Meb's Photo

By Laurel-Rain Snow

I am pleased to welcome Meb Bryant today.  Her book Harbinger of Evil takes the reader to Louisiana in 1963.

HarbingerOfEvil

Tell us about your novel, Harbinger of Evil.
Harbinger of Evil is a mystery thriller set in 1963 Louisiana during the ten days surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy. Chapter One begins with the creative murder of an abusive, wealthy New Orleans businessman. Although I don’t write about blood and guts, I have to admit that my muse, who’s afraid of the dark, scared me with this one.

Detective Richard Mobey (Mobey Dick), a widowed New Yorker with Mafia ties, heads up the investigation and gets involved with the primary suspect, who was found lying next to the body. During the investigation, Mobey deals with shady politics, CIA operatives and discovers a plot to protect Alaskan oil.

Did I mention Mobey inadvertently becomes entangled with the infamous JFK assassination?

Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?
Thank you for asking. I’m currently working on a suspense thriller about a Marine sniper who comes home on leave, walks into a drugstore robbery, gets shot in a double homicide, and develops a keen interest in the shooter.

Can you imagine being stalked by a man who hunts humans for a living?

When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?
Because I’m the oldest of five siblings, leadership was forced upon me as a child. Now that I’m an adult with two grown children, I don’t want to be in control of anything. Therefore, I allow my characters a full, unfettered life, complete with freedom of speech. I do, however, have two rules: no blasphemous language and no harm to children. Shady characters unable to follow the rules are sent to writers’ block and put into isolation.

Where would you send them?

What a great place to send those pesky characters!  Who are your favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you?
I’m afraid I don’t really need a reason to be distracted, but I do have a long list of favorite authors. A few who come to mind (in alphabetical order, no less) are: Allison Brennan, Sandra Brown, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Lisa Gardner, Greg Iles, Lisa Jackson, Karin Slaughter, and Lisa Unger. I seem to like the name Lisa.

I love to escape reality reading a well-written thriller, mystery, or suspense novel with an occasional steamy romance thrown into the mix. As a reader, I’m grateful to writers who invest themselves in their stories. As a writer, I try to glean knowledge from every novel I read, regardless of genre.

I see some favorites of mine in your list:  Those Lisas, for example.  How long have you been writing?
I’ve been drawn to the written word since elementary school when I’d write a story and draw a picture at the top of the page. Houses with smoking chimneys and apple trees were my specialty. In my heart of hearts, I have always wanted to be an author. Three years ago, I celebrated a birthday and decided to update my bucket list. I’d given birth (twice), become a grandmother (twice), ice skated in Alaska, parasailed in Acapulco, and zip-lined in Maui. The only item left on my bucket list happened to be the one I most feared: writing a novel.

The day after my birthday, I opened my iPad to Dictionary.com and freed my muse. I learned to operate a computer and use Microsoft Word. I joined Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. I signed up for Facebook and Twitter, where I share way too much information. Now that I’ve completed a novel, finished a short story (Monster Spray), a novella (Spelling V), and started another novel, I’m not afraid anymore. Writing feeds my soul.

I can definitely relate to that passion, and writing since early childhood.  Getting a computer and learning how to use it released my inner author, too.  Who or what has been the biggest influence in your writing career and why?
I had the pleasure of meeting NYT best-selling author Cherry Adair at the 2010 Pen-to-Press Writers’ conference in New Orleans. For five days, she poured out her heart and soul teaching us everything we could absorb about writing. Meeting her has been the highlight of my writing career. She will forever be my favorite literary person. I’m hoping to meet a few of my favorite authors at ThrillerFest VIII in July in NYC.

The local chapter of RWA (Northwest Houston RWA) has been the driving force behind my continuing momentum. Our members are supportive, encouraging and sympathetic, and present awesome writers’ conferences in October. Donald Maass is our speaker for 2013. If you’re interested, we throw a riotous Christmas party, and you’re all invited!

A supportive group of writers can be such a gift.  What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?
I’m truly surprised at the sudden respect I garner when people hear that I’m a writer. People, who have known me for years, like my family, high school friends and tennis partners, now find me interesting. Go figure.

That’s a great feeling!  Tell us a little bit about where you live.
My husband and I live in the country about thirty miles north of Houston, Texas, on wooded acreage with a Yorkshire terrier, a white house bunny, a large rooster, a flock of neurotic hens, and a possessed fish aquarium. We’ve been blessed with owls, redbirds and mockingbirds hatching outside our window, and enjoy the antics of deer, squirrels, raccoons and icky possums. Snakes, however, are not welcome.
I’d love to know more about those neurotic hens!  Where do you get your ideas?
My mind races constantly. I try to grab some of the ideas as they blow through. Sometimes it’s a gentle breeze; sometimes it’s a storm.

What are major themes or motifs in your work? Do your readers ever surprise you by seeing something else in your stories than you think you wrote?
I grew up on Alfred Hitchcock movies and television programs, which is probably why I enjoy surprise endings. In the early process of writing Harbinger of Evil, I killed off a character but revived him after several beta readers begged for his life. They found him redeemable. I get great pleasure when a reader connects with my characters or offers ideas for a sequel, which I’ve got on hold right now.

I like it when readers engage with the characters, too.  How do you classify yourself as a writer?
Because I don’t know any subject well enough to be an expert, I have to write fiction. Since I’m a bit paranoid, suspicious and see conspiracies around every corner, I write mystery, suspense, and thrillers. I hope one day to get into therapy, but until then, I’m listening to the voices.
I’d probably be a prolific writer of erotica, but my husband threatens to run away from home and change his name if I do. Hmm…

Ha-ha…I guess you’d better not write erotica, then.  Were books an important part of your household when you were growing up?
Most definitely! I learned to read with the Dick and Jane series, and vividly remember the power of realizing I could read. Run Dick run. Run, run, run. Gotta love it.

As a young person, I read Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. Many of the books were made into movies, especially the thrillers. I’m embarrassed to say I still have those books on my shelves. Reading is crucial to my health…I can’t sleep until I read at night. Every night.

I agree completely, Meb…and I’m delighted that you could visit with us today.

Meb Bryant’s Website:  http://www.mebbryant.com/

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Buy Harbinger of Evil Here:  Barnes & Noble

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