Marilyn is a writing teacher, editor, and has been a featured speaker at several writers' conferences. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, EPIC, and the Public Safety Writers Association.
Welcome to Marilyn Meredith. I hope our readers will enjoy this interview with a vibrant woman and a fantastic author!
How long have you been writing? How long have you been published?
I’ve written since I was in grammar school, but didn’t get my first novel published until 1981.
How long did it take you to publish your first book, once you started looking for an agent or publisher?
When I began sending that first book out it was back in the day where you typed the manuscript pages and sent them out in a box with another box with return postage on it to send it back. I’m so glad times have changed. I went through that process for a long time, receiving nearly thirty rejections before it was accepted by a publisher. That’s why I tell all new authors to never give up.
How long does it take you to write a book?
About six months once I’ve done the research I need to do and have decided on the characters and plot.
Do you write one book/story at a time or multiples?
I only write one book at a time, but I alternate between my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series and my Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series. Often I’m editing one while promoting and/or writing the other.
What is the most books/stories you've had WIP at the same time? What is the highest number you've actively been writing on at the same time?
I’ll answer that a bit differently than it was asked, I’m usually a book or two ahead in both series—and so it’s never more than two at a time.
What genres do you write?
Mainly mysteries and crime novels at the present time, but I began with historical family sagas, and I’ve written three Christian horror novels and one psychological horror.
Are there any genres you'd like to try but haven't?
No, I’m quite happy writing what I’m writing now.
Are there any genres you'd never consider writing in?
Though I began with historical family sagas which were in the romance category, I no longer have an interest in writing romance and though I enjoy reading some mythology, I could never write it. Science fiction is not something I could write either—don’t have the right kind of mind.
What's your writing process?
I begin writing by gathering ideas in long hand. Because I have ongoing characters I only need to create murder victims and suspects and peripheral characters who go along with them. When I actually begin writing, I write on the computer. While I’m writing, I take a chapter a time to my critique group. I do a lot of rewriting. When I think I’m done, I find an editor. More rewriting. Then the manuscript goes off to the publisher and of course, more editing.
What are the strangest conditions you've written under? The strangest place and/or time you've written something?
Most of the time I write in my home office. I often wake up at night with ideas and I have a handy item that lights up when I pull out the pen with a notepad attached. If I don’t write them down right then, I won’t remember in the a.m. Sometimes while going on a long drive I might jot down ideas—while my husband’s driving.
What's the strangest thing you've had happen to you at a public appearance? The most disturbing or amusing?
My best public appearance was at an AAUW luncheon. There were four other authors in attendance, all young, famous and attractive. Being old, not so famous, and looking like the great-grandmother I am, I told my husband, “The only way I’m going to make an impression is by being funny.” I was and when it came to book buying time, the majority of women rushed to my table. I sold far and above the rest of the authors. I even sold books to a bookstore owner.
The worst was recently at a county fair where the put the authors behind an opaque panel at the back near the restrooms. I had to go out on the main floor and hand out business and postcards with my book cover on it and tell people they should come back where the authors were. Fortunately a few did make the long trek to the back and actually bought a few books.
What authors inspire you? Who are your favorite authors?
Anytime I read a truly good mystery I’m inspired. Among my favorite authors, and I have a slew of them, are Jan Burke and Wm. Kent Krueger—but there are many, many more. Some with small publishers and some with big ones.
If you could choose two authors to be seated between at a signing...or to have your books shelved between in the bookstore, who would they be?
I’d prefer to sit between two authors who aren’t well-known. I’ve sat next to big names before and it’s embarrassing to have a long line of fans lined up for those people and no one coming to you.
What authors would you most like to meet, past or present? What would you ask them?
I’ve met some pretty famous authors in my day: Mary Higgins Clark twice and she’s one of the nicest people you could ever meet, always acts like she remembers you; Wm. Kent Krueger, who is also very approachable; Sue Grafton; Jan Burke who I’ve heard speak at many conventions and spent a couple of hours with her and her husband in an airport; Betty Webb who I was with at a small conference and is delightful; Dennis Lehane, not so approachable, but entertaining to eavesdrop on; I could go on, but won’t.
I’ve asked and gotten some good advice about what kind of promotion works best for different ones.
How many books do you read in the average month? e-Book or print or both?
I read both and maybe two or three print books and I have a new Kindle and so far I’ve read three books on it this month.
What is the funniest or strangest editor/crit request/comment you've encountered?
Long ago one agent told me I needed to change my heroine’s name, Tempe Crabtree, to something more common. Obviously I didn’t do it.
I also have some fans that want me to kill off Tempe’s husband, Hutch, because of his high ideals and his faith. I won’t do it because I have too much fun with the conflict Tempe causes in her marriage when she dabbles in the mystical side of her Indian heritage.
What is your ideal location to write a book, if you had the money to live there or sequester yourself there?
I am already here. I live in the Southern Sierra where my Tempe Crabtree books are located. I can look out the window of my office and see the mountains.
If you could have a book signing anywhere in the world, where would you like to go?
Anywhere that I have fans. I’d love to return to Alaska one day where I do have some fans.
What would you like to own/have that would make your writing faster or smoother?
Ah, I’d love to have a personal assistant who could take care of some of my promotion chores.
Introvert or extrovert?
When I was young I was more of an introvert—but being a writer and having to promote has truly changed me to an extrovert. I love giving talks and appearances.
What's the strangest/worst job (outside of publishing) you've held?
I’ve done all sorts of things: worked in a hot rod store, long distance and information operator (fun because people would ask how to make chili and what was the weather like and as long as we knew we could answer), pre-school teacher for developmentally disabled kids, day care for disadvantaged kids, and my husband and I owned and operated a residential facility for six developmentally disabled women for over twenty years and I wrote while they were off to work.
If you could choose your dream job, besides writing, what would it be?
Writing is my dream job.
What's your dream car? Your favorite car you've ever owned?
I don’t care about cars except that when I get in they start up. Had too many that didn’t. My favorite car was a little MG convertible with the steering wheel on the right. As my family grew, even though when they were little I crammed them in the boot (long before seat-belts), I finally had to give it up for a more conventional station wagon.
The best bumper stickers you've ever seen? The best you've ever personally had on your vehicle?
Only can tell you about what I have on my car, it’s not a bumper sticker but a big magnetic sticker with my website on it.
The #1 holiday or birthday gift to purchase for an author is...
I was thrilled with my Kindle and also my little Acer computer.
Your favorite leisure activity or vacation spot?
Going to cons and conventions are always my favorite thing to do. I’ve visited some great places this way from
Have you ever included a real experience of your own in a book? Did anyone who knows you notice it?
Wishing Makes It So is based on something that happened to our family though I made it far more dramatic and with far worse results.
Have you ever included someone who irritated you in the book? As what, and what comeuppance did he/she get?
Yes, in my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, Fringe Benefits, the main character is a bad police officer based on one I knew—and he gets what he deserves in the end.
Where do you get your character names?
I collect names. I keep graduation programs and mix and match the names.
Where do you get your inspiration for a book? How do you get your ideas?
I keep clippings out of newspapers and I also do a lot of research about Native American legends and the Indian reservation that is near me.
What is the best reader or reviewer comment you've ever received?
I’ve had a lot of good ones and I have fans that are terrifically supportive.
What does your family think about your writing? How, if they do, do they support you in your writing endeavors?
My husband is great. He supplies me with information about guns and cars, two things I know little about. He also comes with me on most of my travels to conventions and conferences. I have to confess though, he hasn’t read all of my books. I only have one daughter who has read all my books—out of three.
When and where do you do the bulk of your writing?
My office at home and in the morning.
What's your favorite part of being a writer?
I love having a world that I can control. I have little control over the world I live in.
What's the thing you wish you could hire someone else to do or wish you didn't have to do as a writer?
Selling books at book and craft fairs. I do it a lot and enjoy meeting the people, but it is so time consuming and if you are going to sell books you have to be assertive.
What advice would you give a new writer?
If you really want to be a writer you must realize that you have to put in the time. Just telling everyone you’re going to write a book someday, won’t get you there. You need to learn the craft, you must learn the rules before you can break them, and most of all you must put your self in front of your computer and write, write, write.
What are your writing goals? Where do you want to be in a year? Five years?
My only goal is to keep writing books people want to read. I’d like for my books to be better known—but none of that matters, I’m going to keep on writing because I have to.
Do you belong to a crit group or other writing group? How helpful do you find it?
I’ve belonged to a critique group for over 20 years. Same group, though the people have changed from time to time. I consider what they suggest or find as mistakes as my first edit. Some are much better than others at critiquing, but I still find it helpful.
What online lists or forums are your favorites?
I’m not fond of forums though I do try to make an appearance ever so often on the Kindle forum. I have lots of online lists, and must say Epicbiz is one of my favorites, and I also like all the Sisters in Crime lists.
What book, if you have written several books, is your favorite and why?
My latest book is always my favorite. I’m excited about Dispel the Mist because of the Hairy Man character. I think readers will find it fascinating that I’ve brought a legend to life.
Which of your own characters would you like to meet in real life, and what would you do?
Deputy Tempe Crabtree seems quite real to me already. Once I met a young woman, a former deputy, who said when she read my books she felt like she was reading about herself. Though she didn’t look Indian, she was, and had some of the same experiences I’d written about.
Do you prefer to think of yourself as a hero/heroine or villain/villainess and why?
I’m definitely the heroine type—though I couldn’t save anyone, when I was young I used to stop fights on the playground, chased away a mob of teenagers who were carrying off a young girl, ran after a teen who had threatened another with a knife. Caught him too, took the knife away, and verbally chastised him.
Give us your backlist... with all publishers...Bold things that are currently available. Note the publishers they are with!
The Deputy Tempe Crabtree series
They are all with or will be with Mundania Press shortly.
Deadly Trail (Hard Shell Word Factory)
Calling the Dead
Dispel the Mist
The Rocky Bluff P.D. series written as F. M. Meredith
Smell of Death
(The above are only available from my website currently.)
No Sanctuary with Oaktree Press
From Hardshell Word Factory and will be with Mundania Press
Wishing Makes It So
(available from my website)
From Treble Heart Books
Guilt by Association
Deeds of Darkness
Cup of Demons
Tell us about releases you expect within the next year... Remember to say which publishers they are with!
Invisible Path Mundania Press
Tell us about the awards you've won...
Three Eppie Finalist
Golden Quill Award for mystery from American Authors Association
Best Books Award
Tell us about your current release... blurb... link to purchase is a plus!
Dispel the Mist
While investigating the murder of a popular county supervisor, Native American Deputy Tempe Crabtree has an encounter with the Hairy Man.
Give us your URLs (web site, MySpace, Facebook, blog, etc.)
On Facebook and Twitter I just use my name, Marilyn Meredith.
Listen to an Interview with Marilyn
1) Go to www.blaseskip.com and click on Listen Now. In the lineup, they will see LB-Marilyn-Meredith. Just click on that.
2) Go to www.blaseskip.com/lb Scroll to May 1st or March 13th, Marilyn Meredith. To listen live, click on Stream it. To download to computer or Ipod, click on Download it.