For fans of Flight Behavior and Station Eleven, Migrations is a novel set on the brink of catastrophe, as a young woman chases the world’s last birds—and her own final chance for redemption. We spoke with author Charlotte McConaghy about the inspiration for the novel, the audiobook narrator’s masterful accent work, and more.
“There is something haunting in this story, something unforgettable. This comes from the beauty of the language in opposition to the stark realities of a world where so much of what we love is simply gone. Franny speaks for many of us. What might we do to escape our past? And, more importantly, can we find a way to keep love alive in the face of tragedy?”Sarah, Loganberry Books
Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.
Migrations is a novel that came to me in so many different pieces from all kinds of directions that it’s difficult for me to identify what the first little nugget was. I think it’s a book that in some ways has lived in me for a long time—maybe always. But I know I became conscious of a lot of the pieces when I went traveling around the UK, I wanted to explore Ireland and get to know the land my ancestors were from as I’ve always had a fascination for it. So part of the book takes place here. And I also went to Iceland—an extraordinary place—and I was spotting these beautiful geese called graylag geese, which got me thinking about migratory birds and the incredible journeys they take, and the type of people that study these birds.
I think that’s how the story of an ornithologist who decides to chase the last flock of Arctic terns from one end of the earth to the other came about. And of course it’s my distress over the climate crisis that inspired the setting for the novel—which takes place a stone’s throw into the future during the peak of the extinction crisis, when all the animals are extinct or the last of their kind.
Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?
I was amazed at the narrator’s ability to do all the various accents in the book! I don’t think I even realized how many there were until I heard her skillful renditions of each.
Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?
I’m actually not, I’m afraid, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to explore for a while now.
What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?
I’ve been absolutely blown away by the passion and generosity of independent bookstores and booksellers. Honestly I feel so privileged to have received their endorsements and to see the amazing way they connect with literature and readers. We authors would be nowhere without them, and I cannot express how grateful I am. And not only as an author with a book coming out, but as a reader, who, over the years, has had countless recommendations for things I love and that I might never have picked up otherwise.
Header photo by Emma Daniels