Romantic comedies are some of my favorite books to read. They give me an escape from the everyday grind, and they allow me to focus on joy, happiness, and goodness. Meg Rosenthal is the author of such a book. Her debut novel, The Right Words, was released by Warren Publishing in 2022, and it “celebrates the enlightenment of fresh perspectives, the gift of second chances, and the risks of judging a book by its cover.” Readers have enjoyed the book, saying, “Starts as a fun romance story but has several twists and turns that leads to a profound conclusion,” and “The novel was funny and complex and it was the perfect example of young love. I cannot wait for more from Meg Rosenthal.” Those are words every author would love to hear. When Meg isn’t writing, she serves as a professional horseback rider and trainer, so I know she doesn’t have a lot of extra time on her hands. Thanks, Meg, for answering my questions!
Christina: The Right Words is categorized as a rom-com. What about the rom-com category appeals to you? Do you think that genre can do something others cannot?
Meg: Personally, I love reading books or watching movies that fall into the rom-com genre. So when I sat down to write my first book, I followed advice that I had heard time and time again: write the book that you would like to read. Matt and Ember’s tale of a love story within a love story (told within an English classroom) was one I knew I would’ve picked up from the shelves instantly. I am a firm believer that if you are passionate about a project, the end result will be that much stronger.
Christina: In the book, Emma and Matt, who were partnered by choosing names from a hat, must work together and write a story for a contest. How did you get the idea for the premise?
Meg: The idea for this novel first came to me when I was in high school. In the early drafts of this book, the characters were also in high school and as I matured, so did they. It wasn’t until college, when I was majoring in creative writing, that I felt like I could finally revamp the first few chapters and flesh out an entire novel.
Christina: First sentences are so important, and I love yours. “Fate’s a fickle thing, but I never expected it to come from the inside of a top hat.” It’s unique and provides plenty of narrative space. When did that first line come to you? Is it easy for you to craft first lines?
Meg: That’s too funny you mention the first line. I wrestled with it for what felt like an eternity, or at least during the entire drafting process. The first line was rewritten too many times to count, and I’m fairly certain this version of the opening line didn’t exist until the final round of edits. Most often, the first line of whatever project I am working on is usually the last piece of the puzzle to get solved.
Christina: What was your journey to publication like? Did anything surprise you along the journey?
Meg: I learned a lot about the traditional publication process through trying to get this book on your bookshelf. The biggest thing I had to come to terms with was the rejection bound to happen along the way. I received so many that my sister would start singing a happy, upbeat, rejection song on the phone every time I called to say, yes I just got another. I had done so much work on my manuscript and query letter, but I hadn’t done a ton of research on different routes for publication. By the time I had learned what a hybrid publisher was and sent my query to Warren Publishing, things started rolling in a way I was much more satisfied with long term. Through this publisher, I got to be involved with the process and have stronger opinions on the final product.
Christina: I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve featured a horseback rider and trainer in the interview series. How long have you been riding horses? What made you want to be a trainer? Do you see any parallels between training and writing?
Meg: I have been riding since I was six years old and turned professional at eighteen. My family owns and operates the farm where I work and I always knew this was the role that I wanted to step into. I competed in some of the professional divisions as a teenager, but when I started coaching, it wasn’t always the easiest to explain how to do something. Being in an English classroom at the same time I started coaching certainly helped though. Everyone in my “horse” world was a little confused when I admitted to being an English major, but being around language all the time made it easier to communicate different ways of getting the result that I wanted for my students.
Christina: Many writers subscribe to the old adage, “Write what you know.” Will you be writing any stories that feature horses or horse trainers?
Meg: I get this question a lot– for the longest time the answer was absolutely not. I had tried a few times earlier in my writing career to start the dreaded “horse book,” but it always sounded cynical or cliche to my own ears reading it back. I think that was because it was hard for me to separate what I do in my daily life and turn it into fiction without seeming jaded. It took a while to find a concept that I liked enough to fully plan out so yes, there is an outline in my arsenal that one day will hopefully be completed.
Christina: I love that you like “preaching the importance of commas.” I’m right there with you! Why do you find them so important? And do comma mistakes jump out at you in your daily life?
Meg: I have always been a little bit of a grammar connoisseur and as a very type A personality, I enjoy the fine-tune detailing of editing, almost more than I do writing sometimes!
Christina: What does literary success mean to you?
Meg: Literary success convenes a lot of different things. For some people it is in books sales. For others, it is in ratings. I think for me the biggest form of success is in feedback that I get from close friends and even strangers. If one person can read what I have written, and either find it relatable or be moved by it, then I think I was successful.
Thanks to Meg for agreeing to this interview! If you know of an artist, author, or podcaster who’d like to be featured in an interview (or you would like to be featured), feel free to leave a comment or email me via my contact page.