Recently, Stitched Smile Publications put a multiple author anthology titled Unleashed: Monsters Vs Zombies. During the release party for this book, I met a lady who brimmed over with excitement. Having talked with her briefly during that party, I thought it might be time that you, Faithful Readers, get to meet her. Welcome G. Marie Merante to my world (and yours).
AJB: Tell me a little bit about you.
GMM: I’ve lived in the same town all my life. Its very rural and if you blink, you miss the center of town. For the past 20 years, I’ve lived six minutes down the road from the house I grew up in, moving after I got married. I’ve been with my husband for 25 years, have three kids…well, men now-ages 31,19 and 18. And I might as well throw in my two dogs, three cats and my bird—an African Grey.
I work part time in an amazing bookstore, as well as have the day job, and of course the writing, which I’m always thinking about, or working on in between.
To add more about the me … besides writing, I study martial arts.
AJB: You’ve lived in the same town your entire life? I ask that like it is shocking, but I have mostly lived in the same town my entire life as well, only moving out of it for about a year.
GMM: Well … I moved here when I was seven, but since I have zero memory of anything before I was five, its basically all my life..lol
AJB: I shift gears a lot, so let’s talk about working in a bookstore. Do you enjoy it?
GMM: Its pretty amazing. The bookstore is iconic. Its well known in the world of Indie bookstores and it draws incredible authors. In the past I have met Neil Gaiman there, and this past year, Buzz Aldrin, Kate Hudson ( who I almost knocked over) and Lindsey Vonn. The list of authors is immense, so the store has amazing history and a great vibe, almost a Hogwarts feeling when you walk in. And to be around piles and piles of books, there is a weird coziness to it, a very peaceful feeling.
AJB: Oh wow. I would love to work in a small bookstore like that, one where I could get lost in the pages every chance I got.
GMM: Unfortunately, there is not much time to read while working, between helping customers, or shelving. I wish I could just absorb each book just by touching them.
AJB: That would be awesome, but then you would lose the experience of reading and feeling the characters and seeing their lives through their eyes.
GMM: Very true. I do most of my ‘reading’ on audio. Fortunately, my day job allows me to listen all day, so I’m constantly going from one book to another. I have about 260 books in my Audio library.
AJB: 260 audio books? Holy cow. I have to be honest here: I have only listened to two audio books in my entire life and they are both for my books.
GMM: That’s a great way to do final edits on your own work. Reading out loud has never worked for me, so downloading your own pages to an audio file is always my last phase of edits before putting a book to bed and querying.
AJB: Well, I didn’t do the audio for them–I listened to the audio versions that were put out by my publisher and voiced by John Malone. He captured my writing wonderfully.
GMM: Ahh. That’s awesome!! Well … editing tip for you..lol
AJB: I’ll keep that in mind.
GMM: Oh … and THANK GOD for audio books … I would go crazy with my day job.
I go through 3-4 books a week, depending on their length. Harry Potter, thats taking a bit more than a week each.
AJB: I’m curious, who is the nicest celebrity you have met there?
GMM: They’ve all been very nice, but Neil Gaiman was just amazing. Stardust is one of my favorite movies, and I told him that. He shook my hand and said most American’s have never even seen the movie. He signed my book and told me to DREAM. Which I do.
AJB: I have heard Gaiman is a truly nice person, which is something you always hope to hear about celebrities.
GMM: Its completely true. If you ever listen to any of the audio books that he narrates, what he sounds like on the audio is exactly his personality. The nicest guy ever.
AJB: That is awesome to hear.
Let’s shift gears again. You also mentioned you study martial arts.
AJB: How did you come to that?
GMM: My husband was studying when we met, but then we got away from it. About five years ago, we decided to take classes with our two youngest boys who were still in middle school then (both are graduated from High School now.)
We believe in self defense, and I especially believe women should learn to defend themselves.
AJB: I’ve never taken martial arts. It is as much about discipline as it is self defense, right?
GMM: It is. In the school I go to that is instilled in the younger kids more. Respect. Listen to you parents, Do your homework. No testing for your next belt if your teachers don’t sign off agreeing the kids are well behaved and doing their work.
As adults, you should really have that down already … lol.
AJB: Maybe I should get my children into it.
GMM: Absolutely!! Its great for self esteem and its not at all about fighting. If you are at the right school, you are told to avoid confrontation, respect the art.
You learn to defend yourself, but with that comes responsibility. Ok … I sound like Spiderman now.
AJB: Hahahaha … Spiderman is okay in my book. But I hate his outfit from the earlier comics.
GMM: Spiderman has a very special place in my heart.
AJB: He does know how to weave a tangled web.
Let’s switch gears again and talk about writing.
AJB: When did you get an inkling you may want to be a writer?
GMM: High school. English class. The teacher recommended I submit my creative writing projects to a high school literary magazine (Its been so long, I’ve forgotten the name of it). I wrote many short stories and poems. When I was about 23, I wrote my first book, a children’s book, and even typed it up on my typewriter. But it wasn’t until I was taking a college course in my thirties—a creative writing course—that the teacher told me I should be doing nothing else but writing children’s stories.
That was when I decided to write seriously
I wrote my first novel length book after that, then rewrote it about 10 times over 8 years.
I can’t even call it revising, they were total rewrites.
After I finally put that book to bed, did a bit of querying—maybe five queries and all rejections, I started another book. By this time, I had discovered Twitter, which was still pretty new at that point. There were agents and authors on there and I found out about Nanowrimo, so I decided it was the perfect time to start a new book. I wrote 30k of a vampire book before deciding I needed to do too much research to continue (Virgo … perfectionist). So I put that book aside, and started a new one—a dystopian and won Nano, writing 50k words in two weeks (don’t ask..I have zero idea how I pulled it off).
I finished the book in April, revisions and all. By September, I was querying the agents I had met on Twitter. A year later, I signed with the first agent I queried. But we didn’t go out to publishers for another seven months. By that time, dystopians were out. The book did not sell because the market was flooded.
I parted ways with her about a year and half later.
Since then, I’ve written two more books, one which I’ve been working on for four years and I’m querying for now. I also have two fulls out at this time. The other I’m working on revisions again.
I also have about four new books on the burner … no idea which I’m going to write next.
AJB: The life and trials of a writer.
GMM: Yup. And two shorts, one with Stitched Smile Publications, and another that was picked up last April.
AJB: Let’s backtrack a little bit here. Tell me a little about that teacher who encouraged you to write in high school. Was he a cool teacher? Influential? Did you like him?
GMM: He was my favorite teacher, the kind that brings out the creativity in you. The class was small, maybe 20-25 people, so he read and graded the stories right in front of the students. That was when he told me I should be doing nothing else but writing for a living. He told me he has not seen a student writing like mine in many years.
I was stunned. At that point, it had been several years since I wrote anything.
He started me on my journey. Planted the seed. And today, the short I wrote that day is still in the works. I’m revamping it, possibly turning it in a full length novel. (When I was young, 7-10yrs old, when we visited my Nana, I used to go on witch hunts in the woods with my cousins and a boy who was my Nana’s neighbor. The story is based on those hunts.)
AJB: I love teachers like that. I wish there were more of them. Isn’t it interesting how one person can set the course for someone else by having a belief in that person?
GMM: Absolutely. His words still wring in my ears anytime I doubt my self, which is often. He was amazing. He obviously had passion that ebbed over into his students.
AJB: Writers have a habit of losing belief in themselves. Sometimes we need a push and a memory can often serve as that push. I’m glad to hear you had a teacher who can push you now, all these years after his encouragement.
Now, let’s talk about the two short stories you currently have out.
AJB: First let’s discuss the one with SSP. Crystal Blue Waters, am I correct?
GMM: You are correct.
AJB: Tell me about Crystal Blue Waters.
GMM: Violene is a vampire forced out of Miami by the zombie out break, and back to her birthplace, a remote island in the Caribbean, in order to survive, only the tropical waters are not as safe as she thought, and its up to her to save her island.
AJB: Having read this, I thought it was a neat concept I think readers will enjoy. I might be wrong here, but is this your first publication?
GMM: It is.
AJB: Well, let me congratulate you on your first publication and make a toast to many, many more in the future.
GMM: Thank you!! Its very exciting. I have my contract with SSP framed. Its in my bookcase.
AJB: You do? That is awesome. I am happy for you.
Marie, do you have a favorite genre to write in?
GMM: Not particularly, though I tend to write dark. The book I am querying now is a YA historical/magical realism. I am revising a dark YA contemporary romance. I have two zombie books slated. Another one that I think would be classified as Literary fiction. Its what ever comes to me.
AJB: Diversity is a good thing.
Earlier you said you have ideas for other books. Do you find it difficult to focus on one idea or to choose which idea to write on when you have multiple ones in your head?
GMM: Its horrific. When ideas come to me, I get like little snippets of movies that just appear. Then they are stuck in my head. I carry a pile of notebooks with me because I’m constantly jumping from one to the other, constantly writing notes. I’ve had a particularly hard time trying to figure out which new book to work on. I have a few chapters for two of them, plot notes for the others. I’ve decided to wait on those while I revise the YA contemporary romance. That story is most prominent in my mind right now.
AJB: Then I would go with the one that is at the forefront of your thoughts.
GMM: Exactly. I’m adding a secondary story line that is going to parallel the existing story, so its is new writing, not all revising. Which makes it a bit more satisfying.
AJB: Just a couple of more questions and I’ll let you go. You said you have another short story out. Can you tell me about it?
GMM: Sure. Its with Dead Silent Publishing out of the UK, that is also a production company, focused solely on zombies. My short is called All Dressed in White, which takes place about a year after the zombie outbreak. A bride who was scratched and wakes up the morning of her wedding realizes she only has hours to live before she turns. So its a countdown of her preparing for the wedding, because its the last thing she wants to do, and a countdown to her becoming a zombie.
AJB: Oh cool. That is something I think I would like to read.
GMM: Awesome! It has a twist at the end..
AJB: Okay, Marie, I just have one more question for you: where can readers find you?
For story boards: Pinterest
I used to have a website, but took it down to make changes and well … I need to work on it.
AJB: Thank you for your time Marie, it has been nice talking with you.
GMM: Thank you so much!
AJB: You are welcome.
Check out G. Marie Merante in both Monsters Vs Zombies and Zombie Chunks and look for more from her in the future.
Until we meet again my friends, be kind to one another.