This past month, our friend Megan Jean Sovern released her first novel The Meaning of Maggie. It follows Maggie Mayfield, a small girl with big dreams, who has decided to write a memoir about the previous year of her life. Megan tells a story of both family struggle and simply growing up with wit and heart, making it appeal to young readers and adults alike. Check out our chat with Megan on the story behind Maggie, what went into the coolest book trailer in the world and what she does when she's not hard at work. 1. The Meaning of Maggie is largely inspired by your own life. Will you talk a little about this and how you made the decision to donate a portion of proceeds to The National Multiple Sclerosis Society?
I grew up with an incredibly funny and strong mom and two hot sisters and a cool dude hippie dad with a cool dude mustache who just happened to have MS. And so Maggie’s story is largely inspired by my own. But it’s not an autobiography by any means. Maggie is way more tenacious and curious and has way better hair. But we do share a love of Jeopardy.
The generous donation to The National Multiple Sclerosis Society was my publisher’s idea. Chronicle Books publishes more than stories. They really shape hopes and dreams and all of that stuff you forget about as a grown-up. They offered the donation when they signed me and I cried buckets about it. It’s just the kindest thing.
2. Eleven-year-old Maggie has her heart set on becoming President. Was this also your goal growing up? What are some of your goals going forward with your writing career (The Meaning of Maggie is getting wonderful reviews!)?
I didn’t want to be President. I wanted to be Sophia Petrillo. Sadly, my Golden Girl dreams were dashed. But life as a writer has some similarities. I get a lot of opportunities to be cynical and clever and wear cardigans even in summer.
As for my writing, I just hope kids and grown-ups connect with The Meaning of Maggie. I hope they see their lives reflected in it. And I hope they know it was written with a lot of heart over many of cups of tea while eating more muffins than I probably should have. But it was all worth it. Especially the muffins.
3. All of us at Aviary were smitten by your trailer for the book, too. What inspired you to do this?
Oh, I love that you were smitten! I’ve worked as a writer in advertising for over ten years and I just had to make a trailer I could love. And that all of my cool ad friends would like. It’s really all about impressing my cool ad friends. And I got really lucky and some super talented people helped me make it. We shot it over two days in LA. We listened to Bruce Springsteen records and set up pretty scenes and drank fizzy fancy sodas. It was honestly the dreamiest experience.
Here’s a link to it.
4. You and your husband live right here in Atlanta. What are some of your favorite spots to relax? To write?
Yes, I tricked Ted into moving to Atlanta from San Francisco three years ago. It wasn’t an easy task. San Francisco is one of the hardest cities to leave. But it’s even harder to stay. Unless you’re a billionaire and we are not billionaires. But we have really fallen in love with Atlanta. It feels like home. We live in the Virginia Highlands and we take a lot of long walks under giant trees. We sit on our front stoop and listen to music and try not to get attacked by one million mosquitoes. It’s all very lovely.
I write mostly at San Francisco Coffee in Morningside. But sometimes I find myself at Octane or the Cakes and Ale bakery or LottaFrutta. And sometimes I find myself at three in the afternoon at Paolo’s Gelato. But let’s not tell anyone about that.
5. And of course, if you were a bird, which bird would you be?
I would be a cardinal. My dad absolutely loved cardinals. He liked that the males are so majestic and good looking. Just like him.