Megan Mayhew Bergman

In her own words: Local author Megan Mayhew Bergman

On her bestselling book Almost Famous Women: The stories truly grew out of my reading and research interests. I had spent nearly a decade reading about unusual women - ambulance drivers in the World Wars, female artists who hadn't gotten their due, jazz musicians - and finally gave myself [permission] to start writing the stories I had already begun imagining in my head. So little is known about many of these women that one's imagination already has to do work to fill in the gaps. 

On the influence of home on her writing: I grew up in eastern North Carolina, in the small town of Rocky Mount. I do think my writing grew out of the southern tradition - a little gothic, a taste of morality, too many Sundays sitting with the highs and lows of a sermon washing over you, the lyrical quality of speech and hymns. While I am not purely a southern writer, I am a rural writer, and it's good for me to be in the beautiful state of Vermont. Any expatriate can tell you that "home" becomes a nebulous concept, and that clarity comes with distance. Along with a pang of nostalgia. 

On her current work, a novel set in Savannah: It will be my first published novel - let's say that! I usually follow my heart and imagination, and my heart and imagination were on a houseboat in Savannah.

On a favorite book: I love Beryl Markham's West With the Night. I like its authoritative prose and minimalist style, but also its brave and gritty heroine who is more interested in her own passions (aviation and horse training) than romance and pretty dresses. I like seeing women depicted in books as strong and serious people with passions - not rom com stock characters. I hope to write books that feature strong women - not strong women in the comic book sense, as I believe strength is not always a manifestation of masculine qualities, and comes from a life well-lived, heartbreak, risk-taking, and great love. 

On advice for aspiring writers: Learn to give and take criticism with grace. Be generous and at the same time thick-skinned. Seek to give the reader a gift - beauty, humor, or insight - but aim to make art, something with meaning. Join a larger conversation. Illuminate people and ideas.