As referenced in my May 1 post here on Writers in Residence, I wanted to talk to Marilyn Meredith about the unique experience of using real people’s names. For me, a “one of a kind” experience. Thank you, Marilyn, for including my namesake character in Spirit Wind!
Hi Marilyn, and thank you so much for doing this interview with me. This last Wednesday, I mentioned on this blog site how seeing my name in a book felt, and some thoughts about the experience.. I really enjoyed reading Spirit Wind—plot, characters, location, interactions… In line with those thoughts, my first question is:
- Where did you get the idea of using another author’s name in a book? I thought it such an unusual idea. I certainly loved being in the contest-and of course, was thrilled to be a winner.
At various mystery cons I attended, big name authors auctioned off the chance to have the winner’s name used for a character. I thought why not do that in a contest on a blog tour as a way to get people to follow the tour. It worked, and was fun for me.
- If you personally know the person, do you think about that person when you write their name in the story? Or are you thinking about the character? I’ve used the first name of people I’ve known, and sometimes memories not connected to the book surface—and I have to stop for a moment or two.
No, once I know the name, I start conjuring up a persona for that person—however, for Madeline Gornell in Spirit Wind I did add something about the real Madeline—and I’m sure you know what that was.
- What kind of feedback have you gotten from others?
Everyone seems to have loved the experience. One fellow, and another friend, who is gay, loved that I his names sake was a macho cop.
- Location/setting is really important to my enjoyment of a novel. I love being “taken away,” which you very successfully did in Spirit Wind. Why did you choose the Tehachapi setting? Is Tehachapi a special location for you:
I’ve always been fascinated by Tehachapi, the wind machines covering the mountains, and the engineering miracle of the Loop, where the engines of long freight trains pass the ends. I also had a friend who suggested that I use Tehachapi and the Stallion Springs resort as a setting.
- Do you believe in ghosts, or spirit directions and/or haunting? I found that a very intriguing part of the story.
My beliefs about spirits is that there are both good ones and bad—as in the biblical sense. Though I’ve often thought that the memories of people who once lived in a place still exist. And to be perfectly honest, I love ghost stories and haunted houses.
- Are there other back stories to your plot—or interesting happenings that inspired you? Such as the earthquake in Tehachapi? Or?
I remember that big earthquake in Tehachapi though I didn’t live there. When I was researching Tehachapi I learned a lot about the devastating earthquake, what it did to the town and to the women’s prison. Before the earthquake, a young movie star was incarcerated there for killing her husband, but later was released, and yes, that gave me a big part of the plot.
- What were your personal feelings when you visited the wind turbines? For me they were HUGE up close and personal.
They are absolutely enormous—and there are so many of them! Even more interesting, is the many ranches and homes tucked away among them.
- Any other thoughts you’d like to share about Spirit Wind?
When my daughter and I visited Tehachapi to make sure I had everything right or right enough in the story, while visiting the wind turbines, we came across an injured back-packer who’d been following the Pacific Crest Trail all the way from Mexico. We gave him a ride into town. I thought about the fact that I could have woven some interesting tale about him into the story, but it wouldn’t have worked.
Thank you, Marilyn. Spirit Wind is a most enjoyable book ((of course I might be a tad biased(smile)) Here’s Marilyn lovely ethereal cover and contact info.
15 thoughts on “A Visit with Marilyn Meredith”
An interesting take on using real names and getting it out there via contests. Very clever, Maddie. I also enjoyed Marilyn’s setting in her book. Incidentally, I shall be having lunch this Friday (if I am not out of town) with Marilyn and my friend, author Christopher Lynch, who is the speaker at our Writers Club in Laguna Woods this month.
Jill, though I’d love to have lunch wit you, I think the Marilyn you mentioned is someone else.
Thanks for stopping by so early Jill! Marilyn is the clever one, I think, having a use-your-name-contest. But she is very good (and energetic) when it comes to promotional ideas and activities. Have a great Writers Club meeting!
Very intriguing idea. I really like the use of Teha chapi. Like Marilyn, I like to be taken to different locations , especially places that I’m familiar with. I create characters with different people I know in mind but I never thought of using their name. Clever idea.
Thank you for your comment, Freddi, and Madeline, thank you for hosting me today!
You’re welcome, Marilyn! I’m still thinking about the wind turbines…
Very interesting interview, ladies. I once became a character in one of Marilyn’s books via following her blogs and winning the privilege. It’s very unique to see your own name in someone’s novel. Great idea!
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I love it when writers use real places and bring them to life on the page. Just your description of the wind and the ghosts and the stories that encircle that area made it come alive. I guess that’s why your books have such a following. Thanks for giving us a taste of that world.
Agree, Gayle, I always feel like I’ve visited with people I know in a special place when I read Marilyn’s books. And being taken to Tehachapi was a special treat in that I had a little familiarity with the area–even went to a writing event there once.
Thank you, GB Pool!
I visited Tehachapi many times when I lived in the Antelope Valley and loved re-visiting it vicariously with Spirit Wind.
Yes, Jackie, it is a very unique experience. I’ve occasionally thought having a twin would be an extraordinary experience. This is the closest I’ll ever come…smile.
I have your book, Marilyn, but I haven’t started reading it yet. Now, I’m really looking forward to it. I know I was thrilled to have my namesake in , Murder in the Worst Degree. I just loved my character, and can’t wait to see who Madeline turns out to be.
Fun interview, ladies! I have your book, Marilyn, and it’s next in line to be read. I always look forward to your books, and I love the idea of using the names of other authors.
I loved “Spirit Wind.” I’ve never actually been to Tehachapi but, after reading your book, Marilyn, I feel as if I have.
As to using Madeline’s and Lorna’s names, well, I got a kick out of it. 🙂