's small fists grasp at the things he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds.

This is a story of new motherhood in a terrifying setting: a familiar world made dangerous and unstable, its people forced to become refugees. Startlingly beautiful, Megan Hunter's The End We Start From is a gripping novel that paints an imagined future as realistic as it is frightening. And yet, though the country is falling apart around them, this family’s world – of new life and new hope – sings with love.

Megan Hunter | The Riff Raff

Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book.

It was a Saturday in July almost exactly two years ago – my husband took our children to the park and I had a couple of hours to write. I sat at the kitchen table and began.

What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting to write it?

To trust the book’s own logic and shape and size. I got the hang of this part-way through, but I suppose it would have been easier to know it from the start.

What’s your go-to procrastination method?

Tabs, tabs, tabs. The usual. I have to throw my phone to the other side of the room and use the Self Control programme on my laptop.

What was the biggest tantrum you had while writing your book?

Probably after I wrote the first chapter and gave up. Luckily, I was working with a mentor at the time – the wonderful poet Kaddy Benyon. I eventually sent it to her and she told me to get on with it.

Best thing about writing your book?

Once I got into the flow of it, it just happened. It was like no other writing experience I’ve had: much of the time, I was completely euphoric. I felt like I’d found myself as well as a new way to write.

And the worst?

Probably the editing. I was just so scared of messing it up. Every single tiny comma seemed like the end (or beginning) of the world.

Go-to writing snacks?

I don’t tend to write and eat – I write and write until I’m so hungry I have to stop. Then I eat something hearty and sustaining, like pasta or soup (often from a café or the library canteen).

Who or what inspires you to write?

Often it is poetry. The beauty of a single perfect sentence. Or a perfectly imperfect sentence. The grace of it. Music too. Observations on trains, moments of tenderness between strangers. The feeling of loving someone. My children’s pain and joy.

The book that changed you?

I read The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley and The Waves by Viriginia Woolf (sneaking in two, there) travelling alone around Equador when I was 19 and I have not been the same since.

Your pump up song?

It changes weekly; I am currently obsessed with a cover of 'Look at What the Light Did Now' by Gentlewoman, Ruby Man.

If you could share a bottle of wine with one writer, dead or alive, who would it be?

Probably Frank O’Hara. I fell completely in love with his work when I was at university and his poems are always with me. Maybe he could recite them while I drink wine?

One piece of advice you’d give first time writers hoping to get a book published?

Assuming that they are already reading as much as possible (old and new), I’d recommend going to galleries and writing in response to visual art; I’ve found this invaluable both for new ideas and refreshing work-in-progress.


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