Author Interview - Megan McCafferty of Bumped

Monday, April 4, 2011

I got Megan McCafferty's new book, Bumped, through the Cornucopia of Dystopia blog tour, and was extremely excited by the newest addition to the YA dystopian genre. Unfortunately, Bumped was not my favourite book, despite my fangirl-esque take on Megan's Jessica Darling series.

After some communication back and forth, Megan was kind enough to offer to answer questions specifically regarding my qualms with Bumped. It's quite probably the most insightful author interview I've ever had, and I truly thank her for her generous answers and understanding and respect of my review.

While Bumped was not for me, I highly recommend you seek the book out yourself to form your own opinion of the book. After all, that's the beauty of the book blogosphere - we all have our own opinions, and who knows...someone's least favourite might be someone's new favourite.
1. In a dystopian genre that's fast-becoming filled with unique stories, what do you think sets Bumped apart from the rest?

There aren’t too many satirical YA novels. BUMPED is a send-up of the extreme thinking that fuels the culture wars.

2. Bumped displays an extraordinary amount of slang and foreign terminology in the first few chapters, only relaxing about halfway through the book. What do you think this slang should lend to the reader?

I love playing with words. The slang is intentionally over-the-top, much of it playing off of t-shirt slogans like “my eggo is preggo” found on mommy-to-be blogs. I also appreciate when an author doesn’t resort to info dumping and allows readers to figure things out as they go along. Yet I understand how the first chapters might be confusing or annoying for some readers…I just hope not to the point that they give up on the book altogether.

I want readers to consider the influence of language on culture and vice versa. Both Melody and Harmony have been (nearly) brainwashed by their belief systems and the most obvious impact is on how they communicate. When in doubt, Harmony falls back on Bible quotes because she’s been programmed not to think for herself. As she is emboldened to question her upbringing, she relies on Scripture less and less. And in the very first scene, Melody is rehearsing “fertilicious” slang because, deep down, she’s extremely uncomfortable with being a Surrogette and yet is expected to serve as a reproductive role model. She hopes that by saying it, she will believe it, and be it. There’s less slang as the book progresses because Melody is rebelling against the worldview that encourages it.

3. What do you think separates Melody and Harmony, despite the obvious being their upbringing and their backgrounds?

Identical twins can have very different dispositions. So Melody is book smart, but lacks people skills. She’s hard-wired to be cynical and quick to judge, qualities that have been encouraged in a cutthroat culture where her attractiveness, intelligence and achievements are commodified. Despite her preachy background, Harmony is more open-minded and big-hearted by nature. She’s also better attuned to people’s emotions, a skill that serves her well as she tries to break free from her past. Both girls have a long way to go in figuring out who they really want to be because they’ve been living up to others’ expectations for sixteen years.

4. In an age where Teen Mom, The Pregnancy Pact and teen pregnancy in general are highly publicized in the media, was Bumped meant to be ironic or a twist on the way society regards it today?

Ironic! Absolutely! 16 & Pregnant, and to a slightly lesser degree, Teen Mom, do a commendable job of showing how incredibly difficult it is to be a young mother. Every girl on these shows greatly underestimates the challenges of raising a baby. I don’t see how anyone who has actually watched those shows could think MTV is promoting teen pregnancy. (Just like I don’t understand how anyone can read BUMPED and think the same.)

The problem is how our 24/7 media culture has turned these young moms into tabloid cover girls, or has enabled Bristol Palin to profit as a poster mom for abstinence. They are demonized and glamorized, and these extreme reactions are what inspired me to satirize the so-called “teen mom phenom” in BUMPED.

5. Bumped is marketed to the YA genre. Do you think it is appropriate for the younger YA readers?

BUMPED is appropriately labeled as 14-and-up. It’s a cautionary tale of what can happen when society promotes casual sex. It’s pro-love and pro-faith. These are positive messages for readers who are ready to receive them. Will all 14 year olds get it? No. There will be 24-year-olds who won’t get it either. But that’s the risk I’ve taken in choosing to write this type of book in this particular way.

6. In Bumped, how did you balance the character development versus the world development?

Melody and Harmony have spent their whole lives as repositories for their parents’ hopes and dreams. It was challenging to reflect their lack of personal development but still make them relatable characters worth caring about. I decided to micro instead of macro, structuring BUMPED as a day in the life of two girls going to the mall, going to school, going on a date in this baby crazy world. Their true personalities come through in the choices they make as this ordinary day turns extraordinary.

7. Bumped presents a world that is, essentially, rather grim, but the tone of the book is almost light and fluffy in comparison. How did you choose to balance the two?

I don’t do grim. It’s not my thing. I can see why readers might be surprised when they catch themselves laughing out loud at some of the slogans and expressions. But it’s the contrast between the “light and fluffy” tone and the grim setting that should make the world of BUMPED even more horrifying. If you feel like shaking these girls and yelling, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?” then I’ve succeeded.

Again, thank you so much for answering my questions, Megan, and I appreciate your honest and very informative answers!


  1. I just picked up Sloppy Firsts and I couldn't believe that I had never read it. I appreciate this interview and your review, oddly I think the combination has me even more intrigued to pick the book up!

  2. this a very insightful review and i love it! am looking forward to reading bumped even though i have read conflicting feelings towards the novel. thanks for the interview and your honest review. ^_^

  3. Great interview and Bumped looks like it will be a great book! I have it on my to read list.

  4. Great review Melissa. It gives me a better insight to Bumped :)

  5. I have Bumped on my TBR. The premise seems to be great! Thanks for the interview!

  6. Wow, this is a really informative interview and I'm glad I found it it (I saw that Megan retweeted your tweet). I love that even though you didn't enjoy the book that you still stand behind Megan as an author and provided an insightful interview for your readers since many of them may enjoy the book. It looks like I've found another great book blogger! I'm following you now. :)

  7. Super interview...I certainly can see where the author is coming from when she sat to write this book...however I do think MTV promotes teen moms and over-sexed messages to women. They exploit minors and shove sexuality done their throats.24/ how is this the publics fault, by watching the shows? Regardless even if no one was watching I think MTV would still promote garbage and if you look up the creator (president) of MTV he has stated publicly that MTVs mission is to target and own the 14-16 year old bracket. Coming from a grown adult man- I think thats pretty sick.

  8. Really loved this interview! I would do just what she said, start laughing at some of the funky expressions, and then it would sink in exactly what was being promoted with those slogans and I would be horrified as intended. Thanks so much for this ladies:)

  9. What a fantastic interview!
    I loved how her answers were really thorough and that she stated things clearly. Not just answering with a sentence or two.
    And your are a master when it comes to interview questions. Me = jealous
    Thanks for this awesome post!

  10. I don't believe Bumped promotes teen pregnancy, but I do think MTV does. I could ramble about it for days, but basically it boils down to giving kids a spot on tv when they get knocked up--and paying them for it. You want to show the struggles of a teen mom? Take away the per-season paycheck. It may show the psychological struggles of being a teen parent, I do agree there. But financially, they're being taken care of and that's a resource teen moms in the real world generally don't have.

    Anywayssss....huge fan of Megan McCafferty, and this is a great interview!!

  11. Excellent post! I can't think of anything to say, just loved it! :D

  12. It sounds like such a great book, so glad that I have it. Great questions!

  13. Nice interview!
    I do like dystopian YA, it's so fascinating and scary to see what could happen

  14. Great interview. This really sealed my interest.

  15. Wonderful interview. I loved the question about the two MC characters and their differences, and I loved Megan's answer about the slang. Knowing this might help with the reading of the book.

  16. Fantastic interview!! I just finished Bumped on Sunday and it's so great to hear some of Megan ideas behind it!

  17. Great post. I'm about halfway through Bumped and I'm not enjoying it too much - while I appreciate that McCafferty didn't do an "info dump" I'm annoyed that world building seems to be replaced by slogans and "future words" - but it's interesting to hear some of McCafferty's thoughts on the book.

    -- Ellen

  18. Huge amounts of slang and foreign terminology in the first few chapters can sometimes make the book less enjoyable for me. Thanks for making me aware of this, Melissa.

  19. Great interview. I am concerned about the book after your review, but the interview makes me want to read it more.

  20. Great review :) I have this book on my kindle, and plan to read it soon so this interview was really interesting!

  21. Thanks so much for posting this. Judging by the questions you asked we seemingly had similar issues with BUMPED. I'm a bit more thoughtful about it having read this, but there are still some areas that I disagree with, a lot of which have already been touched upon in the comments above.


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I always do my very best to return the favour :)

Please note that this blog is an award-free zone!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover