SACKVILLE, N.B. – For Sackville resident Meghan Rose Allen, writing her first novel was something of a rollercoaster ride of emotions.
“I think a lot of times it starts off as fun. You’re just writing it for fun and you’re sort of doing it on the side and then it becomes more and more your main thing and it becomes less fun for a bit, and then you get into the editing part, which is no fun. That’s just hours and hours of reading the same page and being like ‘There’s something wrong on this page. What word do I need to change to make it right?’ But then you get to the end and like it again.
“It’s like going down a hill and then back up. You get back up and you’re like ‘Yeah, I really liked writing this book.’”
The end result of all this hard work and emotional turmoil is Enid Strange, Meghan’s first novel, which is told from the point of view of 11-year-old Enid, who knows, and sets out to prove, that faeries are real by writing a book on how to see them.
“Enid Strange, she is an 11-year-old girl who lives in a small town that may have some similarity to Sackville, and she and her mother have a very strong belief in faeries,” Meghan explains. “They do a lot of things to make sure the faeries do not invade their house with a variety of magical this and that … although a faerie does get in and then strange and interesting things start happening to Enid and her mother, and this book is very much about Enid trying to deal with the repercussions of this faerie that has come into her home.”
Although the novel, which is written for a middle-grade audience, was recently released, Meghan says it has already garnered a considerable amount of praise from those who have read it.
“A lot of the kids I know who have read it have been really interested and enthusiastic about what’s happening,” she explains, “and a lot of adults who are reading it, I think, are surprised to find how much they enjoy it.”
The good news for these fans of Enid Strange is that Meghan has already embarked on writing a second novel. And while her first book focuses largely on Enid, the one she is currently working on tells the story of her mother Margery.
“So what I’ve been writing now for the last few months is the story of Margery, which takes place before what happens in Enid’s story,” she says. “I guess in a sense it’s a prequel, and it’s just talking about Margery and her interactions with the faeries and how she’s kind of a cold and difficult character, but how she became this cold and difficult character, how her interactions with the faeries shaped her.”
About the author
Some might wonder how Meghan came to write and publish a novel when one considers her educational and work background. She has a Ph.D. in mathematics from Dalhousie University, evaluated cryptographic algorithms for the federal government and taught mathematics courses at Mount Allison University.
“It wasn't a hard transition actually,” she says. “The area of mathematics I studied, pure mathematics, is very creative, dealing with objects and ideas that don't have immediate real-world applications. This means that my imagination gets exercised when I'm still in math-land.
“As well, mathematics at higher levels requires writing papers explaining your ideas, and I think I structure a lot of my mathematics papers as stories: you want to make the ideas interesting and encourage the reader to keep reading. So even when I work with mathematics, I'm taking made-up ideas and writing them down creatively, which is the same as writing fiction.”
Meghan and her husband have called New Brunswick home since 2012.
“I lived in Halifax for five years going to graduate school,” she says. “We moved away for work, but always said we'd move back to the Maritimes if we could.
“Luckily, four years after we left Halifax, my husband was offered a job at Mount Allison. We didn’t even consider saying no. I left a stable government job to move to a small town in New Brunswick,” she says. “People thought we were crazy. But the Maritimes is where I'm supposed to be.”
And does Meghan believe in faeries?
“I’m obviously not a fan of reality,” she answers with a laugh.
Enid Strange is published by DCB Press and is available at Tidewater Books in Sackville, Chapters/Indigo, Amazon, and a variety of other book stores.
For more on Enid Strange, visit http://www.reluctantm.com/.