AUTHOR INTERVIEW 118 – Merri Halma

Merri Halma

Age 6o


Merri Halma was raised in Central Washington state. She grew up with an active imagination. She was always making up stories that she usually kept to herself when she was pre-school. As she grew into her teen years, she started writing them down. Writing gave her a voice that her speaking could not due to a having a speech impediment.

Lynx has nightmares of being chased out of Kent Kingdom with torches and pitch forks because his first caregiver gave him thumbs, an opposable toe on his front paws so he could open his own milk bottles. They called him a demon cat and bad luck.  That was two years ago. The nightmares change to a kitten crying, whimpering under a burning pile of discarded logs. He sees himself trying to help the kitten, but after he pulls the cub out, he sees himself and wakes up startled.
  In a forest, the grizzly bear-god delights in the misery. This werecat must remember what the humans did to him, yet he still chooses to live with them. Lynx and the bear find themselves in a world where bears are gods and werecats have to walk through an initiation of fire to become either a demon cat or something else. What will the fire make Lynx into?

Romelia:   WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF YOUR ARTISTIC PROCESS?

Merri Halma:   The most difficult part is getting in the flow and feeling like the story is flowing well. Writing is an intuitive process with me. If my gut says it isn’t working, I stop writing that draft and start another version.

Romelia:   DOES YOUR FAMILY SUPPORT YOUR CAREER AS A WRITER?

Merri Halma:   My husband and son do support me, I think. My husband would like me to bring in more money to help support us, though.

My son has been raised seeing me writing, hearing my stories and helping me develop story ideas and characters. When he was a toddler, he asked to tell him stories, so I made them up. He loved books and reading.

Romelia:   IF YOU HAD TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENTLY AS A CHILD OR TEENAGER TO BECOME A BETTER WRITER AS AN ADULT, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Merri Halma:   I would have read those Writer’s Digest magazines and took my goal of being a writer seriously. I also would have believed in myself and my abilities stronger, ignoring anyone who criticized me or laughed at my dream.

Romelia:   HOW LONG ON AVERAGE DOES IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE A BOOK?

Merri Halma:   It varies. Usually it takes me about a year or two because I write slow and don’t dedicate the whole day to writing.  If I spent at least three or four hours on my work in progress and close associates to work with me on my process, I could probably write faster.

Romelia:   DO YOU BELIEVE IN WRITER’S BLOCK?

Merri Halma:   No, I do not have writer’s block. Usually my problem is procrastinating because I feel like something isn’t working or there is something I’m worried about that isn’t related to my writing project.

Romelia:   AT WHAT POINT DO YOU THINK SOMEONE SHOULD CALL THEMSELVES A WRITER?

Merri Halma:   They should start calling themselves a writer the minute they start writing consistently. Even if it is keeping a journal or writing poetry, short stories and so on.

Romelia:   WHAT DIFFERENCE DO YOU SEE BETWEEN A WRITER AND AN AUTHOR?

Merri Halma:   An author is a writer that has published a completed manuscript. A writer is anyone who writes. Even if it  keeping a blog or writes for online magazines.

Romelia:   HOW DO YOU PROCESS AND DEAL WITH NEGATIVE BOOK REVIEWS?

Merri Halma:   I don’t pay a lot of attention to my book reviews. I have earlier in my publishing career. Back then, the bad reviews felt like a kick in the gut. Now I just shrug them off, if I find out about them. If the person read the book and gave constructive criticism, I take their thoughts into consideration. If it is something I could fix, I go back over my manuscript and correct it. That is the good thing about being an indie author.

Romelia:   WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF YOUR WRITING PROCESS?

Merri Halma:   Staying true to the story and remembering the character’s last name. I have a Sage character that I know I gave a last name to, but now I can’t remember it nor have I been able to find it in my previous drafts or earlier books.

Romelia:   HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING OR WHEN DID YOU START?

Merri Halma:   I have been writing since I was at least eleven years old. I have also had an active imagination and since I grew up with a speech impediment, writing was natural for me. It gave me a voice that speaking didn’t.

Romelia:   WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A WRITER WORKING ON THEIR FIRST BOOK?

Merri Halma:   Join a supportive group of writers who can assist you to find your voice and offer you suggestions without telling you how to change it the way they would like it to be.

Romelia:   WHAT, TO YOU, ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF GOOD WRITING?

Merri Halma: A good, well developed characters that plop off the page and story that pulls me into it so well I think of them and what they are going through when I’m not reading it.

Romelia:   WHAT COMES FIRST FOR YOU – THE PLOT OR THE CHARACTERS – AND WHY?

Merri Halma:   The first thing that comes to me is the what if question. What if the trees are calling to one person? What does this person need to do to find them? What else is going on with him that makes him a natural draw for the trees?

Romelia:   HOW DO YOU DEVELOP YOUR PLOT AND CHARACTERS?

Merri Halma:   I start writing. I usually do some planning and talking with the main character to see where he wants to go with the story and hope it just flows.

Romelia:   WHEN DID YOU FIRST CALL YOURSELF A WRITER?

Merri Halma:   I first called myself a writer when I started writing. As a teen, I thought being a writer was when I could be published and looked at as an author. But now, I look back. I’ve always been a writer because that is what I did and do.

Romelia:   HOW DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA AS AN AUTHOR?

Merri Halma:   I usually use it to be active in writing groups, or doctor Who fan pages. I post interesting memes and sayings to get others to think and consider life in a positive way. I post cat photos. Photos of my cats, too. Or other cats I see in the cat pages.

Romelia:   WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE AND LEAST FAVORITE PART OF PUBLISHING?

Merri Halma:   I would say editing. When I’m back over what the editor says and I can’t find or understand what she is saying or referring to. I like working with an editor who lives close to me so we can discuss the story and how to develop it and improve on it.

Romelia:   WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO AN AUTHOR WHO WANTED TO DESIGN THEIR OWN COVER?

Merri Halma:   I would tell them do it. If they can draw and work with graphic programs, then they need to do it. Otherwise, I would say to hire someone else to do it for them.

Romelia:   HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU WRITTEN AND WHICH IS YOUR FAVORITE?

Merri Halma:   I’ve written probably ten books, give or take. Only five have been published, though. My favorite is Lynx on Fire, the first of the companion books. I love Lynx, my werecat character. He is so expressive and he usually surprises me.

Romelia:   WHAT PART OF THE BOOK DID YOU HAVE THE HARDEST TIME WRITING?

Merri Halma:   Usually it is somewhere in the middle when I can’t figure out how to move past the halfway point.

Romelia:   WHAT PART OF THE BOOK WAS THE MOST FUN TO WRITE?

Merri Halma:   I love to describe the vision quests- when the character is getting lost in the mazes or melds into a tree or falls underground. I can let myself go and bring in all kinds of details the reader might not consider.

Romelia:   WHICH OF THE CHARACTERS DO YOU RELATE TO THE MOST AND WHY?

Merri Halma:   I relate most with the main character who feels lost, alone and like others have some kind of ulterior motive for wanting to be his friend.

Romelia:   IF YOU’RE PLANNING A SEQUEL. CAN YOU SHARE A TINY BIT ABOUT YOUR PLANS FOR IT?

Merri Halma:   Most of my books build on each other but can stand alone.

 I’m working on the second of the companion books for my Indigo travelers worlds. It is about a thirteen year old boy who hears the calls of the trees and goes to the forests looking for them, but cannot find them. He keeps noticing shadows that move about on their own and has nightmares about the shadow people who are eating the trees or making them sick. Trees appear to him, tell him that the Wisdom Tree Temple has vanished. They urge him to go find it. While all this is going on, Lynx, the werecat, is keeping an eye on him. He will be trying to help Ian, my main character.

Romelia:   TELL US SOMETHING FUNNY ABOUT YOUR ADULT LIFE.

Merri Halma:   I usually make something more complicated than it is. Like if I have to learn to do slides on a new program. I discover it is easier than I thought it would be.

Romelia:   describe yourself in a few sentences. Tell us something we do not know about you and something you hate about the world.

Merri Halma:   I love nature and all animals. I’m quiet person, and have loud thoughts.  I hate hearing about war, hatred intolerance of any person for any reason. We all humans and have similar goals. 

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