MIT science graduate Megan Miranda turned mystery writer | Characteristics
The bestselling author will be featured at the National Writers Series on July 22
By Anna Faller | July 17, 2021
Internationally acclaimed author Megan Miranda made her debut as a self-proclaimed creepy cat. “I was one of those kids who was afraid of everything,” she says. “Literally everything. Suffice to say that these fears were short-lived. Now a New York Times A successful writer, Miranda’s most impressive twist might just be hers.
In fact, his writing career almost didn’t. Originally from New Jersey, Miranda was born and raised in books, especially her mother’s thrillers. “My mom was a big mystery reader,” she says, “so I think I’m probably drawn to the mystery element first and foremost. I have been a lifelong reader, and have always been someone who said, “I want to write someday. “
Miranda, however, had a second love: science. And, while the path to becoming a scientist was fairly straightforward, the same couldn’t be said for becoming a writer. So science – at the beginning, at least – won. “I thought to myself that I was going to go to school for science,” she says, “and my goal was to keep writing in parallel.”
A former student of the illustrious MIT, Miranda received a degree in biology and won awards in bioengineering. From there, she worked in biotechnology before becoming a secondary science teacher.
By then, books had taken a back seat. “The truth is, I quit writing for about 10 years after high school,” she says. “I was still reading, and maybe I was writing a little, but I never got very far.” In fact, it wasn’t until she had her own children that Miranda finally took the step of publishing. “I was at home with them and I was like, ‘This is something I always said I wanted to do,’ she says. “There really isn’t a good time or an easy time, and I think realizing that I could get to the end of a book was a big hurdle for me. I was a bit addicted after that.
But how does a shy kid turn into a full-blown crime freak? For Miranda, that question boiled down to character. “I think there’s something so revealing about the characters in mystery and crime, because they’re split-second decisions,” she says. “Using mystery and crime in books is one way to explore this area of gray morality. And you go on this journey with them, so I find this setting really fascinating in terms of character development.
It is a concept that applies beyond the reach of individuals. “I feel like what makes something scary or suspenseful is your state of mind,” says Miranda, “so no matter how suspense or thriller it is, I [also] think of the place as the character.
And, of course, no character arc would be complete without a little bit of tension required. “I live in a small town,” she says, “and with a thriller you take something to the extreme. So, I take this place, which is completely beautiful and idyllic in another situation, and explore other sides of it.
His fifth adult thriller, “Such a Quiet Place”, is no exception to this structure. Set in intimate Hollow’s Edge, Miranda’s latest novel quickly sinks into small town chaos, and subterfuge and blame abound. “I love writing about character dynamics in small towns,” says Miranda, “and the different layers of this group of people who think they know everything about each other.”
Based on the classic “locked room” concept in which a seemingly impossible crime is committed, “A Place So Quiet” begins a year and a half after a double homicide in a close-knit community sends residents scrambling to pick up the pieces.
“For a long time, I had thought about setting up a mystery or thriller in a neighborhood and then tightening those boundaries even further to work within that,” says Miranda. “So it’s been in my head for a little while, but I didn’t really have that ‘Aha! This is the right story for that.
Enter Ruby Fletcher. The main suspect in the murder case, Ruby returns to Hollow’s Edge after her conviction is withdrawn, leaving her astonished neighbors – including protagonist Harper Nash – to be wary. The end – as always – is to be seen. But don’t expect a neat conclusion.
“I’m a big observer of shows and documentaries,” says Miranda, “and when there’s a resolution I always find myself thinking, ‘OK, but what happens next? I think in many ways an ending is also a story that starts all over again. It was the spark of this idea.
Yet Miranda maintains that the best suspense comes from audience involvement rather than intrigue. “I love traveling in the world of any character,” she says. “As a reader [of suspense], you can feel like an active participant [in that world] while you try to solve [the puzzle] before the character does.
Of course, some mysteries just can’t be solved, but that has never stopped Miranda before. “I think there are mysteries in science, there are mysteries that you read; and then there are mysteries in others, ”says Miranda. “I think my books talk a lot about the mysteries within others, [and it’s those] that I’m really interested in exploring.
PARTICIPATE AT HOME
New York Times Best-selling author Megan Miranda will join the National Writers Series for a free virtual event at 7pm on Thursday, July 22, to discuss her new thriller, “Such a Quiet Place”. The book, released July 13, is available for pre-order from Horizon Books with a 20% discount off the NWS. The guest host of the event is internationally acclaimed author Riley Sager. Registration and tickets can be found here. nationalwritersseries.org/product-category/upcoming-events
MEET THE INTERVIEWER
Riley Sager is the pseudonym of famous writer Todd Ritter. Author of nine thrillers under several pseudonyms, Ritter is a master of mystery. A native of rural Pennsylvania, Ritter began his career as a film critic while taking classes at Penn State. After graduation he worked in journalism and newspaper design before becoming a full-time writer. Under the pseudonym Riley Sager, her debut novel, “Final Girls,” garnered international acclaim and received the ITW Thriller Award for Best Hardcover Novel. Sager has since released four subsequent thrillers; the last of which, “Survive the Night”, was released on June 29th. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.