Thursday, September 21, 2023

Q&A with Meredith R. Lyons


Photo by Zoe McKenzie Photography



Meredith R. Lyons is the author of the new novel Ghost Tamer. Also an actor and narrator, she lives in Nashville.


Q: What inspired you to write Ghost Tamer, and how did you create your character Raely?


A: I had a nightmare that I was riding the El in Chicago—where I no longer lived—after an improv class with a friend and the train flew off the rails. It was one of those dreams where you wake up flooded with adrenaline because you're positive you're about to die.


I needed something new to write. I'm always writing stories with spaceships or magic with aliens or unicorns and I thought, "This will be great, I can try to write about normal people in the real world." I started writing the dream and then thought, "But what if there were ghosts..." Apparently normal people is not my schtick.


With Raely, I wanted someone in pain who was still funny. I wanted her to make some poor decisions but still be relatable. And I wanted her to learn and grow by the end of the book. I wanted her to end up moving forward even though she's suffered tremendous loss.


I used some of my own experiences with acting to color in her comedic ambitions and pulled from my own experiences with grief to fill in some of Raely's emotions around that.


Everyone has lost someone, but there are so many thoughts and feelings that aren't attractive, but I'm pretty sure are common, that we are afraid to share and thus end up feeling really alone with those feelings.


Being in Raely's head allowed me to explore a bit of that on the page. She moves through grief for the entire book, which is why it was really important to me that there be liberal doses of humor. You can't cry the whole time, otherwise no one wants to live in the world.


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I had no idea how it would end! I sometimes didn't know what was going to happen when I sat down to write the next scene! They call it “pantsing” or the new, nicer term is “discovery writing,” and whatever you call it, that's me.


Writing that way is like a rollercoaster: kind of terrifying, but really fun. I've tried making outlines before I write something, and so far, it just doesn't work for me. It does mean that I have to go back and reshape the road a little bit once I'm finished.


For instance, I had no idea the character of Luck was going to be important at all when I threw him into a scene at the beginning. Once he became a big deal, I had to go back and make sure that evolution made sense so it didn't come out of left field for the reader.


Q: The writer John DeDakis said of the book, “Meredith R. Lyons writes with an intensity of emotion and an abundance of sass. Her debut novel Ghost Tamer has just the right mix of spunky and spooky.” What do you think of that description? 


A: I think it's awesome! I love all of the adjectives he used! It's like... have you ever really wanted a nickname or something, but that's not something you can give yourself? Then one day one of the cool kids just calls you “Ace” or something, I dunno, and not only does it fit you and feel really flattering, but it sticks?


That's what this feels like. He got what I was trying to do, he liked it, and then described it in a really great way that makes me feel warm and fuzzy.


I felt like that every time I got a blurb, to be honest. Like, oh wow, they liked it! And said all these cool words about it! It's very difficult to describe. I'm still in disbelief sometimes that I've written something that resonates with people.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: I want readers to feel something. I want them to feel like they've been somewhere else for a bit and enjoyed the journey. Maybe experienced some emotions they didn't expect and definitely have laughed a few times. And I'd like them to close the book and have the urge to call someone they love.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: So many things! I have two completed sci fi fantasy novels that I'm pitching right now, I have another new fantasy that I'm writing when I have a free moment, I am also working on a Ghost Tamer sequel, and running around to different conferences and events gearing up for Ghost Tamer's release. It's a really exciting time. All of it is new and fantastic.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I love hearing from readers! I have a newsletter signup on my website and I'm on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Goodreads and Facebook as @meredithrlyons. Thanks so much for chatting with me, this has been fun!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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