Monday, 1 July 2013

The Lowdown on.....Megan Johns

It's been a while since I featured a writer at my blog, so I'm delighted to say that all changes today with my guest, Megan Johns.  UK-based Megan is already multi-published, and her latest novel A Shore Of Secrets, has recently been released by Muse It Up Publishing.  It's already getting some superb reviews.  With its Italian setting and its tangled web of family secrets, it's bound to be a superb read!  I'm really pleased to have Megan here to talk a little more about it.
Megan,  I’ve just begun to read A Shore of Secrets, you had me at the first mention of its Italian setting!  Italy is my favourite country to visit, so I’d love to know why you chose it, and why Venice, in particular?

'I just love everything about Italy - the generous people, the stimulating lifestyle, the atmosphere, the food. The landscape is beautiful and dramatic, whilst the place itself  oozes with culture both in its architecture and art. None more so than the unique and captivating city of Venice. It’s such a romantic setting, who could fail to fall in love there?' 

Absolutely.  Something that really intrigued me about your writing is that both A Shore of Secrets and your earlier novel, The Path of Innocence, seem to have family loyalties or family conflicts at their core.  What fascinates you about those sort of situations?

'Family life in Italy is particularly fascinating.  Families are so cohesive and tightly-knit, and the unit has a powerful influence over the lives of its members.  The deep-rooted loyalty within a family is demonstrated at its extreme by the Mafia.  Secrecy is an integral part of its make-up and this aspect of families inspired a central theme in A Shore of Secrets.  In the book, the closely guarded secrets of the Renaldi family play a key role in determining the storyline.'

It sounds like a gripping, complex read, a story to really get your teeth into.  I can't wait to get further into it.  Megan, now I have a few fun questions for you!  Let's start with this one - What would be your perfect day?

I love being by the sea. I would stare at the expanse of water until almost hypnotised, listen to the waves lapping against the shore, the sound of screeching gulls, inhale the smell of the salt air. The weather would not be important. There is nothing more therapeutic and invigorating than a brisk walk with a cold wind whipping into your face.
I so agree, being by the sea is wonderful.  What’s on your bedside table/nightstand? 
My bedside table tends to get rather crammed with all kinds of paraphernalia. Most important of all, however, is a small photograph of my late father and I always say ‘goodnight’ to him before I go to sleep.
What’s your favourite piece of music?
I like all kinds of music. I can enjoy listening to a classical piece like one of Mozart’s piano sonatas, but I’m more likely to opt for songs by strong female vocalists such as Streisand or Celine Dion. It all depends on my mood.
What your favourite sandwich, and where in the world is the best place to eat it? 
I love smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches. One of my favourite spots to eat a sandwich is St James’s Park in London which is an oasis of calm. I love watching the antics of the pelicans as they wade out of the water to sit on benches next to visitors. It is such an antidote to the hustle and bustle of London.
Yum!  And those little islands of calm in the middle of a busy city are wonderful.  Now tell me this - which household chore would you happily give up for ever?
Hoovering. I hate it and I have seriously been considering a robotic hoover. My main reservation, however, is how would the dog would react and who would win the battle?
Who would you invite to your ultimate fantasy dinner party?  

Silvio Berlusconi would ensure lively conversation and debate.  At 75, the man was unrepentant about his debauch lifestyle and defiant in the face of his critics. I would like to grill him to see if the man has any moral compass at all.
Yes, and since we last spoke, the Berlusconi saga has taken yet another twist, hasn't it?  Maybe the less said about that, the better!  Megan, what talent or skill would you love to have that you don’t have now?
I would love to be able to play a musical instrument, especially the piano, but that might be a tall order at this stage. Improving my French to a conversational level would be equally satisfying, and more achievable. 
What's your guilty pleasure?
Chocolate. It is definitely my bĂȘte noir. I tend to restrict myself to dark, semisweet chocolate and only in the evenings after a meal. However, show me a box of delicious Belgian chocolates and all my good intentions fly out of the window.
If you could retrieve one thing from your childhood, what would it be? 
Innocence. As a child, I was fortunate in leading a relatively carefree existence with few external pressures. We took pleasure from simple things and wanted for little without actually owning very much. It seems to me that modern children lead much more stressful lives.

I think you're right.  One final question, then.  Aside from writing achievements, family, etc - what are you most proud of?
The thing I am most proud of currently is the fact that my daughter has just achieved a doctorate in science. Of course, I am proud of her in so many different ways. For myself, I am quietly proud of what I achieved during my career, but it still comes second to my family.
Back to family, again - I can see how much it means to you.  Megan, thanks so much for being my guest today, I've really enjoyed getting to know you.  Good luck with all your future projects.
A Shore of Secrets is available here at Muse It Up Publishing, and you can find out more about Megan here at her website.