Middle-Grade Book Chat with Author Megan E. Freeman: Could you survive alone?

May 16, 2022

The shop was thriving on Saturday–Niwot Around the World Day was so fun, and loads of people were having a blast running around. All that (fun) chaos stopped when we closed up shop to welcome local author Megan Freeman for a book chat about her verse novel, Alone.

Kids and adults crammed in the shop, hanging on Freeman’s every word. First, she explained what writing a novel in verse meant: “each poem connects to poems around it.” This was a point of interest for many attendees, especially the young writers. Some of them asked her about the “rules” of poetry, and others asked for her advice. Freeman explained that poetry can be simultaneously very open and very structured, “I make up the rules as I write the poems.”

The event then shifted gears to talk about her book, which is about a 12-year-old girl, Maddie, who wakes up to find that her entire town has been evacuated while she’s been left behind. Inspired by Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins and her daughter’s youth book club, Freeman started writing the book around 2010. It had gone through several iterations and drew strongly upon Freeman’s experiences in Colorado; the book itself is set in the state and is “very eastern Boulder County,” Freeman joked. Set in the fictional town of Millersville (Freeman’s version of Lafayette, Colo.), Maddie is faced with challenge after challenge, with only a rottweiler named George for company. Emotional and engaging, it was clear that the book was a fan favorite.

“[We’re] so much less alone,” she said when talking about the challenges of writing a 21st-century survival story compared to one from past generations. She went into detail about her research and plot-development process. For example, to get around the issue of increased communication nowadays, she had to kill the electricity. “I had no idea how complex it is!” Freeman described reaching out to various professionals for input and information so that she could make Maddie’s experience as dramatic yet realistic as possible.

Freeman’s crowd was extremely interactive. When she asked questions, they gave their two cents; likewise, when she asked for questions, various were thrown her way–

  • Why this decision or that decision?
  • What was it like to write it?
  • How do you fight writer’s block? [work on something else and come back to it later–“learning I didn’t have to write in chronological order was huge for me!”]
  • And why oh why the kitten and the bunny?? [spoiler: sometimes “bad things happen in good books” -Freeman ’22]

We’re so grateful to have had Freeman swing by to give such a fun, illuminating chat about her book and the writing process. We’re also super thankful to everyone who showed up for the event!

If you attended, let us know your thoughts by emailing us at hello@twjbookshop.com! We love hearing from you and getting your feedback on books, events, and everything in between.

Happy Wandering!