Friday, November 24, 2017

New interview with novelist David Meredith

Author David Meredith is back with a new interview. Today we’re talking about Aaru, a young adult, new adult sci-fi fantasy novel.

His first interview was about his fantasy novel The Reflections of Queen Snow White.

David Meredith is a writer and educator originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. He received both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts from East Tennessee State University, in Johnson City, Tennessee. He received his Doctorate in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee. On and off, he spent nearly a decade, from 1999-2010 teaching English in Northern Japan, but currently lives with his wife and three children in the Nashville Area where he continues to write and teach English.

Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, David. Please tell us about your newest release.
Aaru is first and foremost an entertaining and emotional YA/NA SyFy/Fantasy novel. It is at its core a story about the love of two sisters, and how they struggle to cope as the paradigms of what they’ve always been taught is true and good is challenged and shifted in a monumental way. However, Aaru also explores a number of what I think are fundamentally human questions: What happens when we die? What happens when religion and faith conflict with technology and science? Is there a way to reconcile the two? What constitutes a human being or human soul? What would happen to religion and faith if the fear of death was removed from society? How would that change the way individuals choose to live their lives? In a world where people in power can essentially choose who is and is not saved, how should that determination be made? Who should be saved? Is the act of choosing winners and losers, judging who is righteous and worthy vs. who is not, in and of itself even a moral act at all?

I suspected that the answers would be a lot messier and more complicated than the utopian realization of John Lennon’s Imagine lyrics and lead to a great deal of conflict as people try to hash it all out. In the end, Aaru doesn’t really answer any of these questions, nor is it intended to, but it does speculate on what the answers of different people from different circumstances and indeed society at large might be. I also plan to explore this more in depth in subsequent volumes of the series. In the end, what I most want people to get out of Aaru is an intensely emotional experience that stimulates some productive introspection even as they enjoy it as a compelling story about the fierce love of two sisters transcending even death.

What inspired you to write this book?
A lot of it was personal questions I’ve had about my own faith and spirituality and my dislike of absolutist answers to those questions. I have a deep suspicion of anyone who claims to be the sole possessor of all spiritual truth regardless of what they claim that truth is. It struck me both that the prime function of most (though certainly not all) religions is to ameliorate the fear of death. I wondered what would happen if that fear was suddenly removed. This then led me to ask myself; how could that believably happen in the real world? What I came up with was Aaru.

What’s the next writing project?
I’m about 110 pages into the Aaru sequel: Aaru: Halls of Hel. It will delve deeper into the world of Aaru and the lives of the people who live there as well as all the controversy surrounding it. I’m hoping to put it out sometime in 2018. I also have a fantasy series on the back burner that I want to release at some point. It’s based on Japanese mythology and legend instead of the European model that is so prevalent in fantasy literature today. I wrote most of it while I was living in Japan from 1999 – 2010. The first three volumes are basically finished, so as soon as I can find some time to sit down and polish them, they’ll be released as well.

What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book? (or the biggest challenge with this book)
In the actual writing itself, I think my biggest problem is impatience. Getting that initial draft out is much harder than the editing and revising I do later and which I frankly find to be more enjoyable. In my mind, I usually know exactly what I want my story to say and how it should feel, so I tend to get impatient about the actual mechanical process of writing it all down on the paper.

In terms of being a writer however, I think the hardest thing is not responding to negative reviews. It can be infuriating when you think it’s obvious that someone totally failed to get your work or you feel like their complaints are way off base. For example, I had one reviewer go ballistic on a novel I wrote once because they didn’t like the sexual content even though the query had a clearly written disclaimer expressing it was in there well before the reviewer agreed to look at the book. I also recently had a reviewer accuse me of “thesaurus abuse,” which I took to mean they didn’t know words and couldn’t be bothered to look them up either. When I write, I color with the 144-count box of crayons, not the eight-count. In any case, no matter how far off-base you think a reviewer is, you gain absolutely nothing by arguing with them or starting a Twitter war. You have to remind yourself that reviews are only really meaningful in aggregate and that this is just the opinion of one person, who has incidentally agreed to give up their free time in looking at your work. The only thing that is likely to happen if you shoot off a profanity-laced, visceral tirade is that you’ll get a reputation for being hard to work with, and that makes it harder to get people to look at your work in the future. If you write reviewers back at all it should only be to say, “Thank you for your time”. Then move on with your writing life.

If your novels require research – please talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, or while you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
For Aaru, I had to do a lot of research. There are tons of references to philosophy and religion I had to review. I also had to look into the technology quite deeply so that the writing regarding the Aaru system itself would come off as believable. There was quite a bit of medical research I did as well so that the opening chapters would come across as authentic. In a general sense, if I’m writing about something that I don’t know a great deal about already I think it really is best to do the research first. If it is something I know pretty well however, I just look things up when I have a question.

What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
Not really. Especially since I just finished my doctorate degree, I’ve been pretty busy. I usually work on my laptop whenever and wherever I have a couple of free minutes. Home, office, coffee shop, kids’ sports practice, even parked in the car! I’m generally more productive when I can find a quiet space and maybe have some music going in the background, but life is so hectic I can’t afford to be fussy if I want to get anything done.

What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
I have a number of favorites. Most of my reading lately has been required course material for my doctoral program, but some of my favorite authors are Tad Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Robin Hobb. I also like work by Robert Jordan, Liza Dolby, and James Clavell. I think Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke is one of the most creative fantasy novels I’ve ever read.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
Just that I hope they’ll follow my work and check out Aaru. They can find me…


Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!

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