Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?
Meg: I wanted to write about queer characters who look at a world that tries to define them, tries to compel them, and tries to stop them and say no. I wanted to see humanity toward a conclusion that wasn’t just more of the same; I didn’t want a revolution but a revelation. I wanted to shatter the meaning of gender and the underpinning restrictions that makes the myths about gender believable and pernicious. I sought to unmake and remake the world anew.
What character do you most relate to and why?
In this book, I relate most to Mayor Max in Shy. I wrote her as a shameless self-insert. She’s got a great position in an incredible city, a cushy life spent at hot springs and public functions, and the kind of iconic appearance that becomes myth in people’s minds. She was fun to write, in a series that wasn’t really fun to think about.
Why do you feel dystopian books are so popular and have such a voice right now?
People are coping with an onslaught of unprecedented chaos and uncontrolled information. We all feel like we’re drinking from the firehose while the world burns down. Dystopias feel real; they confirm for us that we’re not imagining the smell of smoke. Many of us have already survived an apocalypse or two. Fighting for humanity feels like a Tuesday.
Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from the read.
The Book of Flora is full of french fries and falafel, genital mutilation and slavery, all-woman cities and storytellers, gendered violence and tragic loss, dick jokes and despair.
What’s next for you in the book world?
My agent has my new thriller and I can’t wait to get it out there. I’m at work on a supernatural fantasy about my haunted hometown, and I’ve also got a YA in the works. I’ve been busy.
Who is your favorite writer right now and why?
I just left the Nebula Awards and my favorite right now has got to be Brooke Bolander: writer of “The Only Harmless Great Thing,” who gave their acceptance speech dedicating their win partly to the Radium Girls who died for watches. That novelette is one of the most original, moving, incredible things I’ve ever read. Bolander is on another level.
About the Author:
Meg Elison is a Bay Area author and essayist. Her debut novel, THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE won the 2014 Philip K. Dick Award and was listed as a Tiptree Committee recommendation. She is the first college graduate in her family, after finishing her BA in English at UC Berkeley in 2014. She spoke at her graduation. She writes like she’s running out of time and lives in Oakland.