Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Megs Calleja Interview - Acorns & Roots

Photo Content from Megs Calleja

Megs Calleja gained recognition with her comedy web pilot Ask Will, directed by Canadian actor & filmmaker Nicholas Carella, which has been described as “Shakespeare meets Sex & the City”. In 2017 she was commissioned to pitch her spin on the screen adaptation of e-book sensation Cupid’s Match for The CW Network. Her runner-up trailer went viral in a matter of hours. She often combines acting & writing, and her first play, Twentysomething, premiered in Canada in 2019 to full houses. In 2020, Megs published her first fantasy novel, Acorns & Roots. Megs is a sought-after theatre teacher, a lover of ecology, and a Maltese-Canadian.


Greatest thing you learned at school? 
Based on the Ontario curriculum’s efforts, you would think it would be SOH CAH TOA, but I have yet to use that once in my life. Mind you, I stayed far away from a career that relied on trigonometry. Still, that acronym will be burned into my brain until I die! 

Why is storytelling so important for all of us? 
I try to wrap my head around that question all the time, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to give an articulate answer. I know at our core we are living, feeling beings, and I know that stories are a reflection of life, and feeling, and being in the world. I think we gravitate towards stories for knowledge, communication, and comfort, but also for a reason that’s larger than us. Many creatives/artists say that they feel like they are answering a calling. I think humans recognize that storytelling helps us make sense of ourselves, our place in the world, the space for other people in our world, and even if you don’t identify as a story lover, I think you notice something is missing when stories are not around. They’re incredibly powerful and I love them. 

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. 
Honestly, every time Acorns & Roots gets picked up by a public library, I’m ecstatic. I spent thousands of hours in my local library writing and printing this manuscript, so libraries are special to me. It’s currently in many public libraries across Canada! 

Tell us your latest news. 
Promoting the book has been a full-time commitment! I have some writing projects in development, but nothing I can reveal just yet. Can’t wait to share when I’m able! 

Can you tell us when you started ACORNS & ROOTS, how that came about? 
I was sitting at my parents’ kitchen table and had this image of a young man chucking rocks at a tree to knock down fruit, and a magical creature falling from a branch on top of him instead. I started writing about how these two characters may have gotten to that point, but I was pretty casual about it, a few pages whenever I had time and energy. It actually lived untouched in an old folder for three or four years. I found a draft unintentionally when I fired up a dying laptop to transfer some files at the end of 2017, and there it was: part of a story. I started reading it, decided it was worth finishing and publishing, if only for my own personal sense of accomplishment. I don’t even remember what I was originally looking for—let’s hope it wasn’t important! 

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel? 
When I wrote Acorns & Roots, I escaped into a place that was enchanting. Crafting this world provided a sense of comfort for me. This carried into the book. The Enchanted Forest is a tad inaccessible; it only reveals itself to you when it feels you need it. My hope is that the themes of belonging, friendship, and defeating the darkness resonate with readers. I also hope readers feel encouraged to look at the forests near their own city, perhaps one that’s just on the boundary or a bit forgotten, and wonder if it could be magical, too. Even if the thought is fleeting! We need a little more wonder in our lives. 

What part of Fillii and Amer did you enjoy writing the most? 
I loved exploring their flaws. I think sometimes we craft these ideas that heroes are super-human, when really, they are super human. Both Fillii and Amer’s flaws are so important to their growth and to the larger story. 

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why? 
I would introduce Matilda to Epie, Frip and Ponnie ’s mischievous young (Elf)child. I think they’d grow up being great friends. 

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
I want to say life was my biggest distraction, as it sat untouched for years, but I don’t think of the distraction as a bad thing. Things take time and experience. 

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives? 
Stand on a mountain and sing a power ballad into the sun. 

Best date you've ever had? 
I read this quickly, and at first thought you were asking about dates the food! I’ve been obsessed with dates and hazelnut butter on crackers lately. It’s delicious. 

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go? 
My six-year-old dance recital, and I would convince them to let me dress as Michelangelo in our Ninja Turtles jazz dance, instead of Raphael. I’m still not over it. 

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home? 
Not weird but amazing: a three-story house build entirely around a massive tree in the center, with a spiral staircase along the trunk and window holes to accommodate branches. Surreal. 

What was a time in your life when you were really scared? 
That ride where you’re in a boat with the dolls singing in a cave at Disney World (It's a Small World) is truly messed up. I can handle scary things pretty well, but that is just not necessary to have in life. 

Where did you go on your first airplane ride? 
Paris. I was an exchange student. Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before? Go for it, we’re all a little broken. 

  • Reading 
  • People Watching 
  • Living Life 
  • My Spotify playlists 
  • Watching films/tv shows/plays 
  • Playing my piano 
  • Having a dance party in my kitchen 
  • Going for a run or walk 
  • Throwing darts at random words on the wall 
  • Hearing from people who enjoy my writing. That one’s the best! 
Deleted Scene from ACORNS & ROOTS
There was originally an Epilogue, and the voice in the Epilogue was a bit different than the previous chapters. I don’t want to say too much as it might give away things to come, but after some editor suggestions it got reworked with the final two chapters. Ultimately the decision was left to me but the points made were valid. I considered it for a long time, and eventually decided to remove it. From a story point of view, it read stronger without it. Sometimes you have to kill your darlings. • Your journey to publication (Give us the background on your journey to publish! Tell us where and when you started. What trials you may have gone through, what the best parts were. How did your family and friends react to the news of your publication; how did they help you or inspire you?)

An indestructible object full of strong magic, tempting the darkest of souls.

Rare rainbow roots that are sold for a high price in the city, offering a young man a way to pay rent as he faces eviction.

The secret to taking down a corrupt king and avoiding disenchantment, if a young Pixie succeeds in reaching her destination.

It is believed that all of these things can be found in the Valley, accessed through an Enchanted Forest that is struggling to survive against a dark magic-harnessing monarchy. A rebellion is stirring, and when Forest Pixie Fillii falls from a tree, landing directly on top of unemployed Amer (who doesn’t believe in things like Enchanted Forests), their journeys and worlds literally collide.

With vastly different yet strangely similar backgrounds and experiences, Fillii and Amer must both decide whether they can afford to trust each other, and what is worth fighting for.

Joined by magical creatures such as Elves and a Caribou army, Fillii and Amer find themselves in the midst of an epic battle of survival, old magic, and secrets carved in stone.

You can purchase Acorns & Roots at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you MEGS CALLEJA for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Acorns & Roots by Megs Calleja.