Author Christie Meierz exclusive interview with BuzzyMag.com
Meierz has authored two scifi series’ and has won a PRISM Award in the Futuristic Romance category.
JMW: Hello, this is Jean Marie Ward for BuzzyMag.com. With me today is bestselling, award-winning author, Christie Meierz. Welcome, Christie. “Farryn’s War,” the first book in your new “Exiles of the Drift” series, focuses on a character you originally planned to kill off. How did he brainwash, I mean, persuade you into giving him a second chance?
Christie Meierz: Oh, he’s such a charming rogue. When I was writing him as a villain in the third book, I just started to fall in love with him, even though he’s probably one of the nastiest characters I’ve ever written. He’s not as nasty as the villain of this book.
JMW: Well, that’s good. I would like to think that there is somebody out there more villainous than he.
Christie Meierz: But he was doing everything he did, even though it was bad, he was doing everything he did for what he considered to be the best reasons. For his people, for his planet. He just didn’t quite agree with everybody else on what those were.
JMW: And now he’s trying to kill his wife before somebody else kills her, did I get that right?
Winner of the 2013 PRISM Award for Futuristic Romance (Romance Writers of America) Marianne Woolsey must choose between her loyalty to America and her love for an alien on Tolar.
Christie Meierz: Yeah. At first anyway. He thinks that she betrayed him. At the end of the third book, he thinks that she betrayed him and she’s the reason why he’s in exile and when he finds out she’s come after him, he wants to kill her.
JMW: But of course things are never what they seem, are they?
Christie Meierz: No. [laughter]
JMW: It’d be an awfully short book if they were. You do realize that your readers will think that you’re going too easy on him, in contrast to what you did to one of your heroines. What prompted you to take the character of Laura Howard and essentially remake her?
Christie Meierz: Because I wanted to tell her story, but you can’t…where she ended in the previous book was essentially a happily ever after and you can’t begin a story on a happily ever after. So I had to shake her up a little.
JMW: Mm-hm. And this is your first book series?
Christie Meierz: That’s in “Tales of Tolari Space,” yeah. Some of her story is in the second book and then her story is pretty much told in “The Fall,” the third book which takes the amnesia trope and turns it on its head. One of the things I wanted to do was take that trope and do it right because what too many people think of amnesia is wrong, that you forget who you are. And that’s not what usually happens. People usually do not forget who they are.
JMW: What do they forget?
Marianne Woolsey finds herself in the middle of diplomatic relations between Tolari and her home planet, Earth.
Christie Meierz: They can forget big chunks of their past, they lose memories, but they never lose their self-identity. Or very seldom lose their self-identity.
JMW: So they always remember their name, but not necessarily that they did A, B, C, D?
Christie Meierz: Yeah, usually. This is what happened…I mean, this is based on a real thing that happened in my family. My brother had a head injury and he lost a lot. He couldn’t remember his childhood, he couldn’t remember a lot of his early adulthood, but he never forgot who he was or who I was or who our parents were. He just couldn’t remember what we did when we were little. And it changed him.
JMW: And so you wanted to bring this experience into your fiction because it wasn’t told right.
Christie Meierz: Exactly.
JMW: Very valid reason and very good for the rest of us who only see amnesia and, “Oh my God, they got conked on the head and suddenly they don’t remember anything.”
Christie Meierz: That doesn’t happen. You know, and even more, it doesn’t happen that you get conked on the head again and your memory comes back. That doesn’t happen either.
JMW: So you just have to live with the loss and recover?
After being exiled from Earth, Laura Howard finds love in a leader from her new home, Tolar. When her memory is erased by an injury, she has to sort through her thoughts and try to find the true feelings for her mate buried in her subconscious.
Christie Meierz: Basically. Yeah.
JMW: That is really tough. Obviously you feel this deeply so I guess that’s partially where the emphasis on empathy comes from, but it’s still to me a very interesting ability to give an alien race. What prompted you to go in that direction with the Tolari?
Christie Meierz: The reason is still hidden. There is a reason for it. It was built into them by the benefactors for a very specific reason that I haven’t revealed yet.
JMW: So you’ve got this all…but I mean, what prompted you to look in that direction? We won’t ask you about the fiction now. We will not ask you about why they in their universe are that way, but what made you think empathy was the right power to give them?
Christie Meierz: It’s less powerful than telepathy and I was hoping to make a people that had very little crime because of it. I wanted people to understand each other, at least on the surface, in a way that we don’t here because I think if we would all just sit down and talk to each other and try to understand each other, there’d be a lot less crime and war and all these other things.
JMW: And did it work out that way once you set it on paper or on pixels?
Christie Meierz: You know, the ruling caste is very ambitious. They do war with each other but people, just ordinary people, they’re pretty peaceful. They don’t have any reason to…everybody knows what you’re up to if you’re up to no good. They can tell.
JMW: And it still doesn’t stop some people, though.
Christie Meierz: It doesn’t stop Farryn.
JMW: Mm-hm. No. [laughter] Oh, he’s a bad guy, I can tell, but he’s going to do it anyway.
Christie Meierz: Oh, he’s a bastard.
JMW: Mm-hm. And you love him.
For thousands of years Tolar banned space travel. When his attempts at changing this policy fail, Farryn is exiled and begins a new criminal ring on planet Earth.
Christie Meierz: And I love him. He turns into a sexy beast in “Farryn’s War.” He’s still a nasty person at the beginning of the novel.
JMW: And I assume, no spoilers, that his basic character doesn’t change.
Christie Meierz: He’s not gonna be a good guy at the end.
Christie Meierz: He does manage to achieve a little bit of redemption, but he’s never gonna be a nice guy.
JMW: Now you have a rather interesting trajectory as a writer. How did you go from raising sheep to writing science fiction?
Christie Meierz: Well, the raising sheep part ended quite a few years ago actually. We raised sheep for something around ten years, I think it was, and it got to be a little bit too much when my mother got sick and I was trying to take care of her and the kids and the farm and my husband was trying to work full-time and take care of the farm. And it was starting to break our health. So we basically sold the farm and moved into town and it wasn’t for another ten years before I started writing.
JMW: What prompted you to go in that direction? Were you always a storyteller and then just suddenly decided to put fingers to keyboard or…
Christie Meierz: Yeah, I started writing when I was seven and I wrote compulsively until I started to have children and then I just didn’t have time. Now they’re all grown and I got sick again and this time it was a fairly serious illness that got me to really thinking, you know, what are the things that I really wish I had done? I don’t want to go to my grave with regrets, so I started writing. It’s the one thing I really wanted to do when I was a kid. I wanted to be a science fiction writer.
JMW: You have a rather peripatetic lifestyle now that you no longer…somebody else bought the farm, you just sold it. But recently you lived in Pittsburgh for a while and Pittsburgh seems to inspire a lot of folks. Are you using Platy [SP] to use it in some way in your sci-fi or in any of your other stories?
Christie Meierz: I don’t have any plans for that because my stories tend to take place in other worlds. I do have a short story set in a version of Pittsburgh facing the other way on a different planet.
JMW: And is this unique in your fiction? Are most of your settings completely out of your head, combined…because I heard today that you actually use star maps in charting your sci-fi?
Christie Meierz: I use real stars. I use real stars that, at least to the best of my information at the time, can support habitable planets. Using things like NASA’s database. I made a mistake with Beta Hydri, which is the star that Tolar revolves around. So I kind of hurriedly patched that backwards with the planet that they’re on has been terraformed.
JMW: Terraforming is a wonderful invention, isn’t it? [laughter] What are you working on now?
Christie Meierz: I am working on a first contact story in the far future. How far is kind of vague but it’s pretty far. The planet is around Kepler-452, which is about 1,400 light-years away from Earth and it’s told from the point of view of a young alien, a primitive hunter-gatherer who lives on this planet. He’s just about to become an adult and then earthlings descend.
JMW: Oh, never a good scene. Never, never. You know it’s gonna get ugly.
Christie Meierz: Okay, this is not colonialism, I will say that. They didn’t actually want to come down, but they are at war with somebody and their shuttle got shot down.
JMW: And they bring all their mistakes with them.
Christie Meierz: They bring their [inaudible 00:10:32] with them and you get to find out who the gods of Kepler-452b really are.
JMW: We’re coming up against the end of the interview and we always give a freebie. Is there anything you’d like to add?
Christie Meierz: Maybe. My Tolari are kind of phenotypically based on American plains Native Americans and as a part of it, I donate 10% of sales from “The Marann,” the first novel, to a Navajo charity, so…
JMW: And you continue to do that?
Christie Meierz: I continue to do that. I haven’t actually had an opportunity to donate anything because people aren’t buying the book right now so buy the book and I will donate.
JMW: Yeah, that sounds good to me. Well, thank you for being here, Christie, and thank you for BuzzyMag.com.
Jean Marie Ward writes fiction, nonfiction and everything in between, including art books, novels (2008 Indie Book double-finalist With Nine You Get Vanyr), and short stories such as WSFA Small Press Award finalist “Lord Bai’s Discovery” and “Personal Demons” in the award-winning anthology Hellebore and Rue. Her videos include author interviews and tutorials.