I recently had the pleasure of being a part of a blog tour with Poetic Book Tours to promote Author Ellen Meeropol. I interviewed Ellen Meeropol. Here's the interview:

Ellen Meeropol

Hi, everyone! I’m interviewing Author Ellen Meeropol.

Hi Ellen!

1.Tell us a little about yourself and your latest novel.

I am a literary late bloomer. In my 30-year career as an RN and pediatric nurse practitioner, I authored many articles in nursing and medical journals, but didn’t begin writing fiction until my early fifties. I’ve been writing ever since.

My third novel, Kinship of Clover, published April 4, 2017, has three main characters – a college botany major who is so obsessed with plant species loss that the plants become part of his body; his girlfriend who is determined not to allow herself to be defined by her wheelchair; and her grandmother who is a lifelong political activist now facing dementia. The book explores what can happen when you care deeply about an injustice and don’t know how to make it better. You care so much it changes you, in ways you could never predict. And, you must figure out how to balance making political change with being true to the people you love.

2. What inspired you to be a writer and to get into indie publishing? How long have you been writing? How long have you been published as an indie author?

I’ve always read voraciously and always vaguely dreamed about writing novels, but life (career, children, political activism) got in the way. When I finished reading a book, sometimes say to myself, “I could do that.” Other times I would say, “Oh, I wish I’d written that.” Finally in 2000, I started writing stories and I was hooked. I loved it so much I totally changed my life. I enrolled in a low-residency MFA program and, as soon as I could manage it, I took an early retirement from my career, started working part-time in a wonderful indie bookstore, and wrote.

My three novels are published by Red Hen, an independent nonprofit press that publishes about twenty books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry annually. They state that their books are “diverse in style and subject, but tend to have in common a certain wildness.” I love publishing with them. My work has found its literary home.

3. Who are your writing mentors/authors? What genres do you enjoy writing and what genres do you like to read? Are you an avid reader/reviewer of other authors?

I’ve been fortunate to have several mentors and teachers – people whose writing I admire enormously, who taught me, encouraged my early writing efforts and have continued to support my work. They include Marnie Mueller, Lee Hope, Lesléa Newman, Julia Glass, Ann Hood, Charles Baxter, and Rosellen Brown. I’m also part of a critique group. We’ve been reading, commenting on, and celebrating each other’s work for many years. It’s hard to imagine writing a novel without them.

I read a lot – primarily contemporary literary fiction, but also poetry, linked story collections, and mysteries. I still work (very) part-time at the bookstore and enjoy reading forthcoming novels as part of the store’s First Edition Club selection committee.

4. Have you ever co-wrote or consider collaborating or co-writing with anyone on a writing project?

I used to co-write medical articles and have collaborated on a couple of nonfiction articles. I haven’t tried it with fiction, and honestly, I can’t quite imagine the brain-sharing that would have to happen for that to work!

5. What are your dreams and aspirations that could drive you forward on this writing and publication journey?

Writing and publishing are such different aspects of this work. I love all parts of the writing – imagining, drafting, revising, revising again and again, editing. The publishing part is more mixed. It’s a hard world out there. I love my press and admire the work they do, but sometimes the promotion part feels overwhelming.

6. Do you prefer to do marketing and promotion yourself for your works or would you rather have someone else control that spectrum? What are some of the things you have done to promote and market yourself?

Marketing and promoting a small press book is a team effort. The marketing and publicity folks at Red Hen are terrific, and they do an enormous amount with limited resources. I also work with a free-lance publicist, Mary Bisbee-Beek, who has decades of experience. I call her my fairy godmother. And I do a lot of the work myself, especially the social media piece as well as contacting bookstores and book groups and libraries I’ve visited with previous books. Like I said, a team effort.

7. What is your greatest accomplishment as an author?

It all depends on how you define “accomplishment,” doesn’t it? I was very proud last year when my second novel, On Hurricane Island, was named a Must Read by the Massachusetts Center for the Book (the long-list for the Massachusetts Book Award), but was equally proud when students in a college creative writing class told me, “This book is awesome.”

But on a more basic level, I feel really good when I am able to transform my experiences of the world we live in – and my hopes and yearnings for a better world – into a story with heart. I feel most satisfied when my work gets closer to my goal of balancing on the fault lines between big global issues and individual characters who breathe. I want to write books that illuminate injustice and inspire us want to understand and change the world, each in our own individual ways.

8. What's the next writing project(s) you're working on?

I’m revising my fourth novel, which follows two sisters from an anti-war demonstration in 1968 with disastrous results to political chaos in 2018. I’ve been working on this novel for 17 years, and hope someday soon I’ll get it right.

9. How would you balance creativity with the business side of writing such as coming up with particular concepts and solutions to stand out amongst the crowd in this writing/publishing industry where 'popularity' is key, if your idea wasn't exactly popular/or was unknown to the readers/publishers?

The bottom line for me is writing what I care deeply, and not worrying about whether it’s popular.

10. Have you ever been traditional published? Would you consider it? Or feel like a sell out if you took a traditional deal and abandoned indie publishing? Have you ever thought about being a hybrid, part indie, part traditional published? How would you feel about such an opportunity, if both or either of these things happened?

I am traditionally published, with a small independent press. I haven’t recently considered looking for other possibilities – either big corporate publisher or hybrid or self-publishing options – because I’m so happy where I am. But I’m grateful there are so many kinds of publishers out there, so more writers have the opportunity to share their words and find their readers.

11. What other creative talents do you have? Do you draw, sketch, paint, etc.?

I make jewelry – funky polymer beads and Kumihimo beaded necklaces. When words clog my brain, it’s wonderful to focus on colors and shapes and patterns. It cleanses the brain palate.

12. What advice would you give other aspiring authors?

Persevere. Keep writing. Keep sending your work out, when it’s as good as you can make it. Make it better. Consider joining or starting a critique group, if you’re not already in one.

13. Describe yourself in a one-sentence epithet.

I like best what Naomi Benaron said about my work: “unflinchingly political, unashamedly suspenseful, and above all, deeply human.”

14. Paying it forward. What things do you do in your community/ and other communities to help others?

I’m currently the president of Straw Dog Writers Guild, a non-profit that offers free craft programs and open mics to support and nurture writers at all levels of their development. I also facilitate a book group at a local indie bookstore, often showcasing local writers’ work. Writing can be lonely; building and nurturing writing communities is a critical and deeply satisfying part of the work for me.





To find out more concerning this author during this month's blog tour, click here: https://poeticbooktours.wordpress.com...
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Published on April 13, 2017 13:15 • 339 views
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message 1: by Serena (new)

Serena Thanks for being on the blog tour. This is a great interview!

message 2: by Angel (new)

Angel Serena wrote: "Thanks for being on the blog tour. This is a great interview!"

Thanks. Sure, Serena, no problem. Maybe we can do another tour next time.

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