I grew up in Minnesota where I went to the same all-boys school that Senator Al Franken went to. He was a few years ahead of me. We didn’t call him “Senator” then. Probably for most of us there, girls seemed mysterious and elusive. I also only grew up with brothers, so I was deprived. Books and movies showed me the opposite sex. The stories seemed real, so maybe girls were real.
I thought I’d become a filmmaker, and I went to the University of Denver to do so, where I discovered I loved a coeducational environment, and I also liked to write. I came to California to make movies, then switched first to playwriting, then to fiction. I teach English and creative writing and publish. My wife is a damned good librarian, and I have great kids, one now in his twenties, the other in high school.
I learned it takes a lot to get what you want in life, but push, stay focused, and keep a sense of humor at all times. Coffee, dark chocolate, and a Pilot Precise V5 pen are three wonderful things.
DWED: How was the concept of “Blood Drama” born?
I came to Blood Drama as part of my journey as a writer. I started as a journalist, writing for magazines and reviewing theatre and books for newspapers. I became a playwright, and I discovered that writing short stories was a synthesis of the two. I could write the “truth” as in narrative magazine articles, but using the drama I learned as a playwright. I could change the names and details to focus more deeply on the story. Fiction felt amazing to me—a way to approach how I see the world.
My short stories led to novel writing. I had an agent who said collections of short stories didn’t make money, so I should write novels.
My first and second novels, The Brightest Moon of the Century and Love at Absolute Zero were loosely based on things that happened in my life. After the short stories and the novels, I didn’t having any more amazing real-life experiences to write about. However, I’d been correcting my college students’ papers often at a Starbucks in a bank lobby near my house. I realized that I was there so often, I might witness a bank robbery someday. Guns might go off. I wondered what I would do if that happened. That notion led to Blood Drama.
The novel’s idea excited me, too, because I wanted to write a genre novel, a thriller. Those have their own rules. All forms have rules, but I’d have plenty of wiggle room. That’s because relationships always interest me, and I knew there would be a relationship in the story. After I learned the FBI was in charge of bank robberies, I created Aleece Medina, a no-nonsense special agent. She became so interesting to me, she earned her own storyline.
DWED: How does Blood Drama stand out? What does it offer, and more importantly what can readers find within it pages?
As I mentioned earlier, writing is a journey. Now that I’ve been teaching creative writing for nineteen years, I’ve found that in my explaining things, I’ve looked for clear ways to get my students to understand narrative structure. I’ve pushed the elements of action and realization a great deal, which has also seeped through to my writing. This book has a tight pace and rich character. People find it a fast read. If readers like getting sucked into a story, even if it’s not their usual genre, try it out. Good stories are not easy to come by—true for writers, too. I enjoyed writing it, and it shows.
DWED: How is the critical feedback for “Blood Drama” so far?
As I write this, this is the first day of the blog tour, and the book won’t be published for two more weeks. Most reviews are still to come. Even so, a few early reviews have rolled in, and they’ve been great. I like that people love the characters, and one reviewer, Kristina Davis, even said she hopes for a sequel. We’ll see.
I’m not a didactic writer. I’m not Ayn Rand, for instance, carving my narratives to fit a philosophy. However, theme is always important, and I hope people see in my protagonists that while they have weaknesses and vulnerabilities, they are mostly optimistic people. Some might call them slightly clueless. Yet they have drive and the belief that good things can happen.
In her review of The Brightest Moon of the Century, critic Meghan Burton wrote, “Christopher Meeks captures life's unpredictability while retaining a message of the hope that inspires us all.” I like that idea. It also fits in a tweet.
DWED: Where will you be stopping next for your tour?
Next is Lori Lutes at She Treads Softly, who will be reviewing the book. She reviewed Love at Absolute Zero two years ago, and I remember her liking the book so much, she thought it should be a movie. I do, too.
DWED: Would you say the journey to publishing was easy or hard? Why?
Publishing is hard for most people because it can be so daunting. Getting an agent is no easy task, and then jumping though the next hurdles—finding a publisher and getting the manuscript in top shape after feedback—can be hard. Self-publishing is no easy task, either. Most writers are terrible marketers.
Then, with so many books published, it’s easy to get lost. According to Bowker, the company that creates ISBN numbers for books, this is how many books have been recently published:
· 300,000 books were published in the U.S. 2003.
· 411,422 books were published in the U.S. in 2007.
· 1,052,803 books were published in the U.S. 2009.
· Approximately 3,000,000 books were published in the U.S. in 2011.
Let’s compare these numbers to the number of movies shown in movie theatres. It seems as if we’re inundated with movies, doesn’t it? We had nearly 260 titles in theatres in 2011. Compare that to over three million book titles the same year. For people who don’t have a book blog as you do, the number of books read is likely to be fewer than the number of movies they saw.
These days, there are two basic ways to be published: 1) through finding an agent who finds you a major publisher or 2) self-publishing. Of course, there are variations in between, such as finding a small publisher with or without an agent.
To make a long story short, I worked as the senior editor at a small publishing house after I graduated with an MFA in writing from USC. I landed one agent, then another, I loved their enthusiasm. The last one found three enthusiastic editors for Love at Absolute Zero, but the big publishers’ marketing departments said no. It was too unusual a book. (A quantum physicist falls in love, connecting physics with the heart.) Thus I created White Whisker Books. I publish four authors so far, including myself, and to do it right, I use editors, proofreaders, publicists, and designers. I even found Teddy Rose, book blog tour operator extraordinare. I’m very happy with the results and with the readers who now are fans. Now I’m getting spoiled, as the books look so good, and I’ve been blessed with mostly great reviews.
DWED: What can we look forward to seeing from you throughout 2013?
I’m on my fifth draft of a mystery, 10 Days to a Bad Habit, and it may come out before the end of the year. Also, I’m publishing E. Van Lowe’s paranormal romance series, the Falling Angel Saga. The fourth and last book of the series, Falling, is coming out in December. David Scott Milton’s noir mystery Iron City is selling well, and Shelly Lowenkopf’s nonfiction book, The Fiction Writer’s Handbook just became a finalist for a major award, ForeWord Reviews’ Book of the Year. It’s a book for aspiring writers.
I’ve also started a new collection of short fiction. My original agent was wrong. Short fiction sells if you market well and are patient.
DWED: What would you say to all aspiring authors?
The main thing is to be obsessive about content. Write, rewrite, and rewrite a few more times. Two things are particularly difficult: finding and staying with the love of your life, and writing a really great book. Becoming a millionaire is probably easier than those things. If you want a tongue-in-cheek view of what I think authors need to do, see my short YouTube video by clicking here.
DWED: Is there anything we haven’t covered that you would like your readers and potential readers to know about both your work and yourself?
In the aftermath of our news, filled with such sad things as the Boston bombing and the three girls being held hostage for a decade, it’s the small positive things in life that count for a lot—such as a great kiss, a good meal with friends, planting tomatoes—and writing a really great simile (“like a steak in a vampire’s mouth”). Enjoy those things and more.
About the Author:
Christopher Meeks first published short fiction in a number of literary journals, and the stories are available in two collections, The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea and Months and Seasons. Recently, he’s focused on novels. The Brightest Moon of the Century is a story of a man who yearns for love and success, covering over thirty years—a tale that Marc Schuster of Small Press Reviews describes as “a great and truly humane novel in the tradition of Charles Dickens and John Irving.” His last novel, Love At Absolute Zero, is about a physicist who uses the tools of science to find his soul mate–and he has just three days. Critic Grady Harp calls the book “a gift.” The new novel, Blood Drama, has him edge into a thriller. Meeks also runs White Whisker Books and publishes four authors.
Christopher at the Red Room: http://redroom.com/member/christopher-meeks
Christopher’s Website www.chrismeeks.com
Christopher on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/christopher.meeks1?fref=ts
Christopher on Twitter https://twitter.com/MeeksChris
Follow the Tour:
So Many Precious Books May 13 Review & Giveaway
Books, Books & More Books May 14 Review
Books, Books & More Books May 15 Interview
Alive on the Shelves May 16 Review
Ordinary Girls May 17 Review
DWED Blog May 20 Review
DWED Blog May 21 Interview
She Treads Softly May 22 Review
Reading With Tea May 23 Review
Darlene’s Book Nook May 24th Interview &Giveaway
Green Mountain May 27 Review
Book Lover’s Library May 28 Review
Book Lover’s Library May 29 Interview & Giveaway
Raging Bibliomania May 30 Review
Hezzi D’s Books & Cooks June 3 Review
Celtic Lady June 4 Interview
OmniMyMystery June 6 I
Laurie’s Thoughts & Reviews June 10 Review
Laurie’s Thoughts & Reviews June 11 Interview
I’d Rather be Reading June 12 Review & Giveaway
Self Taught Cook June 14 Review
Wormhole June 17 Review
Wormhole June 18 Interview & Giveaway