We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Megan Miranda ’02

A biological approach to writing fiction

Megan (Colpitts) Miranda, who graduated from MIT with a degree in biology, intended to pursue a career in biotechnology. Instead, she became a successful fiction author whose book All the Missing Girls is a New York Times best seller. Both careers share a trial-and-error approach to achieving success, she believes.

“There are a lot of similarities in the process,” Miranda says. “Each book draft is an experiment where I can assess what’s working and what’s not. You start with a blank slate; then each step gets you closer to a solution.”

Miranda did work in biotech in Boston for two years after graduation before moving with her husband, Luis Miranda ’01, to North Carolina, where she spent two years as a high school science teacher.

This story is part of the September/October 2017 Issue of the MIT News Magazine
See the rest of the issue

“Teaching put me back in touch with the elements that made me initially fall in love with science,” she says. “That love of science kind of funneled into writing my first books, which all contained weird scientific elements in their plots.”

Miranda began writing full time after the birth of her two children. After a few years of proposals, rewrites, and revisions, her first book, the young-adult thriller Fracture, was released in 2012. Six other books quickly followed, including Hysteria, Vengeance, Soulprint, and The Safest Lies. But the one to make the biggest impact is All the Missing Girls, a story about the disappearance of two young women that was named editors’ choice by the New York Times Book Review and one of the Wall Street Journal’s “5 Killer Books for 2016.” Miranda’s most recent work, The Perfect Stranger, was published by Simon & Schuster this year. And her next young-adult book, Fragments of the Lost, is due out in early 2018.

Miranda credits the thematic elements of her young-adult books, in part, to her coursework at MIT, where she mixed bioengineering with a steady dose of anthropology and literature.

“My first books combined biology and anthropology,” she says. “They are different sides of the same interests. Biology is the science element, confirmed by process of experiment, while anthropology is the human element.”

MIT’s “fail-forward” mentality also helped lay the groundwork for her literary career. “At MIT, I learned not to fear failure,” Miranda says. “MIT is the type of place where you need self-discipline and a willingness to take risks and try a different approach. Writing is no different.”

Miranda lives near Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, a senior manager at Accenture, and their 11-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son. She enjoys connecting with readers through school and library visits, and she offers Skype Q&A sessions to book clubs and classes.

Become an MIT Technology Review Insider for in-depth analysis and unparalleled perspective.

Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

    Bimonthly digital/PDF edition

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special interest publications

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Ad-free web experience

You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.