Meet Shelly Campbell and Megan King

Capt Wyvern would like to introduce you to the newest members of her crew, the writing duo Shelly Campbell and Megan King. These authors offer an inside look at an ADHD brain within a near-future dystopian background in their novel set for release in August 2022.

At a young age, Shelly Campbell wanted to be an air show pilot or a pirate, possibly a dragon and definitely a writer and artist. She’s piloted a Cessna 172 through spins and stalls and sailed up the east coast on a tall ship barque—mostly without projectile vomiting. In the end, Shelly found writing fantasy and drawing dragons to be so much easier on the stomach. Shelly’s grimdark fantasy novel, UNDER THE LESSER MOON, was published by Mythos and Ink November 2020, and its sequel, VOICE OF THE BANISHED, will be hitting shelves in March 2022. She also has a quiet horror novel, GULF, which released in April 2021 with Silver Shamrock publishing, and has co-authored MAKING MYTHS AND MAGIC with Allison Alexander. It’s a field guide to writing sci-fi and fantasy coming out with Mythos and Ink publishing in February 2022.

Megan King has been a singer, dancer, artist, and most recently fills her time turning weird dreams into story ideas; she supports her arts habit by working as an optician. In her spare time, she listens to Canadian alt rock music pretty constantly and spends time with her family, which includes two dogs and a very large cat.

We asked Shelly and Megan to answer some questions so we could get to know them and their upcoming novel better. Celebrate with us as we explore their unique voice.

Where did the idea for this novel come from?

The idea stemmed from a dream Megan had about two futuristic societies where one holds absolute control over the other. The people holding the reins intend to kill everyone in the controlled settlement once they no longer prove useful to them. An individual in the manipulated society finds out about their end date and is faced with the dilemma of saving themselves or saving the city they grew up in.

Initially, we envisioned much larger-scale cities, but as we bounced ideas off of each other, we decided our post-apocalyptic world was going to be a smaller one. We set it in British Columbia, Canada because solar storms affect northern latitudes more, and winters in Canada with no power or heat, in an isolated area presented some interesting challenges.

Iris has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Why is that an important aspect of the story you wanted to tell?

Megan: I have ADHD and that’s what I know. As a kid in the 80s, girls weren’t diagnosed with ADHD like boys were, and I didn’t find out I had ADHD until I was an adult. Growing up, it would have been nice to have been able to relate to a story where the main character didn’t have it all together, but still saved the day.

We also didn’t want Iris to be some damsel in distress who needs rescuing, and we didn’t want her ADHD to be what holds her back. Iris saves her world specifically because of how she thinks and acts in the situations she’s put in.

What is something unique about the world Iris lives in?

Because we initially had an idea that the societies we were writing about would be big cities, we thought it would be cool if—even though the settlement was scaled down to a commune—Iris’s society still worships everything the old corporate world represented. They still dress in business suits and their lives revolve around scavenging and hoarding technology, books, and knowledge to sell to the highest bidder. They hold town-hall meetings and send blanket emails. Even though they’re living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, they maintain this odd little ‘city’ cult, a kind of communal ghost of what life looked like before the collapse.

What do you hope readers get from your book?

We hope readers are able to see themselves reflected in Iris—especially readers who don’t get to see themselves represented well in mainstream media a lot. Everyone deserves to have a hero who feels just like them, and we hope that Iris resonates for young adults who are looking for people out there in the big world who think and feel like they do.

How do you select the names of your characters?

Megan: My daughter Ella came up with the name Iris when we suggested that someone who works in a greenhouse might have a name inspired by plants or flowers. Ella immediately wrote a whole list of names for us to choose from. Her first choice—and ours—was Iris. Most of the other characters in our book are named after Internet pioneers, a reflection of how Iris’s people worship everything Internet related. They changed their names after the world collapsed.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?

Getting inside Vinton’s head (Iris’s older brother) was difficult because, not only is he a character of the opposite sex, his personality is utterly unlike either of ours, and he deals with this life-changing disability after the whole modern world collapses. We really wanted to make sure we were getting that right. With the help of a sensitivity reader, we hope we’ve represented Vinton’s paralysis appropriately.

What was your hardest scene to write?

There were some doozies, but we can’t tell you about any of them because they’re all spoilers.

Do you Google yourself?

Yes. Shelly does it all the time—and she reads all her book reviews even when she knows they are meant for other readers, not writers. She’s just too damned nosy. We Googled Megan while we were answering this question.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Shelly: Starting is usually the toughest part, but with a co-writer, this novel was easier, as there was always someone just as invested in and excited about the story as I was. It was so much fun bouncing ideas back and forth and editing chapters in real time. Writing alone can sometimes be daunting and a bit lonely, especially because I usually write an entire first draft and then polish it before sending it to beta readers. That means potentially spending months—or even years—on something that could very well be a steaming pile of garbage, and not knowing whether the work I poured my heart into actually paid off until someone else has read it all.

Every time I begin a new project, I’m struck with the absolute certainty that I’ve completely lost the ability to write. Classic imposter syndrome.

If you could tell your younger writer self anything, what would it be?

Stop, kid. Just stop.

Kidding! Keep being weird. The world needs you just the way you are.

Shelly and Megan are going to fit in just fine around here. We can’t wait for them to find their sea legs and for you to discover their brilliant work.