This week I interviewed Maegan Beaumont, author of the Sabrina Vaughn thriller series.
Dharma: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.
Maegan: I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember— I’ve always been lost inside my own head. It’s just always been something I do. I started with short stories and poetry and moved on to my first novel when I was 12. I thought it was fantastic but I’m sure if I read it now, I’d die of embarrassment.
Dharma: Your book Blood of Saints was published by Midnight Ink last August. What’s it about?
Maegan: Blood of Saints is the fifth book in my Sabrina Vaughn series. The series follows a San Francisco homicide inspector and trauma survivor as she sets out to find the man who raped and tortured her as a young woman and the relationships and fallout that develop as a result of that discovery. In BoS, Sabrina has found a small measure of peace and has finally started to come to terms with what’s happened to her… so, of course, it’s my job to mess it all up.
When a string of murders occurs in the same town she was abducted from as a teen, Sabrina is called in to try and find the person responsible. The story takes some pretty deep twists. No one is quite who they seem.
Dharma: What were some of the challenges you faced in putting this story together?
Maegan: When you start a series, it seems simple enough but when you get to be 5, 6,7 books down the road, it’s a struggle to keep your characters and their back stories straight. Readers pick up on inconsistencies and if they find them, they have no problem telling you all about them. I would guess my main struggle with BoS was staying true to my characters while introducing new ones. I’ve got a lot of balls in the air—I’m just trying not to drop them.
Dharma: As with the previous, there are some graphic torture, rape, and fight scenes. Do you ever worry about losing readers by going too far?
Maegan: I don’t worry about that at all. Besides, I don’t think anyone has ever asked Thomas Harris or Jeffery Deaver if they’re worried about pushing the boundaries too far. And if someone did ask them, I suppose they’d have the same thoughts on it as I do. Thrillers, by nature, are graphic. People who read them know what they’re getting themselves into.
Dharma: What are your thoughts on using rape or torture as story elements? When are they appropriate? Inappropriate?
Maegan: I write about trauma, but I’m more focused on the aftermath and how the things that happened to Sabrina shaped her as a sister, friend and partner. Yes, she’s been pushed to brink of darkness but these novels are about how she battles back. She doesn’t undergo some magical transformation that heals her and takes away her pain. Trauma reshaped her but she still tries to put herself together, even if she fumbles with the pieces and getting it wrong. She still tries, and isn’t that what life is about?
As for when using rape and torture as story elements is appropriate… they’re only appropriate when they serve to further your story or your character’s development. The opening scene of the first book in my series, Carved in Darkness, is a pretty graphic rape/murder scene. I didn’t write it for shock value. I didn’t write it to be gratuitous or because I had something to prove. I wrote it because my protagonist is deeply, deeply flawed and in order to show my reader just how flawed she is, I had to take them there. I had to make them feel it so they can understand who Sabrina is now, and why she is the way she is.
Dharma: Were there some personal experiences or elements you included in the story?
Maegan: No. As much as I’d like to believe that I’m a badass cop who eats bad guys for breakfast, I’m not. I’m just a stay-at-home mom with 4 kids and a slight animal addiction. I just got a pig today. Her name is tinkerbell.
Dharma: What are some of the things you had to research for this story?
Maegan: I research. A lot. And my research tends to be hands-on. For Carved, I spent nearly an entire summer in handcuffs, trying to pick my way out and spent a fair amount of time in the trunk of my car. For Sacrificial Muse, I talked a friend into drawing my blood so that I could make ink out of it (yes, it actually works). For Blood of Saints, I broke a lot of padlocks and spent some time poking around in Yuma, Arizona, where the book is set.
Dharma: What are you working on currently? Will there be another installment in the Sabrina Vaughn series?
Maegan: Yes, there will be other installments to Sabrina’s series. The next book, tentatively titled, The Devil’s Spare, will be Ben’s book. After that, there will be a few more books that I hope with lead into several spin-off series, one of which will be based on my secondary character, Courtney Church—think along the lines of a female Orphan X.
Although, it’s all planned out, that’s not what I’m writing now. I’m currently working on a crime novel about a savant bartender set in south Boston and a NA romantic thriller set in Kansas.
Dharma: What authors or genres do you like to read? What are you reading currently?
Maegan: I read just about everything, from romance to horror, because I think it all informs my writing and helps me to create and develop well-rounded, three-dimensional characters. Right now, I’m reading The Good Goodbye, by Carla Buckley.
Dharma: Will you be appearing at any conferences or other writing events coming up?
Maegan: I attend ALA’s summer conference and Bouchercon every year. I also try to attend Left Coast Crime but will have to miss it this year. I’m also working on a summer writing workshop with a local community college.
Dharma: Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you or your work?
Maegan: I guess if anything, it’s that writing is hard. 99.999% of us who write are normal, boring people, leading normal, boring lives, working normal, boring jobs. We don’t write for the money. We write because we have to. There is something inside us that makes it impossible not to. Even when it’s hard and even when it doesn’t seem worth it, so… if you read a book and you love it (or even just like it), take a few minutes to write a review. Knowing that something we wrote touched someone who read it makes it all worthwhile.
Dharma: Where can people find you on the web?