I have always been a great that believer in the idea that Beeston is made up of some fantastic people. Occasionally, however I have the bizarre experience of meeting someone who really does stand out from the crowd. This month I had the great pleasure to meet one of our greatest local writers, Megan Taylor, to chat about her work.
What makes Megan stand out quite as much as she did for me is not only her work but mainly that she is by far one of the sweetest people I have ever met, a characteristic that, despite making the interview and beer we have had since very enjoyable, I find just a little bit suspicious.
I’m sure that at this moment, dear reader, that you have someone similar in mind; we have all met someone who is just too nice at some point in our lives. What’s the catch, you may be asking? I will come back to that.
So, putting any notions of suspicion aside, conversation quickly began to flow. Megan explained that having work and lived in London for most of her life she was the proud recipient of a BA in English from Goldsmiths University of London (“la de da” I said, as a lowly Trent Poly student) which began a lifelong passion for all thing literary. In 1999, she relocated North, finally settling here in Beeston (having quickly realised that West Bridgford was not quite all it’s cracked up to be).
It was here that things really started to take off. Her first novel ‘How We Were Lost’, an edgy coming-of-age story, was published by Flame Books in 2007 after coming second in the Yeovile Prize 2006. Deciding that perhaps she was ready to pursue her writing career with all the vigour of a true Beestonian, Megan enrolled herself on a distance learning Masters in creative writing from Manchester Metropolitan University during which time she continued writing, eventually publishing her work ‘The Dawning’ in 2010. Since then Megan has gone from strength to strength, next came the utterly gripping ‘The Lives of Ghosts’ in 2012.
Then, in 2014, she published her first short story collection ‘The Woman Under the Ground’. To top it off, Megan also contributed to the highly successful ‘These Seven’, an anthology of short stories combined and published by Nottingham’s own Five Leaves, to showcase the diversity of writing and communities that our fair city has to offer.
In order to explain how I have finally come to terms and laid aside my initial “she seems too nice” discomfort I took to Megan’s latest novel ‘The Lives of Ghosts’ for some answers and boy did I find them. For the sake of brevity, I will say only that this story was one of the most gripping I have read in a very long time, comparable with so few other but most readily writers such as Joyce Carol Oates but with the emotional engagement displayed by the likes of Stephen King. The narrative may initially appear daunting to some, alternating chapters between our protagonist Libery Fuller as a grown woman and as her 12-year-old self, but Megan has masterfully interwoven these two perspective to offer a level of depth that most author struggle with their whole careers. The story follows Liberty as she returns to her childhood home, an eerie loch-side house in rural Scotland, and attempts to confront the ghosts that have haunted her for 25 years. The dark insight into a number of traumatic events and the attempt to resolve the effects of them give the story a dark, almost sadistic, sense of suspense which combined with a twist that I did not see coming, makes this a novel that I genuinely could not put down.
Having read many of her short stories as well as her latest novel, all the pieces began to fall into place. Why is Megan such a genuinely lovely woman? Because she is able to express the darker side of herself so poignantly in her writing, creating worlds and characters that strike a chord with everyone who reads them.
Her works speak for themselves but be warned, they are to be read on a dark evening, ideally by candlelight. Megan’s work is available through the usual channels: the Five Leaves bookshop, from her own website and Amazon.