Interview With Author Megan Cutler

# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

Hi! I’m Megan Cutler. I fell in love with the written word early in life. (I used to sneak books with me to the playground during my school days.) So writing stories of my own seemed like the next logical step. I write primarily Science-Fiction and Fantasy stories. I like to focus on big questions and toss my characters interesting challenges to see how they deal with the obstacles set in their paths.

My most recent series, the Celestial Serenade (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08VNH14PH), is a space opera that follows civilizations on two different planets plagued by the same highly destructive weapon built in the shape of a dragon. It details the struggles each face in the wake of the initial attack and how they go about trying to recover their homes while still preserving their cultures.

Another of my recent series, Dreamers Do Lie (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08932ZHGH), is an epic high fantasy inspired by Dante’s inferno. It follows Arimand, a soldier newly arrived in a fantasy version of Hell who discovers an innocent somehow assigned to the wrong place. He hatches a mad plan to help Kaylie escape. Unfortunately, their path to escape carries them deeper into hell, and a demon stalks their ever step.


# What inspires/inspired your creativity?

Books got me through some of my darkest moments as a kid. Whenever it seemed like the world was crumbling around me, I would slip between the covers of a book and let it sweep me into another world. Watching the heroes I adored rise above endless challenges gave me the strength to face what waited for me back in the mundane world. In some ways, writing my own stories is a way for me to give back, to reach out to other people who are struggling with the problems the world has thrown at them. If even one person finds solace in the words I have written, then they are well worth the effort!

# How do you deal with creative block?

It might sound counterintuitive, but when I feel creatively blocked, I try to be creative. Writing conditions are rarely ideal for me, so I’d get little done if I let outside influences drive my writing habits. The more you work the creative muscles, the more they answer your call. That said, there are days when, no matter how you try to entice the muse, she just doesn’t answer. And on those days I take a break, walk away for a little while, give myself a chance to breathe. Even the most developed creative muscles need a break. Creativity takes energy, and if you’ve used all you have available, it’s incredibly hard to be artistic.

# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?

Titles are one of the hardest things for me. It takes a long time to come up with something short and snappy that feels like it encompasses my whole theme. I usually try to come up with title patterns (like “Dreamers Do Lie” and “Life is But a Dream” for my “Dream Things True” Duology. The best advice I can give is to try lots of variations until you find the one that sticks the best.

I tried my hand at making my own covers, but never really got the hang of it. So I started working with the amazing and fantastic Molly Phipps (https://www.wegotyoucoveredbookdesign.com/).

# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

Negative reviews used to upset me. Not because people didn’t like my work, but because people rarely explain why they left a low rating or stopped reading a book. I would stare at those reviews and wonder what I could have done better for that particular reader. Eventually, I learned to accept that you simply can’t please everyone, no matter how hard you try. All that wondering only drove me crazy over something I couldn’t possibly change. I learned to put my head down and focus on what I’m doing, to let those negative reviews fuel my drive to tell better and better stories with each book I write.

# How has your creation process improved over time?

I used to sit down and just write whatever popped into my head. For some people that works really well! But I found I spent an inordinate amount of time searching back through my work for details I had established but couldn’t remember. During the process of writing one of my books, my main character went from having blonde hair to red hair halfway through! I got sick of combing through documents to find what I needed, so I started writing an outline. With each book, I get a little better at capturing the details I need to remember in one easy to find location. I still like to let my stories take the lead, so I’ve also learned to strike a balance between planning and raw creativity. My notes get updated a few times throughout the editing process.

# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

I always aim for personal satisfaction. I’ve tried to write things I didn’t really believe in a few times because it felt like the right thing to do. But it was a horrible experience that almost made me stop writing all together. I’ve always believed that if I pour my passion into a book, if I absolutely love the end result, then someone out there somewhere is going to enjoy all those same elements. And if they don’t, at least I know that book was still loved by someone.

# What role do emotions play in creativity?

Emotions can have a huge effect on creativity. It used to be I could tell exactly how I felt when I wrote a given scene by reading back through it. If you’re having a rough day or if everything feels like it’s going wrong, it can be incredibly hard to put words on the page. But sometimes if you’re sad, writing can help you escape the problems ailing you – and that might make the words flow unexpectedly well. I am constantly surprised by the places my writing takes me, always well outside my comfort zone. I recently reached the end of a heavy story arc only to realize that the entire thing was helping me work through my grief over the loss of my grandmother. And even though she’s not mentioned in the story at all, it feels like my tribute to her. Which makes all the tears I shed over crafting those scenes worthwhile.

# Do you have any creativity tricks?

It might not sound like much of a trick, but I have a writing routine. I try to sit down at roughly the same time every day. I put on a specific type of background noise (rain sounds). And I usually have a hot drink (coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon – iced versions on hot days). And that’s it. I’ve done that often enough that my brain seems to ‘snap to’ when I settle in. I still have off-days, but making writing a habit has helped me write through some really rough times, including big moves and the pandemic!

# What are your plans for future books?

My latest project features a modern day world with high fantasy elements. Imagine Middle Earth if it made it into the modern era. Think magical Starbucks where you can get magical potion shots in your morning latte, where Faeries deliver packages through a series of hidden portals and mages work beside police officers to keep the population safe. Just don’t anger the dragons!

# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

Oddly enough, I always think I’m boring until someone tells me otherwise. But here are a few fun facts about me! I was born and raised in Pennsylvania. At age 18, two weeks out of high school, I married my high school sweetheart and moved with him to Canada. I studied IT and networking, but quickly discovered that computers are far less cooperative than I anticipated. My husband and I spent two years in northern Quebec where winter lasts for about 8 months and the snow often piled over my head. (I don’t miss those winters.) Then we spent a year living in England. What took us to all these exciting places? My husband is a teacher; I had no idea it would carry us to so many corners of the world!

# Where else can you find me on the web?

The social media sites I use most often are Twitter (https://twitter.com/Megan__Cutler) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/megancutlerauthor). I also have Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.ca/starbornstriker/) boards for each of my novel projects.

I also blog over at megancutler.net. Every other Monday I publish free fiction shorts. If you sign up for my monthly newsletter (http://megancutler.net/free-book/), you can also snag two free novellas!