Over the course of the summer I’ve mentioned a class of young, female authors putting out their first books and taking the world by storm. I have had the privilege to interview and learn a great deal from many of them of them.
Today that continues with Margaret Owen, whose debut novel The Merciful Crow, will be released via Henry Holt and Company on July 30th. The Merciful Crow is already an Indie Debut and Next Pick but even more astonishing it continues the tradition of featuring crows and includes her tabby cat Boo, which apparently took lengthy negotiations (yeah, I’m side-eyeing you Liam…).
1) I have read where you have discussed the importance of being authentic on social media and truly being who you if someone were to meet you in real life. That begs the question- who are you?
If I were being snarky, this is the part where I’d say you should follow me on social media to find out! But honestly I’m a pretty simple person: I’m a debut author, a digital and traditional artist, a big old nerd, and an unrepentant cat lady.
2) How have you adapted (if you feel you have adapted) to all the things that come with putting out a debut novel?
Some things came more naturally than others. There was a lot of time in 2017 and 2018 where I was between edits and it was too early to really do any significant marketing, but I’ve always been good about keeping myself entertained, and in this case I just worked on other projects. Other things, like drafting on a deadline, have been more of a struggle. It can be really difficult to focus on one scene when part of my brain is just non-stop cycling through everything I’m anxious about and everything else I could be working on.
3) What was it about the author you met in fourth grade that set in motion, your life as an author? Even though you left that track and did many other things in between, you came back to it. That must have been one powerful interaction.
The author herself was lovely when she visited our class, but if I recall correctly, I walked into the school library, saw she was there, and walked right back out. I was an awkward child. I think what struck me, though, was this realization that the names on the covers of all these books I loved—those belonged to people. And their job was to write stories! That was when it really clicked that I could do that too.
4) About these well-thought-out life decisions? You mentioned they all had one thing in common- lessons learned. What were the most important lessons you learned from your varied callings from a major in Japanese to working on presidential campaigns?
Each one definitely came with its own lesson or twelve! But I’d say the most important ones are:
– You cannot take care of others if you do not take care of yourself.
– You are never too important to clean up your own mess.
– Wear sunscreen!
5) How do you choose the social non-profits you work with? Are there any causes that you are looking for an organization to work with?
Frankly, it depends on which human right is being gutted on which day. At present, I’d really like to do a limited-edition print to raise money for RAICES.
6) I’m sure you haven’t, but if you have, or should you get a chance to look at my site, you will notice my three monstrous cats have carved out a niche for themselves. If I’m being honest, they are more popular than I am. Gomez (widely known as the reading cat) has a relationship with Nic Stone that I’m becoming jealous of, quite frankly. Liam has become Pavel and Gomez’s agent. Posts that they are in quite literally do much better than ones they are not in :/. Having said that, have your cats influenced any of Merciful Crow?
It is a truth universally acknowledged that cat content is the bedrock of the internet! And I definitely put one of my kitty overlords in THE MERCIFUL CROW: my grumpy gray tabby Boo, albeit as a more spritely version named Barf. Still has the same affinity for rolling on shoes, though!
7) If there is anything you have wanted to say but haven’t been given the right question, or anything you just wanted to express… now is your time. The stage is your. This is your chance… whatever you would like to say to anyone at all… go for it…
Well, most of the things I’d like to say are HUGE spoilers for Book 2, so instead I’d just like to thank everyone for supporting the book! And the only hint I’ll give is: no one’s asked about the biggest spoiler yet.
BIO (From Ms. Owen’s Website)
Born and raised at the end of the Oregon Trail, Margaret Owen first encountered an author in the wild in fourth grade. Roughly twenty seconds later, she decided she too would be an author, the first of many well-thought-out life decisions.
The career plan shifted frequently as Margaret spent her childhood haunting the halls of Powell’s Books. After earning her degree in Japanese, her love of espresso called her north to Seattle, where she worked in everything from thrift stores to presidential campaigns. The common thread between every job can be summed up as: lessons were learned.
Fortunately, it turned out that fourth-grade Margaret was onto something. She now spends her days wrestling disgruntled characters onto the page, and negotiating a long-term hostage situation with her two monstrous cats. (There is surprisingly little difference between the two.) In her free time, she enjoys exploring ill-advised travel destinations, and raising money for social justice nonprofits through her illustrations.