The Hippo


May 30, 2020








Virginia MacGregor. Courtesy photo.

Wishbones launch party

Where: Gibson’s Bookstore, 45 S. Main St., Concord
When: Tuesday, May 23, at 7 p.m.
Contact:, 224-0562,

Inspiring new home
MacGregor on moving to Concord and Wishbones

By Kelly Sennott

 Virginia MacGregor wrote Wishbones in a coffee shop near Wellington College in Berkshire, England, a place she found rich with inspiration.

“I know some people who love the silence of a study, and I need that sometimes, but [when writing] I actually need to be surrounded by life,” MacGregor said via phone last week, just after putting her youngest daughter down for a nap. “If you sit in a coffee shop long enough, you see families, children, grandparents. You’ll overhear them talking about everyday things. I always have one ear open.”
Since moving to Concord with her children and husband for his new theater job at St. Paul’s School this past July, she’s found new spots to write, like Live Juice, where she prefers the seat by the window overlooking Main Street, or the cafe at Gibson’s Bookstore, where she celebrates the release of her first young adult title, published by HarperCollins, on Tuesday, May 23, at 7 p.m.
Her novels include What Milo Saw, The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells and Before I Was Yours, and like those, Wishbones is rooted in family and addresses social issues. The young adult novel follows a 14-year-old girl named Feather who loves to swim and is trying to save her obese mother, who hasn’t left the house in years, by helping her become healthy again. 
MacGregor, who grew up in Germany, France and England, was named after two women — Virginia Wade and Virginia Woolf — in the hopes she might aspire to writing or tennis greatness. After studying at Oxford, she taught at Wellington College, where she met her husband. About five years ago he encouraged her to fulfill her lifelong dream.
“He said, ‘You should try doing it full-time. You’ll regret not having given it a chance,’” she said.
Her goal is to write one adult and one young adult book every year, which she knows sounds “bonkers,” but it helps when your partner’s career is invested in storytelling as well.
“We’re very much in the storytelling business. … We both value the arts. When I’m reading a novel, he sees it as part of my job, instead of saying, ‘Why is she being indulgent and reading a novel?’” she said. “We have fantastic dinnertime conversations. He’s always the first to read my first draft and my last draft before it’s published.”
Every one of MacGregor’s books is a mixture of experience, research and imagination, she said, and for this one she interviewed doctors, diabetes specialists, social workers and a young student expert on the butterfly stroke, which her protagonist loves to swim. She also explored the psychology of food, which involved looking back at her time in high school, both as a student and as a teacher.
“Having grown up attending a very academic girls’ school in Oxford, I went through a stage of eating very little, and being very driven,” said MacGregor, explaining it wasn’t just about image, but also perfection. “Quite a few of us were on the spectrum of having eating disorders. We were always comparing [ourselves] to each other.”
MacGregor’s excited to share the story with her new friends in New Hampshire. It’s interesting, being an English woman living in the United States right now; having grown up in an age of political apathy, she finds it refreshing, how many young people around town seem to be politically engaged. 
“Here in the theater department, there are lots of kids from minority backgrounds or who are gay, and they were hit hard by the changing political scene. I think they feel strong about art, drama, books and storytelling, and I feel strong about it as well,” MacGregor said. “I think, more than ever, people are turning to the arts to understand the world they’re living in. I think we writers and dramatists have a unique role to play, in helping people navigate the world and understand each other’s points of view.” 

®2020 Hippo Press. site by wedu