The Write Way Café welcomes Katie Meyer, who draws inspiration for her writing from her real-life hero and heroine, her parents.
When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
After I got divorced I was in limbo for a while, and starting a book seemed like a way to figure who I was again. But life got in the way, and I put down that novel only about 10K words into it. Years later I was remarried, with two more children and the urge hit me again. My husband had been telling me to write a book for quite some time, so I knew he’d be supportive. I kept the main character from my first attempt at writing so many years before but the rest of the story was totally different.
What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
I started the book in July of 2014, just a bit here and a bit there. Then I found out about Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write Contest and decided to enter. That gave me a deadline, and something to work towards. I entered, and to my complete surprise ended up one of the top ten finalists. I didn’t win the contest, but I did end up with a fantastic agent, the lovely Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyons, and a few months after the contest was over I got THE CALL, an offer for a three book contract with Harlequin Special Edition.
Where did the idea for your story come from?
The Paradise Animal Clinic series is based on my own experiences working in the veterinary field for almost two decades. Also, a major theme in the book is the idea of home, and how that can change over time. I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about the place I grew up and how it has changed over the years and I think that came out in my writing.
Why did you pick the setting you did?
I’m a Floridian through and through, and so I knew I wanted my book to be set there. Paradise Isle is unfortunately fictional but elements of it are drawn from the Merritt Island area of Florida, as well as my own recollections of growing up in North Palm Beach, Florida.
Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
Jillian was originally based partly on my best friend Jilda, but by the time the story was done the only real resemblance left was her dark, curly hair. As for aspects of myself, I’m sure there are. I identify with her desire to protect the place she calls home, and her love of animals. And some of the foods mentioned in the book are personal favorites.
Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
I think every writer has points where they stare at the screen and think, “I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen next.” Usually if that was happening too much or I was really stuck I’d go for a long drive, generally over to the beach. Something about being in the car, watching the scenery go by helps me to get ideas and work past stuck places.
What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
The biggest surprise was finishing it! And then getting published, that was a shock. Other than that, I think the amount of other “stuff” that goes into publishing a book was surprising. Things like art fact sheets, author bios, that kind of thing.
What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world.
I learned that writing a book is both easier and harder than I thought it would be. I also fell even more in love with Florida as I researched different aspects for the book. Oh, and I learned a lot about the process of registering a building as an historic place. The most important thing I learned while writing this book is that it's okay not to know what you are doing! You can fix it later, just keep writing. I also learned a lot about my process...I need empty space and quiet to come up with ideas and think them through, and long car rides turned out to be the best time for this. The shower is also good :) So now, when I'm feeling stuck, I try to drive for a while, go to bed early, or otherwise come up with some quiet time just to think.
Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
I don’t really have a writing space, unfortunately. For this first book I wrote at the desktop computer on my desk in the middle of the living room. I had kids climbing on me throughout the day and was trying to balance homeschooling my oldest son, being a wife and mother, and writing all in the same place and often at the same time. After the book was done my husband bought me a MacBook so I could hide out in my room to write or go to a coffee shop for some peace and quiet. That’s been a tremendous help.
What are some of your favorite books and why?
I am never good at answering this question! There are SO many books I love! I guess if we mean the ones I tend to reread over and over I’d say Anne of Green Gables, Jane Eyre, and Stranger in a Strange Land. As for recent favorites, I’d say Melinda Leigh’s She Can series and Rosalind James’ Kincaid Brothers.
What are you working on now?
I’m desperately trying to finish the third Paradise Animal Clinic book on time. For some reason this book has been the hardest for me, and I’m having a hard time getting it right. Hopefully by the time people are reading this I’ll have finished it and be moving on to my next project. I’ve got a non fiction book on homeschooling in Florida that I want to finish up and self publish, and then I’m going to work on another series set in Paradise.
Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre? Which one and why?
I’d LOVE to write Romantic Suspense at some point. It’s my favorite genre to read, but I’ll have to get a lot better at keeping my timelines straight before I attempt one. I have a bad habit of mucking up time in my books and that won’t work with suspense.
If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
Being a homeschool mom to my kids really is my dream job, so I think I already have that. Otherwise, maybe working with rescued tigers in some way.
What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
I’m not good at description. I tend to skip over large sections of description when I read so I don’t have the background to write it well myself. I’m working on that though. Other than that the hardest thing is just making myself stay focused. I actually have software downloaded on my MacBook to keep me from getting on the internet when it’s time to write. I also use the program Write or Die, to keep me focused and moving forward during short writing sprints.
Who is your favorite hero/heroine?
My Mom and Dad. Probably not the answer you’re looking for, but they have faced good and bad times and are still in love with each other and each other’s biggest supporters. That’s the essence of romance for me.
Sit, Stay…Fall In Love?
Veterinary technician Jillian Everett has met plenty of canines—and some men who deserve "dog" tags. But when millionaire hotelier Nic Caruso strides into Paradise Animal Clinic, a scruffy border collie muddying his designer suit, Jillian has to sit up and take notice. Nic might be gorgeous, but she's had more than enough heartbreak for one lifetime in dog years.
Nic doesn't expect to fall for a dog in need—or his beautiful caretaker! The big-city bachelor is on Paradise Isle to wreak havoc on the town Jillian loves so much. For the first time in forever, Nic realizes there's more to life than work…and love might be worth a shot. But can Jillian tame this stray for good? Or will Nic remain a lone wolf forever?
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Katie Meyer is a Florida native with a firm belief in happy endings. A former Veterinary Technician and dog trainer, she now spends her days homeschooling her children, writing, and snuggling with her pets. Her guilty pleasures include good chocolate, Downton Abbey, and cheap champagne. Preferably all at once. She looks to her parent’s whirlwind romance and her own happy marriage for her romantic inspiration.