Katie: Thanks for coming back to us Merrie! How have things been since last time we talked?
Merrie: Thanks for having me back, Katie! I’m really excited to be here. How have things been—crazy, wild and fun. And I can’t believe I already have another book coming out. Eeeek!
Sharon: I wasn’t here last time you visited. So glad to talk with you.
Merrie: Sharon, I’m so glad you’re here!
Katie: Yes, Sharon has been a godsend for us. We love her to bits!
Sharon: Not literally though!!
Katie: Can you tell us a little about your new book Feast?
Merrie: Sure! The main character, Maddie MacFadden, and her nine-year-old son go on a retreat to a small village in the mountains. There she also discovers that the town of Ticonderoga Falls has a well-kept secret—every year, on Halloween, dark winged creatures from another world come to harvest human dreams. Unfortunately, the hunt gets out of control and soon everyone in town, including Maddie and her son, are in grave danger.
Sharon: Where did the idea for Darklings with an appetite for dreams come from?
Merrie: I was working on another (still unpublished) book that had REALLY bad guys. Like, these were the worst bad guys the world has ever seen and writing about them was seriously creeping me out. So, as a result, I had many sleepless nights. One night I was laying awake and, to keep myself from thinking about the truly, evil, bad guys that are REAL, I made myself come up with another creature. My parameters were this: they didn’t sleep, they weren’t evil (most of the time, anyway), they visited humans while humans were sleeping, but their intentions were good. So from that, I came up with Liash, who eventually became Lily, Ash’s wife. I took a break from writing my scary book to write a short story about these new creatures, who came to earth to harvest humans dreams.
Sharon: Some of these Darklings are still very scary! The big fight scene at the end was kind of dark and brutal (being vague here so I don’t ruin the book ;)
Merrie: LOL. I guess the bottom line is, I don’t really know how to write sweet and innocent. Even the nicest stories turn a bit wicked after I start writing. I’m glad that some of the Darklings were scary, though. That tells me that I successfully created a strong villain. =)
Katie: How different is Feast from your debut novel Afterlife?
Merrie: Quite a bit, I think. Afterlife was more sci-fi, with some urban fantasy elements. This is pure fantasy. Afterlife dealt with humans (and a dog), and the only supernatural/paranormal element was the fact that we had discovered immortality. In Feast, there are brand new creatures, who have characteristics of vampires, fairies, doppelgangers, shape shifters and Muses. Afterlife was more of a cautionary tale, while Feast is more of a dark fairy tale. Both have HEAs, although in Afterlife, the main character, Chaz, pays a high price for his HEA. All that said, I do think that people who read Afterlife will enjoy Feast.
Sharon: I have read both so I agree with this. I personally love that fantasy feel to Feast. Like I say in my review, there is nothing like it on the market today.
Merrie: Thanks, Sharon!
Sharon: Did you intend to write a dark fairy tale from the beginning?
Merrie: Yes, that was absolutely my intention and I’m so glad that you picked up on that! I grew up loving fairy tales—they were my first introduction to the world of fantasy—and I wanted to write a fairy tale for adults. But I didn’t want to rewrite an existing fairy tale or use fairies. I wanted readers to get caught up in the story and the world, just like I did when I read those stories as a child. If you read the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales, there was almost always a huge sacrifice and then a lesson to be learned. That’s my interpretation, anyway. So, I wanted to create a character who was torn apart by something that had happened in his past (Ash), and then show how his actions had affected an entire town. I also wanted to offer him a chance at redemption. To me, that’s the ultimate way to show hope in a story.
Sharon: You definitely achieved your goal then! If you go in thinking this is an Urban Fantasy or PNR you might not appreciate the story for what it is.
Merrie: You could be right. I do hope that Feast manages to get a wider audience and that people who like all the subgenres of fantasy will consider it.
Katie: How long did it take you to write this book?
Merrie: Oh, my gosh. It probably took about a year and a half, but the journey for this book seemed a LOT longer than that. I ended up having writer’s block, much like the main character in the book. As a result, at one point I threw away the first half of the book—150 pages—and completely started over from scratch. (My writer’s group was so mad at me!) Later, after the book was finally finished, I went back and reread the pages that I had thrown out. I honestly don’t know why I did that! The pages I had written were fine, I had just lost self-confidence somewhere along the way. Also, I had never read any fairy books at the time (like Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr or Tithe by Holly Black), so it seemed to me as if my characters were just too unbelievable. I ended up changing the Darklings and making them more like vampires. Then later, after I read a few modern fairy books, I realized that the original version had been fine. I vowed to never do that again. From now on, I will write a book from start to finish before I begin any major edits. Consequently the book I wrote after Feast (which is still secret, but will hopefully be sold by the end of the summer) went very smoothly and was written in about half the time. I definitely learned a painful, but important less while writing this book.
Katie: If you could go on a date with anyone from past or present who would it be and why?
Merrie: I’d like to go on a dinner date with Frida Kahlo. She’s an artist that I greatly admire and I would have loved the opportunity to sit and chat with her.
Katie: So now I have to follow up with where would you like to go?
Sharon: Don’t forget what you would eat for dessert!
Merrie: I love eating outdoors and there’s a really fun Cuban restaurant—Habana—not far from where I live. So I would love to go there, sit beneath the trees with all the candles glowing and the stars just beginning to peek out in the heavens. We could eat chicken empanadas and beef bocaditos and crab cakes laced with cilantro, listening to the music and the laughter from the other tables. After dinner we would go somewhere else for dessert, someplace we could share a thick slice of chocolate cake topped with homemade vanilla bean ice cream. And all the while, she would be telling me what it was like to be such an influential artist, married to an equally talented artist, Diego Rivera. I’d want to hear about their parties and their fights and their travels.
Sharon: You put another German Shepard in your book. Did Jacob and Caleb harass you into doing this?
Merrie: (laughing) How did you know? Those guys just won’t leave me alone unless they get a part in my books. I tricked them though. I wrote another book (still unsold) while working on Feast, and I put a cat in that book. The dogs don’t know what I’ve done yet, but my Siamese cat is pretty excited.
Sharon: It is only fair that the cat gets a part too as long as he/she doesn’t become a Diva because of it
Merrie: Hezzie, the cat, is so sweet. I don’t think he even knows the meaning of the word diva. He was a rescue cat and he’s just a furry bundle of love. Not a mean bone in his little body. Although he will let the dogs know if they’ve upset him. =)
Katie: Who in your eyes is the sexiest superhero?
Merrie: Hands down, no contest—Superman. I’ve been in love with him since I was about twelve. Although, a close second was a superhero that few people remember—Brainiac 5, a green-skinned, blonde-haired member of the Legion of Superheroes.
Katie: This is all in the DC Universe and while I’m NOT fan of DC I do know some of the characters…the green skinned guy from the planet Colu being one of them. *winks*
Sharon: Uh, I have no idea what you guys are talking about, but I did have a crush on Aquaman.
Merrie: Katie, yeah, you have to take the time period into account. When I was growing up DC comics were the bomb. I think I spent all my allowance on comics, but Superman was always my favorite.
Sharon: Did you use your experiences as an author to develop Maddie? Do creatures of your imagination follow you around?
Merrie: Absolutely. I struggle with writer’s block frequently, so I could really relate to what she was going through. Also, I needed a character whose imagination needed a recharge, since that is one of the side-benefits of having your dreams harvested, so Maddie’s struggle was crucial to the plot. Do my imaginary creatures follow me around? Um, yes. And when I was five I had an imaginary friend who was very real to me.
Katie: Where can fans find you in the coming months?
Merrie: Well, I’m going to be hanging out a lot online during the Feast blog tour. Details for the tour can be found here [link: http://merriedestefanowebsite.blogspot.com/2010/12/post-six.html]. Also, in July I’ll be speaking on a panel at Comic Con in San Diego and then in October, I’ll be at World Fantasy Con, also in San Diego.
Katie: IF the comicgods shine in our favor we will be seeing you at Comic-Con!!!
Sharon: You mean *you will be seeing her. You lucky dog! I would so love to make it to a Comic Con.
Merrie: No way! You’re going to Comic Con? That would be so cool to see you there, Katie. And Sharon, I’m sorry you won’t be able to make it. =(
Sharon: I have been asking people this lately. Finish this sentence…“people think I am weird because…”
Merrie: “…I have so many ideas.” I know that might not seem weird, but I’ve worked in publishing departments where my job was to come up with new products and the people I’ve worked with always seemed amazed by how quickly I can come up with new ideas. It causes a bit of a problem as an author because I can already see that I’ll never have to time to write all the books I have ideas for. I think I’m going to have to start writing more short stories and novellas, since those are quicker, if I ever want all of my ideas to be born.
Sharon: I was looking more for the “I let the dog lick my toes clean” type of thing
Merrie: Uh-oh, I gave the wrong answer. The only problem is, my dog clean everyone’s toes, so nobody thinks that is weird. LOL.
Katie: Okay. So my son, Logan, has a knock knock joke for you. lol. “Knock-Knock.”
“Who's there?” (Logan says) “Please.”(I'll let you take it from here Merrie)
Merrie: “Please stop knocking unless you have chocolate cake and you want to share.”
Katie: LOL That’s a good one, I’m going to steal that line from you Merrie. His ends with “Please let me in it’s cold outside!” lol. Ahh the mind of a 5 year old. (And a big squeeze for my little guy who turns 5 the DAY this interview posts! Love you!)
Sharon: If you have chocolate cake, I am will be knocking on your door too Merrie! Happy birthday to Logan too
Merrie: Awww, Logan sounds so adorable! NOBODY would let him stand outside in the cold, so he has a pretty good answer! Tell him happy birthday for me. And Sharon, if you knocked on my door while holding chocolate cake, the door would open so fast you would think you were in a time warp. =)
Katie: And now we move on to the Rapid Fire Round. We don't have to ask the Coke vs Pepsi since you picked right last time. lol You know the drill so let's get right to it. Ready?…..Set……GO!
Merrie: Wait, was that my cue to get ready? Um, lacing up my shoes, almost ready…
Katie: Don’t worry, you got this! Go!
Merrie: Crossing fingers…
Katie: Hammer or Axe
Merrie: Oh, man. Build or destroy? I think I’ll go with hammer. At least I know I’m strong enough to pick that one up. Unless of course we’re talking about Mjölnir.
Sharon: is Thor attached to that hammer?
Merrie: LOL. I’d NEVER be able to pick up that hammer if Thor was attached!
Sharon: Shed Ender or Brush
Merrie: Brush, though to no effect. Hair is still everywhere.
Sharon: We had a Siberian Husky so I know what you mean!
Merrie: I fight a never-ending battle against the Evil World of Dog Hair.
Katie: Skipping or Jumping
Merrie: Skipping. You know, merrily. (yuk yuk)
Katie: I say we should take a skipping break just for laughs. *extends hand to Merrie* Shall we?
Sharon: (grabs hold) Don’t forget me!
Merrie: Yay! Skipping with friends. Giggling.
Sharon: Peas Porridge Hot or Peas Porridge Cold
Merrie: Hot. Definitely. Cold = shivers.
Katie: Ring or Bracelet
Merrie: Ring. Lots of them and all in silver, please.
Katie: Same here, no gold for me please.
Merrie: Yeah, it caused a bit of a conundrum since my original wedding ring was gold. I’ve since purchased a vintage wedding set in white gold to solve the problem.
Sharon: Sunshine or Moonshine (not the kind you drink
Katie: SUCH a CA answer. *winks*
Katie: Iron Man or Captain America
Merrie: Really? I mean, Iron Man. Of course.
Katie: Stark IS sexy I’ll give you that.
Merrie: =) ‘Nuff said!
Sharon: Pencil or Pen
Katie: Cocktails or Shots
Merrie: Hmmm. Since I don’t drink, I’ll go with virgin cocktails.
Sharon: Cake or Pie
Merrie: I love them both—I can’t choose! This is like Sophie’s Choice. Okay, I confess: CAKE!! With lots of frosting.
Sharon: Yellow cake with chocolate frosting….dang, now I want some
Merrie: Cake. Sometimes I feel like a zombie moaning about brains. Caaaaake.
Katie: Big Red or Juicy Fruit
Merrie: Whoa. Can I pick Trident?
Merrie: No? Okay, Big Red.
Sharon: Mozart or Beethoven
Merrie: Beethoven, definitely. To be specific, Symphony Number Seven, Second Mvt. I listened to that over and over while writing my first book. Which was—ahem—never published.
Katie: Kirk or Picard
Merrie: Again, really? Is there a question? Kirk. Always and forever, I am Team Star Trek. Now if you’d asked, Kirk or Spock, the answer would have been Spock, for he’s my true Vulcan love. I’ve had a crush on that long-eared guy since I was a teenager.
Katie: See for me that would be Picard, I’m all about Next Gen.
Sharon: uh, again can’t relate
Merrie: Katie, I think people who grew up watching Next Gen really identified with it. Unfortunately, I was never able to sink my teeth into that series. I did like some of the other Star Trek spin offs though, like Voyager and Deep Space Nine. And I LOVED all of the movies, even those that featured Next Gen.
Katie: Fair enough. :)
Sharon: Corn Hole or Lawn Darts
Merrie: Drawing a blank. At least I know what a dart is so I’ll say Lawn Darts. And then hide when you’re choosing teams.
Sharon: Corn hole is a semi-new game that southerners like to play at pig pickings or any lawn party. You throw a bean bag into a hole in a box.
Merrie: I might be able to do that! I can throw a bean bag. I think.
Katie: Ha ha Sharon said "corn hole" lmao.
Katie: Vin Diesel or Paul Walker
Merrie: Paul Walker. Those killer blue eyes.
Katie: Thanks so much for coming back and chatting again, anything you would like to add before we go?
Merrie: Thank you for having me! It was great fun.
Sharon: hugs, Merrie.
Merrie: Big hugs back, Sharon!
Katie: I’ll let you two have this moment only because I got hugs last time. lol
Sharon: Yeah, but we are having hugs *and cake so you better join in!
Merrie: Even more hugs and cake for everyone!
Prize giveaway time!!! In the comments below please make sure to list BOTH things to be automatically entered to win the Merrie Prize-pack which includes:
signed Feast and Afterlife books,
tote bag, buttons and bookmarks!
1. Your Email address
2. What you would expect to be served if you were invited to a feast?
Contest will run until July 7th at midnight. Double your chances to win by following our blog. Good luck!