BH: Tell us a little about your latest book, Invisible Path.
MM: The official blurb is: The only suspect in the murder of a popular Native American is another Indian with the unlikely name of Jesus Running Bear. Once again, because of her own Indian heritage, Deputy Tempe Crabtree helps with the investigation which also leads to the discovery of hidden militia group’s camp deep in the forest. Following the killer’s trail, puts Tempe and Jesus in jeopardy. Besides being a mystery it is also about many forms of prejudice.
BH: You write two mystery series – are both series current, and if so, is it ever a challenge to keep the characters straight as you’re writing?
MM: In the Tempe Crabtree series, most of the story is told in close third person though the eyes, thoughts and feeling of Tempe, though in Invisible Path, the first chapter is told through Jesus Running Bear’s point-of view.
In the Rocky Bluff P.D. crimes series, though the story focuses on one or two members of the RBPD, we learn what’s going on through many others.
A new book in the RBPD series comes out in the beginning of the year and a new book in the Tempe series always comes out in the fall.
The settings for both are quite different. Tempe lives and works in the mountains, Rocky Bluff is situated in a beach community in Southern California.
BH: Tempe Crabtree sounds like a fascinating personality. Where did you get the inspiration for her character?
MM: Tempe came from three women I met over a short period of time. The first was a resident deputy working the area where I live. I interviewed her for a personality piece for the newspaper. A female police officer I did a ride-along with was the second. She was a single mom and the only woman on that department. From about 3 a.m. until 6 a.m. she had no calls and she poured her heart out to me. The third was a beautiful Indian woman I spent a couple of hours with who had grown up on the nearby reservation. Together, these women became Tempe Crabtree.
BH: Which of your characters would you say is the most like you?
MM: Since I’m a great-grandmother and never been in law enforcement none are really like me. About the only personality traits of my main female characters I can claim is independence, loyalty and a certain amount of stubbornness.
BH: This might seem like a silly question, but I’m honestly curious: why are your Deputy Tempe books written under the name Marilyn Meredith, and your Rocky Bluff books written as F. M. Meredith?
MM: Of course Marilyn Meredith is my real name. When I first started writing the Rocky Bluff series which is often from a male point-of-view, I thought using my first initials might make male readers read the books more readily. However, the first publisher of the series put my photo on the back of the book and ruined the illusion. Since I began that way, I’ve just kept it up.
BH: Tell us about your path to publication.
MM: It was a rocky path full of pit holes and blocked by boulders. My first book, an historical family saga, was rejected nearly thirty times before it was accepted. (Believe me, I rewrote it several times between rejections.) From there it was one thing after another. To make a long story shorter, I’ve dealt with a couple of crooked publishers, had two publishers die, one decided not to be in the business any longer, five different agents who were unable to sell my books, and finally I started looking for publishers on my own.
MM: I write in the morning, that’s when my brain works the best. I think about whatever I’m writing off and on during the day. I usually do editing and promoting in the afternoon and evenings.
BH: What is your favorite book on the craft of writing?
MM: I’ve had many over the years, but the one that I enjoyed the most was Stephen King’s On Writing.
BH: Any words on advice to aspiring writers for keeping the hope alive?
MM: Don’t ever give up. Go to writing conferences, read books on writing, join a critique group, and most of all write, write, write.
BH: Thank you, Marilyn, for answering our questions and giving us some insights into your writing life!
If you’d like more information on Marilyn Meredith and her books, you can visit her website here, and her blog here. Here’s a link for her latest book, Invisible Path.