Author Interview with David Meredith

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  • How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was very small. I think I produced my first “book” was when I was about nine. It was hand-written on notebook paper, bound with cardboard from T-shirt packages, and then decorated with magic marker. When I was in middle school and high school, I wrote some pretty awful fan-fic, that I would never want anyone else to read now, but it was probably as a college student that I started to feel like my writing was good enough for other people to read. I published my first articles around 1999 in Yamagata, Japan in a local English Teacher Magazine called “Bang the Drum” and I published an academic article through ERIC (Educational Information Resource Center) in about 2004. I have been working on various fiction and non-fiction writing projects ever since.

  • What is your favorite genre to write?

Definitely fantasy, but even when I write in other genres, I always include some kind of fantastical or speculative element.

  • Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?

I’m actually working on a sci-fi/YA novel right now called Aaru, that is a little out of my traditional comfort zone.

  • Please tell us about your book.

The Reflections of Queen Snow White tries to answer the question, “What happens when “happily ever after” has come and gone?” The original version of most fairy tales were pretty brutal, (especially compared to the highly sterilized Disney versions that most people are used to). However, in spite of the fantastical elements they invariably contain, they are at their root, very real. They speak to our deepest desires, darkest fears, and greatest flaws, but they are also aspirational. They provide us with examples, regardless how improbable, of how we might overcome desperate circumstances to achieve greatness and contentment in a world where such things often seem rarified and elusive.

However, in most popular retellings fairy tale princesses, particularly of the Disney variety, in spite of horrible trauma and tragedy, the heroines seem largely untouched by it. Thy just simply don’t appear to have the same weaknesses and failings as regular people and do not generally suffer any long term impacts of those traumatic experiences. If you really examine the story of Snow White as a human being, there is some really interesting potential for a great deal of darkness. In my approach, I try to more accurately examine the likely impacts that a life of neglect and abuse (like the one Snow White was forced to endure) would have on a person in real life. It’s the sort of thing that has the potential to break someone and I wanted to explore that struggle and triumph over it more thoroughly. The Reflections of Queen Snow White essentially desanitizes the story and tries to look at Snow White as a real woman, real victim, and real survivor of trauma, abuse, and depression.

  • Which character was your favorite, and why? Which character was your least favorite, and why?

I think the answer to both questions is Snow White, and I think this has been borne out in the reviews from my readers. On the one hand, they find her highly sympathetic and relatable. They describe a great deal of admiration for her ability to overcome the horrors and hardships of her toxic upbringing to not only survive, but also to rule. However, they additionally describe a great deal of frustration at Snow White’s persistent inability to “just get over it” and move on with her life and about her “whining”.

I actually made a conscious effort to write her as simultaneously strong and weak, because I believe that to be the paradoxical dichotomy of abuse survival. I think this is exactly the reality of severe depression.  Everyone around you fails to understand why you can’t move forward. Even when rationalizing to one’s self it can be impossible to explain, but the crushing grip that depression takes on your soul is persistent and undeniable. This might be frustrating for the reader who prefers a more archetypal heroine, but above all, I wrote The Reflections of Queen Snow White with the primary goal of creating a character who was authentically human in all of her strengths, weaknesses, and failings.

  • What was the hardest part about writing your book?

Actually, it was the wedding night scene between her and Charming. That isn’t generally the sort of graphic content I employ in my writing, but at the same time I did not see how (again keeping my goal of absolute realism and authenticity in mind) that I could leave it out. Though some people may question whether including such graphic content was necessary, I decided that it was vital to telling the story.

This novel is about Snow White exploring her innermost reflections and revisiting her most intimate, impactful, and traumatic memories. Her marriage to Charming marked a turning point in her life. It marked an end to fear and suffering at the hands of her step mother. It was also her first and only experience with love apart from childhood memories of her father. There was no question in my mind that she would remember the experience fondly and more importantly, in every minute detail, leaving nothing out as she recollected it. After all, who censors their own head?  At the same time, I spent a very great deal of worry and effort writing and revising it because I didn’t want it to feel salacious, trite, or voyeuristic – like the obligatory love scene in some bad erotic novel. I just wanted it to feel like a real memory. It was a very difficult tightrope to walk.

 

  • What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?

All I really need is my laptop or notebook and time. I suppose my “routine” is simply to use any spare moment to get done whatever I can. I currently have two jobs and am a full-time doctoral student as well. Spare moments are hard to come by these days, but I always make it a point to do at least one thing every day related to my writing. It might be writing something new or revising some part of something that I am working on. It might be promotion like this, but I always make it a point to never let a day go by without having done something to do with writing.

  • How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?

I wrote the first draft in about four months, but then spent at least as much time editing and revising. All together I think I worked on this just a little less than a year before releasing it.

 

  • Can you tell us about your editing process?

Copious rereading followed by breaks where I put the manuscript away and don’t think about it for a day or two. I almost always come across something that needs to be changed or fixed after that. I also often read the manuscript out loud, because I find that I catch more mistakes that way.

  • Is this book part of a series? If so, how many installments do you have planned?

I have been asked if I planned to write any more retellings like this by a number of people. My answer was no, but since I have been asked so often, I think it might have shifted to “maybe”. At this time, however, The Reflections of Queen Snow White is a standalone novel.

  • Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

-Be confident in your craft, but open to criticism.

-Read lots of different writing styles to expand your writing tool-box.

-Be pleased with your work but never satisfied – Always strive to be better on your next piece of writing.

-Enjoy the process – Writing should be about process first and product second. If you fail to enjoy or attempt to rush the process, your work will likely suffer for it.

  • Why should everyone read your book?

It is an emotional and gritty retelling of a familiar story presented in a much more authentically human way. If you want to feel something when you read, this is the book for you.

  • If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?

Probably J.R.R. Tolkien, James Clavell and Tad Williams

  • What inspired you to write your book?

It is actually based on a short story I wrote shortly after both of my grandfathers died just a couple of months apart. As I observed how hard my grandmothers took their deaths, it led me to wonder on their behalf – “So… Now what?”

They had both had wonderful, loving relationships – many long, happy years together (over 60). Now it was over. It made me wonder, “When your life has been so closely tied up with and centered upon another person for so long, how do you pick up the pieces and move forward?” That was the original kernel of the idea for The Reflections of Queen Snow White.

  • Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?

I’ve got several things in the pipe, but the work that is currently on my front burner is a YA/Fantasy/Sci-Fi Novel in its Beta Reading phase called Aaru. Here’s the synopsis:

…Death and the stillness of death are the only things certain and common to all in this future…

-Friedrich Nietzsche

Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.

She is sixteen years old.

Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model.

Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.

What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, death and everything they thought they really believed.

I’m going to try to traditionally publish this summer, but if that doesn’t work out, I may go the Indy route again since it has worked out so well for The Reflections of Queen Snow White.

 

About the Book

What happens when “happily ever after” has come and gone?
On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven’s wedding, an aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven’s fiancé, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White’s own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing:
The king is dead.
The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old.
It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what “happily ever after” really means?
Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White.
(Disclaimer: contains some violence and sexual content)
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Author Bio

David Meredith is a writer and educator originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. He received both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts from East Tennessee State University, in Johnson City, Tennessee as well as a Tennessee State Teaching license. He is currently a doctoral student in Educational Leadership. On and off, he spent nearly a decade, from 1999-2010 teaching English in Northern Japan, but currently lives with his wife and three children in the Nashville Area where he continues to write and teach English.

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