When not absorbed in writing or reading, Meira enjoys life’s little moments with her family – the love and devotion of her black lab, the quiet wisdom of her artistic twenty-one-year-old, the trials and triumphs of her petite sixth grader, and the unlimited encouragement offered by her Dutch husband.
Meira strives to write stories that deliver the unexpected. She prefers down-to-earth characters that look and behave like regular folks. The prom queen and Adonis take a backseat to reclusive, soul-searching heroines and quirky, introverted gentlemen.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi, Bookgirl. Thank you for inviting me! I live in Colorado with my Dutch husband. We have two daughters, one black lab, and two insane cats. I love to read everything from science fiction and thrillers to mysteries and children’s fantasy.
I have been writing since I was twelve, mostly journals and poetry. During my thirties I had several story ideas, but I never got past a couple of chapters. In 2003, I sat down and wrote an entire novel in one month! At least I thought it was a novel. It was barely 50,000 words – not long enough to qualify as a novel – and it was frankly quite dreadful. Thankfully, I had no clue at the time. That first manuscript, which I shelved in 2007, allowed me to believe I could write a full-length novel. Faith in one’s self is a powerful thing.
3. What comes first? The story, the character(s) or the idea for the novel?
Interesting question. The essence of a story forms loosely in my mind when I least expect it, but a strong character also emerges shortly thereafter. Then additional characters and substantial story elements flood my brain with a mind of their own.
4. What would be your favorite pastime activity, when you are not writing?
Reading. Definitely. On a blissfully free afternoon, I have to force myself to leave the house and get some fresh air.
5. Are there any writers out there that have inspired you?
I have so many favorite authors as well as individuals who have inspired me over the years, but I will choose one woman who recently inspired me to self-publish FIREFLY BEACH after it went out of print (the first edition was released in March of 2009). I believe many of your readers will have heard of her – Tracey Garvis-Graves. Tracey and I met on a writer’s forum called AbsoluteWrite. She had this interesting story idea about a teenager and his tutor trapped on an island in the Maldives. I sent her a message asking if I could read it. She wanted to finish the novel to cross it off of her “bucket list”. We became writing buddies (call each other cyber-sister). Now she has a best-selling novel called ON THE ISLAND. She is delighted to be an indie author. In fact, she has turned down some interesting proposals, saying it is not worth it to have someone else choose her covers, set her deadlines, and tell her what to write. This really inspires me to embrace the personal power of indie publishing.
6. Can you tell a little more about your book: Firefly Beach?
Firefly Beach is a paranormal cozy mystery. A strange combination, I know. But it has both supernatural themes and a female sleuth who wasn’t expecting a mystery. It is a character-driven novel, and I love eccentric personalities, so you can expect some quirky characters roaming through the pages. I endeavored to take the reader on a vacation to the coast of Maine, visiting both the present and the 1970s. It is a story about accepting the past, settling unfinished business, and cherishing family. . . and it’s also a good old-fashioned mystery with a few supernatural elements to spice it up.
Blurb: When Beth LaMonte rents a cottage on the coast of Maine, she wishes only to withdraw and paint. A mysterious ball of light disturbs her peace and leads her to a secret beach where she finds the diary of a girl who disappeared in 1975. Now Beth is on a mission, not only to bury her own past, but to put to rest the spirit of Firefly Beach.
7. What inspired you to write this story?
FIREFLY BEACH developed in stages before it took off in my brain and wouldn’t leave me alone. I first envisioned the firefly in 2004 when my husband and I were on a retreat. We participated in a relaxation seminar. The instructor asked us to imagine a very safe and quiet space – a room, a meadow, whatever came to mind. I pictured a small beach secluded by high cliffs. But, honestly, relaxation exercises and I do not do well together. Thoughts run around in my brain in spite of my efforts to quiet them. Shortly after arriving at my special beach, a firefly joined me dancing around the cliff. Then a diary and the idea that it belonged to a long-lost girl.
That concept drifted to the back of my mind while I worked on another manuscript from 2004 through 2007. As soon as I declared that manuscript finished, the firefly returned to me, flooding me with ideas. I could not write them down fast enough. I realized that Beth’s story was far more compelling than the words I labored over for three years. At that moment, the old manuscript found its way to a shelf in the back of my closet, and I passionately dove into FIREFLY BEACH.
8. Which character did you enjoy writing about the most and why?
Great question. I enjoyed writing Kenny, the nerdish jeweler. I’m drawn to strange, vulnerable characters.
9. If you could have dinner with one of your characters who would you choose and why?
Oh, another great question. I would have to say Mary Schmidt, the proprietor of the bed and breakfast. She would definitely be the most entertaining. Full of gossip and sass – a great dinner companion.
10. Do you get a lot of responses from your readers?
Yes. I love hearing from readers. I receive emails from people who had to write to me the moment they put the book down. Nothing is more fulfilling than that.
11. What are you currently working on?’
I am currently working on a grade 3-6 novel called SARAH AND THE MAGIC MAYONNAISE JAR. This story offers further proof of my genre-commitment-phobia. I can’t seem to help myself. The novel should be available by the end of 2012. I am working with an outstanding new illustrator, Rachel Loftus, and I am excited to bring my daughter’s favorite story to life.
12. Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?
Thank you for reading this interview. As I said before, I love to hear from readers, so write to me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will answer emails as soon as I can, pending other obligations. You can also friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.
Thank you Meira Pentermann for taking the time to answer my questions. Now all I have to say to my readers is: Go read this book!