Q&A with Megan Collins, author of The Family Plot
By J.B. StevensAugust 16, 2021
Hello crime-fiction readers. Recently, I did an email-based Q & A with Megan Collins. Ms. Collins is the author of The Family Plot—an August release through Atria Books. The Family Plot is already generating great buzz. Andrea Bartz says the work is “Dark, claustrophobic, and beautifully written with Collins’s signature musical prose.”
As a reader, I’m excited to dig into it. In my enthusiasm to get my hands on the work, I reached out to Ms. Collins. That led to a pleasant conversation about writing, and we decided to do a short interview, shown below.
Hello Megan, please introduce yourself, what’s your background, why do you write?
Hello! Thanks so much for these questions! While I received my MFA in poetry and have had many of my poems published online and in print, I’m now an author of thrillers and psychological suspense. My first two novels, The Winter Sister and Behind the Red Door, feature some uniquely dysfunctional families with long-buried secrets, and my upcoming release, The Family Plot, is no different. I love to write about the dark side of humanity, and I like to think of my stories as giant metaphors for things I’ve either lived, learned, or believed. Often, I use writing as a way of clarifying my own feelings for myself.
If you must pick (and you must for this question) what is your favorite single line of prose you’ve ever read?
This is such a great but difficult question. I think I’m going to have to go with a line from one of my all-time favorite novels, Toni Morrison’s Beloved: “Thin love ain’t love at all.” Rhythmically, it’s beautiful—it almost leaps off the tongue—but it’s also such a compact and simple way of saying something that often takes people many years to learn: that we may think we’re protecting ourselves by being cautious with our emotions, but in the end, we’re keeping ourselves from experiencing their true beauty and depth.
Tell us about your new work The Family Plot.
The Family Plot is about a family obsessed with true crime who becomes the center of a true crime themselves when they gather to bury their patriarch and discover the remains of a body already in his grave. The novel takes place on a rocky island that was once terrorized by a serial killer who’s never been caught. The family thinks the remains—which happen to be the narrator’s twin brother, who disappeared a decade ago—might be the work of that now-dormant serial killer, and as the narrator’s siblings and mother respond to the tragedy in strange and disturbing ways, the narrator throws herself into finding out what happened to her twin.
For you, personally, what is the most challenging part of crafting a novel?
Most times, whatever part I’m currently doing is the one that feels most challenging. When I’m plotting, I want to be drafting; when I’m drafting, I want to be revising; when I’m revising, I want to be dreaming up new stories again. But to actually give you a concrete answer, I find plotting to be the biggest challenge, especially with a crime novel, as you need to build in all the clues and red herrings and twists and turns and let it all come to an explosive and satisfying head. It’s a lot to juggle, and it’s a difficult balance to achieve, so that part of the process definitely takes considerable time and effort.
Do you have any events on the horizon?
Yes! I’ll be doing virtual events in August with Book Club on the Go (in conversation with Andrea Bartz), Savoy Bookshop (in conversation with Megan Miranda), and Murder by the Book (in conversation with Kathleen Barber). I’ll also be doing several Instagram Lives that I’m excited about. Information about all my events can be found here: https://www.megancollins.com/events/
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Thanks again for your questions! I’d love to plug some great crime novels that are out this year. The Darkest Flower by Kristin Wright, Bath Haus by P. J. Vernon, and My Sweet Girl by Amanda Jayatissa are among my favorites out in 2021.