Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Interview with fantasy author David Meredith

Today's guest is indy fantasy author David Meredith to talk a little bit about his newest novel, The Reflections of Queen Snow White.

David Meredith is an emerging indy author and veteran educator based in the Nashville area. Before returning to the US two years ago, he spent nearly a decade on and off between 1999 and 2010 teaching English in Northern Japan.

Welcome, David. Please tell us about your current release.
This is a story that moves you 30+ years into the future after the conclusion of the Brothers Grimm original tale. Charming has died and Snow White just doesn’t know how to cope. It’s really about dealing with grief and finding purpose after someone so important to you is no longer in your life.

Now, the question was posed to me: “Why did you choose Snow White – why not Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rose Red or any of a host of other faerie tale princesses you might have chosen to write about? Why kill the prince? Well, First, let me note that I understand upon initial examination, she might seem a little bit vanilla as a choice. After all, she is probably the first faerie tale princess that comes to our minds when we think of the faerie tale genre. She’s been nearly exploited and merchandised to death by the Disney Company. There have already been almost innumerable retellings and riffs on her story in modern media – TV, movies, other novels, short stories, and even an old Rammstein music video. Who doesn’t know Snow White?

However, I felt like this intimate familiarity we all have with her actually works perfectly in helping the reader connect with her older self in The Reflections of Queen Snow White. To me, it felt rather like catching up with an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in years and years. Just like those friends from grade school or university, I still care about her.

All of us must deal with death and grief to varying degrees throughout our lives. Half of us at least will have to cope with the passing of a partner. Who better to demonstrate the idea that loss and the redefining of a life that necessarily must occur as a result happens to everyone – Even faerie tale princesses?

In addition to that, I also felt like Snow White had a particularly and mostly untapped potential (at least by Disney) for some really interesting darkness. After all, she had a pretty horrible upbringing – the tragic death of both parents, left in the care of an abusive woman who despised her, disassociation from her peers, isolation, loneliness, depression… I think these are all elements that really work to elevate the level of drama and move the story forward in a way that is especially gripping and impactful.

What inspired you to write this book?
Well, I think to properly answer this question, you should really know something about where I was emotionally back in 2006 when I originally wrote the source short story. In the space of about three or four months, both of my grandfathers died unexpectedly. During the same period, my wife also lost a grandmother and a grandfather, so there where a lot of funerals going on over a very short amount of time. Now funerals, by their very nature lead to a certain introspection about one’s own mortality, but particularly with the sudden passing of both grandfathers and, as a consequence, how hard my grandmothers took their deaths, it led me to wonder on their behalf – “So… What now?”

They had both had wonderful, loving relationships – many long, happy years together (over 60 years). In the case of my maternal grandmother and grandfather, they had never loved anyone else, having married straight out of high school. There was no question in my mind, nor indeed anyone who knew them, that theirs had most certainly been a real-life “happily ever after”. 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 on?” That was the original kernel of the idea for The Reflections of Queen Snow White.

What exciting story are you working on next?
As a matter of fact, I have a HUGE project I started WAY back in 2004 that is nearly complete. It is a fantasy series based upon Japanese myth, legend and folklore, rather than the European model that is so prevalent in fantasy literature today. Originally it was a 406,000 word behemoth, but I've edited it down to three volumes that are between 95,000 and 120,000 words each. Here's a synopsis:

On the happiest day of the year, Taro’s world ends. His people and his family are slaughtered. His lands are brutally laid to waste by merciless, imperial forces. Taro is certain that neither he nor the ghosts of his lost loved ones can rest until he has visited the same devastation tenfold upon the heads of the vile collaborators. Consumed with grief for the fallen and guilt at his own survival, he gathers his scattered people and solemnly vows bloody revenge on the allies of the Emperor in the neighboring barony.

At the same time, young Naomi, cherished daughter of the doting Lord of Numanodai, is blissfully unaware of the chaotic world spinning out of control all around her. She fervently studies the arts of dance, music, and poetry as she dreams of being accepted into the distant imperial court. However, when disaster visits her very doorstep and she loses everything that she holds dear, Naomi must learn what it truly means to be a woman and a ruler. She must come to grips with her own gnawing grief and paralyzing doubt if she is to have any chance of saving her beaten and bedraggled people from Taro’s unreasoning fury.

In the process, both she and her pursuer discover a magical world of vengeful akuma demons, fierce kitsune fox-people, droll tanuki badger-folk, and the mysterious, arcane power of the ikioi. Taro and Naomi must decide whether to use this power for healing or destruction, revenge or redemption. They must choose whether to react to their pain and loss with wrath or with love. In the end, both must come to understand that the only thing that really makes them different is the choices they make and what they are willing to sacrifice in attaining that which they desire.

I'm hoping to release the first volume, Shirobara Falls, sometime next year.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I have always considered myself a writer, but an author… Now that’s a different story. I actually did not feel comfortable characterizing myself an author until very recently – shortly after the release of this book actually. There was so much weight to the term.

When I think of the word “author” I have visions of Poe and Emerson or even Steven King or Tom Clancy. It frankly felt a little pompous to claim that I belonged among their mighty literary company, which is what I felt like the word “author” implied. However, once I really began promoting my work in earnest, once I had the ISBN number and the web site and reviews coming in and requests going out on a daily basis, I really started to feel like my writing had suddenly ceased to be a hobby and instead was now a vocation and priority of mine. That’s when I really began to feel like an author.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’d love too, but no. I am an English teacher in my “real job,” but at least there’s some cross over.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know about quirks, but I try to listen to music that is in the mood of whatever piece I happen to be writing at the time. It helps get me in the right mindset. I also carry a little black journal-type book around with me everywhere I go. Whenever I get hit by an idea, I immediately write it down. Some of those ideas turn into characters or stories.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was very young I think I went through the usual progression of policeman, fireman, soldier, cowboy, astronaut... By high school I had notions of being a writer, but was really bad about self-doubt. My undergraduate degree was actually in economics – about as far removed from fiction writing as you can get, but I was never really happy doing that kind of work. I like teaching, but I love writing things that can make people FEEL something.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just that I hope you’ll all go out and buy a Kindle copy of The Reflections of Queen Snow White right away AND send it as a gift to all the book lovers on your Christmas list. So far the reviews have all been great and I really think you’ll love it. Thanks very much for having me and I hope you all read and enjoy The Reflections of Queen Snow White!


Happy to have you here today, David!

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