Author Crush Friday with Merrie Destefano
Glitter girls, you have pressing questions for your favorite authors and we have their answers. Welcome to our weekly segment, Author Crush Fridays.
We love asking questions and we love the answers from some of our favorite authors. Today we’re talking to Merrie Destefano, author of the new sci-fi series, Valiant (December 4, 2018; Entangled Teen). Thank you for talking to us today, Merrie! We’re honored! If you haven’t picked up Valiant yet, run, don’t walk to grab this one at your local bookstore!
GLITTER: For those who haven’t read your work yet, how would you describe your writing style?
MERRIE: I think my style is somewhere between literary and commercial (not intentional!) I also write dark, twisted stories with a thread of hope.
GLITTER: Tell us five things that people might not know about you.
- I don’t eat sugar. (Sad!)
- There were 17 years between my first book contract (with Thomas Nelson—those books were never published, but I did get to keep the advance) and my second book contract with HarperCollins.
- I’m extremely low energy. This is why caffeine is my friend! LOL.
- I can’t drive a stick shift. I tried. I kept ending up in the bushes and up on the curb. Argh.
- I love to swim, but never put my head under the water. Weird, right?
GLITTER: What one question sparked Valiant?
MERRIE:How far would you go to save someone you love?
GLITTER: How much research did you have to do for your novel?
MERRIE: It was set in the same town where I live, Santa Ana, California, so I didn’t have to do much research on the setting. But I did have to research things about space travel. Also, a good part of the book is based on the Great Depression and the changes our country went through because of the drought in the Dust Bowl. So, I took that situation and made it larger/worse.
GLITTER: How do you find the emotional truths in your writing?
MERRIE: I’m a very emotional person. It’s one reason why I love writing Young Adult books. To me, the emotional core of the story is essential in YA. I guess I find the emotional truths in my story in an intuitive way, since I really feel like I’m still sixteen-years-old.
GLITTER: What one message would you like readers to walk away with when they’re done reading Valiant?
MERRIE: That you don’t have to be ‘awesome in the eyes of the world’ to make a big impact on the world. For instance, you don’t have to be the tallest or the smartest or the prettiest/most handsome boy or girl in your school to affect change.
GLITTER: What was the first book that you ever wrote, even if it wasn’t published?
MERRIE: The first full length novel was called In The Beginning. It did attract the attention of a big agent, but it wasn’t until several books later that we began to work together. Sadly, that book was never published.
GLITTER: Did any of the authors you read in high school affect how you write now?
MERRIE: Absolutely! That’s when I fell deeply in love with science fiction, poetry and horror. I read authors like Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, H.G. Wells, Edgar R. Burroughs, J.R.R. Tolkien (not science fiction, but his work still made a big impact on me), E.E. Cummings and Edgar Allan Poe.
GLITTER: Who inspires you?
MERRIE: My writer friends who continue to turn out awesome books, despite adversary. Like Rachel A. Marks, who didn’t give up on writing despite having cancer. Like Mike Duran, who has continued to write after having heart surgery. Like Brandon Barr, who has leukemia for the third time and is re-releasing his fantasy series with new covers and the help of the writing community. Like Rebecca Luella Miller, who had a heart attack and stroke, but still continues to blog and support the writing community.
GLITTER: What one piece of advice could you give any teen going through difficult times now?
- Talk to someone. Anyone. A friend, a teacher, a parent, an aunt or uncle, a counselor. If you’re struggling with depression and/or anxiety, ask your parents or teacher if there’s a doctor you can see/talk to. I’ve personally struggled with depression and anxiety for years and talking to someone always helps.
- Realize that this may be a temporary situation or valley that you’re going through. Even if you have talked to someone or seen a doctor, please wait at least three days to see if you start to feel better. Most of the time, you may feel better in a few days.
- Take care of yourself. Get at least eight hours of sleep. Eat healthy food. Get exercise. At times of stress, take very good care of yourself because stress will wear down your body.
- Don’t give up. Ever. Okay? Just don’t. You are too precious and special and unique, and this world is a much better place because you are in it.
- Also, laugh! Watch a funny movie, hang out with a friend with a great sense of humor, read a joke book. Laughter is great for lifting your spirits!
- (Sorry that was more than one piece of advice! LOL.)
GLITTER: What are you currently working on?
MERRIE: I’m writing the sequel to Valiant! Eeek. I wish I was done already, but I’m not. I’m also trying to finish a short story/novella giveaway for people who read/purchase/pre-order Valiant. But I recommend everyone read Valiant first, because Taken, the giveaway, has spoilers!
Born in the Midwest, former magazine editor Merrie Destefano currently lives in Southern California with her husband, two German shepherds, a Siamese cat, and the occasional wandering possum. Her favorite hobbies are reading speculative fiction and watching old Star Trek episodes, and her incurable addiction is 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.