Jen: When I saw Theresa Meyers was on tour, I knew we had to have her stop by Romancing the Book. So, let’s all make her welcome. Theresa, please share a short bio with us.
Theresa: The progeny of a slightly mad (NASA) scientist and a tea-drinking bibliophile, Theresa Meyers learned early the value of a questioning mind, possessing lots of books and a good china teapot. A former journalist and public relations officer, she found far more enjoyment using her writing skills to pen romance novels in the turret office of her Victorian home. She’s spent nearly a quarter of a century married to her Prom date, drinks tea with milk and sugar, is an adamant fan of the television show Supernatural, and has an indecent love of hats.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Theresa: My latest release is The Chosen, the third book in the Legend Chronicles series which revolves around three brothers named after their father’s favorite guns who are supernatural Hunters in the weird, wild west. It covers the story of middle Jackson brother Remington who’s both an attorney and a Hunter. He’s unlike either of his brothers because he isn’t trying to prove himself, and yet he feels like he doesn’t belong either. Things get even more complicated when his brothers ask for his help in recovering the final missing piece of the Book of Legend to defeat the archdemon Rathe and keep him from destroying the world. He has to get the shape-shifter thief (who’s his brother Colt’s ex-lover) out of jail to help him and their adventures end up taking them south of the border and into an ancient lair of the Aztecs in search of the relic. As for the idea, I dreamed up these three brothers many years ago when I was writing historical romance. At the time there wasn’t any market for paranormal, so they very patiently waited on my computer for a chance to have their adventures come to life. I kind of fell into writing steampunk because I’m a Victoriana nut at heart. Some kids asked for calendars of puppies and kittens. I asked for the one of Victorian house plans because I used them in the stories I had in my head as the houses for my characters.
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Theresa: I’m actually neither. I like to call myself a planter because I use my plotting board and scene sheets as kind of the trellis for my idea to grow on. I know it’s going to grow like a vine from the bottom to the top of the trellis every time. But what I don’t know when I plant that idea is which way it’s going to twist and turn as it grows up the trellis. Sometimes it takes some unexpected directions!
Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Theresa: I wish! I write whenever and wherever I can. I take my laptop to work with me and work at lunch. I keep a notebook so I can scribble on scenes when waiting to pick up the kids from band, dance, football, basketball and other activities. If the words won’t come when I’m sitting at the computer in my turret office at home, then I grab my spiral notebook and go write longhand on the couch. It’s whatever will work to get the words out and to use every moment I can. (By the way: I buy those spiral notebooks up when I buy the kids school supplies when they are ten cents each – that way I can keep a supply and use different notebook colors for different books to keep it all straight!)
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Theresa: Ooo. Good question. It completely depends upon the story and how much history or science I’m weaving into the storyline. This one involved a lot of varied research because it spanned a trek from Tombstone, down through Mexico to the coast, then travel in a submarine, until they can get to the Aztec ruins and finally ends up in Krakatoa. That meant I needed to research not just Tombstone at this time period (complete with street maps), but also the travel routes from Arizona through Mexico to the western coast. I loved being able to use Google Earth to actually see some of the areas I was describing. You’d be amazed how many pictures are out there! I also needed to research submarines from the Civil War era through the 1880s and see what was available and what my inventor character could have added on to existing technology at the time. There was research on Aztecs and the Spanish Conquistadors. And research on the Aztec temples and their construction. I did research on Krakatoa and the huge eruption that happened there. I even did research on slime molds that live in sulfuric acid in underground caves. It’s crazy what goes into a story to give it some solid grounding in reality for the totally fiction story I’m creating.
Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest? Most rewarding?
Theresa: The most challenging is getting my butt in the chair. I know that sounds funny, but I’m constantly on the go. Writing is only one of three jobs I have so I’m constantly multi-tasking. Sometimes it’s a challenge just to sit for ten minutes in my office without someone needing me to answer a question, take care of a problem or make a phone call. The easiest part is coming up with the ideas. I have to beat them off with a stick. Seriously. I’ve found the best way of dealing with all the stuff that comes into my head is to make idea sheets for them where I can write down the characters or bit of dialogue or scene that sparks the story, then file it away in my “idea trunk” on my computer. Later, when I’m working on proposals, I can sift through the idea sheets and see what grabs my interest. The most rewarding part of writing is when you know your stories have touched people. I had one reader tell me at a conference that my Legend Chronicles stories and the Harry Potter series was the reason he’d learned to read as an adult after years of just getting by. How can you not think that’s made of awesome, to know that the work you put into crafting a story can change lives, made them smile or made them happy. That’s worth it!
Jen: If you were able to travel in time, where would you go and what 3 things would you take with you?
Theresa: That’s a very interesting question. Makes me consider all kinds of things. One of my favorite movies when I was younger was The Two Worlds of Jenny Logan starring Lindsay Wagner. She moves into a Victorian house and finds this gorgeous cream colored gown in the attic and when she tries it on she’s transported back in time 100 years and meets the home’s former owner, an good looking artist. She has to decide between her past and her present. OK, given my love of Victoriana and steampunk, is it so hard to believe that I’d travel to the late Victorian era? Where would I go? Anywhere, everywhere! There were so many things happening all over the world in the 1880s and 1890s. As for the three things I’d take? That’s a bit harder. I’d likely take an almanac of some kind. If you are going to go back in time you’d better know what happened when so you can avoid disasters, and take advantages of opportunities. I’d like to take a lifetime supply of antibiotics and Alieve because I’m realistic about the medical and sanitation practices of the time. And last, I’d take my family, because one thing that movie impressed upon me is how important those ties can be and I don’t think I’d want to live in another time without them.
Jen: How do you come up with characters names?
Theresa: All my Jackson brothers are named after their father’s favorite guns, Winchester, Remington and Colt. Their father was a supernatural Hunter for the Legion just as they are. As for their last name, there’s a story about that too. It’s more of a psudeonym. Their father was actually the grandson of an English duke, who’s first name was Jack. Cyrus was “Jack’s Son” and when their grandfather came to America he wanted to escape his English past. Thus the Jackson family was born. When I’m creating character names in general I will look to their family history, or often “run numbers” on their names until I get the characteristics that feel right to me for the person. It’s not a conventional process, but it helps me get a feeling for exactly who my character is before I start writing. My mother actually taught me how to do it and I use a book called You Are Your First Name by Ellin Dodge to dial in characters some times.
Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Theresa: Wait…I’m allowed free time? How come no one told me!!! LOL.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Theresa: Right now I’m working simultaneously on some fun contemporary romances for Entangled publishing that are just straight up, normal romance, without the paranormal elements. They include stories like The Geek Billionaire Makeover, The Baby Mistake and You & Me…Again. I’m also working on the first full-length novel in the Shadow Sisters series set in the world of the dark fae of Shadowland and Wyldwood which is titled Shadow Hunter. These are some seriously alpha fae, who are more akin to demons and shape-shifters than they are to the sunshine and sparkle kind of fairies. In all I’ll have at least four books out this year, with more already scheduled for 2014.