Megan Cooley Peterson: The Liar's Daughter
September is here! I'm very excited about September (gee I wonder why) but that's not what this post is about. This post is about celebrating my fellow debuts! I know you're going to love all the fresh books coming at you this month!
The Liar's Daughter
by Megan Cooley Peterson
Seventeen-year-old Piper knows that Father is a Prophet. Infallible. The chosen one.
She would do anything for Father. That's why she takes care of all her little sisters. That's why she runs end-of-the-world drills. That's why she never asks questions. Because Father knows best.
Until the day he doesn't. Until the day the government raids the compound and separates Piper from her siblings, from Mother, from the Aunts, from all of Father's followers--even from Caspian, the boy she loves.
Now Piper is living Outside. Among Them.
With a woman They claim is her real mother--a woman They say Father stole her from.
But Piper knows better. And Piper is going to escape.
September 10th, 2019
Introduce yourself and your debut novel!
Thank you for having me, Sofiya! My name is Megan Cooley Peterson. I’ve been a freelance writer and editor for almost ten years and have been in children’s publishing longer than that. My debut novel is a YA thriller called THE LIAR’S DAUGHTER. The story is about a girl who has been raised in a doomsday cult, only she doesn’t know it’s a cult. After she’s rescued from the cult, she’s desperate to return to it.
What’s the most surprising part about your debut journey so far?
The most surprising part of my debut journey so far, honestly, is that it’s even happening at all! I queried a few books over seven years before I found my agent. I never gave up on writing—it’s my passion, and I’d be doing it even if I weren’t being published. But I had gotten to a place where I was okay if I never saw my book in a reader’s hands. So this entire experience has been a gift.
Give a shout-out to a fellow debut!
There are so many amazing books hitting bookshelves in 2019! I have to give a shout-out to Shannon Schuren, who wrote a culty YA novel called THE VIRTUE OF SIN. And Hanna Alkaf’s THE WEIGHT OF OUR SKY is a stunning novel about war and race and mental health.
Who is your favorite character?
This is a tough question! The character I relate to the most is Piper. Like me, she’s loyal to a fault, which gets her into trouble. My favorite character to write was the character of Mother. She’s this beautiful woman who wears perfect makeup and clothing as she helps her husband run his cult. But beneath all that beauty is a cruel, manipulative person.
How long did it take you to write this book?
It took me about three years to write this book, from first draft through all the revisions. I started writing the book in 2015. In 2016, I entered it into Pitch Wars and was chosen to be mentored. I got a lot of great agent feedback after Pitch Wars but no offers of representation. I knew this book was special, so I continued to revise and polish after Pitch Wars ended. I signed with my agent and publisher in 2018.
What inspired you to write this book?
I was first inspired to write THE LIAR’S DAUGHTER after I read memoirs written by women who had been abducted as young girls—Jaycee Dugard and Michelle Knight. I kept trying to wrap my head around how they managed to survive such horrific circumstances. They are survivors, and I wanted to write a character who also survived something horrible. I was also inspired by my own experiences as a teenager in a cult-like doomsday church.
What was the hardest scene to write?
A lot of the scenes in this book were difficult to write, and I can’t even count the number of times I sat at my computer, sobbing through a scene. The most difficult scene to write in terms of achieving the right balance of action and emotion is the scene when Piper is rescued from the cult. My editor really helped me to develop that scene. It was a bit threadbare, and she helped me turn it into a truly haunting, confusing moment.
What advice would you give to a new writer?
Read a lot of novels! And try not to let the outside stuff that’s out of your control (i.e. querying, going on submission, sales numbers, reviews) ruin your love of writing. It is so easy to measure our worth as writers on the outside stuff. As long as you keep writing, keep learning about your craft, and find a critique partner or two, you will get published one day. In the meantime, enjoy the magic of writing.
Describe your writing space.
I mainly write at my desk in my office. I work from home, and my office is the one room in my house that belongs only to me. It’s messy and has purple walls, my favorite color. My desk looks like a tornado blew over it! But it’s filled with things that inspire me.
What book or author has most influenced your own writing?
What a great question! When I was in the fifth grade, I got a book at our school book fair that changed my life. It’s called Wayside School Is Falling Down by Louis Sachar. It’s a chapter book about a wacky school and the goofy things the teachers and students do there. When I first read that book, my mind opened up. I had no idea you could write a book like that! It was unique and funny and blew me away. That book really made me want to become a writer. I even wrote my first piece of fan fiction based on that book. And I still have that book, with my name written on the inside cover.
Share a favorite recipe!
Rachael Ray’s carbonara recipe is my favorite recipe to make. It’s super easy and tastes amazing. I use bacon in my recipe instead of pancetta. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/a16755/carbonara-recipe-rachael-ray/
Share an aesthetic!
Thanks for interviewing, Megan! Your book sounds fascinating! I can't wait to check it out on 9/10/19!