I’m so excited to present this week's interview with the talented and all-around amazing Marie Meyer! Marie Meyer is a 2017 RITA Finalist and author of five incredible New Adult Cotemporary Romances, including Across the Distance and Live Out Loud.
Thank you so much for taking the time to come on my blog!
Thank you for inviting me to be here! I'm honored!
I’m going to go back to 2013 for a moment, before you made it into Pitchwars. For those who don’t know, Across the Distance, your first novel, was accepted into the incredible Pitchwars Contest run by Brenda Drake and it was from there you got your agent and, ultimately your book deal. That’s such an incredible journey! What had your journey been like writing Across the Distance before Pitchwars came along?
In 2012, I co-authored a YA Paranormal Romance. My co-author and I entered Pitch Wars that year, but our ms wasn't chosen. After that, my co-author decided that writing wasn't the path she wanted to take. But, I wasn't ready to give up on writing yet. That year, I wrote furiously, and by the time Pitch Wars rolled around again, I had my own story! When I entered “Through the Storm” (what Across the Distance used to be called) into PW, I want expecting much—to be honest, I wasn't expecting anything! Yet, to my surprise, the little manuscript that I worked on late at night, after my kiddos went to bed, had been chosen for Pitch Wars 2013! Moral of the story: don't quit! You never know when your moment will happen!
As a reader of your novels, the road Across the Distance took through its revision stages intrigues me, and as a writer I’m always eager to learn about the revision process for authors! What was your biggest takeaway from working with Lady Lioness? I read that you rewrote a lot of your novel. Can you talk a little about your realizations and learning as you went through that process?
My biggest takeaway from working with Lady Lioness is to keep things realistic, watch the melodrama. I have a penchant for writing melodramatic scenes, or character reactions. Lady Lioness was quick to point out these problematic areas. I rewrote character actions and motivations, reducing the melodrama, turning my characters into relatable, realistic people. Even as I write today, Lioness words stick with me. I'm able to recognize when my characters are not reacting to a scene in a way that is true to them, and I can course correct. “Through the Storm” had a myriad of problems, which Lioness was quick to point out (and I'm thankful she did). I eliminated an entire character, which appeared in half of the book, which meant, I rewrote half the book. It was a daunting task, but I welcomed every one of Lioness’s comments and revision tasks. I did everything she told me, she was the publishing professional who saw something special in my story. Lioness always told me that I wasn't obligated to take her advise, but I did. She worked closely with an agent, she knew the ins and outs of the publishing industry, where I did not. In the end, Lioness helped me chisel the diamond out of the rock, so Across the Distance could have a shot!
How has your writing process changed since then? Any standout pieces of advice you’ve learnt?
I'm super watchful of writing realistic character motivations. I take into account a character's interests, hobbies, profession, their likes and dislikes. Is the character and introvert, or an extrovert? All off these questions and thoughts help shape believable, realistic characters. Now, I'm a stickler for realistic characters who act and react in accordance with their experiences. I'm also very mindful of overly dramatic scenes. I always tell myself, “Save the drama for your mama (or your lama, if you have one)!”
You develop such deep and complex characters. Can you talk a little bit about how they come about? How do you get to know them so well?
Thank you, that's so kind of you to say! Research. For each character, I research endlessly. My biggest fear as an author is to have someone read my book and think, “Nope, that’s not right.” All of my characters are so different. Ive written about a fashion designer, musicians, a med student, a pharmacy student, a nurse, a police officer, and a software developer. I'm none of those things. I'm a middle school teacher by trade. I can't even see a button onto a shirt, yet, I wrote about a fashion designer. The way to make authentic characters is through research. Dig deep. Find out what motivates your characters, what their life experiences have taught them up to this point, and how their chosen professions help shape them as people. How the people in their lives help shape them as people. Your job as a writer is to breathe life an authenticity into your characters, and that can only be accomplished by digging deep. Find out what's in your character’s soul, what makes them unique—then write that!
Building off the last question, is there a couple or a character that holds a special place in your heart?
Jillian and Griffin (from Across the Distance and Can’t Go Back) will always hold a special place in my heart because they were the first couple I wrote. But, I do love Thor and Harper (from Live Out Loud) immensely. Writing a story with a deaf character was a challenge, and I love Harper for challenging me!
What are some current books or authors you’ve really enjoyed? What authors or books have greatly influenced you?
Not to long ago, I read Written on My Heart, by Cole Gibsen. I stayed up way to late on a school night, to finish that book. It's so great! I also really loved Caraval, by Stephanie Garber, and An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir.
Books that have influenced my as a writer, or fostered my love of writing were Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights (I love the classics!). Danielle Steel was also a big influence on me, growing up. I devoured all of her books as a middle school and high school student. I wanted to be like Danielle Steel! Then, years later I read Easy, by TammaraWebber. When I put that book down, the idea for Across the Distance was born.
And lastly, have you always wanted to be a writer or is that something that began to build through time? How has your career as a teacher influenced your writing, if it has?
I've always loved writing—it was always my favorite part of school! But, to write professionally never crossed my mind. I went to college for teaching and minored in music. But, my love of reading and storytelling never faded. It wasn't until many years later that I remembered how much I loved to tell stories. Now, I'm so grateful that I have the opportunity to tell stories and that people find enjoyment in my words. I'm so humbled and thankful every time someone picks up my book to read. I love my readers!
I want to thank you again for taking the time to be interviewed! It’s always such a pleasure to talk with you!
Thank you, Katherine, for having me on your blog! It's been a pleasure chatting with you!