“Defined by Others” by MCV Egan is a gripping, contemporary novel that touches on a lot of nerves of modern society. It is set amongst a circle of women in their late forties. Amanda dies at the age of 47 and leaves her friends Connie and Anne a ‘game’ to play. The latter women share not only the loss of their friend but also the loss of their husbands, and are happy to play.
Said game involves the fraudulent assumption of fake personas and playing with people’s emotions and hopes on social media platforms. Egan shows a lot of empathy in the way she created her characters – both, the victims and the ‘players’. The story also highlights perfectly how we are happy to accept what we want to and how easy it is to be misled (again, victims and players).
The title introduces another theme, and a profound one at that: What defines us: Partners, love or children? When they are taken away, who are we and what do we become?
As in her previous work, Egan also brings in Astrology, psychic readings and similar new age topics and weaves them into the storyline and characters, showing the thin dividing line between the honest and the fake practitioners in that field.
I was promised an entertaining and light hearted romantic read when I was sent an Advance Review Copy of this book, but I found myself hugely engaged with the characters, their problems and the underlying questions for all of us. The book contains a wealth of emotional wisdom, great quotes and a group of fascinating and relatable characters. Superb.
This is quite a different story from your last book. Do you find it easy to switch genres?
Yes I do, I have several works that I am not ready to even talk about, but there are several genres in which I feel very comfortable or feel confident in exploring.
Lately I find the idea of One Act Plays and Short stories very enticing, but I am committed to several books in the defined series.
That being said I also know my limitations and Fantasy of Sci-Fi genres which I admire tremendously are not something I could ever imagine myself writing.
Do you prefer one or the other?
Each book is unique and separate even in a series. In Astrology the books we write, paintings, sculptures; any creative creation is in the fifth house alongside the children we have, so each one is like ‘my child’ and the love I feel for each as different as the books themselves.
In a word; NO.
How did you come up with the title?
I have never felt that I fit into any particular group; defined even by my gender, because I was sandwiched between two older brothers and two younger brothers and even at the start of life I was always competing with boys.
In observing others and the importance in fitting in to a certain social standing, religious group, organization I felt it limits the potential of their true self; hence DEFINED by OTHERS
What is your elevator pitch for the book? ( I feel I am terrible at these so if you can come up with a better one PLEASE DO)
A single word and the opinion of her peers propels Anne to play a game with deadly consequences.
When did you write the story and how long did it take you to get it published?
This was my first attempt at NaNoWriMo, the first draft was done in 30 days from Nov 1st to Nov 30th 2013. I have partially written other manuscripts for the series, but I figured the pressure of NaNo was great for the first one.
I got the first draft edited, made changes and put it away to work on the revised edition of The Bridge of Deaths, as well as other projects, so it is hard to tell the timing of it all.
Did you always know how it would end or did you consider changing the ending during the writing process?
I changed the ending several times. I actually toyed with different deaths, in the end there were some characters I just could not kill, I tried but it made me very sad and the ending too disconnected.
Are you like any of the women in the novel?
OH MY! I hope not! LOL… well I do love to cook like Connie, and I love words like Anne, I use social media… slight bits and pieces of all of them?
Who would play them in a movie?
I need a lot of women for this movie. Probably more than the movie from 1939 THE WOMEN; are you familiar with it?
There was a remake in 2008. (I am familiar with it. I loved the original, the remake not so much.)
Basically any 40 something with an American accent available and ah yes they are ALL very attractive; fortunately there are many to choose from!
If money were no object, what is the craziest thing you’d do?
REALLY? I am probably far more limited by fear than I am by money in something “crazy” I would do… like skydiving looks to be such an exhilarating experience; but I cannot imagine I would ever find the courage to JUMP!
Are you wary of social media?
I probably should be after what I wrote! Not at all, I think it is a fantastic tool that can be used for much good and awareness, I hope we are never limited in its use, I have no delusions that ANYTHING is private, but I also do not feel I have to hide.
What’s your view on psychics?
I have met extraordinarily gifted ones and terrible even dangerous charlatans. As individuals the good ones, not just gifted in their ability but also in their use of it, I respect and admire them.
The negative ones that like to impose fear upon others to make them dependent, I feel are horrid vile bottom feeders.
In general all my experiences have been very good, because I can spot the fake or dark ones and just walk away.
Name one guilty pleasure?
JUST ONE? Come on Christoph you know me better than that! I am not into guilt but certainly into pleasure.
You can give a large sum to a charity – which would it be?
Feeding, clothing and housing the hungry and the poor, especially children.
Can we expect any more historical work from you in the future?
Never say never? Right now I am strongly focused on this series and that will keep me busy for several years, but I am still hooked on and belong to genealogy and historical sites (and it is not only my family I investigate). As such I can only assume that you will.
Will there be a sequel?
In the works, but I doubt I will meet the NaNo 50K this year. It is called Climbing Up The family Tree; Defined by Pedigree and I do use some of the gals from Defined by Others.
Link to my previous feature on MCV Egan
YouTube video link