It has been a while since the last 'Behind the Pages' feature, like over a year now. So it's only fitting that I start this back up with new Indie author Meg Collett. You might know this awesome lady from her End of Days series, and most recently for her Contemporary release, Fakers. Meg will be giving away a boxset along with her latest, so continue below for that along with her interview with IFB.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, and when did you realize that you wanted to be an author?
I was born and raised in rural Tennessee, where I grew up reading and riding horses. When it was time for college, I bounced around a lot, transferring to a few different schools before I finally got my degree at the University of Tennessee. It was during that time that I realized I wanted to be an author. I started writing a book in 2008 when I was a freshman in college. It was the beginning of what would eventually become “The Hunted One”, which is the first book in my End of Days series.
2. Who are some of your biggest influences?
Back when I was a little girl, I loved reading Nancy Drew mysteries and The Saddle Club. Eventually, I grew into Nora Roberts and Mary Higgins Clark. Those books really spurred my love of reading. Now, as a writer, I look to people who are writing good stories and making it work as an author, which is a lot harder to do than you would think. People like Hugh Howey and Denise Grover Swank inspire me, because they are good industry savvy people. But Andrew Davidson (“The Gargoyle”) inspired my early writing style. That book just resonated so much with me. It’s a lovely story, and I recommend it to anyone who likes a touch of historical romance (it’s not a complete historical romance novel. I don’t really know how to describe it, but it’s amazing). Other influences include Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”, Charles Dickens’s “A Tale of Two Cities”, Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, Leigh Bardugo (new author of the Grisha trilogy. LOVED IT), the Harry Potter books, and Alice Hoffman.
3. I read that you quit your previous job to follow your dream of becoming a full-time writer. What was the deciding moment for you and did you have any fears whatsoever?
The deciding moment for me was more like a deciding few months. I would come home crying everyday, because I was so stressed out and unhappy with my job and my life at that point. For me, it was tough to sit through nine hours of work every day, knowing that it wasn’t what I really wanted to be doing. I wanted to write, and not being able to pursue that dream chewed at me. Finally, my husband and I sat down and decided that we were in a good enough position that I could quit my job and we would be okay. We had to make sacrifices, and I had to lease my beloved horse, but we made it work. We don’t buy new cars, and we stay in a small house with small rent. Hopefully, my writing will eventually earn a decent living for me. But right now, everything I make goes right back into producing the next book. Not a lot of people understand how truly expensive it is to produce a self-published book. They think it’s free, but they don’t see all the costs behind the scenes. My fear when I quit my job was that this dream of being a writer will only ever be a dream. It’s still my greatest fear.
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4. What's the inspiration behind the End of Days series?
Back in 2008 when I started writing what would eventually become the first book in the series, I was a homesick freshman at a college far away from home. My flight was delayed, and I was completely heartbroken. It seems like a little thing, but at the time that flight was the one thing keeping me from home. So I went back to my dorm and started writing. At first I wrote to rid myself of these bad emotions I was feeling, just to get them off my chest. At that time, I needed a story about redemption and someone who rises from the ashes of their own life. I needed to hear that, so I wrote it. It was a low point in my life, and I wanted to tell a story about another person’s low point and how they rose above it. Eventually angels and Heaven and Hell came into the picture, and the story became an epic tale of redemption.
5. How challenging was it for you, coming up with the plot, characters, much less writing in the paranormal genre?
It was really, really hard. I started “The Hunted One” in 2008, and I didn’t publish any version of that book until 2014. It took me that long to learn how to tell the story the right way. I had the characters already in my mind; that was the easy part. But getting the plot right was the thing that took me the longest. I knew the sensations and emotions of the story, but I didn’t know how to turn that feeling into events throughout the book. There’s literally hundreds of pages and thousands upon thousands of words from the “The Hunted One” that will never see the light of day. But I couldn’t give up on this story. Every time I tried to write something new, I was pulled back. Though it was challenging and pretty awful at times, I think I’ll always be the proudest of the End of Days series. Those three books are a culmination of characters that I practically grew up with. Michaela and her battles will always be in my heart.
6. Out of all three books, which was the toughest to write?
Once I actually figured out “The Hunted One”, it was probably the easiest to write. Definitely not the easiest to edit though. I still had a lot to learn. “The Lost One” had its own set of set of challenges because I dealt with Biblical plagues and an angel civil war. Plus, my characters traveled to Hell, so that was a whole new set of world-building. But I would say the hardest one of them all was “The Only One.” I knew in my heart this series would only be a trilogy, so this was the final time to wrap things up. The ending tormented me. I re-wrote it many times, on paper and in my head. It needed to be perfect. I needed to feel like I’d down Michaela justice, and that was what made this book the hardest one to write. Eventually, I had the right ending, and I cried every day I wrote it, because I was so sad this story was coming to an end.
7. Would you consider a spin-off series?
Actually there will be a stand-alone spin-off book from Clark’s point of view. At the end of “The Only One”, I said that his story would be continued, and I kind of leave readers at a cliff-hanger with him. His story was the one I couldn’t wrap up in the End of Days trilogy. He’d sacrificed so much and had become such a reader favorite that I couldn’t just sum him up in a paragraph. He deserves more, so he gets more! I don’t think his story will be a series, but it will be a full-length novel. One thing I never want to do is tarnish the story by writing too much in the series. The characters become diluted and the drama feels contrived after too many books.
8. Tell us about your latest novel, Fakers?
“Fakers” was something I had played around with while I was writing “The Only One.” I needed a break from all the plot tangles and character motivation issues I had in the End of Days series. With “Fakers”, I could just write and enjoy the story. Back then, I didn’t know if I would ever publish it. I emailed it to my critique partner, B.N. Toler, and she LOVED it. Her enthusiasm for the project motivated me, but I knew if I was ever going to write a romance novel that I needed to it have a message other than sex. That’s when I introduced the depression element for the main character, Kyra. I think this book is the most honest book I’ve written. It also hits the closest to home for me too. At its core, it’s a love story, but “Fakers” is also about dealing with your inner demons and coping with depression. In the book, I call it a “darkness”, because I believe for anyone that struggles with depression, “sadness” just doesn’t cover it. “Fakers” is about dealing with that darkness in life and being honest about it. That’s the key: being honest and talking about it.
9. Was the transition to contemporary difficult?
I thought without all the mega-plot stuff I had going on in End of Days that romance would be a breeze. Like I said earlier, I started writing “Fakers” because I needed a break from the hard stuff. Only when I actually started focusing on “Fakers” did I realize how tough it is to really capture the emotions and tension in a new relationship. How do you make one moment feel sexy or hot for a wide range of readers? How do you make one guy attractive for a wide range of readers? This is incredibly personal stuff you write about in a romance book, but every reader needs to relate to it. That’s really hard.
10. What's the one thing you'd like for readers to take from Fakers?
There are some dark moments in the book, but I think the overall message is inspiring. I hope just one reader comes away from “Fakers” feeling like they aren’t alone or that they can talk to a friend about how they feel. I hope they feel encouraged and a little lighter. Like maybe the darkness isn’t so dark. If just one person feels that way, then I’ll count this book as a success.
11. Any other projects in the works? What's next for you?
I actually have a little novella sitting on the sidelines that I just finished. Right now, my heart is with that story. I hope after I edit it some and sit with it a while that it’ll be good enough to publish, because I really love it. It was something I needed to write, a way for me to vent how I was feeling. So whether or not I publish it, I made me feel better.
Apart from that novella, I also have an upcoming sci-fi series. The first book is called “Lux and Lies,” and the series is called “Glass House.” As of now, I plan for three books, and I already have the cover for the first book! The wonderful Najla Qamber did it, and it’s the best cover of all my books. I can’t wait to show it to everyone. I’m really excited about this series because I think it’s going to be something different and unique for readers.
12. Thank you for taking the time, Meg. Please leave any tips you have for aspiring writers out there.
Thank you for the interview! It’s been awesome. My tip for aspiring writers out there is to follow your heart and write whatever you find inside there.
Find out more about Meg Collett by visiting the following links:
*Win the End of Days boxset in eformat (open internationally), and a signed copy of Fakers (U.S. only).