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A Writer Takes Action
(September, 2004)

by Megan Crane, author of English as a Second Language (Warner Books)

When people ask how I came up with the idea for English as a Second Language, they are usually kidding around. They think they already know the answer to this question. Since I went to England and got a Masters degree, they assume that the novel is a nonfiction account of my time there.

I wish!

In the summer of 2001, I was languishing in the north of England, supposedly working on my very depressing PhD dissertation on AIDS literature. A close friend of mine, also a writer, had finished her first novel earlier that year and it got me thinking: why haven't I ever finished anything? I had pages and pages of beginnings and even some middles but, with the exception of a few highly melodramatic short stories from my teen years, nothing finished. I was twenty-nine years old and I'd been identifying myself as A WRITER as long as I could remember, with no justification outside my private scribbles.

English as a Second Language by Megan Crane
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Clearly, it was time for action.

So I started writing something that was very loosely based on some of my experiences in my Masters program. The first thing that happened was that I dropped the self-involved, melodramatic and pretentious voice that had so characterized my earlier writings (particularly in my collegiate phase), and used instead the far more funny voice I usually saved for emails to friends. The second thing that happened was that I had so much fun, I wrote over four-hundred pages and, in about three weeks of (okay, I can admit it, slightly psychotic) focus, I had a first draft.

I also had Alexandra Brennan: fearless, sarcastic, and invulnerable. Alex was able to say the things I dreamed of saying. She stormed her way through situations that would have made me cringe in shame. She was fabulous. I wanted to be Alex. What's fun is how many people think I am!

Once I had Alex, and got a handle on what made her tick, I had a story. Throw in some culture clashes, way too much time in the pub, romantic misadventures, and general silliness, and I had the book.

I just hope it's as much fun to read as it was to write!

Posted with permission of the publisher.

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