An Indies Introduce Q&A with Megan Lally

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Megan Lally is the author of That’s Not My Name, a Winter/Spring 2024 Indies Introduce young adult selection and January/February 2024 Kids’ Next List pick. 

Lally is a sarcastic glitter enthusiast with a love of true crime. When she’s not writing twisted young adult novels about murder, mayhem, and heartbreak, you might find her barefoot at the ocean, lost in a bookstore, drinking one too many lavender lattes, stress baking, or cleaning the whole house to avoid writing a synopsis. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family and four chaotic animals.

Molly Olivo of Child’s Play Toys & Books in Washington, DC, served on the bookseller committee that selected Lally’s debut for Indies Introduce. She said of the book, “That’s Not My Name is binge reading at its finest. By the time I reached page 50, I knew that I would not be sleeping until I figured out who the hell Mary Boone is! Megan Lally has crafted incredible characters, intriguing twists, and bombshell revelations. You are not prepared for this book…and that is what makes it so great.”

Here, Lally and Olivo discuss That's Not My Name

Molly Olivo: Congratulations on making the Indies Introduce Kids list and for keeping us all up late into the night reading That's Not My Name. How did you decide to write this story from dual POVs? Was it always written that way, or did that happen after the first draft?

Megan Lally: Thank you so much! I’m so glad my creepy little book is finding its people! I actually decided on dual POV really early on in the first draft. Mary and her missing memories definitely came first but I knew early on that I’d need someone to chime in that had more context for what might be happening as things progressed. While one POV provided the mystery and the questions, the other provided possible answers and a quest, and I really love how they came together in the end.

MO: One of my favorite elements of That's Not My Name is the quick pacing. I really could not put it down! Do you have any tips for future authors on how to keep readers on the edge of their seats?

ML: My best advice is to end as many chapters as possible on a cliffhanger. It keeps readers in that “I need to know how this resolves right away” headspace, which usually creates that need to keep turning the page to see what happens. I plotted very carefully to create as many of those situations as possible while also amping up the danger with every plot twist. The dual POV actually helped in this a lot, because a cliffhanger at the end of one POV would have to wait a bit for a resolution. But even in a single POV story, leaving readers wondering what’s going to happen next at the end of a chapter is the best way to keep them on the edge of their seats.

MO: I am fascinated by Drew as a character. Between being accused of a crime and the whole town turning against him to his own quest for truth along with all of the usual teenage drama, there is so much complexity to his perspective. What was it like to write his character?

ML: Drew, my sweet baby angel…I absolutely flew through his POV chapters. He was so fun to write because he had a LOT going on, but he cares so much about the people around him and I really love how he fights harder as things get worse for him. He carries the hope in this story, especially being one of those that remembers everything that’s happened, and I’m so, so happy that readers have a chance to connect with him the way I did. He’s part dread, part grief, part sarcasm, and he was so much fun to write. Don’t tell my other characters, but he’s definitely my favorite.

MO: What was the most interesting thing you found when researching for this novel?

ML: I got some interesting information from an air marshal about police procedure early on. With Mary being underage and also unable to identify herself or her family, I needed to make sure that the police would handle her identification in a believable way, that ALSO put her in believable danger later, and that was really interesting to work into the opening chapters. I also spent a considerable amount of time mapping out where every location was in the novel, and drive times between them to create a believable timeline for each chapter. My maps were all marked up with high traffic times and speed limits on rural highways. It was fun to play with!

MO: What would you like readers to get out of reading your novel?

ML: That no matter how bad things get, there’s hope in the fight. A lot of what happens to Drew and Mary shouldn’t be happening to these poor teenagers but they only really get to the end here by continuing on and fighting through, even when all seems lost. Hope is such a powerful force in the face of the hard things that happen in life (and in books!) and it can really be the thing that gets you through — even if you don’t end up where you thought you would in the end.

That’s Not My Name by Megan Lally (Sourcebooks Fire, 9781728270111, Paperback Young Adult, $11.99) On Sale: 12/26/2023.

Find out more about the author at

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