Today, we bring you part one of our three-part interview with The Madman’s Daughter author Megan Shepherd. Thanks to HarperCollins for arranging the interview, and Megan for stopping by!
What originally drew you to write a YA novel inspired by The Island of Dr. Moreau?
When I was a teenager I fell in love with the classics. When I think back to my interests and mindset at that age, books like The Invisible Man and Heart of Darkness spring to mind. The classics tend to be full of high drama, swashbuckling fight scenes, star-crossed romance, exotic settings, big thought-provoking themes, and so many other elements found in modern YA novels. I had been thinking of writing a book with a mysterious island setting, and it seemed quite natural to think of HG Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau, and how it could be reimagined from a fresh perspective for a modern YA market.
What sort of research went into writing The Madman’s Daughter?
As an author, I always end up Googling the strangest things! Much of the research for The Madman’s Daughter was for the historical time period: the mechanics of corsets (which are far more complicated than you’d think), ladies’ fashion, historical London geography, nineteenth century sailing. There are some very dark aspects of the book too, such as surgical procedures on animals, which required a lot of more unpleasant research. And to capture the feel of the island setting, I often hiked through the forests around my hometown.
I think The Madman’s Daughter is proof that classic, gothic novels like The Island of Dr. Moreau are still pertinent to today’s readers. What about books like these do you think still resonant with readers?
I mentioned how packed full of exciting action and romance classic novels are. I also think so many of the themes are timeless. In 1896, cloning and genetically modified organisms might not have been an issue like they are today, but scientific hubris and the dangers of modern technology most definitely were. I think we are fascinated by seeing, as a species, how humans can change over the decades, and yet also stay exactly the same.
Catch part 2 of our Q&A tomorrow!