Friday, February 10, 2017

In the Spotlight with Bayou Book Junkie: Author Meg Harding

Hi Meg and welcome to BBJ. Meg’s been writing from an early age, and has been published since 2013, with 13 tales to date, and is an American living in good old England, which no doubt equates to missing out on sunshine and fresh air, having to get used to rubbish weather and our obsession with talking about the weather. Having to put up with weird Britishisms and quirks. Having to drive on the opposite side of the road. Trying to figure out what we mean by chips (Frenchoh the irony! -  fries), biscuits (cookies), crisps (chips), jam (jelly), scones (biscuits), flats (apartments), dummy (idiot and also pacifier!), etc., etc. And eat overpriced, pretty rubbishy food (and yes, I’m a Brit, so I am ‘extracting the Michael’, as they say, though there’s more than a small grain of truth in how our food doesn’t measure up 😞). She terms herself a geek and a film buff and loves puppies. But, as ever at Bayou Book Junkie, we want the TMI stuff, which is why we’re opening up the floor to her.

BBJ: Hi Meg and welcome. Since your official bio is a little…sketchy?... A deliberate touch of La Femme Mysterieuse, perhaps?...we’d love to find out all about you and what makes you tick😉
MEG: Hi Rita and thanks for having me! I’ve never thought of it as sketchy on the details, so I might need some elaboration lol. Honestly, I’m one of those people who can write an essay on something like apples in five seconds, but give me an “about me” thing to do and five hours later I’m still sitting there staring at a blank screen. I’ll give it a go. I’m a big Marvel fan – I’ve got a WIP Marvel leg sleeve going – and I’m hockey obsessed. My main source of income comes from walking/watching dogs and I spend 90% of my free time reading fanfiction. I’m an introvert through and through. I’m never really sure what people want to know.

BBJ: So, you’re currently studying for an M.A. in Publishing in the UK. How does life over here compare to life in the US? Is it pretty much what I touched on above? And, where are you based when you’re back home? Are you homesick?
MEG: I get asked this a lot, and I’ve got to say there were two things comparison wise that I found harder to deal with: the food (which you touched on) and the supermarkets. I missed stores like Walmart and Target where everything could be found in one place, Tesco and Asda just weren’t the same. And the food was… different, yeah. I was used to a lot more in the way of flavour and options. I’m from Florida, so I honestly think that made living in England easier. Sure it’s cold, but the weather had nothing on Florida monsoons. I was actually surprised by how little it rained, and it was cool to finally get to see seasons. Most everything was expected, though. British TV doesn’t tell you everything, but I watch enough of it and knew enough people living there to have a general gist.

BBJ: We’re very interested in your fascination with hockey. What inspired this – a love of sports, a love of sexy men, a love of strong men in tight clothing? All of the former?
MEG: So, I’m going to preface this with saying I’m an oddball. I fell in love with hockey thanks to fan fiction, and I stayed because the players are dorks. I wasn’t into sports beforehand, and I don’t have the slightest interest in any other sports now. Hockey’s kind of it for me. The players “um” their way through interviews, their player-to-player dynamic makes me go all warm and fuzzy, the way they defend each other on the ice does things to my heart, and watching their casual interviews/team videos never fails to make me laugh.

BBJ: What comes first – characters who pop into your mind and make you tell their stories, or a storyline around which you create your characters? Or does it differ book by book?    
MEG: It’s a little of both? I’ll get an idea revolving around a very generic plot point – no detail, nothing – and I’ll sit down to write it. Until that point, I don’t usually have character names or an idea of anything other than how I want them to meet.

BBJ: What do you miss most about the US when living in the UK? Can you name 5 things that you guys do better than us (please, we’re all friends here, so be kind!), and can you pretty please try and scrounge up 5 things that you could lie about pretend soft-sell as us doing better?
MEG: Oops, I kind of answered this in the last one. I miss the US stores the most. Ummmm… five things…. Food is definitely one of them (sorry). I think proper ranch and peanut butter are life essentials. Roundabouts and lack of stop signs. I found this just bizarre, and no one I asked could explain the point of a roundabout. I think we do street signs better, lol. And movie theatres. I couldn’t wrap my head around why they kept the lights on and the arranged seating. Very awkward. As for five things the Brits do better, let’s see: public transportation (the tube is by far the best and easiest), the theatre (live plays), street fairs/markets, your historical landmarks are better (imo), and the cost of education is much better.

BBJ: Can you tell us what inspired your Christmas novella, Cursed Miracles? Could it be that you’re a secret Bollywood fan, which features that same theme so much?  Come on, fess up – how many Bollywood movies have you watched, and which is your fave? We hear you’re a film buff, right?
MEG: Cursed Miracles actually came about after reading a reincarnation fanfic. It had a completely different twist (the characters could both remember past lives and always found each other, and they spent a good deal of time apart because one could remember them a little too clearly) and it’s one of my favourites. I wanted to do something different from my past Christmas shorts, and the first proper romance novels I read were historical Julie Garwoods, so I kind of mix and matched elements I’d liked throughout the years.

BBJ: How do you feel about the America that’s shaping up for the next four years following the recent presidential election?
MEG: To say I’m unhappy with the state of things would be an understatement. There’s a lot of rage and frustration involved, along with a lot of disappointment and upset to put it mildly. I think the next several years are going to be very ugly, and unfortunately that belief grows with every passing day.

BBJ: What comes to mind when you see a guy modelling Andrew Christian undies? Sexy or something else? This is actually kind of a scientific question around how the female psyche works, so we need a detailed explanation, please. 😉
MEG: Have you ever seen Crazy Stupid Love? Because I’m definitely Emma Stone when Ryan Gosling takes off his shirt in these situations. A lot of hot damn, and how, and just disbelief anyone can look so good.

BBJ: Which would trust more when considering buying a book, Meg – a 5* review that’s quite bland/inoffensive/generic-ish or overly effusive or a 3* review that’s more detailed and critically constructive?
MEG: In general, I steer clear of reviews, but if I was basing a purchase on one, I’d say the three star would sell me. There’s a decent chance, if someone doesn’t like something (movie/book/show/etc.) I’ll like it. I have a very unique criteria for what I like, and often I find it doesn’t match up with most others.

BBJ: So, the The Carlisles series has just spawned Denver's tale, Shifting Views (out on 10th Feb 2017) - can you let us into some secrets about what comes next? Will any side characters get their own tale, such as the sweet, lovely Cole who works at the bakery? Or Eric's hockey mate (who I initially thought would end up with Denver)? And, will there be a 'tie all the ends up, Bollywood-style' book to mark the end of the series, if and when you reach that point?
MEG: I don’t like to say it’ll never happen, because who knows I might get some inspiration or change my mind, but as of right now I have no plans to continue on in this verse. For me the tales are told, and the Carlisles are done. As for what comes next in general, well, it’s a work in progress lol. Life has taken some turns, so I think 2017 will be a somewhat slow year for me, at least at this point. I’d like to eventually get another series out, something to do with second chances maybe.
BBJ: Please describe your ideal day in the UK, and in the US.
MEG: Hmm, they’re going to sound pretty similar (boring I know). Both would involve some form of outdoor activity – going to the zoo, taking a hike, visiting historical sites (but not museums) – and they’d end with, in the UK’s case, the theatre and the US’s case a concert or hockey game.

BBJ: Meg, we’re intrigued about your rather unique style of writing in 1st Person POV, Present tense and would love to know how this came about, and how you discipline yourself to stay in this mode when writing, ‘cos that can’t be easy, right?
MEG: I’m a case of I write what I’m used to reading. I almost exclusively read fan fiction, and 90% of that is written in present tense. It’s what I’ve been reading for about ten years now. Present tense comes very naturally to me, and I don’t find myself slipping tenses, whereas with past tense I’ll be writing, look up the page, and somewhere mid-sentence I’ve flipped from past to present without realizing it.

BBJ: And now, the quick-fire round:
What’s your star sign and how typical of it are you? Sagittarius, and it’s as spot on as I think these signs manage to go.
How does a UK Christmas compare to a US Thanksgiving? Umm, I’d imagine big meal wise they’d be the same in the family element, but that’s probably it. I always went home for Christmas.
What’s your favourite perfume on a woman and scent on a guy?    I don’t go for any specific brand, I’m a fan of vanilla and cinnamon scents on both genders.               
Describe yourself in one word.  Awkward.            
Finally, what’s annoyed you most in the UK so far, and what was your reaction?  Paying for the restroom. Hands down, this drove me the craziest. They’re few and far between, and then I never seemed to have the right change on hand.     

Amazon        ~        Dreamspinner Press

Thanks for popping in, Meg. We hope you had fun and we can’t wait for more books from you (so you’d better let us know when something’s nearing completion. Or else!).
MEG: Thanks for having me!

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