Episode 5

The sorrow and bliss of writing life with Meg Mason

Meg Mason started her career at the Financial Times and The Times of London - definitely not too shabby! Since then, she’s been published in major Australian newspapers, The New Yorker, Sunday Style, GQ, Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire. She has written a memoir and a novel, but this week we are discussing her second novel, Sorrow and Bliss.

Caitlin recommends

Splitting Up Together

A two-season US sitcom about a couple who find out getting divorced is the best thing they could ever do for their marriage. 

Michelle recommends

Louise Candlish (author of Our House, Those People, The Other Passenger). Great domestic psychological suspense novels. Perfect for fans of Big Little Lies. 

In this interview, we chat about:

  • The light and shade of Sorrow and Bliss, which is an anti-love story of sorts (and difficult to succinctly describe)
  • The question “how much of this novel is autobiographical”
  • Exploring mental illness in fiction (and not having a character defined by an illness)
  • How it feels to be compared to Sally Rooney and Phoebe Waller-Bridge
  • Why Meg scrapped the novel she spent 2018 writing and why Sorrow and Bliss was meant to be her “career suicide note”
  • How Meg rediscovered the joy of writing (thanks to Trent Dalton)
  • Meg’s experience of writing memoir and the transition to writing fiction
  • How Meg looks back on writing her debut memoir and why she wishes she had approached it differently
  • What we give away of our children’s lives on social media
  • Decisions over whether to include trigger warnings on books
  • The advice Meg would give to her younger self
  • Meg’s decision to go off social media and consumption vs creation

Books and other things mentioned:

  • All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton
  • Nanette by Hannah Gadsby
  • Notting Hill
  • So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
  • More Than a Woman by Caitlin Moran

Meg isn't online, but Sorrow and Bliss is available now and you can find out more about Meg at her website

Follow us on Instagram @betterwordspod

Please note that Caitlin's job at HarperCollins Publishers did not affect our decision to invite Meg to be a guest, we're delighted to have her and hope you enjoy this episode.

About the Podcast

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Better Words

About your hosts

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Caitlin Toohey

Hi, I'm Caitlin! I've been on bookstagram since 2016, a podcaster since 2017, and worked in publishing since 2019. So books and reading are my entire life. When I'm not reading, I like listening to Taylor Swift, watching sitcoms, and generally being a theatre kid.
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Michelle Gately

Hi, I'm Michelle! I'm an Aussie living in the UK, working as a bookseller at Waterstones. I'm obsessed with storytelling in all its forms – I spend as much time watching TV or listening to podcasts as I do reading. Other hobbies include bouldering, hiking and generally obsessing about my pug Percy.