Author Profile: Megan McCafferty

Author Biography

Megan McCafferty was born in 1973 in New Jersey 1. She proclaims she started telling stories when “she learned to talk” 2 and obtained her first creative writing book by Grade 1, onto which she “I Love to Write” on the cover 3. Megan continued to write throughout the years building up an assortment of short stories, essays, and dramatic scenes 2. Her love of writing and reading lead Megan to earn a Bachelors of Arts in English from Columbia University 1. Following her graduation from Columbia, Megan went into a career in magazine publishing where she writing stories and articles for teen magazines, and eventually went on to become editor for Cosmopolitan 2. It was while working at Cosmopolitan that Megan realised she was no longer interested in being an editor, she wanted to be a writer 2. Previously she had been intimidated by the idea of writing a book due to the amount of pages involved; she had only ever written “25 page term papers” 2. However, after a co-worker from Cosmopolitan scored a book deal, they gave her the words of encouragement she needed to start a novel 2. To start work on her first novel, Megan went back to all of her old collected writings and began compiling what she deemed the best parts, until she eventually had 30 pages of writing; these 30 pages would become the first chapter of her first book, Sloppy Firsts, part of the Jessica Darling series, published in 2001 2.

Megan McCafferty purposely wrote Sloppy Firsts to transcend ages, hoping both teens and adults would love the book 2 3. Despite this goal, and despite the book chronicling the life of a sixteen year old, the Jessica Darling series was never classified as a YA series, but rather an adult series 3 4. This was due to when meeting with publishers many of the YA publishers hinted heavily the books would face heavy censoring, an idea Megan thought would destroy the essence of the books 2 3. The Jessica Darling series was never intended to be more than one book but after writing the first, Megan felt a series would allow the character of Jessica to fully develop and mature 2. Megan was involved in a massive scandal in Aril of 2006 when Kaavya Viswanathan, author of How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, was accused of plagiarizing large amounts of Sloppy Firsts and the second Jessica darling novel Second Helpings (USA, 2006). The scandal helped bring many new readers to the series 5.

After the five book series concluded, Megan felt drained and wanted to move on, so she wrote a dystopian satire on teen pregnancy (Bumped/Thumped), a series that was intended for a young adult audience 6. After the brief detour to dystopian, Megan returned to Jessica Darling, but this time to explore Jessica’s junior high years 7. Although the rights have been purchased for the Jessica Darling series, and a contest for the 10th anniversary that allowed fans to vote for who they thought should play the two main characters, Jessica Darling and Marcus Flutie, few other details are known 7. Megan McCafferty has stated that she feels YA has “some of the most moving and innovative writing is happening in this genre” 3.

 The Author’s Writing Style

In an interview with Writer’s Digest Megan discusses her writing style as spontaneous. She claims the process does not involve a “formal outline you learn in English classes” 2. Rather, Megan always knows how a story will end, with the ending often finalised in the early stages of writing, or sometimes the first thing she finishes 2. In addition Megan has ideas of certain plot points, and how these plot points become connected with the ending is a spontaneous 2. Megan also discusses in the interview how, to her, “every scene should be essential; there shouldn’t be anything in there that doesn’t contribute to the plot of the story in some way” and therefore she puts as much thought into one scene as another 2. Due to the spontaneity in her writing style, a lot of revising goes into her writing, which involves a lot of copy and pasting and she’s not sure “how she could write books if I hadn’t grown up in the computer age” 2.

The Books

Jessica Darling Series

Image courtesy of: ivy

Image courtesy of: ivy

This series contains five books: Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds, Forth Comings, and Perfect Fifths. This series follows the life of Jessica Darling from her high school years, where she is full of teen angst, to her early 20s when she is entering her early professional life. Sloppy Firsts was well received, with a review by Ritter Public Library saying it “taps into the inherent humour and drama of the teen experience. This poignant, hilarious novel is sure to appeal to readers who are still going through it, as well as those who are grateful that they don’t have to go back and grow up all over again” 8. On Goodreads the series holds an average rating of 3.93 stars 9.


Image courtesy of:

Image courtesy of:

This series contains Bumped and Thumped, two Dystopian novels that are a satirical look at teen pregnancy 7. They take place in 2035, were a virus has made anyone over the age of 18 infertile, so teens are encouraged and oftentimes contracted to become pregnant and give away their babies 10. Of Megan’s works, this series has had the least critical acclaim and only holds a Goodreads average review of 3.18 9. However, the School Library Journal says it “is a hilarious book, building on some of today’s obsessions” and that “McCafferty takes that increases it a thousand fold and pushes it over the mountain” 10.

Jessica Darling’s It List

This series is the return of Jessica Darling 8. However, this time Jessica is entering the seventh grade and is worried about fitting in, while dealing with friendship turn over 8. Reviews for this series are manly positive, with the review by Anne Kelly stating “while this doesn’t break tween ground, Jessica is a winning heroine, and as she stumbles and fumbles (and literally falls flat on her face), readers will laugh alongside her and, yes, cheer as she comes into her authentic self” 11. Of all Megan’s series, It List has the highest rating on Goodreads with 3.97 9.

Bibliography of Work 7

Sloppy Firsts (2001)

Second Helpings (2003)

Charmed Thirds (2006)

Forth Comings (2007)

Perfect Fifths (2009)

Bumped (2011)

Thumped (2012)

Jessica Darling’s It List The (Not so) Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness & Perfection (2013)

Jessica Darling’s It List 2: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Friends, Foes & Faux Friends (expected 23 September 2014)

 Other works, including anthologies 7

SIXTEEN: Stories About That Sweet and Bitter Birthday (2004)

Dear Bully (2011)

My Little Red Book (2009)

Does This Book Make Me Look Fat? (2008)

Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned From Judy Blume (2007)

It’s a Wonderful Lie: 26 Truths About Life in Your Twenties (2007)

Girls’ Night In: To Benefit War Child (2004)

 Awards and Recognition 7 12

ALA/YALSA Top 10 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers (2003)

ALA/YALSA Popular Paperback (2003)

New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age (years unknown, but was awarded twice)

Booklist Editor’s Pick for one of the best novels of 2003


Web Presence 7


Facebook: Megan McCafferty

Twitter: @meganmccafferty

Mailing List:!forum/megan-mccafferty-fans



[1] Wikipedia. (2013, October 10). Megan McCafferty. Retrieved from:

[2] Mosko, Lauren. (2009, January 5). The WD Interview: Megan McCafferty. The Writer’s Digest. Retrieved from:

[3] Reviwer X. (2008, December 18). Megan McCafferty on Jessica Darling. Retrieved from:

[4] AnnaReads. (2011, August 18). Jessica Darling Love + Megan McCafferty Interview. Retrieved from:

[5] Strauss, Gary (2006, May 7). How Opal Mehta got shelved. USA Today. Retrieved from:

[6] The Book Worms. (2011, April 11). Author Interview: Megan McCafferty. Retrieved from:

[7] Megan McCafferty. (2013). Megan McCafferty: New York Times Bestselling Author of the Jessica Darling Series and Bumped. Retrieved from:

[8] Ritters Public Library. (no date). Teen Reads. Retrieved from:

[9] Goodreads. (2014). Megan McCafferty. Retrieved from:

[10] Burns, E. (2011, August 30). Review: Bumped. School Library Journal. Retrieved from:

[11] Kelly, A. (2013, July). Book List Review: Jessica Darling’s It List The (Not so) Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness & Perfection. Booklist Online. Retrieved from:

[12] ALA. (2014). YALSA Booklists. Retrieved from:

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