By Laurel-Rain Snow
Welcome, Marilyn Meredith! Today we’re going to chat a bit about your books and your creative process.
–-Tell us about your latest book, Spirit Shapes.
Spirit Shapes is the latest in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. Ghost hunters discover a young man’s dead body in a haunted house. When Tempe is called to investigate she immediately is confronted by many spirits. Besides trying to find who is responsible for the present day crime, she is confronted by unsolved crimes from the past.
—What is a typical writing day like for you?
I try to write every day, though that doesn’t always work. Mornings are when my creative juices flow most freely, but I have to battle against the lure of email and Facebook. I begin each day with a cup of Chai latte—believe me that seems to help.
—I am a fan of mornings, too. Who are your favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you?
I love too many to list, but I’m finding many of the authors published by small independent publishers are leading the pack. One of the reasons is they seem to be more creative and are allowed to write shorter books without any obvious filler. Something I’ve seen too often in some of the major publishers’ books.
—Promotion is a big—and usually the most hated—part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?
Actually I enjoy promoting and I do all sorts of things: the usual Facebook and groups on Facebook, and I have blog that I enjoy writing and hosting other authors on and have a good following. I love doing blog tours and being a guest on others’ blogs, like this one. I have a quarterly newsletter. I really enjoy doing in-person promoting: library talks, craft and book fairs, and I love going to writers’ and mystery cons. I have cut down on my airline traveling though—it is just getting more and more difficult.
–-I think many of us are finding social media to be a good place to promote our work. Who or what has been the biggest influence in your writing career and why?
Hands down it’s the critique group I’ve belonged to for over 30 years. In the beginning there was one writer named Willma Gore who taught me so much about writing in general. And she’s still writing and publishing at 91—and I hope to do the same. I still faithfully attend the same critique group, though the members have changed over the years. I now consider them my first editor.
–-That’s amazing! What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?
I love writing. I love spending time with the characters I’ve created. However, the most satisfying is when someone writes a great review about one of my books or comes up to me at an event and tells me how much they loved one of my books.
—Tell us a little bit about where you live.
I live in the foothills of the Southern Sierra. To those of you who have no idea where that is, Sierra means mountain. The mountain range is the one dividing Nevada and Arizona from California. I’m on the California side in what is called the Central Valley. The little town I live outside of is much like Bear Creek in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series though I moved it 1000 feet higher in the mountains for better trees and more weather.
—You live in a beautiful part of our state. Who were your favorite authors as a child? Have they influenced your writing career in any way?
Of course I have to say Carolyn Keene and the Nancy Drew books. But what really got me started on writing mysteries were all the mystery shows on the radio when I was a kid. I listened to them all. I also loved to read about crime in the newspapers. Back when I was a kid, we got three newspapers at our house and anything exciting or lurid was described in great detail.
—I was also a fan of Nancy Drew. Where do you find inspiration for your writing?
Because I write two series, my major inspiration is curiosity about what is happening in my characters’ lives, what crimes they might be confronting, what personal problems they are dealing with. The only way I can find out is to write about them. I keep a file of interesting articles I find in the newspaper or on line and it really doesn’t take much to send me off answering the “What if?” question.
—I like the idea of the file for interesting articles. What is your strongest and/or your weakest area in the creative process?
I write short. Once I’m finished, I’m finished. I certainly do go back and edit and make sure I’ve added necessary details. What I don’t do is add unnecessary fluff just to add to my word count. This has cost me being published by some major houses. Do I care? No, I’m happy with both of my small publishers.
—What are your thoughts on the standard writing advice, “write what you know”?
I’d change that to write what you can find out about or imagine.
–-A great twist on the familiar saying. How do you classify yourself as a writer? Fiction or non-fiction? Specific genre such as mystery, short story, paranormal or more general such as women’s fiction, Appalachian, etc.
I’m definitely a fiction writer, and all my latest books have been mysteries. My Deputy Tempe Crabtree series has touches of the supernatural and Indian lore along with the crime to solve. Writing is my main occupation, besides being a wife, mom and grandma.
Thanks for joining us today, Marilyn, and here are some links: