Megan Harris Madramootoo story

Having begun Not You as part of her master’s thesis while attending Southern New Hampshire University, Megan Harris M. is now working on her PhD in English, with a concentration in Creative Writing and a minor in Literary Theory at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. She also serves as an Instructor of Record for their Department of English. Her creative works usually include pieces of her past that she uses to help others who’ve experienced the same, as well as some academic projects that explore the lasting effects of colonialism and sexism. On a normal evening, you can find her typing rhythmically away, a glass of Merlot close by her side as she listens to the hypnotic sounds of jazz floating in the background. She is the mother of five children and resides in Maryland, just south of the city of Baltimore. Not You: A Memoir will be released by Apprentice House Press May 7, 2024.

   Please share experiences in your life that influenced your career choice

Having suddenly given up my art when I became a single mother at 18, I decided I didn’t want to totally give up on my creative self. I never returned to my art; however, I decided to begin honing my writing craft, figuring that I had more chances of becoming successful at teaching English (in case I never made it as writer) than trying to survive as a starving artist in New York (that was actually a dream of mine). I finished my first degree in English in 2012, and by the time I began my master’s program in English/Creative Writing, I was able to gain enough experience to begin writing seriously and the confidence to keep pursuing my writing ventures. I had also decided then to work towards becoming a college professor of English so I could increase my chances of giving back to the community.

  What’s the biggest challenge you have experienced and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I’ve experienced was breaking the cycle of gravitating towards abusive relationships, whether they be intimate relationships with men or close friendships with women. However, I couldn’t begin leaving these dysfunctional relationships alone until I first learned to become comfortable being by myself. This was an extremely difficult task to accomplish as one of my greatest fears for most of my adult life was being alone. Once I conquered the irrational need to always receive validation from others, I was able to unlearn the abnormal toxic behavior that had easily become the “normal” over much of my adult life. Releasing the shame I once carried with me from personal choices I had made and learning how to replace it with loving acceptance was the icing on the cake.

          What is the most rewarding thing about sharing your experiences?

The most rewarding thing about sharing my experiences is being able to turn trauma into triumph. Having the ability to shift my past ordeals into a testimony I can share with others brings a smile to my heart because these people with whom I share know that I give a genuine story, something I’m honestly relating from my own past. What I offer others is real-life challenges, obstacles, and roadblocks, and I feel this fact helps me to better relate to those I’m trying to connect with.

         What fuels you?

The number one thing that fuels me is my children. Having made so many “unorthodox” choices earlier in life, I normally tell others that I’m just playing “catch-up,” that I’m trying to reconcile all the unwise moves I’ve made so I can leave my children with the life I’ve always wanted for myself. The second thing that fuels me is my passion for just…life. I worked with cancer patients for almost 19 years, so I’ve seen first-hand how short our human existence is. I want to make the most out of everything I’ve been given, from my working limbs to my functional mind, taking in all the learning and adventures I can while I’m still on this earth.

      How do you see AI affecting the literary industry, specifically creative writing?

When AI first arrived on the literary scene, I was worried. I felt as if there may be no need to continue teaching English Composition if students were going to sneak behind their professors’ backs and use AI for their writing assignments, or if, when they were finished with the semester, they would just return to using AI to write letters, resumes, brainstorm for projects, etc. While I thought these new “opportunities” for cheating the system ran the risk of spilling into the creative sphere, I realized that there is barely any human aspect behind AI, no matter how good it reads or appears. Creative writing involves a talent that only human hands and minds can master– I sincerely doubt that publishers and even the literary public will really find that much merit and value in a computer-generated piece. But that’s just my opinion, and at the end of the day, it helps me to remain loyal to my creative writing goals.

                                  What advice would you give anyone venturing into the writing space?

I would tell others to take serious courses in creative writing. Be serious about writing; that’s the only way you’ll hone your craft and become successful. These courses are usually taught by professional writers who know what they’re doing and can offer the expertise and experience to perfect the craft of writing. They can also open literary doors that may not initially be available to the untrained writer. Join at least one writing group, as well. Each state should definitely have one, and there are others that are locally operated, even if they’re lesser known. Having the support of a writing group also opens newbie writers to more writing opportunities, like chances to perform at open mic calls or attend writing conferences where literary agents may be present. Writing groups also hold the writer accountable for staying on task with their writing practice (as you know, writing is just like using a muscle; if you don’t use it you lose it) and for completing writing endeavors.

                                      What’s the body of work that you are most proud of and why?

Even though the answer should be my recently released memoir, Not You, I’m actually most proud of my 100-word short story, “Orange Passion.” It was a challenge that one of my writing professors had assigned years ago, and I was excited to finally overcome the test of penning a particularly brief story that required the words “orange,” “beard,” “sun,” and “passion.” Even though I write mostly prose, the brevity my professor requested to convey the basic elements of a story led me to venture off into poetry-writing.


From your research and experience how has colonialism affected women in particular in indigenous communities?

This is a great question, considering that when people are discussing colonialism, they are usually referring to the conquests of other countries by white males. However, when this concept pertains to women of indigenous communities or other female victims of marginalization, the research has shown me that anyone can be colonized by anybody when they are deemed the “weaker” individual. And the colonizer could be anyone who deems themselves strong and able enough to seize any weaker person, whether they are male or female. Very unfortunately so, many of us are  still being taught to assign value to a human being based on gender, race, and socioeconomic circumstances. This is still evident in the colonization and victimization of marginalized and lower income women who still rely on their male counterparts for money and security. This reliance creates a ripple effect that eventually renders these particular women powerless and vulnerable to societal issues such as financial oppression and domestic violence by those who are in control.

                           What is the correlation between colonialism and the patriarchy?

To bounce off what was addressed in the last question, colonialism refers to the overtaking and exploitation of the weaker person, or the other, by the more powerful person/society. Patriarchy takes this definition a step further by narrowing the general term of “colonialism” down to the more specific, oppressive hegemony of the male society that is established on the female portion of that society. Whereas colonialism applies to the capture of the “weaker” population by the dominant nation, patriarchy is the subcategory that defines the male “colonialism” of the female gender.

 What is the impact of sexism on society?

Sexism allows for women to be abused, underpaid, underappreciated, undervalued, and overworked. Sexism devalues women and contributes to instances of intimate partner violence. It teaches girls at younger ages that they will only be defined by their future male partners, ultimately leading to a lower sense of self and the inability to make healthy relationship choices. In the long run, sexism allows society to decide the roles and rules of women, ultimately trapping the women of this society inside fixed mental and physical boundaries, absolving men from having to also act as caretaker, lover, nurturer, and protector– all identities that are only expected of women

 What’s next for Megan?

What’s next for me is to begin studying for my PhD comprehensive exams now that I’ve finished my last semester of coursework. The comprehensive exams include four essays that I’ll need to compose over a period of two consecutive days that will test my knowledge of 150 texts. All these texts will be related to the two focuses of my dissertation: expertise in creative writing and women-focused American literature from the 18th century to the present. Once I pass these next February, I will begin crafting my dissertation, which will be a second and last memoir. This piece will be a hybrid memoir to be sure that I can make it more accessible to readers of a greater population than Not You, making sure it does what it’s supposed to do– to help others who’ve fallen prey to sexism, colonialism, and marginalization within intimate relationships.

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