|Welcome to New Faces, where you can meet some of the newest authors in the mystery arena. We're delighted to welcome Megan Rust, whose debut novel Dead Stick is an Alaskan-set mystery and the first in a new series. Welcome, Megan!
Tell us about yourself.
I am a life-long Alaskan (came up here when
I was one-year-old) who now lives in Eagle River, a bedroom community 13
miles north of Anchorage. I grew up in Anchorage, where the rest of my
family--parents and two brothers--still live. I have two bachelor's
degrees, one in Aeronautical Science and one in Journalism, which both
serve me well in my mystery-writing career.
Are you coming to mystery writing from another job?
Until June of
1984 I worked as a commercial pilot, flying a variety of different
aircraft throughout the state of Alaska. However, on June 9th, 1984, I
was struck and run over by a forklift just after I walked from my Cessna
402 at a village on the Yukon River. The accident crushed my skull. I
suffered a severe head injury, and lapsed into a coma, where I remained
for nearly a month. After coming out of the coma, and going through a
year's worth of rehabilitation (re-learning everything, including
walking and talking) I was able to go back to work. Unfortunately, not
as a pilot--my head injury ended that career. I searched and searched
for another livelihood, and finally decided to train for a career in
advertising. Somehow, I stumbled into my writing career by happenstance,
as I prepared for that job in advertising. The rest is, as they say,
What led you to write mysteries?
I started my writing career
concocting Alaskan adventure stories, starring a female pilot (odd that
I'd choose that kind of character, eh?) When they were rejected by an
editor at St. Martin's, I took some advice from my partner. Since he
knew I enjoyed reading mysteries, he suggested that I try writing one.
It was a match made in heaven, me and mysteries. My first attempt at a
mystery was accepted by Berkley Prime Crime. Yeow!
Tell us about your road to publication.
I started out writing adventure stories. But when I took a long
look at my first mystery, I thought it looked as good as the things I
was reading at the time. Maybe this was the one to go all the way, I
thought! I contacted a published writer friend, who offered to read my
manuscript, and if she liked it, she'd send it to one of her editors.
Five years, almost to the day after I graduated with my Journalism
degree, I got the fateful call from Berkley. They loved the manuscript.
What kind of research was involved for your first book?
Most of the
information for the flying scenes came straight from my experience as a
pilot, but I talked to a number of people to get the details about
medical evacuations: nurses, other pilots, dispatchers. The retired
medical examiner for the State of Alaska also gave me a lot of
information about murder methods. He was a great source.
Who are your influences as a writer?
I started reading female
writers with female protagonists as a way to gauge my own ability, and
the probable appeal of my own character. Both Sarah Andrews and Sally
Chapman showed me, with their writing, that women with technical
backgrounds don't automatically make the reader run screaming from the
bookstore. Sally's main character works with computers; Sarah's is a
geologist. Another favorite is Nevada Barr, whose protagonist is a park
ranger. If these female characters with unusual-for-a-woman jobs made it
into print, my charcter, a pilot, could do it also.
What does your family think of having a mystery author in their
My dad wouldn't believe my good fortune until I showed him the
cover flat for my first book. Then he couldn't refuse to believe it,
since it was in black-and-white right in front of his face. My mom
bought about a dozen copies of the book to send to friends, and she's
always getting on the phone to tell people when something good happens
with my career.
Tell us about plans for future books.
The second in the series, RED
LINE, will be in stores in April of 1999. Numbers three and four in the
series are done (and have been done since before I got the call from
Berkely). #3 is already contracted for, and Berkley also holds the
option for #4. I'll know soon if they want to buy #4.
How can readers get in touch with you?
My email address is:
firstname.lastname@example.org. I may not be able to reply to every letter, but I'd
love to hear from you.
Thanks, Megan, and good luck! Readers, check out our review of Dead Stick.
November 9, 1998