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A Conversation with Megan McCafferty

Author Megan McCafferty, who has shoulder-length brown hair, smiles in front of a lighted window with her arms crossed, wearing a teal-colored top and a grey jacket.Megan McCafferty, the much-loved author of the Jessica Darling series (Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds, Fourth Comings and Perfect Fifths), has a brand-spanking-new dystopian novel! Bumped depicts a future in which almost all people over the age of eighteen are infertile, which has led to a thriving teenage "Surrogette" industry and a wide obsession with young pregnancy. (Yes, it's even bigger than today's.) Meanwhile, divided from the pop culture-laden mainstream society, religious so-called Goodsiders marry their children young in hopes of having as many children within wedlock as possible.

Bumped is the story of identical twins adopted and raised by different groups. Melody has a coveted contract to reproduce for a wealthy couple and is waiting impatiently for her agent to secure a "bumping" partner; Harmony has an assigned husband-to-be and a daily schedule of prayer and labor. When Harmony shows up on Melody's doorstep with little explanation, the two embark on an adventure of clashing cultures, challenged beliefs and, yes, mistaken identity.

I was lucky enough to speak with Megan this week about satire, the future, and what every die-hard fan wants to know: Will there be a Sloppy Firsts movie? Check out the audio and/or .doc transcript below!

You can stream the podcast right here, or you can subscribe to Bitch Media on iTunes or RSS, or download it from archive.org.

Transcript (.doc)

Want your own signed copy of Bumped? Tell us what your favorite feminist dystopian story is, and why, in the comments. The winner will be picked on Sunday, May 22!

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Comments

17 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Megan's books are fantastic

Megan's books are fantastic and it's great to see her on Bitch!!!

My favorite dystopian novel would have to be the classic The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood. The themes are timeless--relevant both when it was published and today. Offred's tale is both simultaneously frightening and motivating the reader to continue fighting to prevent this from becoming reality.

Divergent

I really enjoyed Veronica Roth's Divergent. The main character, Tris, is smart and becomes strong, going from the underdog to the foremost recruit in her faction. She demonstrates resourcefulness and different types of strength, and is very inspiring.

Wow, I think my favourite

Wow, I think my favourite female dystopian character would have to be Tris from Divergent by Veronica Roth. I love how badass she is and is able to fight through everything that she has to do in that book. Its just really awesome

'Rilly' good!

What a great chat! I wouldn't mind seeing 'Marcus' while eating some popcorn ;)

I have not read many female dystopain novels (besides the obviously brilliant Bumped) but love 1984. I think the aspect of these types of novels that hook readers is the fact that while the plot lines seem so far fetched...they seem like they *could* happen in our future. Big Brother is just an appendage of government; who's to say that someday the government won't be watching us? A little far-fectched, sure. But completely believable. Herein lies the beauty of novels like 1984 and Bumped. Someday I may be scouting teenage girls to bump out my baby. Who knows?

Hunger Games

I'm going to go with THE HUNGER GAMES as my favorite dystopian book. Katniss is strong--both physically and mentally--and an equal to all her male competition. For me, feminism isn't about "being strong despite being a woman," it's about "being strong. Period."I definitely felt that Katniss was portrayed as someone who was strong. Period.

I'd have to say Katniss is my

I'd have to say Katniss is my fav dystopian strong female lead.
I've heard great things about Divergent but I haven't read it yet, so I'm sticking
With Katniss. The things she went through, what she did, how strong she was. She just blew my mind.

favorite dystopia

My favorite dystopia is Pamela Sargent's The Shore of Women. Unlike some feminist dystopias that reform the violence in men through eugenics, socialization or even annihilation, this book argues that women and men must be removed from society completely and all the social-institutional baggage that comes with it, in order to negotiate equality with each other. While this may not be practical in reality, it's the best solution I've come across in the many feminist dystopias I've read (and that's a lot--feminist science fiction is my specialty for my PhD in English).

Winner!

Thank you, everyone, for your thoughtful comments! Naomi, you are our winner for your summary of The Shore of Women and the ideas it presents. Please contact me at newmedia at b-word.org.

Check out our Comments Policy!

Um, hey

I absolutely LOVE her books. I love them with a passion because I think they portrait the kind of women that many books nowadays don't have, not even as minor characters. And that is such a shame, because we see young girls workshipping characters with the personality of a rock when there's book like hers out there.

My favorite dystopian novel is definitely The Hunger Games trilogy. First of all, the perspective of the narrator and the style: you can practically feel you're there. The descriptions of places and events are so vivid it's overwhelming sometimes. I won't say the story is at all that new. There's Battle Royale. Still! The one thing THG has that BR doesn't is the characters. Particularly Katniss. I don't usually like female leads, because they end up being like, you know, the typical high school girl that gets the guy of her dreams just by bating her eyelashes and smelling like strawberry shampoo, and that is SO UNREAL, it so DOESN'T HAPPEN. I find myself reading books with male leads because many (too many in fact) books nowadays are like that. But I love Katniss; I admire Katniss. I don't want to be her but I want to be like her. And THAT is how a reader should admire a character-- wanting to take up her virtues, not her life. The way she dealt with the things she went through wasn't always the best one, but she always did what she thought was right. She lived her life her way though people tried to control it. Maybe she wasn't happy ever after, she probably regretted a lot of things she did, but at least she didn't sit down and watched the world crumble, or waited for anyone to save her because she was scared of messing up her make-up.

I'm probably writing a little too much. I need to make a blog or something to let out all of this complaints. Or go to therapy.

It makes me sad that the JD series wasn't been turned into, not a movie, but a TV series already. It would be awesome.

I love Megan's books. I'd

I love Megan's books. I'd have to say The Hunger Games, purely for the strength inherent in Katniss, who doesn't *need* a male to survive.

My favorite feminist

My favorite feminist dystopian story is The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. A terrifying look into a male dominated future. I mean, Offred's name is based on the male she serves! Ugh, makes my blood boil. Such a good story.

I'm really looking forward to reading BUMPED, I've heard amazing things about it.

~Alice

The Handmaid's Tale

I just ordered this book, I can't wait to read it!

My favorite feminist dystopian novel is definitely The Handmaid's Tale, because I read it in high school and had a feminist click moment. It was probably the only summer reading I actually enjoyed.

I also love The Hunger Games, The Giver, as well as Scott Westerfield's Uglies series.

Dystopian YA

I'm still new to dystopian fiction--I've only read Westerfeld's Uglies series, most of the Hunger Games trilogy, and Bumped. I'm currently reading Wither by Destafano, which is pretty good so far. When Wither was released, I was excited because the cover was so great, but then I read the plot and became sad because it was very similar to that of Bumped (which had yet to be released at the time)--only with life ceasing to be at certain ages rather than fertility becoming an issue. However, fellow employees (I work at a bookstore on occasion) kept saying how good Wither was, I decided to give it a chance.

Megan McCafferty is by far my favorite contemporary author--I don't want to say Bumped is my favorite dystopian just because she's my favorite author, or because this post is about it, but I would say it is a difficult decision. I don't see Bumped as a typical dystopian story--it's not that far in the future, which made it more comfortable for me to actually enjoy, and it's not as heavy to read as some other titles (not that the subject matter is light, but Megan's prose is much lighter).

For this particular answer, I am going to say that the first of the Uglies series is my favorite dystopian because I have read the entire book and it shows the obsession with appearances that society has, along with the difficult decisions between what is right, what is expected, and what is desired. In addition, it is possible that Westerfeld, a male, writing from a female perspective, has that extra edge of discomfort for me--the emotions and inner-conflicts evoked within Tally are relatable, yet it gives me both hope for future writers to be as successful for writing from opposite-gender perspectives as well as questions to how he was able to achieve such success.

Sloppy Firsts, much-loved in feminist circles, really?

I barely refrained from throwing Sloppy Firsts against the wall (it was a library book) on the opening page, where a sympathetic POV character compared having sex with a Special Ed student to french kissing your dog.

I'm not sure if I'll be rushing out to purchase Bumped, with that record.

Favorite dystopian

I would have to say my favorite dystopian novel is The Giver by Lois Lowry as it is the first dystopian story I remember reading. I read it in elementary school and remember being in awe of the world Lowry created. It was scary and beautiful and I loved the imagination it took to conjure up such a world.

Definitely The Handmaid's

Definitely The Handmaid's Tale by Atwood.

I find her story so chilling because, as Atwood herself points out, everything she puts the character through has happened before in history. Plus, she writes beautifully.

The framing of the story at the end is a good twist as well (I won't spoil in case someone hasn't read it yet). Atwood has written many critically acclaimed novels, but I still think this one is her most powerful.

MM is Back and Better than Ever

Megan, I just want to give you a high 5 on another fabulous book. And what a tease of an ending!