On April 1, 2014, my dear friend Madi Merek will be celebrating the publication of her first book, Hello LAlaland. What better way to christen In Libri Quod Vinum Illic Est Verum, than by having a book birthday party? Pull up a chair, pour a flute of champagne, and join the fun!
Because Madi is a wonderful friend (truly my twin separated by birth and time), she let me play interviewer, so I could share some of her insights about her first publication with you.
Hello LAlaland heavily features Wini’s HS reunion. What were you like in high school?
Oh, high school . . . Well, I was an outspoken brat most of the time. I was very opinionated in politics and religion – very pious and incredibly innocent. We wouldn’t have been friends back then. Probably true. I would have mocked you, if I bothered to notice what you were doing at all (I was pretty bratty in high school myself).
I was so in love with the 1940s that one of my teachers let me prepare and teach her class for a few days. I put on Big Band music, brought recruitment posters, and the whole shebang. I wrote my first novel back then. It was about nurses and soldiers, using my friends names, and very amateur, but my senior year is when I began penning Message to New York – my next novel and masterpiece.
I sang in choir, wrote for the school newspaper, was a teacher’s aide a few times to get easy credits and play on the internet, and I published some of my poetry in the school’s “literary magazine.” I took French – my favorite language – for three years; I still think in it sometimes. I crushed on a few teachers, including an Italian one who looks a lot like my husband today. I loved the same boy through middle and high school, and **cough** I’m sure you can guess where that brings us with LAlaland. 😉
Wini has a few people at the reunion she wants to see. Did you stay close with anyone from high school? Is there anyone you want to see at your reunion that you didn’t stay in touch with?
Yeah, absolutely. Two of the girls I was friends with in middle school were in my wedding and are still my friends today. Shondra and Ashley (whose names have been combined to Ashley Gard in the book). We all live in different states, but we see each other a few times a year.
I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of people. I sort of feel like Wini in the respect of “I wonder if they’ll even recognize me?” vs. “I’m a freaking PUBLISHED AUTHOR . . . I bet some of these girls have read my book!” It’s a surreal feeling. I look forward to seeing Mr. Love of My Teenage Life (though I’ve seen him several times in the past two years), and all the people I was in choir with.
I’m afraid they’ll all be disappointed that my life’s ambition is no longer to become the First Lady of the USA (yes FLOTUS, not Madame President **rolls eyes**), but I bet they’ll all enjoy that I’m no longer the conservative, “Righty the Elephant,” Bible-carrying girl I used to be.
As a writer, you can’t help but be inspired by the people you know. Were characters from Hello LAlaland influenced by people in your life? Is anyone going to recognize him or herself in the book?
Of course! The girls I mentioned above play a role in the book, as well as one of my dearest friends (and Scarlett’s Godmother) Marcie. She always told me that she wished her name was spelled without the “e” so I gave her that, forever in print. I really don’t think that the boy who inspired it will notice, but who knows. I will give him a copy when I see him. **laughs** While I say that, Tony really is more my husband than anyone else. The sex, the delicious goodness of fighting and making babies – that’s all Jon.
The one thing that’s for sure is the people in my life who live in Westlake Village (where much of the story takes place) aren’t going to appreciate how I’ve depicted their little bubble – even though it’s accurate. We lived there for a time, and I got to see the ugliness of the “beautiful” people. What a bummer.
I know music plays a role in your writing process. What were your top 5 songs for writing Hello LAlaland?
OOOOOOOH! I love this question the most!! It was amazing how my playlist ranged from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Katy Perry to Frank Sinatra. **laughs**
1. “Dani California” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and (sorry to break the rules) “Californication” by the RHCP
2. “Cough Syrup” by Young the Giant
3. “Royals” by Lorde (I was listening to this before it was popular. Damn people taking away my hipster music. 😉 )
4. “All Eyes on You” by St. Lucia
5. “Last Nite” by The Strokes
Hello LAlaland is your first published work. What about the publishing process surprised you?
There was a lot of in-depth editing, suggestions of removing chunks of story for example. But I refused; instead I reworked those parts and moved them around to make sure they remained in the book. I was also surprised by how quickly my book was desired. I sent in the query and was negotiating a contract a week later. That was surprising and amazing!
The other thing that surprised me was the length of time it takes to publish something. It’s a long, but amazing process, and I can’t believe it’s here.
What can readers expect next from you?
YAY! This is my favorite question now!
What readers can expect next is my masterpiece. It’s a tumultuous historical/literary fiction, filled with angst and pain and joy, set in the late 1930s through the end of 1945.
It’s not your typical World War II historical fiction. Message to New York is about a female intelligence officer, truly one of the first of her kind, working in Austria during the Anschluß (German annexation of Austria). She’s in a marriage, as expected of women at the time, but in Austria she falls in love with a Jewish man named Max.
Readers can find more information about Message to New York on my website: http://www.authormadimerek.com/#!books/cx1l
Madi – thank you for the interview!
Next up, a look at the gorgeous cover and my review.
P.S. Check the sidebar – you can follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.