Megan Short | Romantic Suspense Author

Megan Short writes multicultural romantic suspense with dark, brooding heroes and independent, feisty heroines.

Omissions, fibs and outright fantasy

Unless a fairy doomed you from birth to only tell the truth (like Tomas in Power of a Princess) you are a constant liar. Just like me and everyone else in the world. The interesting thing about lies is that most of us think we are honest—we underestimate how often we lie to protect our self-esteem. This means that your characters need to be liars too. But just like us, our characters always lie for a reason. And just like us, they often don’t realise they’re doing it!

Psychology and realism

I once had a friend who decided he was going to change careers. He dreamed of abandoning his spreadsheets to become a psychiatrist. He couldn’t see anything more worthwhile in life than discovering the inner workings of humans. I agreed. But gee, it takes around 11 years to get qualified. Sounds like a long time, doesn’t it? Crazy decision (pun intended).

Wounds of character

One of my favourite paintings is David with the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio. The picture to the left does not do the painting justice. In person, it is incredible. But paintings like this can teach us a lot as writers as they are a moment in time after a lifetime of backstory. And a moment in time is exactly where we find our protagonist.

Romance in the #metoo era

I recently watched the Netflix movie 365 Days to see what the fuss was about. For those of you who have not seen it, it’s loosely Beauty and the Beast with a lot of sex. Personally, I found it distressing and disturbing and struggled to watch to the end. Yet it has been so successful in terms of viewers that a sequel is in the works. The reviews on the other hand have been so bad it has been nominated for 6 separate “worst” awards. My theory behind this dichotomy is that romance is still very much grounded in escapism.

When truth is too strange for fiction

Mark Twain’s words “the truth is stranger than fiction” have become a cliché because they are accurate. As fiction writers, we get to experience this in real time: the first reader or editor comments, “that just wasn’t believable”; yet you had stolen it from a real life experience. This played out for me when I read a recent interview.

Making the unlikeable acceptable

I remember a tutor, a long time ago, used the example of Jack Nicholson in As Good as it Gets to prove his point that a protagonist does not have to be likeable. It’s a good example because if I ran into Melvin Udall in my daily life, I would change course immediately. Despite his excellent points, to date all of my protagonists are likeable, or at the very least, sympathetic.

Finding your voice

The first time I heard about a writer’s voice I was a teenager, sitting at an awards ceremony. It was getting late and people were a bit fidgety. We were onto the poetry awards. The third place had been presented — he was grateful to the sponsors and his family. The audience was expecting a similarly short and sweet acceptance from the second placer. Nope. She started waxing lyrical about how she had finally found her voice. I think she was on her back porch feeding the birds at the time. She was very passionate about it, and the description was extremely long winded. I started looking at my watch, hoping for it to end. Now, I wish I had listened and taken notes. She was generously sharing what can make or break your sense of self as a writer: the writer’s voice.