Books And Bites: Congratulations on the publication of “Innocence: Book 1 of the Hunter Novels ”! Tell me a little about it—what’s your pitch?
Meredith Blake: Thank you. Basically, Innocence is the vampire story I always wanted to read while I was in high school. Kind of like Buffy meets John Tucker Must Die.
BAB: No two authors seem to take the same route to publication, but almost every author has an interesting story about their journey. Care to share yours?
Meredith Blake: When I finished Innocence, I recognized that as a new, young author who had no connections to the publishing business, I would face an uphill battle to get published. Since I really didn’t care about fame or money, I decided to self-publish the book so I could give copies of it to my friends and family members.
BAB: How did you get the idea for your novel?
Meredith Blake: In high school I was a complete social outcast. I spent most of my time with a very small, tightly knit group of people who I still talk to today. But, being on the fringe, I was given the opportunity to watch all the little cliques at my high school in action. There was a particularly bad experience where I asked someone to Homecoming and was somewhat humiliated while getting turned down. That night, I dreamed that I came back the next day as a completely different person (Lieka). Of course, the next day I didn’t transform when I got to school, but the seed had been planted and I started writing.
BAB: Do you have another book in the works?
Meredith Blake: I’m currently taking a break from writing novels and am working on a screenplay instead. I still have several stories going, including the second book in The Hunter Novels series.
BAB: Your current novel, Innocence: Book 1 of the Hunter Novels, is marketed as a young adult novel. Did you originally set out to write a YA novel?
Meredith Blake: I didn’t set out to write a young adult novel. I set out to just write down the story. It changed into some weird hybrid where it wasn’t adult, but didn’t fit into true children’s lit. It really ended up being a book that is more for high schoolers than anything else.
BAB: How did you get the inspiration for Jamie/Iggie/ Shannon/Xenos/etc?
Meredith Blake: Of course, different people added different inspirations for certain characters. However, the majority of my characters came out of my observations on how people acted. I deliberately wanted to tone up the stereotypes in the first book, because that was so obvious in my high school. In the second book, the characters are finally fleshing out and I’m able to spend more time showing who they really are. It’s a lot of fun to create someone and watch them develop as you write.
BAB: Who is your favorite character? Why?
Meredith Blake: I’m sort of caught between two favorites. I love Lieka because she’s such a powerful female. She is the epitome of sexiness, courage, and brains. I think she’s the person I’ve always wanted to be and have tried to become now that I’m older. But I also have a soft spot for Iggie. He’s such a great guy. He’s been through some horrible things, and in the second book he battles some of his own demons. I think what I like most about him is that I created him to be one dimensional, but he’s now becoming something completely different on his own. I don’t have to work to write his character; it just comes naturally.
BAB: When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
Meredith Blake: I have always wanted to be a writer. My Nana kept all of poems and stories I wrote for her from the time I was in kindergarten through college, and my Grandma kept all of my newspaper articles and essays that I used to get scholarships or win contests. My family has always been incredibly supportive of my writing, even when I told them I wanted to go to college to master in Creative Writing. I think that without their support, I never would have continued to tell the stories that are in my head.
BAB: In writing, Innocence: Book 1 of the Hunter Novels, what was your most surprising discovery?
Meredith Blake: My most surprising discovery was that people actually like reading what I had written. I had a draft in a binder, which I gave to a close friend. As she was reading it, some of her friends started reading it, and then more and more people. She showed it to me one time; it was full of different sticky notes with names, all holding the spots of the people who were reading it. That kind of support was fantastic!
BAB: What’s your writing routine? Do you write in the mornings, nights, daily, or when the mood strikes you?
Meredith Blake: I am the quintessential bad writer. I don’t have a routine. I write like made for several hours/days at a time, then I stop. I don’t start again until I have some kind of inspiration to get me going again. But the thing about inspiration is that once it hits, I can’t focus on anything else until I sit down at the computer and write.
BAB: What experience did you have with your publisher? Good? Bad?
Meredith Blake: Because I self-published the book, I had a great time with the publisher. The only snag I ran into was figuring out how to format my pages to meet what Lulu.com required for publication.
BAB: If you had to pick one author as your favorite, who would it be?
Meredith Blake: I honestly don’t know if I could pick. Sticking solely to vampire literature, I’d have to say J.R. Ward, who writes The Black Dagger Brotherhood series. She takes her characters to such amazing places. She’s never scared to push them to where they need to go, which adds a great layer to her stories. I’m always looking up when her next book will come out.
BAB: Finally, thank you for taking part in this interview. Before you go, what message would you like to send to your fans?
Meredith Blake: I promise that I’m working on the second story. I’m not sure yet if it’ll come out as a book or screenplay first, but the story will continue. Iggie will face a life-threatening situation, and Jamie and Lieka will finally begin to sizzle. And yes, Shannon even makes a comeback, just as something a bit different.
Available from Lulu (paperback)