Elizabeth Meyette Interview for Serious Reading
- How important is research to you when writing a book?
Because I write historical romance, research is vital to creating a credible story. My husband Rich and I visited Colonial Williamsburg for a week to ensure a believable plot and setting for Love’s Courage. Rich took over 700 photographs, and I interviewed every shop owner, politician, enslaved person, merchant, and resident I could. I took copious notes as we toured the historic town. My initial plan for the book was to have spy messages passed through a bakery, but my research proved that most residents baked their own bread at home. Based on that, I switched my spy venue to an apothecary, which actually worked better in my story.
- What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
I still have my first draft of Love’s Destiny, book one in The Brentwood Saga. That draft is written in longhand on yellow legal pads. Now, I prefer composing on the computer.
- What inspires you to write?
So many things! I can hear a snippet of conversation, and suddenly in my mind I hear the dialogue of two previously unknown characters. News stories send my imagination into high gear as I wonder, “What if …” Walking into the apothecary shop in Williamsburg and seeing remedies used by our founding fathers and mothers sparked a new direction in my book. Anything is grist for the mill.
- How often do you write?
I try to write every day, but if I’ve just finished a book, I go into marketing mode. Then, I might not write for a few weeks. Rich says I get grumpy when I’m not writing. He is, of course, correct. I am grumpy today.
- Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?
I write best in the morning and in the evening. While I don’t have a schedule written in stone, I like to have blocks of time to write because once I enter the world of my story, it takes time to exit it. Rich always notices my dazed and confused look when I’m transitioning to the present.
- How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?
Not hard at all. Keeping at it—that’s the hard part. I like the term HOKBIS: Hands on Keyboard, Butt in Seat.
- Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?
I don’t aim for a certain number of words each day, but I do record my progress each day. I like to see those numbers adding up. It’s encouraging.
- Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?
Not for me. I’m an extrovert, and if I’m not involved with other people, I begin to feel like I’m shrinking. I love to be involved with groups working together for a purpose.
- Do you enjoy theatre? Would you ever like one of your stories to be turned into a play?
I LOVE theatre. I’ve been in several plays and each one was a magical experience. I have a play in mind that I have always wanted to write, but my novels seem to muscle their way in. Once I start on those, everything else goes out the window.
- How do you incorporate the noise around you into the story you are writing at the moment?
I’m very auditory, so I limit noise around me when I write. I know some authors write to a playlist or listen to music for motivation or inspiration. If I have music playing, I’m listening to the lyrics or, if it’s instrumental, imagining the lyrics. I write in silence—that way I can hear my characters better.
- How many siblings do you have? How many of them share your passion?
I am the youngest of nine. Of all my siblings, two have published books. My brother Robert M. Ford has a futuristic thriller called Battlestation Alpha available through Barnes & Noble. My sister Mary Helen had an anthology of her memoir and poetry published for our family. My sister Kay has a manuscript of poetry and journal entries, but it hasn’t been published.
- Were you a troublemaker as a child?
My siblings call me the white sheep of the family. I didn’t get into much trouble as a child or a teen. At least, I didn’t get caught LOL
- Do you often project your own habits onto your characters?
Maybe not habits, but definitely fears. In The Cavanaugh House, Jesse Graham is afraid of mice and spiders. I could hardly breath when writing the scene where she first enters the deserted house and a mouse runs over her foot and she’s just wearing sandals.
- Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?
I have a children’s book called The Go To Sleep Tree that is based on a dream.
- If you were given a teaching opportunity, would you accept it?
I taught secondary English, so I guess I did. I love teaching, but I would not want to have to grade writing anymore. I would just like to facilitate a group of writers.
- Do you enjoy discussing upcoming ideas with your partner? If yes, how much do you value their inputs?
My husband Rich is great. He listens to my ideas, frustrations, confusion, excitement, fears all the time. He always seems to know what to say. He never tells me what I should do, but he asks me questions that help to steer me in a good direction.
- Do you encourage your children to read?
My children are grown now, but we always had books all over the house. During summer vacation, we had a reading hour after lunch every day. My daughter Kate is a professional Shakespearean actress and tells people it’s because when other kids were hearing stories about Little Red Riding Hood, she was listening to me read about Juliet and Portia. My grandkids know their birthday and Christmas gifts will include books.
- What’s your favorite movie which was based on a book?
To Kill a Mockingbird. I had the pleasure of teaching that book for many years. I also got to play Mrs. Dubose in the play. I think the casting for the movie with Gregory Peck and non-actor children was perfect.
- How do you think your writing style has changed over the years?
I hope my writing improves with each book. The language in my historical romances is much more formal than in my mysteries set in 1968. In fact, in my first two books, I eliminated any contractions because people didn’t use them in the 1700s, or if they did, not as often as we do. And in historical books you have to be so careful with vocabulary. For example, my friend who is a beta reader pointed out that Emily Wentworth of Love’s Destiny would not have greeted someone with “Hello” since that term wasn’t used until the invention of the telephone.
- How many children do you have? Do you see any young writers in any of them?
I have three children. My daughter Kate just submitted her first novel to the Golden Heart contest at Romance Writers of America.
- Writers usually have a particular Muse, but some also have a different Muse which inspired different books – does that apply in your case?
My Muse’s name is Boris. He has a wonderful sense of humor. He has been inspiring me from my first book to the one I’m writing now. I’m being very serious. I talk about Boris at the end of The Cavanaugh House. I met him thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert and her Ted Talk on Creativity. Thank you, Liz.