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From medicine to mythical creatures: The inspiring story of local author Meagan Mahoney

Local author publishes first book that was nominated for the Forest of Reading 2023 award programme

Meagan Mahoney with her daughter, Grace, who she wrote the story for, breathing in the ‘real book smell.’ // Submitted

Reading and writing have always been a passion of Meagan Mahoney. 

It wasn't long before Mahoney started putting pen to paper (or rather, fingers to keys) to create her own literary works of art. 

She spent countless hours in her dad's basement, crafting heartfelt poems and gripping short stories on his trusty typewriter that she would craft with wallpaper covers. 

“If you’d asked me when I was little what I wanted to be I would have said an author,” Mahoney says. 

As she grew, a new passion took hold of her time and attention. 

Past influences

Growing up, Mahoney’s mom was a nurse, which largely impacted her future career choice. 

“I discovered science and that kind of started to take over,” Mahoney says.

Mahoney attended med school to become a pediatric intensive care doctor which took all of her time and energy.

“I have since described it as a black hole,” Mahoney says.

“Medicine was all-consuming, as it should be and training sucked away all hobbies and interests. It was the only thing I did for many, many years.”

After many years of focusing on her medical career, Mahoney rediscovered her love for writing when she started reading her favourite stories to her children. 

“Pulling out some of my old favourites and remembering that comfy, cozy space of reading a book when I was young came flooding back,” Mahoney says. 

As time went on, Mahoney began to remember her childhood passion and wanted to use her creativity to make her children’s birthdays special.

“I wrote a poem for my son’s birthday 10 years ago, maybe a little less, and when I did, a flip switched,” Mahoney says. 

Next thing you know…

This became a family tradition

However, when her oldest daughter turned 11, she asked for more than just a poem from her mom. 

“So I thought ‘Okay, maybe I do remember how to do this.’ So I tried to write a children’s novel for her birthday and it turns out it was pretty good,” Mahoney says.

“People liked it and suggested that I send it out.” 

That story became Mahoney’s first published children’s book, Meranda and the Legend of the Lake

Safety first

As a pediatric intensive care doctor, Mahoney says that her work has influenced her writing, with the story centred around her protectiveness over her family. 

“My kids will tell you that the biggest inconvenience of my career is the things that I see at work and how it impacts what they’re allowed to do,” Mahoney says. 

Helmets, seatbelts, and life jackets are a must in Mahoney’s home and trampolines are prohibited. 

Mahoney decided to write about a mother who is worried and scared and overprotective for a different reason – a mysterious and mythical reason. 

“It definitely was a bit of a fantasy autobiography and trying to make my own neuroticism sound a little cooler for my kids,” Mahoney says. 

Representation and experience

Her own experiences as a woman in medicine also inspire her writing and act as a form of relief when she gets her emotions down on paper. 

“The stories I’ve written since then always contain an element of my experiences, specifically women in medicine,” Mahoney says.

“In Meranda, the mom’s a doctor, and in the next book, which will probably be coming out in the next year or two, focuses on early female physicians in Europe.” 

While Mahoney’s story is a reflection of her protectiveness, it also showcases an underrepresented group. 

The main character, Meranda, represents the disabled community as she relies on crutches to walk due to her cerebral palsy. 

“I think the priority that literature puts on representation across the board, culture, race, gender, disability, it’s super important,” Mahoney says. 

“I found myself and other versions of myself in books when I was young. It's super valuable for kids to be able to see themselves and their possibilities when reading books.” 

Meranda and the Legend of the Lake was nominated for the Forest of Reading 2023 award programme for the Silver Birch Fiction Award. 

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