Before she got serious about writing books, she worked for President Obama as Deputy Associate Director at the White House Office of Management and Budget; and prior to that, as Spokesperson at the U.S. Treasury. She has worked at the Environmental Defense Fund, a couple great consulting firms, and had more political internships than she can count.
Reilly's debut novel is We Are Unprepared.
Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
Novels are a constant in my life. I’m never not reading a novel. Sometimes they’re books that have been recommended or gifted, and other times they’re the only thing I could find at the airport bookstore in a pinch. I thoroughly enjoy the format and pacing of the contemporary novel, but the real test of a good novel for me is whether I’m still thinking about it months later.Visit Meg Little Reilly's website.
A perfect example of this is Christopher Scotton’s The Secret Wisdom of the Earth, which I read several months ago and still can’t get out of my head. This breathtaking debut novel has all the things I love to read and aspire to write: a strong sense of place, a reverence for the natural world, and a consequential issue at its core. It’s a coming-of-age story set in a coal-mining town in Appalachia with a plot that gains momentum if you give it a chance. Best of all, the quirky and beautiful characters in this rural place are rendered with sophistication and respect. As a writer from a rural place who often writes about other rural places, that means a lot to me.
Unlike Scotton’s book, I grabbed Noah Hawley’s just-released Before the Fall at an airport kiosk moments before the doors were about to shut. Now, I won’t be spoiling anything for the reader to share that this is a truly terrible book to purchase as you’re about to board a plane because the plot is based on a horrific plane crash into the Atlantic Ocean. (I would have known this if I had time to read the jacket). However, it is a fantastic read! The writing is fast, the story twisty, and it’s packed with witty observations about contemporary America. Hawley, quite simply, knows how to write a smart page-turner, which I will always have a profound respect for.
In addition to my steady diet of novels, I read a lot of longform magazine writing, which generally includes: everything in The New Yorker each week, and good stuff from The Atlantic, The New Republic, Outside Magazine, Esquire, and more. I will always be a political animal with an interest in pressing issues. Knowing more about the world we live in is a large part of what informs and inspires my fiction writing. I think it’s imperative that fiction writers read the news.
Like anyone, my life is busy and my reading habits wax and wane. But I feel strongly that the only way to be a decent writer is to read more – and better – than I write.