Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Cornucopia of Dystopia: Author Interview with Megan McCafferty (Bumped) & Giveaway

Megan McCafferty’s next novel, BUMPED, was described in Publisher’s Weekly as “a sharply funny and provocative dystopian novel set in a world where only teens are able to have babies, and are contracted by adults to carry them to term.” It goes on sale April 26th, 2011.

She is the author of sloppy firsts (Three Rivers, 2001), an ALA Top 10 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, an ALA Popular Paperback, and a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. Its sequel, second helpings (Three Rivers, 2003) was also selected to the NYPL list, and was a Booklist Editor’s Pick for one of the best novels of 2003.charmed thirds (Crown, 2006) was an instant New York Times bestseller and a NYPL pick. fourth comings (Crown, 2007) and perfect fifths (Crown, 2009) also made the New York Times, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly, Booksense, Barnes and Noble, Borders and other national bestseller lists.

Megan edited a short story anthology called SIXTEEN: Stories About That Sweet and Bitter Birthday(Three Rivers, 2004). She has contributed to several fiction and nonfiction anthologies including My Little Red Book (2009), Does This Book Make Me Look Fat? (2008), Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned From Judy Blume (2007), It’s a Wonderful Lie: 26 Truths About Life in Your Twenties (2007), Girls’ Night In: To Benefit War Child (2004) as well as numerous national magazines. Her work has been translated into eleven languages, including German, Japanese, Chinese, Turkish and Hungarian.

From author's website.

What was the first scene you wrote for this novel? How has it changed over the course of the publishing process? 

The first scene in Bumped—in which the twins are in the dressing room of a store called Babiez R U—is the first scene that came into my head when I came up with the concept for the book. The essence of that scene stayed more or less the same, it only got more detailed as the novel developed.

What inspired you to choose the names Melody and Harmony?

I borrowed from real life. My husband grew up around the corner from twins named Melody and Harmony.

Harmony seems to mentally conflate religion/God with eroticism/sex. Can you shed some light on that psychology?

Spiritual ecstasy and sexual ecstasy can look and feel similar. (Google: Bernini, “The Ecstasy of St. Theresa.”) This notion is in the Bible itself, most explicitly in The Song of Songs, a highly erotic poem that is often interpreted as a metaphor for the relationship between God and the church. But I’m no theologian, so I turned to experts to shed further light on how religious belief influences sexual experiences. One informative and insightful book was Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers by Mark Regenerus. That book (and others) helped me get into the mindset of a devout and sheltered teenage girl whose hormones are raging all over the place.

The MiNet technology is very convenient, but also somewhat invasive. Would you like to see that kind of technology exist in the real world?

The MiNet is inspired by eye-controlled cursor technology being developed for people with paralysis. I don’t even have a smartphone, so if something like it became available to the general public, I wouldn’t be much interested in it.

In both Bumped and many other dystopian novels, it is the female population who are the most oppressed or abused. Do you think patriarchy and misogyny are things our society will ever fully escape?

I hope so. And if novels like Bumped encourage readers to think and talk about these issues, then maybe we as a society can move a teensiest-tiniest step closer to gender equality.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this novel?

In creating a whole new world, I didn’t know what was necessary for the reader to know, and what was superfluous. My first draft was too long on bloated blahblahblah and too short on character development.

You mentioned in the author’s note that Bumped was inspired by the culture of teen pregnancy that abounds in shows like “Sixteen and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom.” What are reality shows like in the Bumped universe?

I imagine that there’s at least one show like The Bachelor, in which potential parents eliminate one girl every week until they find the perfect Surrogette to have their baby.

What character from another YA novel would be Melody’s best friend if they were to suddenly jump off the page and into the “real world”?

I think Melody could get along famously with Jessica Darling…if she didn’t see her as too much of a rival.

What book have you re-read the most? How many times have you read it? What is it about this story that keeps bringing you back for more?

I’ve probably read The Catcher in the Rye about a dozen times. I read it in seventh grade, and it was my first life-changing book. I like revisiting it to remind myself of the transformative power of discovering the right work of art at the right time.

Do you plan to write another dystopian series in the future?

I don’t think about genre, I think about the story I want to tell. I never believed I’d write anything that ventures into dystopian territory, so who knows where my imagination will take me next?

For more about this author, please visit:

Thanks so much to Megan for taking the time to answer my questions!


Thanks to Balzer + Bray and Houghton Mifflin, I am able to give away ARCs of Bumped by Megan McCafferty and Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky to one lucky reader!

  • One (1) winner will receive an ARC Bumped by Megan McCafferty & Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
  • US/Cananda Only please (I'm sorry -- I can't afford to ship overseas right now)
  • Ends 4/23/11 at 11:59 pm EST
  • Winner will be selected via
  • Awaken will be mailed by my event co-host, Danya at A Tapestry of Words
  • Please review my giveaway policy
To Enter:
  • Leave a thoughtful comment about anything in this interview (by "thoughtful," I mean show me that you actually read the interview)
  • Fill out THIS FORM
  • Following is not required, but greatly appreciated
  • Extra entries are available

Good luck!


Book Groupie said...

Great interview. I especially love hearing what an author's favorite books are. Thanks!

Lucia (iLive, iLaugh, iLove Books) said...

The question about the teen pregnancy reality shows was very interested. I'm even more intrigued to read this book now! I admit I don't know much about Bumped, but I love dystopian.

Rachel Cully said...

I thought the Question about how the female sex is often oppressed in the dystopia genre was very insightful. I never really thought about it that way but since you brought it up I have been noticing the pattern.

Bookish Brunette said...

I grew up next door to twins... One was named Melody (awesome) but the other was Emily not Harmony! Great interview and giveaway!

ArtsyBookishGal said...

I'm actually interested in both these novels. But I love how Megan McCafferty wants to bring attention to gender equality because inequality between men and women still very much exists!

Amy // amyismyfriend at aol dot com

JellyBear7 said...

I actually found this specific interview to be quite interesting. I really like how it was included how she wrote the book and the hardest part of writing the book was. I know a lot of twins personnaly but their names are Amy and Melody. Also about the MiNet is really good for people with paralysis is awesome for them when it will be finished.

I really heard great things about both of these books. And I want to thank you for hosting this giveaway. :)

Ariel said...

I like that you named twins Harmony and Melody! It shows that they're connected :)

ashelynn sanford said...

I found it extremely interesting she re-reads The Catcher in the Rye. It's one book I haven't read but I really want to. Also? MiNet sounds AWESOME. I would be interested if it came to general public. (I love technology.)

Thank you for the giveaway.

Zareen said...

I love the name choices Harmony and Melody. Also, I thought her idea for a Bachelor-type show was really interesting.

Thanks for the great giveaway!

Ria said...

The idea of a reality show where couples eliminate girls until they find a surrogate mother sounds all too much like something the Fox Network will have in their lineup next fall in THIS reality!

I'm really looking forward to being able to read Bumped. It caught my attention as soon as I first say the synopsis!

Nicole said...

I love the favorite books part of the interview, it was nice to see what the author liked. I can't wait to read Bumped


Tiffany said...

I have also noticed a pattern in dystopian books lately that most (or at last in the ones I have read so far) lead characters are female. I think this is a great way to express to teen readers that even though these characters and places are fiction, we can learn a lot from them. Just because you are female, it doesn't mean you can't change the world!

SusieBookworm said...

I soooooo want to read Bumped!!! I love dystopias, and what makes the best ones the best is when they have a deeper societal meaning to them, and it appears that Bumped has a deeper meaning.

dani_nguyen said...

I thought it was pretty interesting that the names Melody and Harmony came from real life twins.

Jennifer said...

I love the names Melody and Harmony!

I like the last question asking whether she was planning to write another dystopain series. Interesting anwer.

Christi said...

Thanks for the interview! I love reading dystopian fiction, and I'm always AMAZED at the worlds that authors create. I can totally see how the paring down would be the most challenging part of revision. Deciding what readers need to know about YOUR created world, and what's just extra stuff--I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Booklady said...

Catcher in the Rye is one of my favorite books as well. I have it scheduled for re-read this summer once school is out.

I agree with another commenter, the Parents Searching for A Surrogate Mom sounds like a reality show that would take place today.

Thanks for a great interview.

Beverly aka Booklady

LindsayWrites said...


earlynerdspecial said...

I thought the part about the connection between religion/god and sex/pleasure was really, really interesting. The Forbidden Fruit book sounds really interesting and is being added to my TBR pile.

LiLi said...

Because of the Book Rat's video review of Bumped I'm really excited about reading this one, even though she didn't know what she thought about it lol. Just the way she described it

Jessica Subject said...

I think it is neat that Megan's husband grew up around the corner from twins named Melody and Harmony. I had a friend in public school whose name was Melody and she had a younger sister named Harmony. :)

Great interview!


WOW I never thought of it but the female gender is always the ones being put down not that I'm for anyone to be put down in society but I just think that needs to stop
EQUALITY FOR EVERYONE but It does make a book intersting lol!!!

Vidisha said...

Great interview.....would love to read this book

Audrey (holes In My brain) said...

I don't know whether to laugh or be slightly appalled at the idea of Surrogate Bachelor :p Great interview questions and answers!

TheGirlOnFire said...

I couldn't imagine a universe where they select surrogates that way. What an interesting idea. I have read a few reviews on this book lately and been on the fence about is. This interview has really swayed me. I will definitely read this.

Vivien said...

You really have me freaked out about the surrogate show. I can totally see that happening in the future. Please, let us all hope this never occurs.

Ricki said...

Interesting that it was inspired by 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom - which are totally my guilty pleasures.

Sierra Cullen.♥ said...

-I love the interview. I especially liked hearing about the author's favorite book. I've been meaning to read that book, just because I hear all these great things about it. And Megan just made me want to read it even more. Thank you! :]

jpetroroy said...

Very interesting how she mentioned that females are oppressed in dystopian lit

Angela said...

Great interview! I also love The Catcher in the Rye. Her idea for the reality show was very interesting, explains why she is such a great author!

Lisa R/alterlisa said...

While totally a hater of the realty TV shows in general, I can so see the Parents Searching for A Surrogate Mom
as a possible one.

alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

Allana Woods said...

I read the synopsis for Bumped on Goodreads and found it interesting, but this interview made me want to read this book even more! Great Giveaway

mbreakfield said...

It was interesting to find out a little about the author's process and that she got the idea for the names from real life twins.

Asenath said...

Catcher in the Rye was not one of my favorite books, but I didn't read it until after college. I thought her comments on sexuality and spirituality were interesting, and I'm intrigued by how she will handle these in her novel. Maybe I'll have to check out that book she mentioned.

arallison at gmail dot com

Gabrielle said...

I can't wait to read this book!

Unlike some of the other people who commented, I think that the names for the twins are a little bit cheesy. Like, it's a really sweet connection, but it's not something I'd want to actually name people. I guess they're named for real people, and that's great, but I don't like it.

Leila @ Within Pages said...

I actually snurled my nose a little when she admitted to re-reading Catcher in the Rye; I loathed the thought of reading it and it was an assigned piece in my English 101 class. I know that it is a classic and it has strong and mature themes but I just don't like it.

nfmgirl said...

Ah. Unfortunately I haven't read Catcher in the Rye yet. It's good enough that she rereads it? Then I will need to add it to my list of books to read SOON!

Orchid said...

I am so going to ahve to give The Catcher in the Rye a shot. It's always intersting to see what books an author likes to read.

Thanks for the great giveaway. ^_^

The HAunting of Orchid Forsythia

Sara51067 said...

The similarity between sex and religion is a topic not really explored much. I love that Bumped is an entirely new approach to that. Dystopian books are one of my favorites and to add humor to it like this book does makes it so much better!

Lexie@BookBug said...

I love that the inspiration for Bumped came from shows about teen pregnancy. It's great to read a book that deals with important issues and is highly entertaining as well.

Stacy said...

I think it's interesting that in many dystopian stories the women continue to be oppressed. Actually, one of my friends did her thesis about the female arch type in dystopian literature. I also hope that the books inspire a more gender-equal future.

the imagine tree at aol dot com

Terra Mae said...

I have become a HUGE dystopian fan! I've heard great things about this book! Hearing what the authors says about the characters just makes it that more interesting, like a little background to the story! Great interview, and thank you for this awesome giveaway!

candice said...

Great interview. I have been on a dystopian kick lately, and what really impresses me with all of them is the world-building. Which is what Megan said was the hardest part to write. It is so important, because without it (the world that the characters live) the reader can't understand the characters motivations and actions.

Thanks for the giveaway!

Kate said...

Great and insightful interview! I love questions like this, it really lets us know about the authors process. I like how Megan didn't know she would ever write a dystopian, there are so many out there right now, the book world is on such a dystopian high, that I wondered whether people knew what they were writing. I also love when writers expand on a scene.

I have yet to read a dystopian book but I'm so excited for this one! Now I'll also have to pick up The Catcher on the Rye!

Coupon Girl Around The World said...

Great interview! The Catcher in the Rye was a life-changing book for me too.

T.B. said...

I've wanted to read this for so long now! Wow, I think that makes a lot of sense that the first scene would be in a store named Babiez R U, since that fits perfectly with the concept of the book. I haven't read the book yet, but I'm sure that really set the scene.

Thanks for the giveaway!

Ren said...

I love that the author talked about creating a world being harder than she imagined. I also like that she thinks there would be a surrogate version of The Bachelor. Thanks for the awesome giveaway. I love your blog.

rachel said...

Thanks for the review! I really can not wait to read this!!!

Rachel Leigh
TheOneRing111 at gmail dot com

Meredith said...

Interesting reality show concept, with the surrogates. Unfortunately, I don't see that our real society is too far from doing something that sounds so far-fetched. In other words, if it were announced as the newest reality series, it wouldn't surprise me in the least.

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Jessy said...

I'm not one for the "new" technology either. I hate going out and seeing everyone on their phones all the time. I could definitely see that reality show happening sometime soon.

Linda @ Most Important Letter said...

Melody and Harmony are really fitting names, what with their being identical twins. And this seems like a really interesting book! Plus, there's a lot of religion behind it - like in your third question.

Can't wait to read this!

Julia said...

I'm really surprised that Catcher in the Rye is the book that McCafferty has re-read the most times. It is so different from the premise of this book: being a humorous dystopian and all. Also, that the first scene she ever wrote ended up being the beginning of the novel is interesting. This was a very good interview, I liked a lot of the questions that were asked. I hope I win the giveaway :) It's great of you to organize it.

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