Category Archives: Writing

I’ve been talking… to Texas Monthly, Seattle Review of Books, and more


As part of the launch of Into the Black Nowhere, I did a bunch of talking. To readers, radio hosts, and magazines. Here’s a roundup. Just in case you want to know more about the novel, or my writing process, or which tunes I listen to when I write. Bonus: click through to enough articles, and you’ll see what I look like when I go axe throwing.

Meg Gardiner’s Dark Past — Texas Monthly

How Author Meg Gardiner Gets Into the Mind of a Killer — Austin Monthly

The Quintessential Interview: Meg Gardiner — Seattle Review of Books

Tracking the Darkness — The Big Thrill

The Kindle Chronicles Podcast

My Creative Mornings talk: Mystery & Storytelling

A while back I gave a talk to Creative Mornings, “a breakfast lecture series for the creative community.” Every month Creative Mornings picks a topic, and groups in 183 cities around the globe bring in local speakers to lecture on it. Earlier, I posted some of the artwork that people drew at the talk.

I spoke to Creative Mornings/Austin on the topic of Mystery. The video of my talk is now online. Here you go.

Question Time 2018: Ask Me Anything

ITBN at Interabang

I’m home from the book tour for Into the Black Nowhere. While I clear my desk and finish the laundry and start writing UNSUB 3, why don’t you think of some questions to ask me? Leave them in the comments on this post.

And I’m editing the post to add: No spoilers!

Before you ask: I snapped the photo above at Interabang Books in Dallas when I spoke there on the tour. It’s a new independent bookstore and yes, I am in love with the place.

January 17th: Authors on the Air


Today — Wednesday, January 17th — I’ll be on Blog Talk Radio’s show, Authors on the Air, discussing Into the Black Nowhere. I’ll be talking about the novel, the UNSUB series, heroine Caitlin Hendrix, writing, and a whole lot of (hopefully) entertaining stuff.

7 PM Eastern / 6 PM Central / 4 PM Pacific.

Listen live — and call in to talk to me and host Pam Stack. Or check it out via podcast anytime after the broadcast. At this link:

Authors on the Air: Meg Gardiner discusses Into the Black Nowhere.

Farewell, Sue Grafton

Version 2

One morning years ago, long before I ever wrote a novel, I was driving along the freeway in Santa Barbara with my three small kids in carseats. A car passed mine. The license plate, as I recall, read THNXKNZ.

It took me a few seconds. Thanks, Kinsey.

I gasped. That car could only belong to Sue Grafton.

Sue Grafton had singlehandedly ignited my love for mysteries. I read her books voraciously. Thanks to her, I had started to dream of writing mysteries myself. Later, when Crimespree magazine asked me for 5 Books that Changed My Writing Life, I said that one of those books was A Is for Alibi.

My sister gave me this book when my daughter was born. I would tell my family that I needed quiet time to put the baby to bed—then I’d close her bedroom door, wait two minutes for her to fall asleep, and secretly read for an hour. I couldn’t get enough of the book’s twisting mystery or its feisty protagonist. With every page, I wished: Kinsey Millhone, be my friend. Beyond that, this novel showed me how a female series heroine could work. When I finished it, I thought: Yes. Give me more. And let me learn to write fiction that aspires to be as good.

And now Sue Grafton’s car was pulling past mine. Without hesitation I jammed my foot on the accelerator and followed it.

I gunned past the exit to my house. I don’t know what I thought I would do when I drew alongside — honk, or give thumbs up, or shout, “I love you!” I somehow thought that this would be my only chance to glimpse my favorite Santa Barbara author.

Finally, breathlessly, I pulled even with the car. At the wheel was Sue’s husband, Steven Humphrey.

I backed off. I don’t know if he saw the crazy woman in the Honda with three squirming kids and the embarrassed look on her face.

And I didn’t know how things would change over the coming years.

That morning on the freeway, I didn’t know I would be privileged to meet both Stephen and Sue in London, when Sue was awarded the Diamond Dagger by the Crime Writers’ Association. Or that I would write an essay on A is for Alibi for the anthology Books to Die For. Or that when Sue came to Austin on tour for X, we’d take the photo above. Or how unfailingly kind she would be, to me and every other author I know. That day on the 101, all I knew was that I had the chance to catch magic, and draw near to my heroine — the imagination that had brought Kinsey Millhone to life.

Thanks, Kinsey.

Thanks, Sue Grafton.

Signature’s 2017 Ultimate Writing Guide


Y’all know I don’t just love to write. I love to talk about writing, and teach writing, and write about writing.

When UNSUB was published a few months ago, I wrote an article for Signature, the Penguin Random House online magazine. “Writing a New Series: A Guide to Creating a World from Scratch.” Now Signature has included the article in its annual writing guide — which you can download for free.

Signature’s 2017 Ultimate Writing Guide includes writing advice from twenty-two authors, including Jill Santopolo, Ammon Shea, Jan Karon, Tess Gerritsen, and me. It includes articles about how to:

  • Banish writer’s block,
  • Revise a draft without losing your mind,
  • Turn off your internal editor while writing,
  • Craft a believable world,
  • And much more.

The guide is cosponsored by Merriam-Webster. What are you waiting for? Download it now.

Editing: from idea to printed page


My next novel, Into the Black Nowhere, will be published in early 2018. It’s almost ready to go. I spent this week proofreading the “first pass” of the typeset pages.

Editing, like everything else in writing, is a process. It’s a back-and-forth: between me and my ideas; with my agent and editor; with the copyeditor and proofreader; and, finally, with my own judgment that the novel in its entirety — the story, structure, characters, suspense, pacing, voice, and wording of every sentence — is the best I can make it.

Each step in the process comes with its own challenges. And each version of the story I write gets comments. For this novel — the sequel to UNSUB — here’s how the notes and editorial suggestions I’ve received have evolved.


  • This novel is a cat-and-mouse thriller in which Caitlin Hendrix pursues a charming, devious killer across the western US. Why do you insert a convoluted subplot about one victim’s greedy grandparents attempting to steal an inheritance?
  • The mid-novel murder is dramatic, splashy, and completely predictable. What if you flipped the situation on its head?

(Me: If I do that… hey! A whole fresh, unexpected plot line appears.)

First draft:

  • The pace in the first half is, to put it kindly, leisurely. Okay, it’s slow. Remember the reviews you got for UNSUB, which praised its tautness and drive? Yeah, do that again.
  • The ending needs more brains, less brawn. For instance: Why is Caitlin clinging to the roof rack of a careening SUV? Get her off of there. Now.

Second draft:

  • So many cops! So many FBI agents! New ones seem to pop up every few pages. They roam the novel in groups, holding constant conversations. Send some of them home.
  • Why does one character describe a life-and-death struggle after the fact, through dialogue? You’re missing a chance to show a badass fight. WRITE THE SCENE.

Final draft:


Copyedited manuscript:

  • Does this scene take place on Wednesday? (Me: Yes. Obviously.)
  • Are you positive this scene takes place on Wednesday? (Me: Completely.)
  • Then why is it still Tuesday? (Me: GAH.)

First pass pages:

  • Me: Delete “fast.” Insert “quick.”
  • Me: Delete “printout.” Insert “documents.”
  • Me: Delete “asshole.” Insert: “jackass.”

As I said, it’s a process.

And, if you want to see how I put all these suggestions into practice, you can preorder the novel.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound