Saturday, June 20, 2020

Meghan Holloway

Meghan Holloway found her first Nancy Drew mystery in a sun-dappled attic at the age of eight and subsequently fell in love with the grip and tautness of a well-told mystery. She flew an airplane before she learned how to drive a car, did her undergrad work in Creative Writing in the sweltering south, and finished a Masters of Library and Information Science in the blustery north. She spent a summer and fall in Maine picking peaches and apples, traveled the world for a few years, and did a stint fighting crime in the records section of a police department.

She now lives in the foothills of the Appalachians with her standard poodle and spends her days as a scientist with the requisite glasses but minus the lab coat.

Holloway's new novel is Hunting Ground.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

At this point in my career, I still come up with my own titles, and I am very strategic about my choices. My titles convey a clue about the plot and the character’s position in the story with the title.

The three protagonists in this story find themselves ensnared in the same trap. Hunting Ground is a blunt introduction to the fact that my story centers around predator and prey, and how, at times, those roles can be fluid.

What's in a name?

Names are important, and when I’m coming up with characters, I often choose a name that reflects something about each individual, whether in relation to themselves or another character’s view of them.

Obsession is the driving motivation of all three characters, but I think you see that most clearly and in the most twisted sense with Jeff, the serial killer. He is the character who is most at home in his compulsion, the most self aware, and I went with a touch of irony, as the meaning of his name is “peaceful.”

The name Evelyn means “desired, wished for,” and the character herself represents an embodiment of perfection for Jeff. Just why and how she represents that, you’ll have to discover for yourself.

Justice has been far out of reach for Hector. With his character, I wanted to explore how prolonged grief and a lack of closure can warp a man’s psyche. Homer’s Hector is the classic hero of the Iliad, courageous and honorable. My Hector is the antithesis of that. He is bitter, manipulative, and driven by vengeance.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Beginnings are more challenging for me, and I find they also change the most throughout the course of my revisions. I usually have the ending in mind when I start writing, but it takes me several drafts to find the perfect first chapter hook for the reader.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

I do not think an author can ever write in a vacuum where their own personality, outlook, and experience does not influenced their stories. None of my characters are autobiographical. However, my experience from working in the records department of a police station for several years influenced how I portrayed the police and the justice system. My own work in a museum archive during grad school was the inspiration for Evelyn’s career in the story, and Yellowstone National Park is one of my favorite places to visit in the states. So pieces of me do show up in the novel, but not a direct translation of me in any character.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

When I was writing this book and the two subsequent novels, I watched the ID channel most evenings. Investigation Discovery covers true crime stories in loose documentary style across the channel’s variety of shows. Writing a series that is so chilling and gritty, I needed to stay deep in the dark labyrinth of human nature. I found the best way to do that was to continually dose myself with stories of the appalling crimes humans commit against one another. A little grim, but effective.
Visit Meghan Holloway's website, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

--Marshal Zeringue