It really depends on the character. For most, I would say there’s about 25% of me in them. I really like to write about people who are not like me. I gravitate toward historical figures or characters who do things that I wouldn’t do (good or bad). I like to explore their minds, figure out their motivations. If they’re villainous, I enjoy the challenge of making them somewhat sympathetic (as in the case of Lord Bromby).
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
This is a tough one because most people who know me would tell you Quirky is my middle name. A better question might be, “What’s the most normal thing you’ve ever done?” Ha! I might go with my bat rescue story in this instance. A few years ago, I found an injured bat on the sidewalk in our neighborhood. It was a tiny little thing, and it was August and the temperature was in the nineties. My heart just broke when I saw it there on the ground, so I called animal control while I researched a bat rescue. By the time animal control got there, I was on my way outside with a shoe box and a towel. I thanked the officer for arriving so quickly but told them I’d found a bat rehabilitation center instead. Then I drove the bat about twenty miles to a rescue facility.
Interesting. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I knew I was a writer when I was a little kid. My grandfather asked me to write a story about a ghost with six toes that lived on their street. I relished this task, going to the trouble to illustrate and deliver it in booklet form. My grandfather was thrilled with the finished product, and this fueled me to write more stories. By fifth grade, I was writing longer stories and plays, and by high school, I had friends asking me to write fan fiction of sorts, starring them and their favorite singer, actor, etc. in the main roles. I feel like I’ve always been a writer.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I am a super-picky reader. If I read the first three chapters of a book and it’s not grabbing me, I’ll move on. I love, love, love psychological thrillers and scary stories and literary fiction that deals with hard-hitting issues. I also like classic literature, and I listen to a lot of audiobooks. I rarely read “light” books or romances or anything that’s run-of-the-mill fare. If a book can grab my attention in the first two or three pages and keep it all the way through to the end, then it will most likely be forever on my “favorites” list.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I’m not sure that I do keep it. Ha! I wake up really early, I try to do all my writing between 4:30 and 6:30, and then I’m off to my day job, so by evening I try to make time for my husband and our three dogs. Late afternoon is my decompression time.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
For Dangerous to Know, I tried to do a spin on the historical figures’ names. Lord George Gordon Byron became Lord Gregory Gordon Bromby. Annabella Milbanke became Isabella Bankmill. In other novels, though I try to pick a name that I really like for my main characters (a name I might have used on my own child if I’d had one), but I try to make sure it’s easily pronounceable for the reader. There’s nothing more irritating than reading a book and trying to figure out how to say the main character’s name.
I so agree with that. It will pull me right out of a story. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I don’t often think of myself as an accomplished person, but I guess I’m really thankful that I had the opportunity to travel and live in foreign countries when I was in my twenties. I lived and worked in
London and , and
the experiences I gained there were invaluable. I learned a lot about myself
and people in general while living abroad. I wouldn’t ever trade that. Melbourne,
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I’m so thankful I’m not an animal, although I love animals more than just about anything else on earth. If I had to be an animal, I’d be one of our three dogs. They are literally the most spoiled creatures alive. Barring that, cats seem to fare pretty well. They do just fine on their own, and they always seem highly amused by the world around them. Also, God equipped them with very decent self-protection.
What is your favorite food?
Hands down, spaghetti.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
The middle of a story is always my blocking point. I’ll fly through the first hundred pages of a novel, and then the middle often holds me up for weeks. I usually have to move forward, write the end, and then go back to the middle.
Tell us about the featured book.
Dangerous to Know is based on the historical figures of Lord Byron and Annabella Milbanke. Byron achieved rock star fame in 1812 with the publication of his epic poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Born with a clubbed foot, Byron had a troubled childhood—his father abandoned the family when Byron was very young, and he was abused by his nurse. All of these occurrences colored his outlook on life. Even so, Byron was wildly intelligent, creative, and talented. He was also extraordinarily good looking and people were naturally drawn to him. Unfortunately, he was also agnostic and obsessed with his own damnation. Annabella Milbanke hailed from a background of wealth and nobility. She was a well-bred young lady—Byron’s equal in intelligence but his reverse in faith. She was a true believer and devout in her Christian faith, but she made the mistake that so many other young women make in the assumption that she could win Byron over to her beliefs. The result was disastrous.
Dangerous to Know is really a cautionary tale about the dangers of “following your heart” when God warns us that our hearts are deceptive.
Please give us the first page of the book.
“Don’t look at him, dear. He’s dangerous.”
Isabella Bankmill glanced at Aunt
before turning her gaze once more toward the subject of the older woman’s
warning. She had yet to have a proper look. The grand salon of Holland House
was a whirling kaleidoscope of moving bodies. Ladies, arms encased past their
elbows in white gloves, dressed in elegant billowing gowns, whirled with their
partners as they moved through the paces of the waltz. The man in question was
shielded from her view by the forty or more guests standing around the fringes
of the dance floor—at least half of them clustered around the man himself. Lydia
“Pray tell, how is he dangerous, Aunt
Underneath the curls so carefully arranged against her forehead, Aunt
arched with impertinence. “I have read his poem.” Lydia
“Do you mean Heralds of the Morning? Oh, yes. I have only begun reading the poem, but I find his words quite illuminate a certain romantic way of thinking. Did you not enjoy the work, Aunt?”
furrowed brow and pursed lips made apparent she did not. “The poem is a
shocking journey through foreign lands—all too free thinking and questioning of
moral decency. Why, one would think the poem was not written by an Englishman
at all.” Extending her fan, she fluttered it back and forth in front of her
face as though she might faint at any moment. Small gusts brushed against
Isabella’s cheeks. “Have nothing to do with him. Your mother and father did not
send you to Lydia
to fall under the spell of Lord Gregory Gordon Bromby.” London
How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website: www.meganwhitsonlee.com
Thank you, Megan, for sharing this new book with us. I know my readers will be as eager to read it as I am.
Readers, here are links to the book.Dangerous to Know - Paperback
Dangerous to Know - Kindle
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