Today we are having Author M. R. Merrick on the blog. His debut novel Exiled is sure to become an instant hit among the world of Young Adult readers (and the adults who can’t deny they love reading YA too lol)
But, first off I’d like to start by saying that you can discover new authors and great books in the most unlikeliest of places. A few weeks ago I was perusing my local Kijiji ads when Exiled came up. The cover grabbed my attention, and the blurb had me enthralled. Though, it would take me another week before I bothered to e-mail M.R. I’m sure glad I did. Turns out his wife had posted the ad pushing his novel on Kijiji, and well, it sure worked, because it got me to buy the book. So never discount a site that you aren’t sure is going to gain you any sales, or help you promote your book. With a great book, and an exciting cover you can attract readers from just about any venue!
Since M.R. was a local Author like me, I couldn’t help but jump at the chance to buy his book and meet him in person, I asked if he’d go on a date with me. (And don’t you worry Mr. Olive isn’t the jealous type) To my surprise he said he’d love to (well, maybe not exactly like that, it might have been a little more of a manly response) So, in a dimly lit booth where Mr. Merrick put way too much cream and sugar in his coffee, and might have said he was an “awesomepants” one too many times, I discovered just how much fun it was to talk shop and get to know another author. His personality in the interview, gives you just a taste of the over-eager, excited and silly personality of the real M.R. Merrick.
Welcome M.R. Merrick! Can you tell us a bit about yourself? How about in five words or less.
Charming, handsome, funny, father, Awesomepants.
Now why don’t you tell us a bit about Exiled, your debut novel? In five words or less, of course J
Magical, action packed, adventure, Fantasy, Awesomepants
See I wasn’t kidding about the “awesomepants.” That’s two already, and well when I seen him in person he was hopped up on sugar and caffeine! Just kidding, it’s not a big deal M.R. I think it’s great you’ve got an ego the size of... well, it’s just great!
So, I hear you are a lover of the cereal, what is your favourite, and why the need to eat it out of a salad bowl?
I am a lover of all things cereal. Picking a favorite is kind of difficult, but if I have to pick just one, it’d be Fruity Pebbles. I loved them as a kid, but sadly, they are no longer available in Canada. I do have friends trying to figure out how to ship me some from the US though!
The salad bowl thing isn’t a choice, as much as it is a necessity. I eat a lot of cereal, and I have a healthy appetite. It’s an annoyance to have to continually fill a bowl 4 or 5 times just to fill myself up, so a large salad bowl suits my needs perfectly!
I see, so it’s all about practicality. Mr. Olive complains on a regular basis that my bowls don’t hold enough cereal. I might have to invest in a large salad bowl. Also, sadly I can’t say that I’ve ever had Fruity Pebbles. But make note, to anyone who can get their hands on Fruity Pebbles, I'm sure M. R. Merrick would love to recieve some in the mail! Also, sadly, I think cereal is gross. It’s get soggy.
Let’s say you’ve been stranded on a desert island, and you’ve managed to save two books, what would they be and why?
Only 2? Sheesh.
Okay, first I’d take a “How to survive on a desert island” book. I think the title pretty much sums up why I’d take that one.
Second, I’d bring “How to escape a desert island.” Same reasoning applies.
Wow, that was very much a man response. Though I commend you for your smart thinking and wit I’d really like you to maybe, ignore the desert island part, and say, tell us your two all time, cannot-live-without-or-you’ll-die favourite books, and why you love them so much.
Alright, if I have to choose to live without the knowledge to survive, while stranded, alone, and slowly fading from my manly figure to small toothpick like resemblance, I guess I’d pick Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. That’s my favorite in the series, and I have a deep love for dragons. There are dragons in that book. That’s a win as far as I’m concerned. Second, I’d go with either the Guinness Book of World records, because it has some insane stuff in there, and I imagine I’d be in need of some form of entertainment. Or Brimstone by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I don’t know why I’d pick that book exactly. It’s not a Fantasy – which is my favorite genre – but it was the first book I read in my adult years, and it’s the book that led me to get back into reading (I took a reading vacation that lasted many years).
But wait, a small item has washed up on the shore, it’s something important of yours that you’ve never been happier to see, what is it? (For fun let’s say it can’t be any bigger than a loaf of bread) what would it be?
A small…pillow? No, that probably wouldn’t be that great.
If it was in a water proof case, it’d be my iPod with a magical never ending battery. If I’m not allowed a waterproof case, it’d be a sharp knife the size of a loaf of bread. Are there animals on the island or am I restricted to coconuts and berries? That could make me rethink my answer.
Again, you kind of... missed the mark on the whole exercise. Maybe, I shouldn’t have said island, and talked about water. Maybe I should have worded it differently, but the point is... why not just share something that is important to you, and why. Completely forget about the fact you are on island, you don’t need to forge for food, or slaughter innocent animals...
I wouldn’t slaughter them. That sounds cruel…let’s say I would simply live off the healthy sustenance they could provide…if necessary. Anyways, I’d still go with my iPod. My life has a soundtrack and I couldn’t live without it. I almost never leave home without my iPod, so naturally it would make sense that it would find me, should I ever be stranded in any sense. I’m sticking with the magical never-ending battery though, I’ll still need that.
So, where do you get your inspiration for your novels from? And what sparked the need to write Exiled?
I get inspiration from everything; books, movies, television, people, the news, life experiences. Inspiration is all around me, and never in short supply.
I never actually had a need to write Exiled. It just kind of happened. I was having a rough few weeks and felt the need to escape. Writing has always been an outlet for me, but I didn’t want to write about my own issues. I wanted to forget about them for a while. So I created a new world, with new people, monsters, and magic. I’ve always had a strange obsession with monsters and the idea of controlling the elements, so I made all of it part of the world, hoping to create everything in a way that I always wanted to see, but had never seen delivered. I sat down and wrote for nearly six hours straight, and when I was done, I looked over all the pages and realized I had a good foundation for a story. Ideas starting filling my head, coming in from all angles and I just kept going. I stumbled upon this great world that I loved, and discovered a hidden passion.
Totally great response, I’m sure there are people reading this, while simultaneously beating their heads because some of us really have to struggle for ideas and you just... poof got something amazing off the hop.
How did you name your characters? I’ve heard of a million little tips and tricks people use, so what’s yours?
Chase and Rayna, Vincent, Marcus, and Willy were just sort of in my head. I never really thought about it, their names always existed. That’s just who they were. I used name generators and baby books for last names. I would take parts and pieces form ones I liked, and try to combine them. If that wasn’t working – and this might sound weird – I just stared at my screen and starting sounding out random letters, typing anything that came to mind, until I found the one that suited that character. That’s how Tiki, Krulear, and Ithreal came about.
Where do you see yourself as an Author in five years?
Realistically: Probably moping around that I’m not famous, but I’m still writing.
In my fantasy: I’m a stay at home dad. Dropping off and picking my kids up from school, and writing while they’re gone. I’m not rich, but I sell enough books to make a comfortable living, and I’ve developed a solid, loyal fan base. Oh also, maybe someone is calling me because they want to make Exiled into a movie.
I think it’s great that you put two responses here. Now, I’m rooting for the fantasy, because Exiled would make a great movie, without a doubt!
You’ve self-published Exiled, what has been your biggest problem to overcome when it came to getting your book out and in the hands of readers?
The part I hate the most is promoting. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. Twitter is my main outlet, and I’m sure advertising my book gets on some peoples nerves, but as you gain new followers so quickly, it’s a great way to reach new people.
The real challenge is my patience – or lack there of. I’m horribly impatient with everything. Seeing days go by without a single sale is enough to make you want to pack your bags and leave. The good thing is (most of the time) I’m really stubborn, and I don’t back down. So as much as I let sales figures and rankings bother me, I won’t let them stop me. Exiled has had some incredible reviews, and there are already people hounding me for the sequel. That’s enough to keep me going on a bad day. If I only have a handful of readers, I won’t let them down. As long as they want me to, I’ll deliver what I believe to be awesome stories.
Well your promoting your book right now, and all you had to do was read some questions and toss out some answers, so it can’t all be bad J But seriously, I think it just goes to show, anyone can achieve their dreams of getting published!
Can you give us a teaser from Exiled? You know something that will hook and send everyone out to go buy the book right this second.
I don’t know if it’ll make them buy the book right now, but a few of my favorite sets of dialogue is Chase and Rayna. Actually most of their witty banter in the book I love, but this part especially:
“My, can it be true? One day you’re putting knives to my throat, and the next you’re having sleepovers with an Underworlder?”
“What can I say, he was prettier than you.”
The next is after Willy’s gotten roughed up. He’s always put in a bad position and it’s usually Chase’s fault:
“I don’t think we can see each other anymore, Chase.”
I hear there are going to be other novels in the Protector series; you want to tell us how many books? And a little about what the characters of Exiled are going to experience next?
There definitely will be more. SHIFT is the second book in the series, and if all goes well, it’ll be available in eBook format on Feb 1st, 2012, and paperback March 1st, 2012.
If you’ve read Exiled, you know its action packed all the way. The gas pedal is to the floor from page one and it doesn’t let up. Shift is the same way, but there is a lot more going on. We’re getting deeper involved in the other dimensions, and with each character. You’re definitely going to see a larger focus on Rayna in the next book. You’ll get a little more insight into who she is, what she is, and where she might be headed.
Shift is going to jack up the story to another level. It’s 1 ½ times the size of Exiled and there is so much going on. You get to see more of your favorites, like Willy, Tiki, and Vincent, and they’ll be questions brought up that’ll make you wonder exactly where this is going, and how people are involved. By the end, you’ll be begging for the third book.
The Protector series was originally plotted as a trilogy, but inspiration recently struck me and there may be room for more. Until I’ve plotted and hashed out all the details, I can’t say how many exactly, and until I know it’ll all fit together in an epic timeline and the storyline is worth expanding, I’m only committing to three.
Finally, do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors? Maybe a lesson that you’ve learned that you’d like to share.
First: Don’t give up. Just because someone whose big in the industry says something you don’t want to hear, doesn’t mean it’s written in stone. When it comes to writing, publishing, or anything creative, the rules are only guidelines. They’re meant to be broken. That doesn’t mean go break them for the sake of it, but if you’re finding a particular rule/guideline holding you back, maybe you need to consider bending it.
Second: You’re not alone. There is a huge online community of writers. Twitter, Facebook, and a dozen other sights. If you’re like me, and there is little or no writing world around you, turn to those sites for support. As a writer, the journey of writing a book is an extreme roller coaster. You love what you’ve created, and then you hate it. Get into the writing community and build a support system with some of the many awesome people out there.
Third: always. Make. A. Back-up. And do it regularly. Whatever program you work on has an auto-save function. Set to it every 1 minute. When you’re done working on it for any length of time, back it up to flash drive, or e-mail yourself. Nothing sucks more than working hard on something, only to have it stolen away from you.
Lastly: Follow your dreams. If you’re an artist in any form, you started this journey for a reason. If something about the industry is taking that passion away, take a step back and rediscover what made you love it in the first place. If it starts feeling like work and you dread having to do it, it’s not worth it, go back to the basics and do it just for you.
So there you have it, I think those are the four greatest paragraphs of wisdom any Author can share! You did an excellent job and I thank you, Mr.
Awesomepants Merrick for hanging out with me, talking about cereal and sharing your amazing novel Exiled with us!
Thanks so much to Avery for having me and throwing some awesome questions my way!
Now, if you were on the blog earlier and read my review of Exiled, I also told you that if you came back, I'd let you in on a secret... And tell you how you can enter to win your very own copy of Exiled by M. R. Merrick. He's having a giveaway over on Goodreads. So if you click on the linky below, enter to win an awesome book that won't disappoint!
Also, and lastly M.R. will be around, checking in on the blog so feel free to leave him a comment, or ask him any questions you might have, he'd be happy to answer them!