“Break all the Laws of the Universe” – Interview with Author Meyari McFarland

Today Excalibur Books interviews genre-spanning author Meyari McFarland, who wrote the story “Shrill of Cicada” for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic-inspired anthology, “The Phantom Games.”

 Meyari McFarland

Could you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m 53 years old as of September and continually astonished by that. Still not sure how I’ve become an adult when I don’t quite feel like one yet. I’ve got an English Creative Writing degree and my day job is mostly Technical Writing, document control and auditing, so words, what they mean and how they go together to communicate occupies well over ¾ of my time.

You seem to write in many genres – Science Fiction, Fantasy, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy, and Romance. What draws you to these genres, instead of sticking to only one or two?

The stories themselves draw me in. Science Fiction is wonderful for exploring new worlds and new possibilities. Fantasy is delightful in that it lets me play with ancient concepts and break all the laws of the universe. Steampunk is outright fun because I get to play with mad science, different periods of history and have adventures. The way that Urban Fantasy mixes our world with magic will never stop being fun. And who doesn’t love a good Romance? Seeing people fall in love and find their way to a happy ending is so much joy.

What is the “Clockwork Rift”, and what were the inspirations and influences for it?

Clockwork Rift is my Steampunk series. It’s set on a distant planet very appropriately named Hell colonized by the British Empire That Never Died after rifts, gates to other worlds, were discovered and scientists found ways to control them. The inspiration for the stories came from 1) a writing exercise on voice that I took that caught my imagination so hard that it bloomed from 400 words up to 4000 words before I realized it, and then oddly enough, Tarzan’s adventure novels. I always loved the Tarzan stories where he’d go through a magical rift and find a new city or new world. Combining the exercise which created Esme, the point of view character, with rifts and then making it all steampunk made the whole world bloom in my head. The first novel got written very fast after that. For that matter, the second novel did much the same thing.

 Which writers inspire you?

Oh, goodness, there are so many! I love Wen Spencer’s stories. Mercedes Lackey inspired me to be a writer back when I was a teenager. Barbara Hambly is still one of my favorites—her prose is luscious! Megan Derr’s stories are like a warm hug and I love everything I’ve read of hers. So many others, too.

Do you have a special time to write?  How is your day structured?

I usually write in the evening after dinner, not because it’s my preferred time but because that’s when I have time to write. I have a day job, so my day is full of work. Then I spend time with my family and after dinner go spend time with my stories. Someday I’d love to be a full-time writer but that’s not possible right now, sadly.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I generally write into the dark. I do occasionally outline but it’s very vague and generally changes multiple times as I write the story. When I started writing I plotted in great detail but over time I gave that up as it wasn’t helping me. It really depends on the project, though. Some stories need an outline or at least a timeline. Some stories fly right along and surprise me as they twist and turn. Both ways are fun to write so I do what works.

Do you let the story stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

I generally edit as I go. I’ll write 500 to 1500 words, stop for the day, and then come back the next day. When I come back, I read over the last chapter or two, tweaking sentences, correcting grammar and especially fixing any unclear antecedents that I notice. By the time I get to where I left off, the story’s clear in my head again so I just pick up and go again. On average, any given paragraph will have been gone over at least ten or twelve times. By the time I’m done with a story, I generally only need to do a spell check and a proofread before I feel it’s ready to go out.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

While I love paper books, both hardback and paperback, my hands just can’t hold them up anymore. Too much writing, too many handicrafts, too much not realizing I was messing my arms up when I was much younger. So, I read ebooks 90% or more of the time. Make sure you stretch often when you’re using your hands and arms all day—don’t be like me!

What book/s are you reading at present?

Right now, I’m reading the anthology Strange Brew, edited by P.N. Elrod, A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab and A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher. I have about a half dozen more I’m pondering picking up off my To Be Read pile which is far too large.

How do you relax?

Writing relaxes me most of the time which I why I write every day and have for, oh, let’s see. I checked: 1515 days straight or 4.15 years. Huh. Hadn’t realized I’d passed the 4-year mark. I should have a treat to celebrate.

I also enjoy tea, hot baths in the evening and the Couch of Awesomeness that we got for our house. That plus a blankie and a good book are the best thing ever for relaxing.

2020 has been a heck of a year so far. What advice would you give for young people growing up in the world today?

Wow, hard question. I think I’ll go with the advice my parents gave me which seemed utterly ridiculous when I was a teenager, but which has proved to be the truest thing I know as I’ve gotten older:

You can do anything you put your mind to, as long as you practice. It won’t be fast. It won’t easy. You may never be a super-star, granted, but if you keep working at it, you’ll get there eventually.

 Although the Tokyo Olympics has been postponed to Summer 2021, many Japanese people feel that it’s not worth holding them. Do you think the Olympics still has the inspirational message that it used to?

I think that the idea of the Olympics is still very valid. The way in which they’re held and the damage that can be and has happened to less well-off communities is troubling. I don’t know how to fix it, but I would hope that in the future we as a world can find a way to hold Olympics that respects the communities, the world and everyone’s health and safety.

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

You can find all my published stories on my website at www.MDR-Publishing.com. I publish everything wide, so I’ve got most stories everywhere. I’m also on the following social media sites:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/meyari.mcfarland.5

Twitter – https://twitter.com/McMeyari

Pillowfort – https://www.pillowfort.social/Meyari

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/meyarimcfarland/

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/meyarim/

Patreon – https://www.patreon.com/meyarimcfarland

“Shrill of Cicada” is available in “The Phantom Games”, which you can buy here …

You can also read it online at Patreon, if you are kind enough to become a patron of Excalibur Books!




About J P Catton

Speculative storytelling and skewed fiction: the blog and website of author John Paul Catton.
This entry was posted in Alternative History, Art & Design, Fantasy, Japan, Literature, Mystery, Science Fiction, Short Stories, Steampunk. Bookmark the permalink.

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