Mar 31, 2016

Interview with David Meredith

When did you realize that you wanted to become a writer?
I’ve always written. Going all the way back to when I was about nine writing stories on notebook paper and binding them with old shirt-boards decorated with Crayola marker I wanted to create stories, but it took quite a bit longer for me to feel confident what I wrote was good enough to show other people. I don’t think that happened until well into my adulthood – when I’d finally had enough literary experience as well as life experience to make my writing feel authentic and real.

Is being an Author all you dreamed of, or did it just happen?
 Well I’ve certainly always wanted to be a writer, but I think the term “author” has a weightier connotation. I’m not sure it’s the Webster’s definition, but I’ve always imagined that what “author” meant was you were a good enough writer that you’d compose books and enough people would like your work well enough that they’d be willing to pay money for it, so you could make a living that way. I don’t think I’m quite to that point yet, but I’d definitely like to be there one day – where I could get up in the morning and just think about what I was going to write that day instead of having to plan around everything else I’m responsible for in my daily life.

What was the very first thing you ever wrote?
It was a very bad mystery story that was about nine pages long on notebook paper when I was nine that was in sort of a pseudo Hardy Boys style (what I was reading at the time). Then throughout middle school and high school I wrote a bunch of crappy fan-fic based upon Forgotten Realms, Dragon Lance, and whatever movies or TV shows I happened to be into. None of it was any good, I realize now, and I’d be really embarrassed for anyone else to read it, but each of those early works were important for helping me experiment with different literary styles and voices until I finally found my own. I think was a necessary part of the process.

What was the inspiration for your book?
I think the easy answer, of course, is fairy tales and fantasy. I’m really at heart a fantasy guy, and everything I write has at least some fantastic element to it, but that isn’t the whole answer. I think that what makes well-written fantasy work is a healthy dose of reality. Good fantasy must be rooted in some sort of reality or it ceases to be believable which can make it less engaging. I think the most successful fantasy books and series are those that leave you with a sense on some level the story really could have happened.

In the case of Snow White, I think most people can relate to depression. Most people have either experienced it themselves or know someone dear to them who has. However, I noticed that fairy tale princesses, particularly of the Disney variety, in spite of horrible trauma and tragedy just simply don’t appear to have the same weaknesses and failings as regular people by suffering the long term effects of those traumatic experiences. I felt like this actually served to distance the character from the reader. I think my approach more accurately examines the likely effects that a life of neglect and abuse (like the one Snow White was forced to endure) would have in real life. It’s the sort of thing that really has the potential to break a person and I wanted to explore that struggle more thoroughly.

Now, the other part of the inspiration, the real world part, was rather personal. In the space of about three or four months back in 2006, both of my grandfathers died unexpectedly. As I observed how hard my grandmothers took their deaths, it led me to wonder on their behalf – “So… Now what?” 

They had both had wonderful, loving relationships – many long, happy years together (over 60). Now it was over. It made me wonder, “When your life has been so closely tied up with and centered upon one other person for so long, what do you do when they are no longer a part of your life? How do you pick up the pieces and move forward?” That was the original kernel of the idea for The Reflections of Queen Snow White.

Who is your literary hero?
Author: Probably Tad Williams, Character: I really relate to Fitz from Robin Hobbs’ Golden Fool trilogy.

How much of your characters are based on your traits or someone you know personally?
I think all of my characters are based in part on people or aspects of people I’ve known or met, or at the very least know a whole lot about. I think that is necessary to do this when breathing life into your characters to make them feel real as well as act and reactive in believable ways.

Describe your main character in six words.
Abused, needy, serious daddy issues, resilient.

Describe the world you’ve created in six words.
Fairy tales meet the real world.

What scene was your favorite to write?
Probably the scene where Snow White finally takes charge of her court and establishes herself as queen. I think it shows that even though a person can spent most of their life being horribly abused and neglected, that doesn’t mean it has to be a perpetual state. Human beings still have the capacity within to find strength and affect positive change in their lives. Being a victim once does not mean that you must always be so in the future.

What scene was the hardest for you to write?
Actually, it was the wedding night scene. That isn’t generally the sort of graphic content I employ in my writing, but at the same time I did not see how (again keeping my goal of absolute realism and authenticity in mind) that I could leave it out. Though some people may question whether including such graphic content was necessary, I decided that it was vital to telling the story.

This novel is about Snow White exploring her innermost reflections and revisiting her most intimate, impactful, and traumatic memories. Her marriage to Charming marked a turning point in her life. It marked an end to fear and suffering at the hands of her step mother. It was also her first and only experience with love apart from childhood memories of her father. There was no question in my mind that she would remember the experience fondly and more importantly, in every minute detail, leaving nothing out as she recollected it. After all, who censors their own head?  At the same time, I spent a very great deal of worry and effort writing and revising it because I didn’t want it to feel salacious, trite, or voyeuristic – like the obligatory love scene in some bad erotic novel. I just wanted it to feel like a real memory. It was a very difficult tightrope to walk.

What are you working on now?
I’ve got several things in the pipe, but the work that is currently on my front burner is a YA/Fantasy/Sci-Fi Novel in its Beta Reading phase called Aaru. Here’s the synopsis:

…Death and the stillness of death are the only things certain and common to all in this future…
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear. 

She is sixteen years old.

Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model.

Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.

What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, death and everything they thought they really believed.

I’m going to try to go the traditional publishing route this Summer, but if that doesn’t work out, I may self-publish again since it has worked out so well for The Reflections of Queen Snow White.

Goals? Accomplishments? Improvements?
Of course, you are either improving or backsliding so I’m always trying to get better. I’d still liked to be published by a nationally or internationally distributing publishing house. I think that Aaru might have the sort of mass-market appeal to let me do that, but I am also working on my Doctorate degree and hope to finish that up by Summer of 2017. The Reflections of Queen Snow White is doing quite well. It has been added as To-Be-Read well over 500 times on Goodreads and the reviews have mostly been good to great.

Are there any authors or books you recommend?
Probably my favorite series of all time is the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy by Tad Williams. I have also really enjoyed the work of Robin Hobb. I’m not generally a big fan of first person narrative, but she does it really well. Shogun, by James Clavell is another work that I view as foundational to my own writing.

What's your favorite thing to do when you're not writing?
An awful lot of my free time is spent marketing my work or executing the duties of the job at which I am gainfully employed, but I also coach swimming and have kids of my own, so doing things with them is a pretty fun and relaxing part of my day.