Please welcome Merrie Destefano to Short & Sweet Reviews. Merrie Destefano is the author of Afterlife, Feast, and Waiting for Midnight (SS). Merrie’s new YA Fathom, an e-book just released earlier this month available wherever e-books are sold.
Hi Merrie! Welcome to Short & Sweet Reviews blog, thanks for being here today!
Can you give readers the elevator pitch for Fathom?
I am horrible at elevator pitches. Eeek. Partly because I hate elevators and partly because I freeze up when I think the pressure is on. Oh, eeek! My pitch:
All of her life, Kira Callahan has struggled with the fact that her mother killed herself and Kira’s sister. But when Kira turns 16, she discovers that nothing is as it seems, not the mysterious deaths of her sister and mother, not her heritage, not even her best friend. And everything seems to hinge on the ancient Celtic legends that her mother used to tell her as a child.
Where did you get the inspiration/idea for Fathom?
Believe it or not, the whole story evolved from an exercise where you had to write about a specific place. I chose a tree house and in the beginning I was thinking of a tree house from my childhood. All of my older brothers and sisters could get up there, but I never could. So I wanted a story where the main character could get in the tree house and had happy memories being up there. This became a pivotal scene where the mother is spending time with the daughters, telling them the legends from their homeland, Ireland. Even though I ended up cutting that scene from the book, it was still the genesis of the project.
What made you decide to write a Young Adult novel?
I’ve loved and have been reading young adult books for years. But it surprised me when I sat down to write my next book and it came out as a young adult novel! I put the beginning of Fathom aside to finish Feast, then later came back to it because I loved the main character and her story so much.
What made you want to self-publish? What is the process like?
It’s a little bit of a long story, but my agent shopped the book for a few months last year. One editor liked it quite a bit, but in the end didn’t buy it because that house already had something similar. Time passed, my agent and I parted ways, and then in September other books similar to mine started to come out. I thought, well, if Fathom had been purchased by a publisher, the book would be releasing right about now, when all these other books about sea creatures are coming out. So, I decided to self-publish. I knew the book itself was ready. It had been extensively edited and polished. Self-publishing is a lot different that publishing with a traditional house, though, and I’m still trying to figure everything out. I’ve worked in publishing for more than 20 years, but it’s still a bit overwhelming to take on a project like this by yourself. However, I don’t define myself by who publishes me. I define myself by the quality of my work. I’d love to be traditionally published again, and hope to be one day, but in the meantime I won’t stop writing, waiting for the phone to ring.
Tell us three interesting things about yourself that can’t be found in your biography section.
Let’s see. How about things that relate to me as a teenager, since my new book is YA…
1. Much like the main character in Fathom, I felt like an outsider in junior high and high school.
2. I ran way from home when I was 16.
3. When I returned home, I had to go to summer school and night school to make up the semester I missed, so I could graduate with my class.
If you had magical powers, which would it be?
As a young girl, I loved Superman, so my answer is—I want to fly!
Have you ever experienced anything ‘paranormal’ in your life?
Not sure if it’s paranormal, probably more supernatural, but sometimes I “know” things before they happen. Really bizarre things. Like when I was interviewing people for an assistant, I met one girl and thought, oh, wow, she’d make a great wife for _ _ _ _ (someone in our company.) So, I hired her. And sure enough, a while later, they fell in love and got married.
Do you see yourself going back to write a sequel for Afterlife or Feast?
Not right now, but maybe someday in the future.
What other projects can we look forward to reading from you in the future?
I have another completed YA novel named Valiant that I’m shopping to agents. This one is sci-fi, with lots of action, and an amazing main character named Sara. I’d love to see that book find a home with a traditional publisher.
Do you have any advice to aspiring writers?
Study the craft. Become the best writer you can be—then write, a lot. Join a writer’s group and let people critique your work. Read your work out loud. Don’t compare yourself to other writers or worry about what contracts, agents, book deals your friends get. Writing is a journey and, if you work hard and don’t give up, you will end up where you are supposed to be. But most importantly, DON’T GIVE UP!
Finish this statement: You’ll enjoy Fathom if you like…
Romance, paranormal creatures, mystery, and ghost stories.
Facebook or Twitter?
Vanilla, but I like frozen yogurt better than ice cream.
Coke or Pepsi?
Favorite Paranormal Creature?
Right now, Selkies!
E-reader or physical book?
Lately, e-reader. I use an iPad.
Skydiving or bungee-jumping?
OMG! So funny. My husband loves skydiving and I went up in the plane with him once. Anyone who’s ever done that knows it’s way scarier than jumping. Easy answer—I’m staying on the ground!
Thanks for being here Merrie!
Thank you for inviting me, Van!
With twenty years’ experience in publishing, Merrie Destefano left a 9-to-5 desk job as the editor of Victorian Homes magazine to become a full-time novelist. Her first two novels, Afterlife: The Resurrection Chronicles and Feast: Harvest of Dreams were published by HarperVoyager. Fathom is both her first YA novel and her first indie published novel. When not writing, she loves to camp in the mountains, walk on the beach, watch old movies and listen to
alternative music—although rarely all at the same time. Born in the Midwest, she now lives in Southern California with her husband, their two German shepherds and a Siamese cat.