February 1, 2013

Author Interview: Meredith Short

When I signed Zoe up for gymnastics classes a little over a year ago, I expected her to make some new friends, have a great time, and learn to cartwheel. (She did.)

What I didn't expect was to find some great new friends myself.

Meredith Short was one of the amazing people I met at The Little Gym. We hit it off immediately, and along with our other friends the Thiels (ya know, the artistic couple responsible for my book trailer??), we created a bit of a Saturday Morning Gymnastics Gang. It was fabulous.


Since then, Mere has become a writing partner, a cheerleader for my own fledgling career, and most importantly, a really great friend.

After months of her supporting me and my zombies, I'm super-excited to host Meredith here today with some VERY exciting news!

It's her Official Book Birthday! Her first comic releases TODAY via Stan Lee's new Kids Universe. Her book's called Rock Star Super Diva and let me tell you - it's a TON of fun.

Read on to meet Meredith, and please leave a comment to say hi!

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LR: Ok, first…what was your inspiration or rock star Roxy Rhymes? Where’d she come from? Because she’s sort of fabulous!

MS: I wish I could take credit for it. I do some editing for Viper Comics and the owner and publisher, Jessie Garza, came up with the idea. Roxy Rhymes is based on his daughter, a totally cool kid, who I kept in my head while I wrote. They gave me the character and concept and let me audition for the book. They liked my pitch and let me at it!

LR: You’re my first graphic novelist/comic writer. Tell us a little about the process of scripting, submitting, and working with an artist to come up with the finished product.


MS: This was my first comic too so there was definitely a learning curve. I have a bit of a screenwriting background so writing visually (showing and not telling, as we’ve all been taught!) wasn’t totally foreign to me, but I still had a lot to learn. Brevity is key. I tend to be a little long-winded and my fiction is dialogue-heavy, so stripping everything down into a few bubbles a page is challenging. And an excellent exercise for writers looking to trim some fat from their work. 

Precise language, too, is important. To get someone else to understand you and draw exactly what your mind’s eye sees depends way more on how you, the writer, express yourself and way less on how the artist interprets your directions. That being said, sometimes how Ivan saw things was different and better than I intended. The last thing I learned is that it’s a super collaborative process. Besides working with my artist, I had the pleasure and honor of being mentored by Howard Mackie (of GHOST RIDER fame) throughout the process as well as being tweaked, cheered on, and reined in by my good friend and editor, Dale Mettam. It takes a village and the work is better for all those creative fingerprints all over it.

LR: And really, the artwork is fab. What were your first thoughts when you started seeing it all come together?

MS: I was amazed. Ivan Escalante is a tremendous talent but I still have to say I was surprised and delighted as I started to get the proofs. First a little sketch to make sure he understood me, then ink, then pages in full bloom. It really is a fun process to watch. I am possibly the world’s worst artist so seeing someone draw the same person so consistently while also doing crazy things with color and perspective dazzled me no end.

LR: I do happen to know you have two awesome daughters. Have you read it to them yet? Or when do you plan to introduce them to Super Diva?

MS: Well, I would be impressed beyond words if my 18 month old “got it” already, but my 4 year old digs it. Mostly, she likes the outfits—spandex is evergreen—but she also likes the funny voices I read it in. Oh, and when the villain’s robot body falls away and his little pink piggy toes regrow… her curly head almost popped right off her shoulders. One thing I love about the concept and the storyline, though, is it really should appeal to any age group. Parents will get the silly 80s references and kids will see, I hope, a little bit of themselves in Roxy, her genius brother, or the super tiny superhero girl at the end.

LR: What’s next on your writing agenda?

MS: Well, my day job is writing technical manuals for the government. Who could want more than that? Besides that? I have a couple novel ideas I’m trying to flesh out but I feel like that commands a lot more diligence and time than I have right now. I have joined a writers’ group that has been great for me, though. We write 3-5 page shorts and share them with the group. It helps me get the juices flowing and helps me deal constructively with criticism. No one likes second drafts or getting blasted by editors, so this is a good exercise in toughening up the skin a little!

LR: When you write a script or a story, are you an outliner, or a seat-of-your-pantser?

MS: Oh, of COURSE I use an outline. Every time. I also drive the speed limit and eat my vegetables first. I totally see the value of outlines (especially for non-fiction writers) but I am very bad at it. Typically, I have either a character or a scene in mind and everything else builds from there. If there was a viable market for vignettes out there, I would be a prolific millionaire writer. The “novellita.” That’s what I’d like to write. 

Having spent time with screenplays, I have learned to at least write a treatment before launching headlong into something new and that helps me organize a little. So yes, more of a seat-of-my-pantser.

LR: As a kid, who was your favorite literary crush?

MS: You mean author? I am a Mark Twain lover from way back. But I also fell pretty hard for Stephen (the) King after he kept me up all night with PET CEMETERY. Or did you mean characters? Funnily enough, I loved Heathcliff from WUTHERING HEIGHTS. I know he was a total douchebag in the book but I saw the movie first and Lawrence Olivier was so hot that when I finally read the book (alas, after the exam), I was so brainwashed by his delicious 3D character that I’d convinced myself he was just as sweet and lovable in the book.

LR: Favorites time! Favorite movie?

MS: Too many… Skyfall, Empire Strikes Back, The Usual Suspects, Up, Miller’s Crossing, Fargo, Shawshank Redemption, and for pure laugh out loud girl power/craziness Bridesmaids.

LR: Favorite book?

MS: Wicked, Kavalier and Clay, On Writing, The Carnal Prayermat, Blood Sucking Fiends: A Love Story, Portrait of the Artist, The Poisonwood Bible, Letters From Earth, A Hundred Years of Solitude, A Brief History of Time, A Wrinkle in Time, The Autobiography of Helen Keller

LR: Favorite band/album?

MS: Oh man, I am so out of touch with what the kids are listening to these days. I admit to succumbing to the addiction that is country music. Love folksy stuff like Eddie from Ohio and Indigo Girls. Josh Radin, Regina Spektor, funkier stuff like Macy Gray and Morcheeba. Both my kids love old school rap so there always seems to be a dance party on. I’m sure that’s bad parenting, but I’m sure headspins and The Robot will prove to be more important life skills in the future than, say, picking Puccini out of a line-up.

Thanks, friend. This has been fun!

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No, Mere. Thank YOU for a fantastic interview and for a super-fun new book!! I still need you to sign mine, by the way!

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