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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

#Interview with Meredith Allard for That You Are Here @copperfield101

Meredith Allard is the author of The Loving Husband Trilogy, That You Are Here, Victory Garden, Woman of Stones, and My Brother’s Battle (Copperfield Press). She received her B.A. and M.A. degrees in English from California State University, Northridge. Her short fiction and articles have appeared in journals such as The Paumanok Review, The Maxwell Digest, Wild Mind, Muse Apprentice Guild, Writer’s Weekly, Moondance, CarbLite, and ViewsHound. She has taught writing to students aged ten to sixty, and she has taught creative writing and writing historical fiction seminars at Learning Tree University, UNLV, and the Las Vegas Writers Conference. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
What is your story's heat level? How do you approach the sex scenes?

The heat level is pretty low. I’m always reluctant to say my stories are romances because the heat takes place in the reader’s imagination off the page. I like to say my stories are romantic rather than romances, but unfortunately Amazon doesn’t have that as a category. I’m glad the term sweet romance has come into vogue because it helps me describe more accurately what my stories are. As a writer, I’m interested in describing a love relationship. There are writers like Bella Andre who are much better at describing sex scenes than I am!

How do you maintain activity as a writer when sitting at a desk all day?
I have to make a point of getting out of my chair every day and doing some physical activity. I swim. I do yoga. I go to Zumba classes. I do my Leslie Sansone videos at home. But I have to do something every day (ideally every day, but you know how that goes...) or else I get lethargic sitting in my chair all day typing.

What is it that you loved about the main characters in your story?
Both Andrew Whittaker and Mark Bryce from That You Are Here are beautiful, good men. They have good hearts, and they love each other dearly. They are willing to make sacrifices for each other, and that’s a beautiful thing. Mark Bryce is the kind of person I’d like to be. His compassion, his caring, his friendly nature, his willingness to help others—I wish more people were like him.

What do you feel is your strongest type of writing? Humor? Angst? Confrontation scenes? Action? Sex? Sensuality? Sweet Romance? And why?
it depends on what I’m writing because every book has a different focus. For That You Are Here, I think the humor goes a long way in softening the darker aspects of the story. I think the confrontation scene where Andrew breaks up with Mark is a strong point because I show the scene from both character’s point of view so you get a sense of how both of them are dealing with the sadness of losing someone you love dearly. All of my books are love stories in one way or another, so I think describing loving relationships is one of my strong points.

Are you social media savvy? If so what do you suggest for others? If not, why not?
I’m not sure if I’d say I’m savvy, but I do my best. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years: be yourself in social media. There are a lot of experts out there who want to dictate how writers should use social media. If those tips work for you, then go for it. But I got tired of following advice from others. I post what I want to post, tweet what I want to tweet, and pin what I want to pin. I tap into my varied interests in my social media accounts, and I don’t just focus on my books or on selling books. I use social media to make connections with people, not necessarily sales, and that makes social media much more enjoyable to me.

What are some things from your life or things you have observed that you've infused into your stories?
This is a great question though it’s hard to answer because I’ve infused so much of what I’ve experienced and observed into my writing. Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones, says that writers’ brains are like compost heaps—we throw everything in there, and in time it fertilizes. I’ve found that to be true. Sometimes when I’m writing a scene I remember the most obscure thing from my childhood and I realize it fits the scene perfectly so I throw it in. Sometimes snippets of conversations I’ve had or overheard (writers are notorious for eavesdropping) make their way into stories. I love this aspect of writing fiction—you can use ideas from anywhere to make your story come alive.

If you had an unlimited budget, where would you like to visit for story-related research?
I definitely don’t have an unlimited budget, but I do like to travel for research whenever I can. I’m lucky enough to be able to visit London later this summer for research for my latest novel. Besides London, I would love to be able to visit Paris or Rome as the setting for a story.

Any fun facts about the research for your book?
As for traveling for research, I did get to visit Portland, Oregon as part of my research for writing That You Are Here. I absolutely loved Portland and I would love to live there one day.

Finally, tell us a little about your newest release!
The greatest compliments I’ve received about That You Are Here is that people who don’t normally read m/m love stories have enjoyed reading it because it focuses on such a human story, and That You Are Here has the highest rating of any of my novels on Amazon and Goodreads. Everyone has to learn how to feel comfortable in their own skin, and everyone has choices to make in their lives about how they’re going to live their best lives while being honest about who they are. Andrew Whittaker and Mark Bryce have quite a journey to travel together, and I hope they are a couple readers cheer for. I hope readers with open minds will give That You Are Here a try. 

Buy Link: Amazon
When Andrew truly looked at Mark for the first time he realized the boy was beautiful. Mark stood as tall as Andrew at six feet, and he was slender-built though he had strong arms and a strong back. He had golden-chestnut hair that fell in a wave over his forehead and eyes nearly the same color, more gold than chestnut, though they were translucent and sometimes looked dark and other times light depending on where he stood under the fluorescent beams. Then there were those eyelashes that never ended. Andrew had heard the term doe-eyed too many times, yet it applied to Mark, certainly. 

“Thanks, Mark,” C.C. said. “From the bakery?”

Mark nodded. “I made them this afternoon.  The cake is in the back. Let me know when you want to bring it out.”

“Everything is perfect. How much do I owe you?”

“It’s my contribution to the party.”

C.C. gave Mark a friendly hug. “That’s very generous of you.”

A young man at the end of the bar flagged C.C. down. With C.C. out of the way, Andrew had a better view of Mark. Mark looked to be three years younger than Andrew at 24, and when Mark smiled at something someone close to him said, Andrew saw an open, kind smile, and he had to know who this Mark was.

Andrew slid from his stool and walked the four steps to where Mark had his back turned while he plated a few more pastries. Suddenly, Andrew realized he didn’t know what to say. He didn’t have a pick-up line. He always thought pick-up lines were cheesy. And it’s not like he had dated many people in his life. All these thoughts, and a hundred more, flashed through his mind leaving him tongue-tied. When Mark turned around, he stopped cold, the pastries still sliding on their plate, the only movement between them. Mark’s gold eyes were wide, as though Andrew was the last person in the world he expected to see standing there.

One randomly chosen Grand Prize winner will receive a $25 Amazon or BN GC and a runner up will receive a digital copy of the novel.