Thursday, October 22, 2015

Author Interviews: D. J. Meyers


I was born beneath a lamington blanket on a pavlova pillow in Melbourne, Australia. A place about as far from anywhere in the world as you can get, unless you're familiar with a map of Tassie, which I'm sure you all are.

I spent many years writing songs, but the past ten years have been all about the novel. Why? Because it was there.

So, what do I like. Hmmm... good question, mysterious internet user. Well, I majored in English and history, love a good shot of sci-fi or a classic, and spend my spare time travelling the world. You'll find many of the ports I have visited depicted in the novels I write, from Europe to Asia, Australia and Africa.

A challenge is what I require when writing a book, a mystery of plot and a few multi-faceted characters. This eclecticism stems from my penchant for variety. I enjoy many things in many arenas and infuse my tales accordingly.

So what is the Gargoyle, who is D J the writer? Those questions are as difficult as my birth and the birth of these books, but if you are interested, if you have an intrepid mind, sample Tales of Yorr or Birth of Venus. There are many others written, yet to be released, from mysteries to historical fiction, sci-fi and historical romances, all infused with a unique sense of humour. See samples of them all at www.thegargoylechronicles.com.au.


1. What are the Gargoyle Chronicles and how did the name come about?

The Gargoyle Chronicles encompasses my entire body of work – about 30 completed novels and a few incomplete. The name came about during the first five, which are a set of mysteries with the same characters. Each novel happened to feature a gargoyle, mainly as I have an odd affinity with the creatures, and my brother had suggested I have a name for the set, so I came up with The Gargoyle Chronicles. Now each of my novels mentions a gargoyle. A fellow writer from the US suggested it would be a good name for a book – so I wrote a story where the MC is a stone gargoyle who hangs off Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. We see the world over 800 years through his eyes.

2. What's the spectrum of your writing style? Do you stick to specific genres or mediums? (Novels, short stories, screenplays...) How much unpublished work do you have lying around?

I have sampled a wide variety of styles, from fantasy to mystery, historical fiction and sci-fi. I often blend a couple of these, or all of them in a single novel. I also like to add a little realistic romance. My style blends humour and literary fiction, and I love twisting words and phrases. For me, the best novels can be read several times, and each read reveals something new. I also dabble in poetry, having been a song writer for many years, and I probably have about 30 completed pieces lying around, waiting to be scrubbed up and released on an unsuspecting world.

3. How long have you been writing, and what is one opinion about the craft you’ve had change over your career?

I wrote my first short novel at 11, but stuck to shorter forms until 11 years ago. I think in the past decade I have learnt a lot about character depth, twisting tales, adding detailed support characters and sub-plots. I also think I balance prose with dialogue far better, and am never afraid to add a humorous twist just when the reader least expects it.

4. Is there any terrible advice you’ve received for your book or career?

The best terrible advice I received was from a Harper Collins editor, who suggested I turn one of my books into a sort of Hunger Games tale – despite the fact my lead was a 20 something teacher (not a student) and got married and had a child. I think originality is what makes us writers, not copying a formula.

5. What are your biggest concerns about the current literary world?

My biggest concern about modern writing is the lack of imagination – it is there, but so many write to make a buck, with fan fiction, or rewrites of popular novels. We will only survive as writers if we challenge ourselves to keep creating something new.

6. What trends, tactics, styles, or genres would you like to see become popular in modern writing?

I would like to see more blended works – cross-genre writing, blending the best of styles to create new exciting works.

7. What trends would you like to see disappear?

And I would like to see less fan fiction and less mimics.

It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties.” -Abigail Adams

8. Where do you find yourself getting stuck most often—beginning, middle, or end?

I think the plan is the hardest part. Once I have a set plan (with room to wiggle through new ideas as they come to me) I usually rip through a novel in a few months.

9. If you could hire someone to do any of the writing work for you, what jobs would you assign to them?

I would definitely hire an editor. I almost said typist but typing out the things I scrawl in pen is like an inner edit, so I need that part.

10. What is an assumption people make about your career that bothers you?

Ooh, good question. I think a lot of friends and family think I am wasting my time, playing a game. Few really take me seriously, even when I went out an published my own work with a set plan and ideology. It would be nice to be taken seriously.

11. Tell us a little about Tales of Yorr.

Tales of Yorr (sic – Tales of Yorrick) is the story of an educated and maligned hunchback who happens to be the bastard son of King Richard III (you know, the skeleton in the car park.) He is a poet, a lover, a warrior and at times a jester for Henry VIII. It is a tale about history, and how the winner gets to tell their version, and how the deformed are so often left to the scrapheap of time.

12. How fast do you tend to write? How long is your editing process?

I write an 80,000 word novel in about three months. That is first draft in pen, second draft typed on the computer and third draft editing from the beginning. There are many more drafts after those first three months, often aided by a helpful band of authors whose works I edit in return. I am currently preparing a book of 130,000 words (a sequel to Tales of Yorr titled The Whispering Mime.) I began the work in February, but I have edited heavily as I wrote this one, and I am still editing 9 months later. Often I will write and edit, then let the book rest for 3 – 6 months before editing again. So editing can take a long time.

13. You are from Melbourne, Australia, but you write a lot about Europe and science-fiction novels in new, highly inventive worlds. How do feel about “write what you know” when it comes to setting?

I occasionally have parts of my novels set in Australia, but I am yet to have an idea that roots me permanently at home. My love of history and future worlds always draws me away from my home. I find with the historic novels I have to have been to most of the settings personally – thus, I travel a lot. I often get the feel of a new tale while on tour somewhere, so the write what you know theory is very important. My future worlds are often my vision of our future society – people never really change, only the colours of their settings do.

“But listen to the colour of your dreams.” A favourite quote from John Lennon.

14. If you met people like your characters, would you get along?

That’s an interesting question. Like all writers I love some of my characters, but I hate the villains. The most fascinating would be the historic characters – like Yorrick (even though he is made up) or Botticelli – my second published book is called Birth of Venus – about the artists supposed love with Simonetta Vespucci, a woman he is purported to have painted dozens of times, and whose feet he was buried at.

15. What was the hardest part in writing or publishing your first book?

The hardest part about publishing my first book (which was about the twentieth I wrote) was a single question – is it good enough? The cover came out beautifully, as did the internal design, but were there any errors, is it worthy of release? I could be egotistical and say OF COURSE – but that is not me. I am always questioning, always searching for perfection, but how much can one work on a piece before you write or edit the heart out of it? The best of my lines often come in the first draft. The editing is just placing those phrases and moments well.


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