Thursday, 30 June 2011

Author Interview: Merrie Destefano

Yesterday I reviewed Feast by Merrie Destefano and today I'm lucky enough to welcome herself to my little corner of the blogosphere..

Hello Merrie, thanks for coming by. Lets dive straight in shall we?

First tell us a little about yourself...
Let’s see. Where to start. I’m an animal-loving, tree-hugging, short person who loves to laugh and eat chocolate. I also love stories that take me someplace I’ve never been before—although whether that’s another world or another country doesn’t matter. I love both reading and writing and I’m always striving to accomplish new things when it comes to the craft of writing. Before making the jump to full-time novelist, I worked in publishing for twenty years. During that time, I worked in a wide variety of jobs: graphic designer, illustrator, production coordinator, book editor, publisher  and magazine editor, to name a few. I studied fine art in college and have always been torn between art and writing. I seem to be happiest when I can find a way to incorporate both elements in my work. In my debut novel, Afterlife, the main character was a musician. In my new release, Feast, my main character is a writer. So I guess I subconsciously bring my love of art into my stories.
Your second book – Feast: Harvest of Dreams was released on 28th June - how would you describe it to readers?
Feast is about a young woman who ends up in the wrong place at the right time. Maddie MacFadden is a writer who retreats to the mountains in need of inspiration. Instead, she finds herself the target of a deadly hunt and, unfortunately, seems to be only one who can see the monstrous winged beasts who are after her. The very thing she thought she was lacking—creativity—ends up being the only thing that can save her.
The Darklings in Feast are an unusual type of supernatural creature – did you do any research for them?
Not as far as what they looked like, but I did do a lot of research on dreams, since that was a strong theme in the book. Also, I had recently done a great deal of research on vampires and werewolves for some work-for-hire books. I wanted to create a new creature and put a new spin on some old legends. In the end, the Darklings became a combination of vampire, werewolf, faery, doppelganger, shape shifter and Muse. They were beings who had masqueraded as these mythic creatures in the past and actually spawned the legends about those creatures.

The supernatural has always been popular at the moment for books, TV and films – what do you think draws us to these types of stories?
I honestly believe that there is another world—a spiritual or supernatural world—that interacts with our world on a daily basis. And I also believe that we have a natural curiosity about who and what inhabits that spiritual world. For that reason, I think we are attracted to books, TV shows or movies that deal with these supernatural elements. We are seeking the truth, we want to know more, we want to see behind the veil into a hidden realm and encounter someone greater than ourselves. I also think that deep down inside we realize we are not alone in this universe and a part of us wants to know who else is here.

Dreams play an important part in Feast – both the sleeping sort and ambitious – do you have any unusual/different dreams you feel like sharing?
I do! I had a strangely prophetic dream once. I dreamed I was at a conference, sitting at a table with a woman who looked familiar, although I didn’t know her. She leaned forward and whispered confidentially that I wouldn’t be working where I was very much longer (I was a magazine editor at the time). I got really excited when she told me that because I had grown so weary of that job. Then she said that she wasn’t supposed to tell me what was going to happen next, but that it was going to be fabulous. Well, I didn’t know if the dream was prophetic or not, but I figured maybe I should pay attention. I started saving as much money as I could and, sure enough, two months later I got laid off. Fortunately, we had a good amount of money saved by then. So I decided to take the next year or two off work and try to get one of my novels published. Four months later, my agent sold my debut novel, Afterlife, to HarperCollins! I’ve been a full-time novelist and freelance editor ever since. I really believe that the dream helped me to get ready for the transition, both financially and emotionally.
Have you ever had a supernatural experience?
Yes, although I’m not sure if many people would call it supernatural. I have this strange gift where sometimes I just “know” things. I’ll give you an example. Once, while driving home from work, I got stuck in a nasty L.A. traffic jam during a nasty heat wave. I had nothing to do, no cars were moving, so I started staring at the people in the car in front of me. All I could see was the back of their heads, but I began to imagine what was going in their car. Before long I came to the conclusion that she was pregnant and her baby was due any day, and that he had a new job and was worried about losing his job if he was late. Weird, right? When the cars finally started to move, the car in front of me stalled. The man got out, pushed it to the side of the road. When his wife got out, I saw that she actually was nine months pregnant. At that point, I realized that I had to help them. I pulled over and asked if they needed a ride. The man said, yes. Apparently, he had a new job and was worried about losing it if he was late (!!). Also, his wife was due to deliver their baby the next day and he was worried about her standing out in the heat too long. Believe it or not, this type of thing has happened to me many times.

Your main character Maddie used her childhood holiday as a refuge – where would you go for your own refuge?
I love the woods. That’s one reason I set this book on the edge of national forest—so I could spend time there as I was writing. My refuge-of-choice has always been any place with lots of trees, so many that they crowd out the sky. One place in particular comes to mind, although I don’t remember how to get there. When I was nineteen, I stayed in a cabin by a lake with my sister in the Wisconsin Dells. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I’d love to find it and go back there some day.

What have you got coming up next?
As far as writing goes, I’m currently working on an e-book novella that would be a prequel to Feast. It’s titled Cursed and I hope to have it out soon. As far as events go, I’ll be at Comic Con in San Diego at the end of July and at World Fantasy Con in San Diego in October. You can also see a list of blog stops and book signings on my website here 
Finally  a 60 second, quick question quiz
Favourite Book you’ve read?
Almost always, the one I’m reading right now. So that would be: Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks.
Favourite Book you’ve written? <Cruel question I know!>
The one I just finished that isn’t published yet and is kind of secret. =)
Favourite food?
Guy Pearce in The Time Machine
Favourite film?
So many to choose from! Okay, The Time Machine with Guy Pearce.
Favourite music?
Favourite authors?
Laurie Halse Anderson, Kimberly Derting, Holly Black, Carrie Ryan, Michael Connelly, Robert Jackson Bennett, Diana Abu-Jaber, Sue Monk Kidd, Janet Fitch, and many more.
Any pets?
Two German shepherds and a Siamese cat
Favourite saying/quote?
          “I dream my painting and then I paint my dream,” by Vincent Van Gogh.

Thank you so much for stopping by Merrie!

Thank you so much, Mel, for inviting me on your blog! It’s an honor to be here and I really appreciate it.

Feast is out now to buy now and keep up to date with all Merrie's doings...


  1. Wow, that's a pretty awesome gift you have. I suppose it could be a little scary at times too.

    I love the sound of Afterlife and Feast and the covers are awesome. I'm off to add them to my wishlist :-)

  2. What a great interview! I'm so glad you listened to your dreams and I bet you can make a long sit in traffic interesting! :)

  3. Nice interview :)
    And that was freaky what happened, you were sure on to something

  4. Wow! Talk about an author who is also a jack of all trades! Ms. Destefano sounds amazing. And I love that story about being stuck in traffic and guessing correctly about the people in front of her. I wish I had that ability. But at least we have the short person who love animals and chocolate thing in common. :)

  5. Short person who loves animals and TREES too here, love to spend time outside with the wildlife and I live next to a state Park that is all Pine forest in Central Texas. Big tall evergreen trees where all the critters you can name that fly, slither, crawl, hop and run hang out...
    Feast is on it's way to me and now that I know there is going to be a novella prequel will be on the lookout for that as well..

    Thanks Mel and Ms. Destefano for a wonderful interview full of good book news and cool insight into the person behind the books!

  6. Mel,
    Thank you SO much for having me here today. I really enjoyed your interview--great questions. And I'm enjoying everyone's comments as well.

    Thank you all for stopping by! You're all the best!


  7. Great interview! :) Oh, I've done some things that spook me from time to time. I take things like extra clothes or such with me on days I know I don't need them, but something tells me to do it. And I end up NEEDING them as the car breaks down or a friend calls and needs what I have. It's weird when that stuff happens.

    And I have two German Shepherds myself now. :) They are 10 months old now. Crazy, but very good girls. :)

    Thank you for sharing!