Books and herbs, Books

Guest: Interview with Meredith Shayne.

Today I'm delighted to welcome to the blog my good friend, Meredith Shayne. All yours, Meredith!

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1. What first made you want to write fiction?

I suddenly had stories to tell. Like a lot of authors in the m/m genre, I came to fiction writing through fan fiction, and I think that process of filling in the gaps, of saying 'what if?' in relation to the fandoms I was interested in, led me eventually to writing my own characters. Once I started to insert original characters into my fanfic, it was all over bar the shouting, really.

2. What authors do you think have had an influence on your style of writing?

I don't know that I'd say that any particular author has had an impact on my writing, as such. I read a lot of Stephen King and Clive Barker when I was younger (read Salem's Lot when I was nine, scared the crap out of me), but I don't write horror, so their impact on me is probably minimal. Otherwise I read quite widely, so I'm probably influenced by bits and bobs along the way. Brokeback Mountain is probably typical of the kind of writing I gravitate towards - straightforward, simple prose devoid of flowery language and excessive description of surroundings/clothing/scenery, and as a reader I prefer that not everything is spelled out to me. The scenes where Ennis and Jack fight on the mountain that last day, and where Ennis falls to his knees after Jack drives off, clearly illustrate that Ennis is absolutely heartbroken that they are separating, but not once is that explicitly stated. It doesn't need to be, and to me, that is powerful writing. I see my reading preferences reflected in my own writing, in that descriptions are kept to a minimum, and there are a lot of gaps for the reader to fill in themselves. Sometimes I'm more successful at that than other times. I don't think I'm up to Annie Proulx's standards quite yet!

3. The old adage "write what you know" is something that is touted a lot - do you feel that it's true for your work? Why/why not?

Only in that I put a lot of personal experiences into my writing. Not actual events, but motivations, feelings, reactions to situations. Not necessarily my own (hardly ever my own, actually, otherwise all my characters would be the same), but a mix of things from all the different types of people I've known in my life. As long as it suits the character, I poach from my own experiences all the time. That's how you make things real. When people tell me that they know people just like my characters in real life, I know I've achieved that.

4. You've written a lot of books set in Australia, with the Australian experience, what is it particularly about our awesome country that speaks to your muses and leads you to write about life here?

I think it's mainly because I don't live there anymore, and I never feel more Australian than when I am not in Australia. Every single day I'm reminded that I'm different from my New Zealand friends, that my cultural experiences are different from theirs because I didn't grow up here. My accent is different to theirs, my slang is different to theirs. I am Australian through and through. Also, I came to New Zealand when I was 33, and so all of my formative years, that time when you're growing up and becoming the person you're going to be, took place in Australia. It all comes back to writing what you know, because being Australian is what I know and so that's what I write about. If I wrote a story set in New Zealand, which I intend to one day, I think I would have to write about it from the perspective of someone who is not originally from there. I don't think I could authentically replicate the New Zealand experience any other way.

5. If you could sit down and have tea and a chat with any three authors living or dead, who would they be and why?

Charlotte Bronte: she lived such a confined life, yet her work is so passionate and strong. I'd love to know what she was like in real life.

Paula Morris: A New Zealand author, I have seen her speak at two Auckland Writers and Readers Festivals, and she is such an interesting, engaging person.

Richard Dawkins: as if I wasn't sold already from being a die-hard atheist myself, then the man went and read out some of his hate mail on You Tube. That is love.

6. Music is an important part of both our lives, I know - what role does music play in your writing process?

Music is integral to my writing process. Music is inspiration, it is mood, it is meaning. I have a playlist for every story, and the story can't be absolutely right until the playlist is.

7. What was the last novel you bought and read?

Well, I buy a lot of novels that I take ages to get around to reading, so mostly those two things are different processes for me. The last novel I bought was A Dance With Dragons by GRR Martin. The last novel I read was Soulless, by Gail Carriger. I found it absolutely delightful, and hilarious. I like to laugh when I'm reading.

By the time this interview is posted I will have also finished Louise Blaydon's The Time of the Singing. I'm only about a third of the way in, but so far, wow. It's amazing.

8. Fantasy casting - if a movie was made of "Equilibrium" and [Insert title of new release], and you had total casting control, who would play the main characters?

I can't really answer this question, because for all my books, my characters don't look like anyone but themselves. They spring into my mind pretty much fully formed, an amalgamation of various features and characteristics that I've absorbed along the way. Sometimes I see photos of models and realise that they're as close as I'm going to get to what my characters look like, but that doesn't happen often. Having said that, I would like Ryan to be played by Hugh Jackman in his younger years. I haven't yet found my Michael, although the model on the cover of the book is a pretty close match.

9. Pen and paper or computer - which is the best way for you to write?

Computer. I used to write by hand, but then I wrote a 330-page PhD thesis on the computer, and since then I've pretty much exclusively written that way. These days I type much faster than I can write (legibly, anyway). The only time I usually write anything by hand is if I have written myself into a thorny place and have to plot my way out of it. The perils of working without an outline!

10. What are your favourite genres to read? To write?

To read, urban fantasy, alternate history, paranormal, preferably all at once! To write, contemporary. I have written paranormal though, and I am toying with some ideas for urban fantasy. But contemporary is my favourite.

11. Novel to film adaptations (and TV) - which books do you think have made a successful and respectful transition to the screen?

For movies, Brokeback Mountain, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. For TV, Game of Thrones.

12. What's a perfect Saturday night involve for you?

The internet and the Housewives of Beverley Hills.

13. "Equilibrium" did pretty well in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll this year, tell us how that felt.

Thrilling. I never would have expected it to be nominated in the first place, and the fact that it was, and that it did well, was an absolute honour. You always think it's crap when people say it was an honour to be nominated, but for me that is absolutely true.

14. What are your writing goals for the rest of 2012?

By the time this interview is posted, I should have submitted my next novel, Metal Heart, to Dreamspinner Press. That was goal #1 for the year. My other goals are to write a novella for a super sekrit project, and to finish another novel by the end of the year. We'll see how we go!

15. Finally, a question that is a trademark of all interviews I've ever done with artists - if you came back as a plant in the next life, what would that plant be and why would you choose it?

A cactus, because I'm a bit fleshy, a bit prickly, and hard to kill.





EQEquilibrium.

Welcome to Burreela, New South Wales. Population: more animals than humans. Although most (human) occupants are trying to get out of Burreela, the tiny town is the perfect place for veterinarian Michael Stone to break out of the bad habits that almost cost him the most meaningful part of his life: his profession.

Michael is struggling to regain his balance after hard personal losses and two years of promiscuity and drug abuse. He’s not prepared to meet Ryan Mitchell, a nice guy who won’t take no for an answer, whose patient pursuit leaves Michael less and less inclined to keep refusing. But Michael’s bad habits aren’t that far behind him. Can Michael hold himself together enough to be the man Ryan needs, or will he lose his equilibrium while trying to be man enough to hold on to the one he loves?

Buy it: Ebook and paperback.




A scientist in a past life, these days Meredith Shayne mainly uses her scientific training to poke holes in television pseudoscience. Originally from Australia, she moved to New Zealand to start a new life a few years ago and hasn't regretted it for one minute, even if she frequently wishes that the New Zealand weather was a little better; if she's forced, she'll admit that the refreshing lack of animals that can kill you in New Zealand makes up for a little rain. Meredith travels a lot, so much so that she has developed a shameful love of airplane food and knows her passport number by heart. When she is at home, she enjoys baking, horrible music from the 1980s, reality television, and gloating any time Australia thrashes the living daylights out of New Zealand on the sporting field.

Visit Meredith at http://meredithshayne.com/ and http://meredith-shayne.livejournal.com/profile and http://twitter.com/meredithshayne.
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