Today I'm interviewing Merrie Destefano. She's the author of the dark fairytale Feast and the imaginative Young Adult novel Fathom among others.
Welcome to Pearls Cast Before A McPig, Merrie.
Could you tell a bit about yourself and your books for those people who don’t know you yet?
Wow. Where to begin...I've loved reading fantasy and science fiction since I was very young, so writing in that genre feels natural to me. I also love plot twists and surprises and things that are a bit scary, so there's almost always a touch of that in my books. I like it best if there's a secret (or two!) at the core of the story that is slowly being revealed to the reader. At this point, I have two novels published by HarperVoyager: Afterlife and Feast. I also have several art books that I co-authored, published by Walter Foster: How to Draw Zombies, How to Draw Vampires and How to Draw Grimm’s Dark Tales. And I have a self-published YA novel, Fathom.
Have you ever been tempted to use people who’d been rude to you in real life as victims in your books?
Definitely! There was a girl who lived next door to me when I was young and who was a quite a manipulative little bully. I've obviously never forgotten her—or the times I challenged her, refusing to let her push me around. She crops up when I'm writing YA. Sometimes I'll use her last name or something similar, or I'll just use her personality.
Have you ever used other people you know as characters in your books?
I've unconsciously taken bits and pieces of people I know. For instance, the grandmother in Fathom is very much like my mother. Not exactly, but my mom was the inspiration. I love it when I hear readers say that they loved the grandma, because it reminds me what an interesting person my mother was.
Are there any other projects you’re working on or thinking about starting in the near future?
I have a whole list of books I'd love to write! Most of them have anywhere from ten to fifty pages already written. That's my test to see if a book deserves to be born—if I can put together a beginning that compels me to finish writing it, spending anywhere from 5 to 10 months immersed in the story. Right now, I'd just love to write a rendition of my favorite fairy tale, but I've also started a YA science fiction set in a nebulous near-future with echoes of the 1930s. And then I have an alien invasion story that I've started and those characters just sing off the page. So, I'm having a hard time deciding. I just finished writing a YA contemporary that took 5 months to complete and, right now, I'm taking a little breather from writing novels, doing some contract magazine editorial work instead.
Where can you be found when you’re not at your desk writing?
Well, when it comes to writing, I like to write on my Chromebook in local coffee shops (Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is my fave.) Or I might write a little on my iPad in the living room, while sitting on a comfy sofa. But edits are always done on my desktop. When not writing at all? I love watching movies and reading and decorating and having lunch with friends and walking my dogs.
What did you do to celebrate the release of your first book?
Unfortunately, there really wasn't much time for celebrating. I was writing my second book, Feast, and doing freelance (writing and editing) work, plus all the promotional work that goes along with a book release. But when I got the initial contract, I did go to a Coldplay concert. They’re my favorite band and it was apt reward, since I listened to their music the entire time I was writing Afterlife.
What is the best thing about being a published author?
I guess being published makes you feel a bit more validated. The writing is basically the same, before or after you've been published. But once someone pays you money and gives you a contract and then you actually see your book in a local bookstore, at that point you start to feel like maybe you really are a writer. I was in a bizarre situation when I finally got my first book contract. At that point, I was already the editor of a nationally-published magazine, so I'd had lots of articles published and had seen my magazine on bookstore shelves. But my heart has always been in telling stories and writing fiction, so having that validated was wonderful.
You have self-published several books. What are your thoughts about traditional publishing versus self publishing? Would you recommend self publishing to other authors?
Tough question! I have done some self-publishing and it seemed like the right thing to do at the time, but I still prefer traditional publishing. I'm not one of those people with a large, impressive platform, so my self-publishing sales aren't very big. Would I recommend it to other people? Sure. I'd just recommend that you try to do it professionally and realize that it might not open any doors to traditional publishing.
What authors have been an influence to you? And have you read any books lately that you want to share with us or have you been too busy with writing to read?
I'm continually influenced and inspired by other authors, especially those who seem to write books that cross genres. Books that have made a strong impression on me are: The Sky Is Everywhere, The Time Traveler's Wife, White Oleander, Origin, The Time Machine, Havah, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Replacement, Ashes, Ironskin, The Hallowed Ones, The Snow Child, The Road, Don't Breathe A Word, 17 & Gone, and Charm and Strange. I'm particularly attracted to books with a strong voice and unusual characters and a world I'm unfamiliar with. I long to get lost in a story that has all three of those elements.
Are there zombies or pigs in any of your books or will there be any in future books?
There are definitely zombies in my future! I was just asked to be the editor of the second issue of Zombies magazine. So, for the next month, I'll be eating, sleeping, and breathing zombies. In other words, I'll be having a blast!
Thanks so much for inviting me to be on your blog today! I really appreciate it. =)
Thank you for dropping by!
And I'll have to get hold of Zombie magazine, it sounds like my kind of magazine.
Turning sixteen can be hell, especially if everyone in town thinks your mother killed herself and your sister. All Kira Callahan wants to do is swim, hang out with her best friend, Sean, and ignore the kids who torment her at school. That is, until one day when she gets invited to a party. For three minutes her life is wonderful—she even kisses Sean. Then somebody spikes her drink and some girls from out of town lure her into the ocean and hold her underwater.
Kira soon discovers that the group of wild teenagers who have come to visit Crescent Moon Bay are not as innocent as they seem. In fact, nothing is as it seems—not the mysterious deaths of her sister and mother, not her heritage, not even her best friend. And everything seems to hinge on the ancient Celtic legends that her mother used to tell her as a child.
Buy Fathom from Amazon here
Merrie kindly offered a digital copy of Fathom to one reader of my blog
The winner is Michelle W.
A winner will be picked at random on October 25th.
Open internationally to everyone who's legally allowed to enter this giveaway.
Don't forget to leave a comment:
I decided to have an event wide giveaway on my blog for commenters.
At the end of this event I'll pick one commenter on any author post of this event at random and that person will win a book of his/her choice as long as bookdepository ships to where you live, you're legally allowed to enter, and the book costs no more than 10$
And drop by Between Dreams and Reality as well for more great author posts.