I’m very happy to welcome today’s special guest Theresa Meyers. Theresa is the author of the action/adventure/steampunk/romance series, The Book of Legends. Each story in The Legend Chronicles has featured one of the handsome Jackson brothers, named after their father’s favorite guns, and destined to save the world. They’ve been marvelous fun! Check out my reviews of The Hunter (Colt Jackson), The Slayer (Winchester Jackson) and The Chosen (Remington Jackson) for glimpses into Ms. Meyers terrific creation.
And now, let’s hear from the author herself!
Marlene: Theresa, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Theresa: I’m the progeny of a mad (NASA) scientist and a tea-addicted bibliophile. My father worked at NASA during the space race, and now runs his own testing lab (NWAA Labs) out of the remains of defunct a nuclear power plant in Elma, WA, and my mother collected books, all kinds of books, her whole life, and was an elementary teacher. That gives you an idea of how I ended up with a curious mind (I love the research part of writing) and a passion for stories and books. It didn’t hurt that buying books was always considered an understandable expense and my mother turned our dining room into a library by lining the walls with bookshelves. My mother always read out loud to us, changing the voices for each character (something I still do whenever I read out loud even from my own books at conferences) and that made the stories pictures in my head. That’s how I see when I write. I’m a very visual person (likely because I’m dyslexic and the words didn’t make sense to me at the time anyway!) I’m also a perpetual multi-tasker. I’m a writer, a mom of two active young teens, work part-time as a school secretary at a junior high, and own a few acres including some fruit trees and a selection of roses and herbs, an old Arab gelding, a couple of fat, lazy cats and a mini-Aussie that require attention. I’m married to the guy who took me on my first real date to the Prom and suffered through my little brother sitting between us in the back seat of my parent’s car. I like my tea with milk and stevia, hate the flavor of coffee, and adore chocolate. On occasion I’ve been known to collect teapots and teddybears. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but when I can I keep up on Supernatural (the Dean girl in me is giddy about season 9!), Grimm, Once Upon a Time, The Vampire Diaries and Downton Abbey. I started writing when I was in 8th grade for the school newspaper, and began my first novel at 17. It wasn’t until I joined Romance Writers of America that I was able to get some focus and understanding about the industry and I wrote for 20 years (working as a public relations executive and owning a PR agency in the mean time) before I was published by Harlequin. I now write for three different publishers and have way more stories in my head than I can ever get down on paper.
Marlene: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?
Theresa: You know I wish I had a typical writing day. I just don’t. It’s write whenever, wherever, however I can. Sometimes it’s in a cheap spiral notebook in the car while I’m waiting to pick up the kids from football, basketball, dance, track, school club meetings or a friend’s house. Sometimes I’ll take rapid notes on EverNote on my phone for a piece of dialog when paper isn’t handy. Most often I’m writing on my desktop computer, but when that doesn’t work (or I know I’m seriously lagging behind in exercise) I’ll go to my laptop on the tread desk (which is a fancy way of saying a piece of the dining room table extension set over the arms of my treadmill). Normally with my day job I can get in about five pages a day on average. If I’m pushing hard on a deadline, I’ll write when I come home before the kids get home from school and after about 8 pm at night when dinner and homework is done. As for my method? I’m not actually a pantser or a plotter. I like to call myself a planter because I use my plotting board and scene sheets as kind of the trellis for my idea to grow on. I plant the idea and I know it’s going to grow like a vine from the bottom to the top of the trellis every time. But what I don’t know when I plant that idea is which way it’s going to twist and turn as it grows up the trellis. Sometimes it takes some unexpected directions just like the wisteria vine on my front porch!
Theresa: A fun, kick-butt adventure set in the weird wild west complete with banditos, mechanical monstrosities, demons, Aztec bone warriors, a funky steampunk submarine, giant black jaguars, a love triangle between two brothers and the shape-shifting thief China McGee, and the mother of show-downs between The Chosen and archdemon Rathe and his Darkin hordes that culminates in a destructive force the world still remembers to this day. Sound good?
Marlene: So, is this it for The Book of Legends? Are you ever planning to come back to this steampunk world?
Theresa: I’m not certain. I sure would like to continue writing in this world, but part of that is up to my publishers. I have ideas for more stories set in this world that involve some of the extended family of the Jackson brothers we’ve yet to meet.
Marlene: What made you decide to have the three brothers’ stories overlap each other, to show the events from each brother’s perspective?
Theresa: Every writer tries to stretch him/herself. It’s a thing. We have to do more with each book. This was a stretching point for me. You know how it’s always kind of annoying when you find a good book and you think, yeah, but this is number two or three in the series I can’t read this until I read the others. I wanted to do something different with this trilogy. Could I write three books that took place simultaneously so it wouldn’t really matter, you’d still be in the same time in each story? Then when I started writing it and had to change perspectives and jump in the other brother’s point of view in the scene, wow, was that an eye-opener into the characters! Normally you don’t get to see the scene from another character’s perspective which I think added another layer on to their relationship as brothers.
Marlene: What do you think it means that you “put the steam in steampunk”?
Theresa: Well, since the quote came from Cherry Adair, and she writes some seriously hot stuff sometimes, I’d like to think it means that these are truly romances full of “steam” and not just in the mechanical sense!
Marlene: What were your inspirations for The Book of Legends series?
Theresa: Oddly enough, I came up with the idea for these boys off of their names. I was writing historical romance at the time (in the mid-90s) and I started playing with the idea of what if I had three brothers named after their father’s favorite guns? It kind of just spread from there, and I ended up with an entire extended family tree. The Jackson brothers just happen to be from the dark sheep branch of the prestigious European Hunter family that emigrated to America to escape the family’s disapproval. I knew one was just like their outlaw dad, one an attorney and one a law man (opposite of dad). And when I started thinking about how they held things together, well, that’s where the supernatural bit crept in on silent stealthy feet. But at the time no one was buying anything paranormal. So they patient sat on my computer waiting for an editor that would love my Jackson brothers as much as I did.
Marlene: And I noticed that all your books tend a bit toward the eerie and supernatural. What draws you toward the dark?
Theresa: I don’t know that it’s so much the dark as the paranormal. You see, I was raised with a mom who would do things like read the story of the shoemaker and the elves to me, then I’d hear these wee little voices outside my window. The next morning my room would be cleaned and my mother would say it was the elves in the stump in the back yard and I ought to make them some cookies and clothes like the shoemaker did as a thank you. She made it all seem so real that it wasn’t hard to get to a place where you begin to realize that just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean it’s not real. She was always making us aware of the world around us in a natural sense, and how magical life in general is, and I think that’s just kind of carried through into what I write. Besides, love is the greatest magic of all, don’t you think?
Theresa: Oh, honey, where do I begin? I’ve got four contemporary romances coming out with Entangled’s Bliss and Indulgence lines this year titled The Geek Billionaire Makeover, The Baby Mistake, You & Me…Again and Crossing the Line. Then I’m working on my Shadow Sisters series set with my alpa fae in the dark realms of Shadowland and Wyldwood. I’m also working on putting together a new series with a whole different slant on superheroes for Kensington as well as more vampire and werewolf books for Harlequin.
Marlene: What book would you most want to read again for the first time?
Theresa: Probably the entire Harry Potter series. I read them out loud to my kids when they first came out and we had such fun because I changed the voices for each character just like my mother had done for me. I have one really lovely memory of all of us as a family curled up in the king size bed while we read the last few chapters of the last book together because we all couldn’t wait to see how everything ended.
Marlene: On the other hand, tell us which book you’ve faked reading?
Theresa: Hummm. Hard one. I don’t know that I’ve ever faked reading a book. I like reading so much that if I have the slightest interest in it, it isn’t hard to just go grab the thing and start reading it for real!
Marlene: Tell me something that I wouldn’t know to ask. Just for fun.
Theresa: I make up soundtracks to my stories. It helps get me in the mood to write. Each book gets its own kind of theme song to kick off the sound track so I know which book I’m working on (as I’m usually working on two or three at a time between edits, writing and proposals). For The Chosen the theme song was Cowboy Casanova by Carrie Underwood. It just sounded like something China McGee would have been singing to herself in her head after meeting Remington Jackson.
Marlene: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Theresa: Morning person, definitely. I’m that person who can roll out of bed, brush my teeth, slap my hair up into a ponytail and be ready to go. My family insists I’m way too perky. I insist they all take after their father who needs an extra half hour after the alarm goes off just to wake up. LOL.
The progeny of a slightly mad NASA scientist and a tea-drinking bibliophile who turned the family dining room into a library, Theresa Meyers learned early the value of a questioning mind, books and a good china teapot. But it wasn’t until third grade that Theresa overcame her dyslexia and learned to read, going on to make words her lifes work. With a degree in Mass Communications she became first a journalist, then a public relations officer in both the corporate and agency realm. But by far the most challenging has been using her writing skills to pen paranormal and steampunk novels in the turret office of her Seattle-area Victorian home. Shes spent nearly a quarter of a century with the boy who took her to the Prom, drinks tea with milk and sugar, is an adamant fan of the television show Supernatural, and has an indecent love of hats.