Have you accepted Megan Duke as your Lord and Savior? Because she writes awesome books that make you cry. Kidding, Jesus all the way! (Not trying to offend anyone's religion, by the way.) I got to ask Megan some questions concerning Charleigh and the Small Circles series.
1) What inspired you to start writing Small Circles?
The first thing that motivated me was the passion I had for writing a coming of age story. I knew I wanted to write a contemporary/realistic novel, so once the ideas started coming it was quite easy to get going with it. One of the biggest things that inspired me was equality and the need for diversity in YA. I wanted to have a gay teen male be the main character, versus just a side character. Also, the “it’s ok to be happy” mantra had a huge influence in the inspiration.
2) Is there anyone out there who helped or inspired you throughout the writing process?
Other authors are the most influential people to me. I look up to John Green and Maggie Steifvater, as well as authors like Jandy Nelson and David Levithan. I want to write stories that are truthful and still fun. These authors did that.
3) how was the writing process with all three books? Surely there were ups and downs.
Each book took a different level of dedication. Three Sixty was the easiest for me, partially because it’s so short. But also because I knew the storyline from the very beginning. I had no question of what was going to happen. All I had to do was sit down and right. Small Circles and Ninety Degrees were a bit more intricate. I had to create the characters and build the story from the beginning. And there was still room for them to grow and expand. What I’d originally planned for Ninety Degrees was not how the final book ended up.
4) Small Circles has definitely helped me, and countless others, through tough times. Did you have any trouble writing the hard parts of the story?
I didn’t have a hard time writing the touchy parts, but I had a hard time releasing them into the wild. I was terrified of what the public’s opinion was going to be. Especially because I live in Nashville - a major part of the Christian bible belt. Because a huge chunk of my story revolved around a gay couple, as well as drugs and sex and profanity, I had no clue how readers were going to take it. But I had to remind myself that writing is a freedom of speech. It’s a form of expression. And I’m not here to please the people that don’t agree with me. I’m here to inspire the readers whose lives I can make a difference in.
5) Getting on the topic of my character for 10 Infinite Weeks, where did the inspiration for Charleigh come from?
Charleigh McAfee started with a name. “Charleigh" was all I had when it came to Silas’ best friend. I had no clue what she was going to look like or what her personality was going to be. But then it came to me pretty easily. About 50% of Charleigh’s character is based off one of my best friends. This includes the different hair colors, and the clothing style. As well as her view of the world. Her “we’re just lines and angles” attitude came from my friend. Charleigh’s physical appearance was inspired by a reader. I knew a girl that was not confident in her looks, thinking she was big boned and not skinny like other girls. I wanted to write a character that she could relate to, so I targeted Charleigh towards her and other girls like her.
6) Charleigh has had some ups and downs with the two boys in her life. What would you do in her situation?
If I were Charleigh, I would have done the exact same thing. However, I would have wanted Logan to be my boyfriend from the very beginning. I’ve been in similar situations before. Not as extreme, but I was tied between choice like her. I had to make my own choice. For Charleigh, the choice was made for her by Tucker stepping away.
7) Sometimes, authors tend to put a little bit of themselves into their characters. Are there any qualities or little details from Charleigh that you see in yourself or the people around you?
Definitely her style. Her clothing is completely mine. I write on all my shoes just like she does. And I had all guy friends in high school, just like her.
8) Where did you get the idea to name her Charleigh McAfee, which—not gonna lie—reminds me of coffee.
I actually created the name Charleigh when I was writing my first attempt at a novel. It was called “Never Let Go”, but this was in like eighth grade, so it wasn’t good. I’d always loved the name, but I wanted to spell it differently. As for the last name, I just looked in my baby book of names. That’s how I come up with a lot of them. Except for Paxton, Larson and Audrina. Those names were the first character I came up with, and they came to me naturally.
9) Are there any hints you can give us concerning as to what happens to her in the story?
As for Charleigh, I can promise that she is happy. We pretty much know her fate at the end of Ninety Degrees. It doesn’t change that much, except for a few life mile marks.
10) I've always wondered about past characters coming across new characters being introduced after another's passing. How do you think Charleigh and Owen would've interacted around each other, or would that be entirely up to us as readers?
I’ve never thought of Owen interacting with any of the new characters from Ninety Degrees. It seems weird. If Owen was still alive, Silas would have never been introduced into Larson’s life. This means Charleigh would have never crossed paths with Larson’s friends. At the same time, they all knew of one another because they attended schools in the same town. At the beginning of ND we see that Silas and his friends were actually had the same restaurant as Larson and his friends. Maybe, if things had turned out differently, they would have still met. For Owen specifically, I think he would have been amused by Charleigh at first. Maybe even envied her. I have no doubt they would have been good friends, though.