Being a fan of both fantasy and historical fiction, when they combine together, I feel that it makes a most satisfying read. So it is with pleasure that I introduce Author Meredith Allard to you here on No Wasted Ink.
I’m Meredith Allard, and when I’m not teaching or writing (which isn’t often), I enjoy reading, scrapbooking, and finding great vegetarian recipes since I love to cook. I also practice yoga, and I’ve been known to shake my stuff at Zumba classes. I have a special affection for belly dancing, and I may practice a shimmy or two while brushing my teeth in the morning.
When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing because I had always had these crazy story ideas floating through my head. Throughout my school years I was lucky enough to have teachers who used my writing as examples for the class, and that added to my feeling that I was a writer. I knew that writing was in my future, and I tried out journalism and screenwriting but neither felt right. Finally, I found my way to writing novels and I knew I found my home.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I first thought of myself as a writer when I was 12 and I was asked to write our 6th grade graduation play. In truth, I was probably only asked because I had the neatest handwriting in the class, but I felt like a writer.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
At its heart, Her Dear & Loving Husband is a love story that spans time. It’s about James Wentworth, a 319 year-old vampire who has tried to make the best of his immortal life though he misses his wife, Elizabeth, dreadfully. He meets Sarah Alexander, who looks just like his Lizzie, and though at first he has feelings for Sarah because she reminds him of his wife, he begins to love Sarah for being Sarah. But there’s more to that story than meets the eye, and James and Sarah have to unravel a lot in order to understand what’s happening to them. James needs to navigate between the past and his sad memories of Salem during the witch hunt days and the present when he is faced with a reporter desperate to prove that vampires walk the earth.
One of the things that set the Loving Husband Trilogy apart from similar books is that the point of view goes back and forth between James and Sarah. That’s one thing I found missing in some other vampire stories—you only got the human girl’s point of view. I always wanted to know what the vampire was thinking and feeling. In the Loving Husband Trilogy we hear from both James and Sarah—what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling, why they make the choices they do. I think it adds another layer of interest to their romantic story.
What inspired you to write this book?
A student handed me Twilight (this was in 2008) and though I wasn’t into vampires I read it because she raved about it. After I read the Twilight books, I started watching True Blood, and from there I started reading Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris, and of course the standard in the genre, Dracula by Bram Stoker. After I had a brain full of vampire, a story about a vampire still mourning his long-dead human wife occurred to me. I kicked the idea around in my head for about six months, and then I decided to see if there was anything to this crazy idea. From the moment I started writing I never looked back because the characters and the story took over. Originally, I didn’t have any intention to write a piece of historical fiction, but once I decided to set the story in Salem, Massachusetts I knew I had to incorporate the Salem Witch Trials somehow. The story travels back and forth between Salem during the witch hunts and present-day Salem. This isn’t a blood and guts vampire story. It’s a love story, and James is a very human vampire.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t think I have a specific style, though I do like to incorporate elements of poetry into my fiction writing. I love to read poetry, and though I’m not wise enough to be a poet, I can use elements of poetry in my fiction.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
The original title of Her Dear & Loving Husband was The Vampire’s Wife. A beta reader suggested that The Vampire’s Wife was too much of a giveaway about the story, so after stumbling across Anne Bradstreet’s poem “To My Dear and Loving Husband” I changed it to Her Dear & Loving Husband. The revised title has the same idea as the original title, but it takes a little more digging to figure out what it means. And I love that the poem was able to serve as a connection between James and Elizabeth and James and Sarah. Little things like that make me happy.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The underlying question in the novel is: what does it mean to be human? How is it that the vampire shows more human-like qualities in his ability to love when the humans can cast off or condemn others so easily?
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
No, the novel is completely fiction. One of the things I loved most about writing this novel, and the entire Loving Husband Trilogy, is that I could let my imagination run wild.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
I do what I do (write novels) because of the influence Charles Dickens had on me as a writer. I read David Copperfield and Great Expectations in college, and I thought, “That’s what I want to do. I want to write novels that are worlds unto themselves.” I get a lot from Dickens—the way I structure my stories, my tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, (my use of parenthesis), and I get my social sensibilities from him. My novels aren’t meant to be social commentaries the way Dickens’ novels were, but I love it when readers find deeper meanings in my books. I think of my stories as layered. If readers want to read the books for the entertainment, then the entertainment is there. If they want to look deeper, there are layers that can be peeled back and pondered.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
Still Charles Dickens. Though he doesn’t know it.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
Dara England from LFD Designs for Authors designed all three covers from the Loving Husband Trilogy. I knew the minute I saw the design for Her Dear & Loving Husband that that was the cover I wanted. It captures the mysterious aspect of the story perfectly.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Stay true to your dreams, and be patient. We live in a time when we want things immediately, but it takes time to learn the craft of writing. I agree with the 10,000-hour theory—the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a master at something. I would say that it took me at least that long before I wrote Her Dear & Loving Husband. Allow yourself time to grow into the writer you want to be. Stop comparing yourself to other writers’ time frames (I had to learn this one myself). You’re on no one else’s time frame but your own. Give yourself time to hone your craft.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’ve had many readers tell me that they don’t usually read or like vampire stories, but they were glad they read the Loving Husband Trilogy because it was so different from other paranormal books they had read. For readers who do enjoy paranormal romance or urban fantasy with a good dose of historical fiction thrown in, I hope they will give Her Dear & Loving Husband, along with Her Loving Husband’s Curse and Her Loving Husband’s Return, a try.
Las Vegas, NV