Today we welcome, Megan Benton to BookEnds! Megan writes historical mysteries and upmarket fiction with compelling characters that fully engage in and interrogate the world around them. Megan’s beautiful prose hooked me immediately, and I’m so excited to be working with her.
Welcome to BookEnds, Megan!
What book do you wish you’d written and why?
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, or any of her novels. I’d give anything to be able to write with her inventive style, wit, and depth, all without sacrificing a bit of page-turning plot.
What’s the last book you read?
When I’m gardening or out on the trails I listen to audiobooks, most recently a run of Ngaio Marsh mysteries and Nadine Gordimer’s July’s People, about a white South African family hiding as refugees in their black servant’s village during the violent overthrow of apartheid. In quieter late-evening mode, I just finished Tayari Jones’s An American Marriage. Before that was the sleep-postponing sly pleasure, Francis Spufford’s Golden Hill.
What do you love about writing historical mysteries?
For years I happily wrote nothing but serious historical non-fiction. Now fiction lets me begin where the archives end. It’s like turning a black and white photo into a full-color video. Research reveals the past; fiction puts history in motion—to wrestle with troubles that look a lot like our own.
I love mysteries because they’re ultimately about justice, and what’s more juicily complicated than guilt and innocence? I love writing about crimes that pit the law against my characters’ moral code. In the end justice is often about power, and the struggle over who gets to decide what’s right or wrong makes for great stories in any genre. Historical mysteries are my way into the meaty stuff.
What author would you most like to meet?
Kate Atkinson, though I’d probably just gush about how much I admire her genre-blurring prose. If there’s an afterlife I’d seek out Carolyn Heilbrun, the trail-blazing feminist scholar. As Amanda Cross she wrote #MeToo mysteries starting in the early sixties, back when misogyny and harassment were seriously risky to talk about, even with a pseudonym.