“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet.
‘Even longer,’ Pooh answered.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
About Meg: the Basics
Book club favorite and New York Times and USA Today bestseller Meg Waite Clayton (that’s me!) is the author of six novels, including the Langum Prize honored The Race for Paris and The Wednesday Sisters, one of Entertainment Weekly’s 25 Essential Best Friend Novels of all time (on a list with The Three Musketeers!) and The Language of Light, a finalist for the Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction (now the PEN/Bellwether). I’ve written for the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Runner’s World and public radio, often on the subject of the particular challenges women face.
I was born in Washington D.C., and have since lived in Kansas City, the Chicago area (norther suburbs), Los Angeles, Ann Arbor, Nashville, Baltimore, Nashville, and Palo Alto. I love to travel, so my books tend to be set in places I find fascinating: France (The Race for Paris), the English Lakes (The Wednesday Daughters), Ann Arbor and the Chesapeake (The Four Ms. Bradwells), Silicon Valley (The Wednesday Sisters), and the horse country of Maryland (The Language of Light).
In my latest, The Race for Paris, two American correspondents, denied access to press camps and the front, join forces with a British military photographer and race toward Paris, hoping to report its liberation and make history. The novel, which was 15 years in the making, was inspired by real women journalists who defied military regulations and gender barriers to report WWII and the “race for Paris,” vying to be among the first to report from the liberated city in the summer of 1944. They did so by stowing away in bathrooms of Channel-crossing boats, going AWOL from support positions to get to the front lines, climbing fences meant to contain them, struggling to get their photographs and stories out, and risking their lives. I hope it does justice to the real women journalists whose work inspired it.
About Meg: a Bit of the Gory Detail
For me, being a novelist meant being able to leap tall literary buildings in a single bound, so I went off to the University of Michigan thinking I would become a doctor, and emerged as a corporate lawyer in a tidy blue suit. I was thirty-two by the time I worked up the nerve to give writing a serious try, and pregnant with my second son, who was eleven when my first novel was published. Writing, I’ve discovered, is a lot harder than it looks.
Along the way, I wrote short stories and essays, and more than a few pages that are in the proverbial drawer. I had great luck on the first piece I ever published, an essay called “What the Medal Means,” which sold quickly to the only publication I could imagine it in: Runner’s World. My fiction was slower going, though. I sent stories out again and again, revising each time until they did finally start appearing in publications like Shenandoah, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Literary Review.
My fiction is not closely autobiographical, but I do draw heavily from my emotions and experiences as I write. You can see those gory details on the Book Groups pages for each book, but suffice it to say here that I lived in ten different homes in Washington D.C., Kansas City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New Jersey before I went off to Ann Arbor, and in five more homes—in the Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Nashville—during and after my years in Ann Arbor, before finally settling in Palo Alto. In the process, I waved good-bye to so many dear friends, which is no doubt why friendships are at the core of my writing. I’m blessed with remarkable friends who are forever refilling that well for me, especially Jennifer Belt DuChene (my lawschool roommate and my closest friends in the world), my Tuesday sister and fellow novelist, Brenda Rickman Vantrease, and my Tuesday brother and husband, Mac Clayton. Like Betts from The Ms. Bradwells, I miss sitting on that ratty old couch on our law school house porch with friends who, like The Wednesday Daughters, have known me since before I knew myself. My writing is certainly an homage to their love.
As much as I enjoyed practicing law, my dream for as long as I can remember was to be a novelist. I feel incredibly grateful to be able to call myself one. Thanks to all of you who, in giving a little of your busy lives to follow my characters, allow me the pleasure of this life. – Meg
Meg’s Favorite Quotes on Friendship
There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature. — Jane Austen
Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one. “— C.S. Lewis
Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life. — Mark Twain
And three from A.A. Milne:
Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?” asked Piglet.
“Even longer,” Pooh answered.
If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.
Favorite Classic Books
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Favorite Contemporary Books
Charming Billy by Alice McDermott
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
Last Orders by Graham Swift
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
Three Junes by Julia Glass
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler
Inventing the Abbots and Other Stories by Sue Miller
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr