Smoke or Mirrors: When Should Art Reflect Life?

Below is the transcript to episode 25 of A Book and A Dream.

Megan O'Russell: [00:00:02] I think it's important to hold up a mirror to what's happening in the world. I think people need something, you know, dark to escape into to help them process what's going on. And that's true, too.

Announcer: [00:00:16] Welcome to A Book and A Dream with Megan O'Russell: An Author's Adventure in Writing, Reading, and Being an Epic Fangirl.

Megan O'Russell: [00:00:29] Hello, my name is Megan O'Russell, and welcome to Episode 25 of A Book and a Dream.

Megan O'Russell: [00:00:35] We've all heard the phrase art reflects life, right? For me, it's a little bit more complicated. Art bleeds into life and life bleeds into art, and it all becomes this weird, little loopy thing.

Megan O'Russell: [00:00:50] So with everything that's been going on in the world, I've been trying to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my publishing schedule for the year. So things are very exciting right now. I have the final book and the Ena of Ilbrea series coming out soon. I'm going to finish up the Bryant Adams series this summer.

Megan O'Russell: [00:01:05] And then I was supposed to write the new series in the world of the domes. So there's the Girl of Glass series. And then there was going to be a completely new series in that world, different setting, different characters.

Megan O'Russell: [00:01:19] That was my plan. But everything's kind of gone a little bit crazy lately. And so I got to the point where I wasn't really sure if that was a project I wanted to work on. The question sort of started when I was talking to one of my friends about Cinder for the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series, because I had the host of The Prince Kai Fan Pod on a book in a dream.

Megan O'Russell: [00:01:43] You should check out that episode if you haven't already. And through it, I, ya know, to be a mature, responsible interviewer, had to read the first book in the series. So I did, and it was really good and I continued with the series. I told one of my friends about it. She read it and she's like, it's really good.

Megan O'Russell: [00:02:00] But that plague concept is hitting super close to home right now.

Megan O'Russell: [00:02:05] And I was like.

Megan O'Russell: [00:02:07] Oh, like as a reader, I hadn't processed that as being so similar, and the more I thought about it, the more I was like. Ooh, this is a lot. This is kind of a lot that's happening. And I don't know if I want to bring something that, you know, is about.

Megan O'Russell: [00:02:27] a mid-apocalyptic world out into the world right now.

Megan O'Russell: [00:02:31] So I went ahead and I contacted my newsletter and I posted on all of my social media feeds saying, you know, what do you think I should do?

Megan O'Russell: [00:02:41] I do want to write another series in the world of the domes for sure.

Megan O'Russell: [00:02:44] If you have the Girl of Glass Complete Collection, if you've never turned to the very, very, very, very, very last page of the book, you should do that because there is a little teaser there for the other series that is definitely going to happen.

Megan O'Russell: [00:03:01] I didn't know if now is the time. So I posed the question.

Megan O'Russell: [00:03:05] Should I go into, you know, another dystopian or should I release like a light, fluffy fantasy heist book?

Megan O'Russell: [00:03:14] And I got a lot of emails from my newsletter, and I had sort of assumed that everyone would be like, go for the fantasy heist, ballgowns and vengeance sounds like real great right now.

Megan O'Russell: [00:03:27] And I get that I totally get that because there is so much like.

Megan O'Russell: [00:03:33] Escapism happening as we all stay safe at home or gradually work our way back into the world. I mean, why do you think Tiger King became such a huge thing? It was because it was this weird thing that had nothing to do with our actual lives. We all needed something weird to fixate on. And Tiger King provided that. That's how that became like this massive phenomenon. If we hadn't all been, like, hiding at home, probably would not have gained that much steam. And for me, it saw as sort of a chronic thing when I'm stressed that I just want to watch shows about serial killers like Criminal Minds.

Megan O'Russell: [00:04:11] All those different little things where, you know, they're stalking the killer and at the end they always get the bad guy because then.

Megan O'Russell: [00:04:15] Well, first of all, it makes me feel like the bad guy is always captured because on those shows, they always do. But also because no matter how bad your day is, you're like, well, I'm not victim number three on the slab.

Megan O'Russell: [00:04:24] So look at me winning at life. This is great. And I sort of assumed that that was what people would want. And I did get a lot of that. But the people who wrote longer emails and the people who were like really reaching out to get in touch wanted paranormal dystopian darkness. And sometimes they just got like paranormal darkness, exclamation point. And that was the whole e-mail.

Megan O'Russell: [00:04:46] And a few times I got really long emails that were like, no, I think it's important to hold up a mirror to what's happening in the world.

Megan O'Russell: [00:04:53] I think people need something, you know, dark to escape into to help them process what's going on. And that's true to.

Megan O'Russell: [00:05:02] With everything that's happened in the past few years, there are some times when I've been like sobbing over Handmaid's Tale really helps me process the world like that horrible dark mirror is super helpful sometimes.

Megan O'Russell: [00:05:15] And that's what people need.

Megan O'Russell: [00:05:17] People need to see the environment decaying and people need to see diseases ravaging cities and like horrible, horrible cures for them.

Megan O'Russell: [00:05:26] I can do that. I can write the other domes book like that is going to happen. My fear as like an author's slash artist is how much of the world world is going to bleed into it?

Megan O'Russell: [00:05:37] And it's happened in some of my series before where it's like, oh, look at all these current affairs that are now, you know, suddenly kind of bleeding into the book. And I feel like it would be more with the Dome series. The one thing that really stands out to me where it's like if I write this book within the next year, this is going in there because I do have an auto immune disease.

Megan O'Russell: [00:05:57] And so I am on hydroxychloroquine. And so when the pharmacy is, we're running out. There was this article going around about a woman in California who had gone to pick up her regular ments, hydroxychloroquine, and she got a note instead that said, you can't have it.

Megan O'Russell: [00:06:12] We're using it on other patients. Thank you for your sacrifice.

Megan O'Russell: [00:06:18] And so that hit really close to home for me because, "thank you for your sacrifice." You don't get the medication that keeps you healthy. Like what? How is that a thing? If you have insurance and dollars, like, you should be able to get the medicine that keeps you healthy. And so I know that, like, that's that's going to bleed into it. Fear of being in, you know, enclosed spaces with lots of people not being allowed to congregate inside. Those things are going to leak into it. So it isn't going to be the plotline exactly as I imagined it originally, because that's not where my headspace is going to be.

Megan O'Russell: [00:06:54] And if that's the mirror that needs to be held up that's cool, it is still going to be close enough to the original intention that it totally fits. But there are going to be those details in there.

Megan O'Russell: [00:07:05] And.

Megan O'Russell: [00:07:07] It'll be hard, but I'm willing to do it. And for the people who wanted the light heist fantasy ball gowns, that book is still going to happen. That series is still going to happen. I love it too much. The series with the pansexual half-mermaid is not dying. It is just going to be written slightly later. So I would love your thoughts on all of this. Is it too dark to include concepts like is misinformation as deadly as ignorance?

Megan O'Russell: [00:07:46] Is it too much to have something that, you know, looks like a flu become this horrible thing? I have another author friend who was writing a zombie series where it started off like a cold and then people became zombies. And she's already sort of squashed that for now. She was like, that's going away. We're going to hide that. And maybe in a few years it won't be too soon anymore.

Megan O'Russell: [00:08:07] So what are your thoughts?

Megan O'Russell: [00:08:10] Is another book in the world of the domes something that you're super interested in right now? Are you trying to turn completely away from that? I would love to know where your headspace is, because this is such a major event and it is going to be affecting the media that we consume the books, that we consume everything. This is going to be in there.

Megan O'Russell: [00:08:34] And going back to a lighter note, not really later, Feather and Flame is coming out on May 26. So that has already gone out to my reviewers.

Megan O'Russell: [00:08:46] If I owed you a review copy and you didn't get one, let me know.

Megan O'Russell: [00:08:50] But I am so thrilled for the final book in the Ena of Ilbrea series to be out in the world, hopefully fingers crossed by the time we have another video slash podcast episode.

Megan O'Russell: [00:09:02] I will be ready to announce the super secret project that's coming out this summer. Also, I was interviewed on the Prince Kai fan pod for their one year anniversary episode. So keep an eye out on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. I will share when that episode comes out. If you haven't checked out their podcast, it does go chapter by chapter with the series. So you kind of and you have to be a fan with the series in order to keep up. But it's a great podcast. I have never gotten to deep dive into a book so much before.

Megan O'Russell: [00:09:32] It's so cool as a reader. I can't imagine how terrifying it would be to have that done to your work as an author?

Megan O'Russell: [00:09:40] Because you're like on this podcast, we were going like a line by line and then this happens and then this happens and it's like.

Megan O'Russell: [00:09:49] As an author, sometimes the curtains are just green and it's terrifying that someday there could be a podcast where they're like analyzing my green curtains and the meaning behind it. And they're just green because I was wearing green that day and it seemed like a great idea, but it's a great podcast, so I will definitely post when the episode comes out.

Megan O'Russell: [00:10:12] In the meantime, stay safe, stay sane and let me know. Is a domes book what you want? Is fantasy heist what you want? Are you diving into dark media?

Megan O'Russell: [00:10:23] Are you like just watching Troll's World Tour over and over again? I would love to know where your headspace is because we are going to jump back out into the world and still be creating art together, whatever format it ends up coming out in.

Megan O'Russell: [00:10:37] So, yeah, let me know. And don't forget to like, subscribe, comment, link, whatever, or do all those things. And I will see you next time.

Megan O'Russell

Fantastic Worlds. Unlikely Heroes.

Megan O'Russell


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