"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

“Meg” and “The Meg 2: The Trench” : Exclusive Interview with “Meg” Series Author Steve Alten

Steven Robert Alten (born August 21, 1959, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American science-fiction author. He is best known for his Meg series of novels set around the fictitious survival of the megalodon, a giant, prehistoric shark. Alten holds a bachelor’s degree from the Pennsylvania State University, a master’s in sports medicine from the University of Delaware, and a doctorate in sports administration from Temple University. Alten is the founder and director of Adopt-An-Author, a nationwide secondary-school free-reading program promoting works from six authors, including his own.

Exclusive Interview with Author Steve Alten 

Q: Megalodon is actually creature that now an extinct species of shark that lived from about 23million to 3.6 million years ago during the early Miocene to Pliocene period. What led you to study the megalodon and study shark history as well? 

S.A : How did I get started with megalodon? When I was 15 years old I read “Jaws,” as a lot of teens did and really became curious about the great white sharks. I started going to the library, picking up every book I could find about real great white shark attacks. There was always a little blurb listed about its prehistoric cousin — the megalodon. Usually there was a black and white photo of six scientists sitting in a jaw.

But nothing was ever written about it that you could follow up with. When I was 35 years old, I got a magazine in the mail — it’s right here as a matter of fact — Time Magazine, and it talked about the deep and new findings about hydrothermal vents and the Mariana Trench, which is this 1500 mile long, a 40 mile wide gorge at the bottom of the North Pacific Ocean, running in the Western Pacific Ocean. And it’s largely unexplored. I thought, what was that shark I used to be so enamored with back in high school? I went to the library because we had no internet in 1995. I found the picture and information about it. I spent the next 30 days basically creating a treatment for a new book.

Q: Do you know how the megalodon became extinct? What was the reason for that — the weather or lack of food? 

S.A: That’s a great question because these weren’t dinosaurs that died off 65 million years ago when an asteroid struck the planet. These were creatures that  were around the miocene period which is about 30 million years ago up until fairly recently. It remains a mystery why these apex predators would have died off. There was plenty of food, plenty of whales for them to eat. The great whites were not a threat.

One threat that was there were orca packs which could take out a single megalodon. But the megalodon simply had to go deep to avoid orcas which can only descend to about a thousand feet or even less. So the answer is in that statement — to escape threats on the surface, the megalodons went way deep as in the Mariana Trench. We’ve only explored 5% of our oceans and less than 1% of our deep water. Anything could be down there. We simply have no idea.

Q: The megalodon is considered one of the largest predator fish in history. Their size is mostly known only from fragmentary remains, such as those estimated from their teeth. The appearance and large size is still unknown. 

S.A : This is a great white tooth. The tooth measures from the point to the longest root is about an inch and a half. So, they say, there’s about 10 feet of shark for every inch of a tooth. This shark would have been about 15 feet long. Now here’s one from a megalodon.

Q: It’s like four or five times bigger than that.

SA: An inch of tooth equals 10 feet of shark. This is about six to six and a half inches. We’re looking at about a 60- to 70-foot shark here. And the sides. It’s too tiny to see, but these sides are all serrated like a knife. You have the point here. You have the serration. Now, this is a bottom tooth. The difference between a bottom tooth and a top tooth is the thickness of the shape of it. The bottom teeth are more like forks. They’re more pointy. Top teeth are like bludgeons. So it captures it like a fork and then the top tooth comes down and smashes it.

Q: Wow, once a megalodon took a bite out of a whale, it would just take one bite to kill them easily. 

S.A : It does a lot of damage.

Q: The megalodon lived all over the world. They spread around the ocean, and were likely to target a small whale, seal or sea turtles and other large animals. I was really surprised that they were eating whales even if it’s a small sized one.  It’s a huge animal even if you know the size of whale. 

S.A : You have to realize a whale is not a predator. A baleen whale is not a predator. It doesn’t have any defense against a megalodon. The megalodon doesn’t have to eat it in one bite, it just has to wound it to kill it. You can do that by tearing off its pectoral fin, or a bite to its abdomen. Whales are great for a megalodon because it’s very fat and fat is the best kind of energy source in the ocean. It burns easily and lasts a long time. The megalodon has to eat something that’s got enough resources of energy in it and fat is the best source for it to take care of itself.

Q: Let’s talk about the “Meg” movie with Jason Statham. In 1996, before you released your first book of the Meg series, Disney’s Hollywood Pictures bought the rights to the first book. It didn’t work out. What was the reason for that to happen before you released the first book? 

S.A: I wrote the original manuscript from 1995 to ’96. Once it was done, I was lucky enough to find a great agent, Ken Atchity of AEI in Los Angeles. Ken thought the idea would make a great movie and book, but it needed a lot of editing. So he brought me on board to edit with him. In May, 1996, I had just about finished the book and he asked me to give him the first hundred pages and a treatment for the rest. He took it to another producer on a first look deal with Disney’s Hollywood Pictures.

The objective was to get a movie deal committed first and then put the book out to other publishers and get a better publishing deal. That’s what we did. But then Hollywood Pictures never made the movie. They had the rights to it but then the president of Hollywood Pictures was fired. When an incoming president comes into a studio, the last thing they want is their predecessor’s projects. If it does well, it makes the other guy look good. It’s all about ego and business.

Q: They didn’t take over the previous project. That’s so hard. It’s so Hollywood. 

S.A: They had a nice previous project, but the new studio head wasn’t going to give credit to the other guys. It turned out to be a big hit like it did. So the rights reverted back to me. About six or seven years ago, through a friend, we were able to get optioned by New Line Cinema. They hired their own screenwriter and it turned out to be “Moby Dick” with sharks. It was not the original project and fortunately wasn’t approved so the rights reverted again back to me. We were 0 for 2 at the altar, you might say.

Then I had a friend who had recently met Belle Avery, a producer, and I sold an option for her to make “Meg.” She spent the next six or seven years independently raising the financing for the movie so that the studio wouldn’t have control over what the script was. In the end, she was able to get a Chinese company called Gravity Pictures to put up the money and co-produced it with her. Then they brought in the studio for distribution.

Q: When they had it with New Line Cinema, I believe that Guillermo Del Toro was producing and Jan De Bont from “Speed” was about to direct the film. That was with the New Line Cinema. if the script was OK, it would go along with your intention for your script. It would have worked out fine then. But, the script wasn’t great. Luckily, you got it made with the Chinese. The budget was close to 100 million, right?

S.A: I’m not sure what the final version was. I’m just guessing, but it might have been about 150 or more. I have no way of knowing for sure. Once Warner Brothers came in as a partner, not just for distribution,  they bought into the package too.

Q: But since it took almost 20 years to make an original Meg movie, how much did… 

S.A: 23, but who’s counting. If I did, I’d be an old man.

Q: How much were you involved in the original film? Did you get involved in the casting process? It had like three screenwriters. What did you discuss with director John Turtletaub? 

S.A: The original script that was sold as the project was mine along with Belle Avery. We co-wrote it. But once they brought in the screenwriters, that was it for me. and which is the normal process but I really like the script we wrote. Their screenwriters did a great job too and whether they keep me involved or not… Basically I’m allowed to park the cars [chuckles]. I’m not allowed to do anything. They keep me over on my island and they’re all the way on the other side.

Q: They respect you, the book, and the essence coming from your idea. What do you think of the choice of casting Jason Statham on this one? There are lots of action actors in Hollywood. Was he close to your first choice? Did it surprise you after they cast him and you saw his performance? 

S.A: He was my first choice. I loved it when they picked him.Even his first name was similar to the hero’s initials, Jonas as in Jonas Taylor. So I just thought it was meant to be and it was great.

Q: He’s coming back for the second one as well. They had such success. They’re bringing back Statham, but the rest of the cast is different from the original film. They’ve even chosen a different director, Ben Wheatley, known for making great indie films. What do you think about their choice of cast and director this time?

S. A: I haven’t read the script, so it would be unfair for me to give a compliment or begrudge it. I want to go see it with everybody else. Then you can ask me. I’m sure I’ll give a positive answer because I’m sure it’s going to be a great movie. The one thing with the movies and the books, though, is that people don’t realize like with “Jaws,” there was Peter Benchley’s original book, and then there was a “Jaws 2” that somebody had been hired to put together and that was it.

The movies continued on with “Jaws 3D,” “Jaws 4” and  whatever mess that followed. They all were half as good as the previous movie. The first movie by Spielberg was terrific. Then each generation lost something in the next movie. The books actually get better than the next one.

As source material, there’ll be a total of seven books packaged together in a seven book set called “The Meg Legacy,” which I’m really excited about. Not only are all seven books in the seven volumes, but the novellas that I wrote, the special projects, and the comic books that made up the graphic stories — everything possibly Meg is in the seven book set. I want to see what’s coming up and read the entire series. That’s the best way to do it and it’s sold on my website: SteveAlten.com.

Q: Your seven-volume collectors edition of the entire Meg series is coming out. You have extra contents in there, all packaged together. 

S.A: Everything about the last 25 years of the Meg series, since it was published years ago is in the seven volumes. You’re not just reading the major novel of each volume. You’re also getting the back stories, the behind-the-scenes, the novellas that connect the next two novels. There were gaps in between the novels. I wrote the first book and then four years passed for the second in the series. Four years went by in the storyline.

Then it leaps forward 18 years. So there’s two big gaps there that I wanted to fill, to go back to later. I wrote short stories to fill those gaps. Then when the seven book series was designed, we laid everything out so that it was as if you were to watch a series in its original format, but one after the other after the other. As far as the timeline is concerned, it’s much better reading because it fills in all the gaps while you’re sitting there reading it for the first time.

Q: That’s a great way to tell the story. There’s a prequel in there as well? 

S.A: There’s the prequel and that’s another thing. One of the things that’s going on and a major change is the 25th anniversary edition of “Meg,” the first book, which is only in the legacy seven book series. It occupies most of the first volume but it’s brand new because I took the prequel and worked it into the first book so that it all appears at once through flashbacks, through something that is a bit more interesting than just reading a standalone prequel.

Q: Right. That’s a great idea to tell the story all together. It’s amazing. What do you want your reader to take away from your wonderful book series? 

S.A: What do I want my readers to take away? Yeah well it’s a good question because the seventh book in this series and the last one is Meg Purgatory. But it leads to something that the readers are going to be shocked at a surprise ending that they had no idea was coming for them. And in Meg Legacy, in the seventh book.. I’m going to expand upon the book and put that special treat in there so that you can only get it through reading.

But as far as the, you know, I really created the Meg Legacy series, the seven books, because for the last 25 years, readers have been contacting me and saying, where can we get the original hardbacks that have the entire collection? And you can’t really because they’re all out of print or the fact that three different publishers handle the printing. you know they don’t work together very well.

Right, I see. So by taking it upon myself through our own publishing company and putting it out there as a collector’s edition with faux leather, hardbacks, you know everything, the deluxe version of everything, pages in gold or silver trim, and not having to worry about the page camp like a lot of publishers do so I can load up on things like the best graphic artists, best images, the best maps, the best… Everything that put the series together the way I wanted it to, full of visual things, it’s all in there, plus authors commentary on different pages. So they have an idea of what was going through my head when I created this. So everything you could possibly think it was in the series.

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CinemaCon 2023 Unveils Meg 2: The Trench Trailer

Journalist Jeff Sneider tweets, “WB should just rename THE MEG 2 to THE HIT, because that’s what it’s gonna be. She’s hungry and back for seconds! Creatures have escaped an untouched, underwater ecosystem and are wreaking havoc in our world. Trailer is set to Barracuda.”

Meg 2: The Trench

Director: Ben Wheatley
Release Date:
 August 4, 2023

Exclusive Footage Description: Warner Bros. debuted the trailer for Meg 2: The Trench at CinemaCon 2023. Directed by Ben Wheatley (Free FireIn the Earth), this sequel is not doubling but tripling down on its absurdity. The footage begins in prehistoric times, where we see a massive T-Rex hunt for fish at a beach only to then be chomped in two by an even bigger megalodon. Fast forward to the present, and the team from the first film led by Jason Statham travels to the bottom of the ocean to make a horrifying discovery: there’s a trench that acts as a doorway to a slew of prehistoric creatures that have survived extinction all these millions of years.

This trench soon releases giant squids, megalodons, and a variety of other prehistoric reptiles upon modern society. More specifically, Jason Statham and his team have to face the main threat of 3 megalodons who hunt together in a pack and are led by the biggest one they have ever seen. The film’s supporting cast, including Sienna Guillory, Cliff Curtis, Shuya Sophia Cai, Page Kennedy, Skyler Samuels, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, and Wu Jing, are all seen getting in on the monster action in the trailer. Statham, though, gets the most batshit insane heroic moments as he rides giant tsunami-sized waves and takes on megalodons on a jet ski one on one with only a huge metallic spear as his weapon.

As previously mentioned, the tone of Meg 2: The Trench has been hyped up to hilarious levels of campiness. Innocent but dumb human bystanders are getting chomped up by megalodons and torn apart by giant squids left and right. The film is leaning heavier into sci-fi as well, with underwater mech suits being utilized in the trench scenes. This looks like a hilarious cross between Jurassic Park and Piranha, which should be music to the ears of genre fans. There’s a taste of over-the-top Fast and Furious levels of action too seeing Jason Statham try to kill megalodons all by himself. One thing’s for sure, Meg 2: The Trench feels like a necessary upgrade in tone and style from the first film.

Stealing Time for Your Dream

Jack Smith: “God created time so that everything wouldn't happen at once.”

Atchity: Then how come everything keeps happening at once?

Dreamers know that if you follow your dream, by definition, you can't fail. Success lies in the pursuit. If you have a dream, you have the responsibility to yourself and to the source of dreams to make it come true. 

But that means finding time to do what you have to do--the very opposite of "marking time." Our minds experience life on a timeline of their own invention, a continuum that stretches from our first moment of consciousness to our last. "The end of the world," said Bernard Malamud, “will occur when I die. After that, it's everyone for himself.”

And finding time for dreams in our accelerated world where we hear of "flextime," "time-elasticity," “the sweet spot in time," “virtual time,” “time shifting,” and "time slowing down” is more confusing than ever before. A little over a century ago, if you missed a stagecoach you thought nothing of waiting a day or two for the next one to come along. Today you feel frustrated if you miss one section of a revolving door! So many of today's "time-saving devices" prove to be frauds---requiring more time to select, install, maintain, and update than it used to take without them. It's hard to believe that a few short years ago we had not yet become addicted to email, voicemail, FAX machines, microwaves, VCRs, earphones, IPods, I Phones, blackberries. All these inventions, as helpful as they can be to your onboard Accountant’s output level, suck up our time in ways that, unless they are examined and acknowledged, become quite destructive to the realization of the dream. More and more demands are being made on our time. Faith Popcorn (The Popcorn Report) puts it this way:

We're pleading to the big time clock in the sky: "Give me fewer choices, far fewer choices. Make my life easier. Help me make the most of my most valued commodity--the very minutes of my life.”

Things have gotten so bad that we can¹t really manage time any more. We’re now forced to steal it, invoking the assistance of Mercury, messenger, salesman, trickster, and thief of the gods. Like any professional thief, Mercury insists on knowing as much as possible about the object of his theft and its natural habitat and characteristics before he goes into action. This series combines observations about the nature of time and work with practical suggestions about employing Mercury’s caduceus--that magic wand with the snakes entwined around it--to steal the time you need.

Kurt Vonnegut’s Bokonon: “Busy, busy, busy.”

Ecclesiastes: “Consider the ants. Yes, you are busy. What are you busy about?”

Our Puritanical upbringing has led the Accountant to want us to keep busy. “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” One day I was consulting with an attorney who, by everyone’s standards but his own, is quite successful. We were talking about forming a new marketing company. “Why do you want to do this?” I asked him.

“Because I want to get rich.” He added: “I have to stop selling my time.”

I nodded. “That’s interesting.” I was thinking of the reversible equation I’d written about in A Writer’s Time: “Time is money, money is time.”

“What brought you to this conclusion?” I asked him.

He told me that a self-made, wealthy, genius friend of his kept coming to California for a visit. Each time, he’d say, “You’re so smart--why aren’t you rich?” The attorney had no answer for him, but the question continued to gnaw away at him.

Finally, on one visit, the friend had to sit in the attorney’s law office for an hour waiting for him to complete some phone calls. He observed what was happening in the office.

On their way to lunch, his friend said: “You know that question I’ve been asking you all these years?”

“Yeah, of course I remember it--it drives me crazy. If I’m so smart, why aren’t I rich?”

“I know the answer now.”

“Tell me.

“You’re too busy to be rich.”

Doing the wrong things, no matter how fast, or how well, you do them, or how many of them you do, will not advance your dream. One of my partners put it this way: “Don’t confuse efforts with results.”

Those who break out of busy work and into the success they’ve dreamed of have learned to redefine time. If you recognize that time is merely a concept, a social or intellectual construct, you can make the clock of life your clock; then determine what you do with it. More than the quantity of activities or completed projects I’ve experienced in my various career transits, what I value most is the quality of time I’ve managed to steal from all those committees and examination-grading sessions. When someone asked me years ago to make a list of “things I do that I don’t enjoy” I was happy to realize that it was difficult to think of anything other than my two or three hours per week of desk work that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. Then I found a way of enjoying desk work, too! By hook or crook, you need to steal the right kind of time for your dreams.

[first in a 5-part series] next: “What is time?”

G.K. Chesterton: 'The Inside of Life.'


"We read a good novel not in order to know more people, but in order to know fewer.  Instead of the humming swarm of human beings, relatives, customers, servants, postmen, afternoon callers, tradesmen, strangers who tell us the time, strangers who remark on the weather, beggars, waiters, and telegraph-boys--instead of this bewildering human swarm which passes us every day, fiction asks us to follow one figure (say the postman) consistently through his ecstasies and agonies. That is what makes one impatient with that type of pessimistic rebel who is always complaining of the narrowness of his life and demanding a larger sphere.  

Life is too large for us as it is: we have all too many things to attend to. All true romance is an attempt to simplify it, to cut it down to plainer and more pictorial proportions. What dullness there is in our life arises mostly from its rapidity; people pass us too quickly to show us their interesting side. By the end of the week we have talked to a hundred bores; whereas, if we had stuck to one of them, we might have found ourselves talking to a new friend, or a humorist, or a murderer, or a man who had seen a ghost."


~ G.K. Chesterton: 'The Inside of Life.'


Author David Angsten



2/18/24 - Silvia Kramar signed a Story Merchant Books publishing agreement for her novel, The Little Chinese Girl.

2/3/24 - Nick Collins signed as Story Merchant’s new Associate Manager (LA).

9/4/23 - Signed - Literary management agreement for Dublin’s Carrie Brady for her romantic comedy script “Romance Not Required,” developed in our “Getting Your Story Straight” coaching.

6/7/23 - Signed- MA Senft with Writers Lifeline, Inc. to edit her two novels The Unseen Player and Mirror of Truth. Editor Lisa Cerasoli. Referred by Allied’s Jerry Puchkoff. 

Signed - Ama Adair with Writers Lifeline, Inc. to edit her latest Elle Anderson novel prior to publication by Story Merchant Books. Editor Lisa Cerasoli.

5/31/23 - Signed for her YA Novel Bad Order B. B. Ullman a literary management agreement with Story Merchant (via Tobe Roberts) to bring her novel to film/television. 

15/15/23 - Signed shopping Agreement with Le Bureau des copyrights Francais for the Estate of Mr. Jiro Taniguchi for Sky Hawk (via Tobe Roberts) 

4/17/23  - Signed - shopping agreement with Rowdy Herrington, for his script Comes Love

4/14/23 - Signed - Garrett X Warren attached to direct HATCHER based on the William Diehl Novel Thai Horse.

4/13/23 - Signed Doreen Wilcox Little at Anonymous Content attached as EP on Anna Synenko’s My Life with Dali.

4/11/23 - Signed packaging deal with Artists Management Agency for Steve Alten’s Mr. Irrelevant

4/1/23 - Signed management agreement with David Angsten for his crime novel, The Medievalist.