Friday, April 18, 2014

Words With an Author: Meredith Mawr

Hey Fantabulous Readers!

Today I'm going to be interviewing the wonderful Meredith Mawr, author of the Summoner Series. The first book of the series is Summon, which was released at the end of last year. The second book is scheduled to come out later this year. Links to buy the book will be below. I got the privilege to ask Meredith a few questions about her career.

1. How did you get into writing? 

Writing as a career was never on my radar. My background is in interior design and architecture; I taught them on the college level for six years. So, when life happened and I couldn’t do that anymore, I started dabbling in children’s books before launching into Young Adult. I’ve always been creative (art, design, music, photography) so writing, I think, is yet another creative outlet for me.

2. When did you first start writing?

When I was a kid, I would write silly, fake newspapers for my mom but I think that was more to make her laugh than to provide any outlet of self-expression.  I started writing The Summoner Series 3 ½ years ago.

 3. Where did you come up with the idea for Summon? Who’s your inspiration?

LOL  The inspiration for Summon was—now don’t laugh—a dream: yes, I actually dreamed about five or so of the major scenes, including the cliffhanger ending…even what Sam looked like! All I had to do was fill in the gaps—but then, the story grew too big for one book, hence the series.

4. Are any of your characters based on people you actually know? If so, which ones?

I once heard a comedian say that he drew from everyone he knew for his stand-up routines; authors are the same; we draw snippets from those around us. For me, writing is intensely personal; a little bit of me makes its way into all my characters…yes, even the villains! My sister suspected she was the inspiration for Georg von Ruell, Summon’s eclectic art instructor, but she’s wrong ;); Camden’s character is drawn from a friend’s sons. I identify most closely with Elle (bookish,  na├»ve, slightly neurotic); a few years ago, I lost my father, with whom I was very close, so writing about Elle’s loss and her subsequent search for her identity is very cathartic. Her father is a lot like my Dad J

5. Have you written anything other than Summon? 

Summon is my first published book.

6. If you had to pick only five books from your bookshelf you could keep, what would they be?

In no particular order:
                  1: Persuasion by Jane Austen
                  2: Shakespeare’s Sonnets
                  3: The Bible
                  4: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
                  (And, I’m going to cheat here :)) 5: The entire Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

7. I know you have a sequel to Summon coming out later this year: what can we expect from the sequel?

In Summon, Sam and Elle’s world begins very small—often just the two of them in the school’s isolation. In subsequent books, their world gets bigger, inviting more conflict and more challenges. Having fled Killewycke (slight spoiler!) and under the influence of one of Elle’s dreams—which she now realizes are, in part, true—Sam and Elle return to her hometown to protect her family, knowing the venators won’t be far behind. Elle learns a lot: about Sam, about guardians and about herself and her skill as a summoner (though not nearly as much as she’d like). And, as her relationship with Sam deepens, new complications arise.

8. And how many more books can we expect from the series?

As of now, the series has five or six installments

9. Who is your favorite character from any book and why?

I have lots of favorite characters and one that comes to mind is Harry Potter, because despite his flaws, his bumbling, his personal tragedy, he does the right, selfless, self-sacrificial thing, just because it’s the right thing to do. Sometimes that has to be motivation enough.

10. How long did the writing process take for Summon? From conception of the story to final publication?

Since I never studied writing formally, I’m pretty sure my method is a little unorthodox. I don’t work on one book, complete it and move on to the next in the series; I kind of work on all of them concurrently, so it’s hard to estimate a specific amount of time for Summon—maybe a year and a half total?—including its many, many edits

11. Who are some of your favorite authors?

I love JK Rowling, Jane Austen and Laura Ingalls Wilde

12. What actors/actresses could you see playing the characters of your book?

This one's a toughie: not because I haven't envisioned Summon as a movie (every author has that daydream!) but because it would be most important to have actors who could capture the chemistry and subtleties Elle and Sam share; I think it would be awesome for some newcomers to have breakout roles as Elle and Sam (though I'd love to hear who others think would fit those roles!) As for villains, someone capable of wicked, off-kelter intensity would be a must- maybe someone like Christian Bale??

13. How did you come up with the title and cover of Summon?

 The title, Summon, has a natural association with Elle’s mysterious power; the cover art ties in with the most important locale from this book: Killewycke.

     14. Did you morph the book as you wrote it, or was it fairly constant? 

I think the concepts were pretty constant, although, at some point, I wouldn’t mind to go back and do another cover for Summon—something simpler with more ‘pop’. This cover was a watercolor I painted in about an hour and a half! lol

15. Are you planning to write any other books besides the Summoner series?

Absolutely! Between books 2 and 3 of The Summoner Series, I plan to release a stand-alone novel, a YA paranormal story with a mean streak ;} it’s tentatively called ‘Bell Dweller’. I also have other stand-alone books outlined; nearly all have an element of romance.

16. What would your advice be to someone who’s aspiring to be a writer?

I keep a quote from the late Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, in my nightstand drawer, so each time I open it, I see these words: “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
Other nuggets of advice for would-be authors:
-Being an author teaches you patience. Nothing in publishing happens as big or as fast as you want it to.
-Take criticism gracefully; you have a lot to learn (whether you know it or not J). Constructive criticism only makes your work better.
-Don’t get caught up in numbers; appreciate every reader.

   17. Finally, just to wrap things up, what’s your favorite color and why?

I like most colors but I guess my favorite is pink—because it reminds me of my daughter :}

Thanks so much to Meredith for taking the time to answer these questions! I can't wait for the next book in the Summoner Series to come out! 
You can buy Summon on Amazon here.
And you can purchase it on Barnes and Nobles here.
This is her Facebook page and her website.
Here's my review if you want more convincing :)