Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence explain the science behind your favorite stories

Meg Hafdahl & Kelly Florence

by Timothy Pike

Hailing from Minnesota, Meg Hafdahl and Kelly Florence are longtime friends who have co-authored many books together and also host a podcast.

Let’s meet this talented duo and hear about the tee shirt that sparked a decades-long friendship, the hardest part of writing true crime, and their most recent book release, The Science of Agatha Christie.

Thanks for joining us, Kelly and Meg. Where are you both from? Is that where you’re from originally?

Meg grew up all over the U.S. and Canada, landing in Duluth, Minnesota, in middle school. She now lives in Rochester, Minnesota. Kelly grew up north of Duluth in a small town called Cherry. She lives in Duluth now, so we are Minnesota girls through and through!

How did your paths cross?

We met over twenty years ago when Meg was working at a gift shop. Kelly came in wearing an X-Files tee shirt, and the rest is history! We’ve been best friends and co-writers ever since.

When did you start collaborating on books together?

While Kelly is a college professor, Meg started her writing career in fiction. The dream was to work together, and we both have passion for research, horror, and writing. We’d started a podcast called Horror Rewind, about horror media, and writing together was a natural progression. In 2019, our first co-authored book, The Science of Monsters, was released by Skyhorse Publishing, and we’re currently working on our eighth book together!

We both have a natural inclination to peek beneath the curtain of fiction. We wanted to know about the history, mythology, science, and so much more behind our favorite films, shows, and books.

How did each of you find yourselves drawn to the horror genre?

We both have always loved scary things. Whether it was a book about true crime or a scary movie, we were drawn to the genre. We both like the feeling of being scared (in fiction, of course!) and believe the genre builds empathy. There are so many different types of horror stories, too, so the possibilities are endless.

What gave you the inspiration to create this non-fiction series, The Science of …, where you combine science with horror and mystery?

We both have a natural inclination to peek beneath the curtain of fiction. We wanted to know about the history, mythology, science, and so much more behind our favorite films, shows, and books. So it made sense to write a book series that brought readers along for that ride. Science is a pretty broad term, as we talk about everything from biology to psychology to feminist studies. We believe it really enhances watching the films we discuss. And we have so much fun doing it!

How do you go about divvying up the duties of writing a book together?

When we wrote our first book, we each worked on every single chapter to make sure we had a consistent voice, tone, and weren’t doubling up on topics. After that, we’d equally divide up the work by chapters or topics, and our voices would naturally blend.

How do you go about picking out all the scenes and topics you wanted to analyze?

We try to strike a balance. First, we go with what excites us. We figure if it’s fun for us, it’s going to be compelling for the reader. Which means sometimes we go down a research rabbit hole and realize we took a wrong, boring turn so sometimes we have to recalibrate. With well-known topics, like in The Science of Stephen King (2020), we want to cover the greatest hits, like It and The Shining, but we also want to highlight books that don’t get as much attention, like The Dark Half and Lisey’s Story. The same goes for our most recent book, The Science of Agatha Christie—we work to find the balance of her popular works and lesser-known gems.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? How about the easiest or most enjoyable part?

As with any of our books, the most difficult part is researching real-life stories of crime victims that some plot points were based on. It was hard to hear the tales of people who had been falsely accused or charged with a crime when they were later proven innocent. Our interview with The Innocence Project shed a lot of light on the topic. That being said, the most enjoyable part of writing this series is getting to interview amazing people from a variety of backgrounds!

Our readers would be very interested to hear about the podcast you co-host, Horror Rewind. Please tell us about it!

We started the podcast as a way to rewatch the horror films we’d enjoyed as kids. Could they stand up today? Were they really as good as we remember, or had we been blinded by nostalgia? Over time the podcast has grown into a conversation about current horror, whether TV shows, films, or books. It’s two friends who love horror, talking about what we consume and whether we think the listeners will like it.

What’s one of the biggest obstacles you’ve dealt with in your writing life? How did you overcome it?

One of our biggest obstacles is finding time to write together. Thankfully, with technology like FaceTime and Zoom, we’re able to write together even when we can’t physically be together. Nothing beats writing in the same room, though! The energy is palpable, and the ideas flow more easily.

Which authors have influenced your writing the most?

As far as fiction, we love Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, and the Brontë sisters. And there are so many contemporary horror authors with loads of talent like Stephen Graham Jones, Rachel Harrison, Tananarive Due. And in non-fiction, we are fans of true crime authors like Harold Schechter, Ann Rule, Erik Larson.

Looking down the road, what’s next for both of you?

Our next two books, Travels of Terror and The Science of Alfred Hitchcock, are coming out in the fall of 2024!

Horror and suspense author Meg Hafdahl is the creator of numerous stories and books. Her fiction has appeared in anthologies such as Eve’s Requiem: Tales of Women, Mystery, and Horror and Eclectically Criminal. Her work has been produced for audio by The Wicked Library and The Lift, and she is the author of two popular short story collections, including Twisted Reveries: Thirteen Tales of the Macabre. Meg is also the author of the two novels Daughters of Darkness and Her Dark Inheritance. Co-host of the podcast Horror Rewind and co-author of The Science of Monsters, The Science of Stephen King, and The Science of Agatha Christie, Meg lives in the snowy bluffs of Minnesota.

Find Meg at her website or Amazon author page, and connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter/X.

Kelly Florence teaches communication at Lake Superior College in Duluth, Minnesota, and is the creator of the Be a Better Communicator podcast. She received her B.A. in theatre from the University of Minnesota Duluth and her M.A. in communicating arts from the University of Wisconsin-Superior. She has written, directed, produced, choreographed, and stage managed for dozens of productions in Minnesota, including Carrie: The Musical through Rubber Chicken Theatre, and Treasure Island for Wise Fool Theater. Kelly is passionate about female representation in all media and particularly the horror genre. She is the co-author of The Science of Monsters, The Science of Stephen King, and The Science of Agatha Christie with Meg Hafdahl. They also co-host the Horror Rewind podcast and write and produce horror projects together.

Visit Kelly at her website, and connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter/X.

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