Please welcome Merry Farmer to the page. Merry is the author of 'The Loyal Heart', 'The Faithful Heart' and newly released 'Our Little Secrets' I was honoured to be able to interview her. Thank- you.
Q:- You’re books are set in medieval England. What do you find interesting about that time, and have you ever visited England?
M.F I grew up just down the hill from Glencairn Museum in Bryn Athyn, PA, which I believe houses the largest private collection of medieval artwork in the US. Since we went there on school trips a lot and some of my family worked there I was around medieval art and artifacts all the time from an early age. To me the period was always very real and familiar. Then, when I was just out of high school, I spent two years as an actor at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, running around pretending to be an Elizabethan peasant all weekend through the summer. We had extensive lessons in Elizabethan language, customs, and manners, so again history was made very real for me.
I traveled to England in 2010 with my cricket team, to Winchester and Oxford. And WOW! It felt like going home. Winchester was the capital of England long before London (and was also Jane Austen’s home for the later part of her life. She’s buried in Winchester Cathedral. I visited her and paid my respects). Oxford has been a university town since the early 11th century and you can absolutely feel it in every stone and tree, in the air and the gardens. There were side streets within Oxford University that I swear haven’t changed a bit in a thousand years.
M.F That all depends on which part of the book you were reading when you started falling in love with him! *wiggles eyebrows*
Q:- Is there anything in any of your books that would embarrass you if your dad read them?
M.F Well, sort of. I tend to write rather steamy sex scenes, which is the obvious answer. But seeing as I don’t have the best relationship with my dad, I would potentially be more embarrassed if he knew that the character of Matlock was based on him. (He’s a much bigger character in The Faithful Heart and The Courageous Heart than he is in The Loyal Heart.)
Quick Fire Questions:-
a) What time did you get up this morning? 6:20am
b) Can you roll/curl your tongue? Oh yeah! (just did it)
c) Favourite food? Salmon from Outback Steakhouse (preceded by a bloomin’ onion)
d) What is by your side right now? My Kindle … which is sort of an obvious, lame answer for a writer. (Jane~ Mine is beside me too!!)
e) Eye colour? Deep brown
Q:- Did you have the whole of ‘The Noble Hearts’ series planned when you started writing it or is it evolving as you write?
M.F Funny you should ask that…. I thought I had the whole Noble Hearts series planned when I started writing it. The Loyal Heart stayed pretty much on track. But I wrote the first draft of that and The Faithful Heart in 2008 and then set the whole thing aside for a while. Then last summer, after attending a writer’s conference and learning about how exciting indie publishing was (and still is) I decided to revise and publish The Noble Hearts independently. When I reread The Faithful Heart after so many years, well, it sucked. Like, a lot. So I dissected the original version, threw out about 80% of it, and rewrote it from the ground up. And that profoundly changed the direction of the entire series. Based on the changes I made in revisions of The Faithful Heart, 99% of the ideas I had for the plot of The Courageous Heart changed. The two things I kept from my original concept of The Courageous Heart is that it takes place in London when the Derbyshire folk are summoned to court by King Richard, freshly returned from his captivity, and that it ends with a scene on the gallows that will have you in tears.
M.F As a history major I knew a lot of the history of the time period to begin with. What I hadn’t known was that King Richard only spent six months total of his reign in England, three of them in the Spring of 1194 when The Courageous Heart takes place, and that he didn’t speak English. Of course, learning that King Richard didn’t speak English made for some really interesting plot twist ideas for a certain Earl and his bailiff who have to defend their actions through shifty translators. *more eyebrow wiggling*
Q:- E-books have become so popular over the last few years, do you think they will replace paper books altogether?
M.F Not altogether, but I do think they will become what mass market paperback books are now. I believe the majority of genre fiction will be in eBook form, print will be saved for literary fiction and non-fiction, and publishing companies will have to pursue indie authors for the rights to print their books rather than authors querying agents and publishers to have their books published. And what a wonderful world that will be!
Q:- What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
M.F When I’m writing a first draft I try to write 2,500 words a day. That was a lot easier before some changes were made at my day job. At the moment I can only write after work and on weekends. I try to get in at least two hours per weeknight and five hours per day on the weekends. When I’m revising I try to spend the same amount of time, but it varies a lot more. I prefer drafting to revising. It’s so much more fun!
Q:- Do you hear from your readers much? What kind of things do they say?
M.F I hear from people through my website, through Facebook, and various messageboards, like Goodreads and Kindle Boards. Readers are very astute these days. They like to be in on the process at a much earlier stage than I think they used to be. Your average savvy reader knows much more about how books are published these days than they ever have.
M.F Um… As soon as I finish writing it? I’m aiming for October/November, depending on what my editor things about it.
Q:- What other works do you have on the go and are they also romance based?
M.F Oh my gosh, I have so many ideas and outlines and random characters begging for a story that I could write full-time for the rest of my life and still not get everything finished. I’ve just published the first book, Our Little Secrets, in a four-book Western Historical Romance series, the last of which is my first stab at a m/m romance. I have a couple other books that take place in the same world as The Noble Hearts but are not part of the trilogy (and which people will be very angry at me for). I also have another four-book series that takes place in London in the Victorian age in which the first scene of each of the books takes place at the same ball but follows different characters. Not to mention the sci-fi series I’ve already written the first two books for (but am holding back on for now) and a handful of shameful erotica novels that I will publish under a pen name. Talk about books I would be embarrassed if my dad read!
That’s not counting any new ideas that float into my head on an almost daily basis.
Q:- If I gave you the plot outline to my perfect read would you write it for me?
M.F If I could, I would. But as a writer I have to write what my soul wants to write. So unless your perfect read matched what my soul wanted to write, I could try but it might not happen.
Q:- I’m a chocoholic…..(and I smoke eek yuk! *hangs head*) What is your guilty pleasure?
M.F Bollywood. I love Bollywood films. That and cookies. Cookies are wonderful! Especially when they’re homemade.
Q:- What made you stop writing ‘The Courageous Heart’ and finish ‘Our Little Secrets’ instead?
M.F I’m glad you asked, because that story is something I think a lot of other writers need to hear.
I had actually written the first draft of Our Little Secrets last August during a slow spell at work. It was based on a concept I’d flirted with for years: a woman stepping off the train in the west in search of a new life, meeting a man, and agreeing to marry him within 45 minutes, no questions asked. And then discovering that not only are they really good in bed together, they are soul-mates.
I started writing The Courageous Heart in January, right after publishing The Faithful Heart. I did my research, plotted as much as I plot, and started writing. I got 16,000 words into it when I realized that I just wasn’t ready to tell that story yet. It was the oddest feeling. I would sit down to write and everything else under the sun would seem more interesting and deserving of my attention. And I kept picturing Joanna being furious at me for not being able to hear what she wanted me to know about her. So I stopped writing. I wasn’t ready.
Meanwhile, my editor had said something to me about wanting me to submit a story for traditional publication. So I dusted off Our Little Secrets, had her edit it, and worked on revision after revision after revision until I got it right. I had a family tragedy in the middle of the process though, so everything was delayed. Now I’ve finally self-published it, but I also plan to test the waters of submitting to publishers as a “previously published” book.
And somewhere in the middle of that process, The Courageous Heart clicked. Now I can’t wait to have the time to get back to writing it again. And as a writer you want to want to write the book you’re writing. It was a valuable lesson for me to learn and I think it will make for a much better book in the end.
Q:- What question do you wish I had asked you in this interview but didn’t?
M.F Who’s the hottest guy in the world? Richard Armitage. ;)
Where to find Merry and her books
The Loyal Heart
Barnes and Noble
Where to find Merry and her books
Barnes and Noble
The Faithful Heart