Interview with Theresa Meyers – part 3

Welcome back for the conclusion of our interview with Theresa Meyers, author of steampunk novels The Hunter and The Slayer, as well as the Sons of Midnight vampire romance series, among other books.

Part one is here.

Part two is here.

 

 

AA: Welcome back, Theresa. Let’s talk for a moment about writing gamma characters instead of writing alpha or beta characters. How would you describe why that is a better fit for you and your stories?

TM: They’re a blend of the two and I think they make the best romance heroes. Alphas are too into themselves and their own ideas of the world to really care about the heroine until it’s almost too late. Betas wait for her to make the first move, even though they might be passionate about her. Gammas have enough self-confidence to be bold, but have that emotional core that allows them to love her, say so, and want an answer back. Now. For example, Tom Hanks and Hugh Grant often play Beta heroes, Bruce Willis and Steven Segal play Alphas, and Adrian Paul, Tom Selleck, Taylor Lautner, Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson often play Gamma roles. (Han Solo is the perfect example of a Gamma hero.)

 

AA: How have you and your work grown and changed over time?

TM: I think my description has grown more complex, creating a more sensory experience for readers. I want them not to just see or hear what my characters are experiencing, but to feel and smell, taste and sense at a gut level what’s happening. I also think my plotting has developed to a greater degree allowing me to make my pacing within the story very tight and action-oriented.

AA: Writer’s block happens to everyone and can be rather frustrating. What is your solution to overcoming it?

TM: Sometimes it’s to do something very mundane, like clean the horse’s pasture. Other times it’s to resort to pen on paper. (I hate writing long-hand and prefer to type, but something about making your hand do the work of creating the words often jiggles things loose.) I often find having a playlist of music that’s unique to each story and a specific scent of candle that I burn only when writing on that book can be shortcuts to getting back on track.

 

AA: How is the great Pacific Northwest for writing? Does location matter for resources, access, publicity, etc

TM: I think the Pacific Northwest is a hotbed of creative talent for a good reason. The rain. Seriously, though, there’s something about confluence of nature, serenity, abutted next to the leading edge of technology and those gloomy days that makes us sit and think more. These days location isn’t as big a deal as it once was in terms of a writer getting noticed. The Internet has removed that barrier, as has social media. Ten years ago if you wanted to do a radio interview you either had to do it in person or over the phone. Now you can reach millions on a podcast on the Internet radio.

 

AA: Most of the authors I’ve talked with have some type of day job and that writing is their other job. Your day job is your own public relations company. How did you make the great circle from writing to PR and back and forth now? How has it helped/hindered begin a published writer?

TM: I’ve actually moved away from the day job completely and am writing full time now. Well, more than full-time. I’m on back-to-back-to-back deadlines on books through 2013 at the moment with seven stories currently contracted for three different publishers. I began writing my first novel at age 17, so I was writing far before I started a professional career in public relations. At the time I didn’t believe I could write full time and make much at it but I knew I loved writing so I went into journalism for a time, working at a daily paper. I quickly found it wasn’t the environment I’d hoped for and switch my degree track to mass communications, which involved broadcasting and public relations. I figured it didn’t matter what industry I went into, they would need good writers. Turns out I was right! I ended up working in public relations, corporate, agency and then on my own for a time. But it wasn’t until a critique partner asked for help promoting her books that my fiction writing background and my pr experience merged. And it spawned an entire agency in a matter of months allowing me to promote several New York Times bestsellers and work with some of the largest publishers in New York. I believe that ten years gave me an incredible insight into the traditional publishing world, and what it truly means to be a bestselling author. I learned that national book tours are incredibly grueling and that the green room at most big television network talk shows aren’t really painted green at all. I learned the importance of defining your author brand from the beginning and knowing who your readers are and the value of being good entertainment.

AA: As a publicist, what are three quick items that authors should keep in mind or do in general?

TM: There were several basics I always used with my clients. First was the Rule of Three: If you don’t have three good reasons for spending money on something in your promotions, advertising or marketing plan, then don’t spend the money. The second was know your message points. No matter where the interview goes, know how to get back to those message points. The third was nothing is ever off the record. When you are in public YOU are your author brand. Think about what you want people to remember about you and be that, no matter what you are like when you are home writing away.

 

AA: Do people outside the regular reading, steampunk, and convention communities recognize you for your work? What kind of reactions have you received?

TM: I’ve had lots of recognition in the publishing industry for my work in public relations, especially once I got two of my clients selected as some of the total seven picks made by the Kelly Ripa Book Club for LIVE! But people are just now discovering me as a writer as well and the books are doing well with some of the largest industry reviewers, so it’s a good start!

 

AA: When you are at conventions or on a book tour, who would you really like to stand in your autograph line to meet you? In addition to Jensen Ackles from Supernatural, that is.

TM: LOL. Are you sure we couldn’t just stop there for a bit? Realistically, I’d love to see people who love the stories I write. OK, well it would be cool to meet J.K. Rowling and James Rollins in person, but I’ve already met so many amazing bestselling authors and well-known people via my pr work that it kind of puts a twist on my reality. I’ve met with Dean Koontz, with Jackie Collins and Nora Roberts. I’ve talked with Nicholas Sparks. I’ve sat in Kelly Ripa’s dressing room and snapped pictures.

 

AA: Looking beyond steampunk, writing and working, you have some interesting hobbies like scuba diving, horse riding, cooking and gardening. Are there other interests which fill your time?

TM: I love to sew and design clothes. In fact I sew my own costumes for steampunk events. I also enjoy painting, collect teapots and teddy bears and love to have tea with my non-writer mommy friends once a week.

 

AA: How long have you been scuba diving, and were have you been? Any pictures to share?

TM: I became a certified scuba diver at age 19 primarily so I could scuba dive with my husband on our honeymoon. Since then we’ve done diving in Grand Cayman, Hawaii and off the west Coast including Monterey and some spots on the Oregon coast. I think the worst time I had was during one of my certification dives when we were in a murky lake with about 2 feet visibility and the plastic mouth-piece detached from my regulator. One minute I had air, the next I sucked in a big mouth-full of water and you couldn’t tell where you were in the water because it was so muddy. I ended up budding breathing with the instructor all the way back the surface, but it scared me a bit. Best time I’ve ever had diving was in Monterey in the kelp forests playing with some harbor seals. It truly is like being in an underwater forest. Absolutely beautiful.

AA: With your gardening and cooking, what kind of meals are you preparing with fresh foods that you grew yourself? Any favorite recipes?

TM: We’ve eaten a lot of zucchini and tomatoes this year! But we also have blueberry, raspberry and blackberry bushes, apple and cherry trees, and a yard filled with fresh herbs. Right now I’m making a lot of cobblers, blueberry coffeecake, applesauce, apple pies and using herbs out of the yard for stuffings, savory sauces and teas.

 

AA: You’ve traveled to Italy to meet extended family and experience the culture firsthand. Where else have you traveled, what still on your list, and will those places show up in upcoming books?

TM: I love to travel. I’ve been several places, but there are so many more I’d love to see. I’d like to go back to Italy again and see more of it. The most I really got to see of Rome before heading south to Sicily was the train station! I’d love to go to Australia and New Zealand, because they have an allure all their own. I’ve been to London before, but with my fascination with steampunk, I’d love to go back again. I’d also love to see the rest of Europe because I have all my family roots there. History absolutely fascinates me as does amazing natural settings. And there’s also much of the United States I’d still like to see because it’s so vast and different from state to state. I’ve done a lot on both coasts, but kind of missed out on most of the middle!

 

 

AA: It has been a real pleasure chatting with you. Are there any final thoughts to share with our readers?

TM: Buy the books! LOL. Wait, that’s probably not what you meant, now is it? OK, on a more serious note, one of the things I love most about steampunk is the sense that anything is possible—the great unknown. I have a quote on the back of my business cards that I put there because I want to keep it in mind: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” ~ Goethea  I think we’re all capable of greatness if we dig deep enough and accept what we must to achieve it. That’s part of why the maker culture, and in particular steampunk, are finding an ever growing appreciation in the mainstream. It means something; it has power, genius and magic in it. What’s in fiction today, become the reality of our tomorrow. Just look at depth of surveillance of our activities in 1984, the communicators from Star Trek or the ability to fly to the moon from Jules Verne and you see how our future was there, the dream waiting to be turned into reality. Imagination is powerful stuff!

 

Thank you, Theresa, for joining us for this conversation, it was very enjoyable and informative to hear more about your books and your writing process.

 

Keep up to date with Theresa on her website, and click here to get your copies of The Hunter and The Slayer.

 

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Published in: on April 29, 2012 at 8:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with Theresa Meyers – part 2

Welcome back! This week we continue talking with Theresa Meyers, author of steampunk novels The Hunter and The Slayer, as well as the Sons of Midnight vampire romance series, among other books.

Part one is here.

AA: Hi, Theresa! Continuing out chat, you have an established following with your Sons of Midnight series and other books. What are some things that will appeal to them in The Slayer?

TM: Well, first off the vampire element! LOL. My Sons of Midnight series focuses in on vampires in contemporary times, so to have a main character as a vampire in Victorian times would interest them, but above all, it would likely be the strong relationship in the story. My Sons of Midnight series is paranormal romance, straight and simple, whereas I get to add more of a fantasy and sci-fi element to my steampunk. I think Winchester and the Lady Drossenburg’s relationship will likely be a key ingredient for them.

AA: There are a lot of creative things going on in the story – guns, gadgets, locations and more – where did the inspirations come from for all of that?

TM: Most of it comes from asking, what if, then what next? I’m constantly sifting through ideas in my head and jotting down notes. Then I’ll go and do some research and a whole crop of additional ideas will spring up to be harvested. More than anything, I try to tread that careful balance between entertainment and well-told story.

AA: What kind of early attention has the series generated?

TM: I’m very excited that The Hunter has already garnered some fantastic reviews in some large publications including a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly, a 4.5 star Top Pick! rating from RT Bookreviews Magazine and a great review in Booklist Magazine. The Slayer received a 4.5 stars from RT Bookreviews Magazine as well. My favorite so far has been Publisher’s Weekly. “Meyers’s steampunk western packs a sizzling demonic romance into a fast paced quest through tiny frontier towns…Meyers piles on the gee-whiz moments and eye-ball kicks—including a steam-powered freeze machine, electric stun guns powered by Tesla coils, and a clockwork horse—in a well-crafted, eminently enjoyable story that will leave readers wanting more time with the Jackson brothers.” While I’m thrilled I’m reading eye-ball kicks and I’m thinking, wait, I did that?

AA: In talking with authors the last few years, each has a different journey to seeing their works in print. What was your publishing experience like?

TM: Long! LOL. Actually I started writing on my first novel when I was 17 and got my first nationally published magazine article that same year. I got my first New York agent in 1996 and we worked for eight years without success. I was writing historical romance at the time and the market for it had just begun the down-hill slide. I got selected as one of eleven writers for the American Title II contest (which is like the American Idol of books). I made it through round three before getting kicked off the island. Eventually I sold a historical romance to a small publisher that went bankrupt three weeks before my book was supposed to hit store shelves. I sought out a new agent and started writing paranormal fiction. I sold to Harlequin in 2008, Kensington in 2010 and since then have had seven books published. This business is all about persistence.

AA: For the aspiring writer, what lessons did you learn about having an agent and editor, their feedback, and your writing?

TM: Agents and editors are there to help you find the best market for your work, but these days, they really do expect you to come forward with something that’s as good or better than what you are reading on the shelf at this moment. If your book isn’t at that level yet, work on your craft some more. Understand point of view, how to layer and texture a novel, how to create motivation and conflict within your characters, the fundamentals of backstory, foreshadowing and all the other things that are hidden within the weft and weave of a story. Your editor and agent are not there to fix those craft issues for you. You need to have that down first so they can sell your book in the market. If you hear something from three different critiques of your story that’s consistently an issue, then it is likely you have a problem you need to fix. Above all, write the damn book and move on. You don’t need to spend year after year on the same scene or partial manuscript. Finishing a book, then writing another, then another, is the best education you can give yourself on how to improve as a writer.

AA: To be a writer, one has to write. If nothing else, it’s good practice. If you weren’t an author what else would you be doing now?

TM: Oh, you mean if I could shut out the voices of character that burble in the back of my head or the story ideas that randomly pop out of nowhere? I’ve had a career in public relations. I’ve been a journalist and a stay-at-home-mom. I don’t know that I’ll ever not write. It’s how I process everything that’s in my head, but if I had to pick something else, I might be a interior decorator or an attorney.

AA: You’ve mentioned that you enjoy going to the spa, getting a facial, massage, pedicure and hair cut. Certainly, getting the spa treatment once in awhile is great but when you can’t do that, what do you do to keep a balance between writing, working, and the rest of your life?

TM: LOL. Since I get to do all that maybe once a year, I find balance in lots of other ways. The biggest one is primarily my non-writing mommy friends. We try to have tea together once a week and just have fun together. I love gardening and growing my own herbs, fruits and veggies, so that keeps me connected to the earth, quite literally. And there is nothing like children to keep you very humble and real, especially when you are acting as the taxi early in the am to practice or helping in the classroom, where you are not a writer, you’re just a mom.

AA: Do you get to talk much with other writers and artists to compare notes, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?

TM: I have a plotting group of writers I work with to brainstorm and a critique partner who I trade manuscripts with. Both are very different roles and I find it’s incredibly helpful to have them. They really help you jiggle loose ideas when you are stuck and times and my critique partner and I practically share a brain, so that helps when mine is getting tired! I’ve also found that groups like my local chapters of Romance Writers of America are invaluable in really understanding this industry and keeping up with all the changes that are happening right now in publishing. Joining them was the best thing I ever did for my career.

AA: Who are some authors, and other people, who have been influential in your writing? In what ways have they had an impact?

TM: I love to read, so there are many authors that have inspired me to be a better writer, but I wouldn’t say that any of them have actually influenced my writing. I still write the way I write. I know how to pick apart a good story and say, “OK, how did they do this or that?” For instance if I see a particularly gripping action scene, or a masterful introduction of scientific fact I look at the mechanics of it and study from there.

AA: You are a member of the Romance Writers of America. How has that contributed to your writing, promotions work, and your experiences with ‘the art of the deal?”

TM: Honestly, out of all the writing groups I’ve been involved with over the years, Romance Writers of America has been the most helpful in terms of not only understanding our ever-changing industry, but also in reaching out to teach the basics of good story-telling in the forms of workshops and articles as well as chapter support and regional conferences. Unlike many of the large writing organizations, you don’t have to be published yet to join them and so they are wonderful about offering a hand up to the next generation of writers, teaching them how to conduct themselves and write as professionals.

AA: What would be some of your reasons for new and established authors to join and participate in similar writers groups? What are the benefits of those professional groups?

TM: The biggest benefit is to not waste your time reinventing the wheel. Truly, there are people who’ve done just about everything you can think of as a mistake, and they are willing to share that information with you so you can cut down your own learning curve as a writer by decades! Especially with the increased interest in self-publishing, it’s so very tempting for a new writer to throw their work out into the world before they’ve learned their craft and understand how good editing can make all the difference in a piece of fiction.

We’ll stop here in our chat with Theresa but you can keep up to date on her website, and have a chance to read The Hunter and The Slayer.

 

Click here to read the rest of the interview

Part 1

Part 3

 

Published in: on April 23, 2012 at 7:15 am  Comments (1)  
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Interview with Theresa Meyers – Part 1

This week we are talking with Theresa Meyers, author of steampunk novels The Hunter and The Slayer, as well as the Sons of Midnight vampire romance series, among other books.

Airship Ambassador: Hi Theresa, after a long delay, entirely of my own doing I’m sad to say, it’s great to spend some time with you over tea for a chat.

Theresa Meyers: It’s just lovely to be here. Thanks for the invitation to tea, Kevin.

AA: Your new book, The Slayer, was released on April 3rd. What is the story all about?

TM: It’s the second in a series called The Legend Chronicles about three brothers, Winchester, Remington and Colt, who are all supernatural hunters in the out to save the world by finding and putting together the scattered pieces of the Book of Legend. Along the way each of them finds they need a supernatural to accomplish their mission. The way I’ve been able to describe it best was if you mashed the television show Supernatural together with Wild Wild West and then added a dash of Indiana Jones. The Hunter is Colt’s book and The Slayer is Winchester’s book. Here’s what the backcover  of The Slayer says:

Brothers Winchester, Remington and Colt know the legends—they were trained from childhood to destroy demon predators, wielding the latest steam-powered gadgetry. It’s a devil of a job. But sometimes your fate chooses you. . .

 

CHASING TROUBLE

Winn Jackson isn’t interested in hunting nightmares across the Wild West—even if it’s the family business. Unlike his rakehell brothers, Winn believes in rules. As sheriff of Bodie, California, he only shoots actual law breakers. That’s what he’s doing when he rescues the Contessa Drossenburg, Alexandra Porter, a lady with all the elegance of the Old World—grace, beauty and class. And then he sees her fangs.

Alexandra isn’t just some bloodsucking damsel in distress, though. She’s on a mission to save her people—and she’s dead certain that Winn’s family legacy is the only way. Luckily, aside from grace and class, she also has a stubborn streak a mile wide. So like it or not, Winn is going to come back with her to the mountains of Transylvania, and while he’s at it, change his opinions about vampires, demon-hunting, and who exactly deserves shooting. And if she has her way, he’s going to do his darnedest to save the world. . .

AA: Beauty, stubbornness, and fangs, sounds like Winn is in for a challenge. What was the motivation for creating the Legend Chronicles series? And why write them as a steampunk story?

TM: Sometimes when I write stories I only get brief hints to begin with. Back in 1998 I had the idea for these brothers. I knew the eldest was a law man, the middle one an attorney and the youngest an outlaw and that they were all named after their father’s favorite guns. What I didn’t know was what held them together. I put the series idea away and kept writing. Fast forward ten years and I was now writing contemporary paranormal stories for several different publishers. I kept finding myself wanting to go back to my historical writing roots. That’s when it all kind of pulled together. They were supernatural hunters. But in order to be able to hunt supernaturals, you’d need something than just your average weapons, and I couldn’t see it being merely magical. My love of Victoriana sort of merged with my paranormal writing and out of that grinder came my steampunk heroes, ready to battle Darkin and save the world.

AA: What brought you to steampunk? How did your interest and involvement start?

TM: I was actually interested in Victoriana since I was a child. I’m actually the progeny of a mad scientist (who worked for NASA) and a bibliophile with a tea addiction. Other nine-year olds would ask their mother for a calendar featuring kittens or puppies or perhaps even Barbie. I wanted the one that had Victorian house plans. The paper dolls I wanted were the Victorian Fashion Paper Dolls from Harper’s Bazar 1867-1898. And when my mother required that I sew my own formals in high school dances, several of them ended up looking distinctly Victorian in style including bustles and long sleeves. I live in a new Victorian house. I’ve always been a maker. I sew, I paint, I write, I sketch, I build. I adore hats and am a tea lover, but I didn’t realize that these varied interests blended together actually had a name until I went to Steampunk University in Seattle one weekend. It was this blaze of clarity. This is steampunk. What I like, what I indulge in, actually has a name! So while my involvement in the actually community has been fairly new, my love for steampunk has been life-long.

AA: That’s a common refrain from many steampunks – we’ve had an interest in on aspect or another long before we found there was a name for the community and collection of expressions. Authors often talk about how elements of their own lives, the reality and the dreams, make their way into their stories. How did this play into The Hunter and The Slayer?

TM: I actually lived in Arizona for nearly a decade. It’s a beautiful place, but everything is dramatic – the mountains, the piercing blue of the cloudless sky, the desert, heck even the plants! So a lot of what I felt and experienced in terms of atmosphere and scenery went into describing those scenes in The Hunter and The Slayer. I also visited Bodie, California on a family trip when I was a child and was completely enthralled. It’s in a state of arrested decay, a ghost-town that looks like everyone just evaporated and left the dishes on the table and the cans on the shelves. And while I’ve ridden horses, I’ve never had to hunt down a supernatural being, so that part’s all out of my imagination!

AA: What kind of back story is there for The Slayer which didn’t make it into the final book?

TM: Well, there’s an entire history to the Legion of Hunters, which is wafting about in the background. I actually wrote up the entire scene where the Book of Legend is originally split apart in the Dark Ages by the three brothers who originally hacked it to bits and deliberately separated the pieces to the “furthest reaches of the globe”. The date and placement of the event happened because of an enormous earthquake recorded at the time. (Ah research!) There’s also an entire sub-story going on with their inventor friend Marley Turlock that seems to be coming out in drips and drabs within the stories, but may eventually find itself written into its own novella. At the same time I’m aware of what’s also going on in the back of my mind with the other groups of Hunters scattered around the globe. It’s really an entire world all in my head.

AA: The Hunter was Book One of the Legend Chronicles; The Slayer was Book Two; what’s coming in Book Three, The Chosen?

TM: That will be the middle brother’s story. Remington is an attorney and is paired up with a shape-shifting thief named China McGee to find the last third of the Book of Legend. They are following a map that leads them deep into the jungles and into the heart of the Mayan hell, and ultimately must face a daring escape to return to the land of the living and reunite the Book in time to prevent the destruction of humanity.

AA: When I get my young nieces and nephews to read The Slayer someday, what would you like for them to take away from the story, Winchester Jackson and his brothers that they could apply to their own lives?

TM: All of us are capable of more than we realize. Sometimes it just takes the right nudge to accept that you have it within yourself to do great things and change the world.

AA: What kind of research, and then changes, went into creating world of The Legend Chronicles? What was your vision for this world?

TM: I always do research for my stories. I researched not only the historical rail lines that ran through Arizona, but also the town of Bodie, California, that I visited when I was a child. I researched the Lost Dutchman Goldmine, and the town of Tombstone. I looked at books on historical weapons, law procedure and thumbed through books like A Dictionary of the Old West by Peter Watts and Wild and Wooly, An Encyclopedia of the Old West to help me get terms correct. I researched Tesla coils, clockwork mechanics and mythology from all across the globe to create my supernatural beings.

AA: Research like that is always valuable to lay the groundwork for the story and create an authentic feel. What elements, steampunk or not, did you include so readers could feel the history?

TM: I included small details that would likely get overlooked when I described things. The layout of Allen Street in Tombstone, the name of the stagecoach line they would have taken. The details of who was related to the Lost Dutchman Goldmine and how Jacob Waltz described its location. I also did research on the catacombs running beneath the streets of Paris, looked at historic maps of Europe to determine a flight path, and then of course there was the research on clothing!

We’ll stop here in our chat with Theresa but you can keep up to date on her website, and have a chance to read The Hunter and The Slayer.

 

Click here to read the rest of the interview

Part 2

Part 3

 

Published in: on April 15, 2012 at 8:04 am  Comments (1)  
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