Today we have a special guest on my blog, James Quinlan Meservy, author of The United. His new book, Denizens Among Us, will be out soon! I hope you enjoy this interview.
Q: 1. How did you come up with the origin story of the Manditone? I thought it was so tragic and sweet but well written.
Thank you. The Manidone legend. So ever since the Dark Fang short story I created as a child, Dark Fang was a shapeshifter who collected the souls of mankind. So I researched different Native American legends to see if any fit what I needed, and I found ‘Manidone’ similar to the Skin Walkers in most every respect, with the main difference that Manidones were myth and Skin Walkers were believed to be real. Once I had figured out which creature the native culture believed Jacob Hunter to be, the legend described in Chapter 2 came easily to my mind.
Q: 2. Ooh, I just love Native American cultures, so it was nice that Native Americans influenced your book a bit. So how do you choose your characters names?
Well for the minor characters, I went on social media and used the first appropriate name I found. For the major characters, I really don’t remember how I chose their names or even when their names were chosen. TJ was always named TJ. LyAnn was originally named Shelly, but at some point became KimberlyAnn, called LyAnn. Blaze and Amanda and Byron always went by those names. Jacob & Jonathon Hunter always the same as well. I seriously don’t recall how.
Q: 3. Nice! I never thought of using Social Media to think of Names. Are the myths and legends in The United based off real ones or completely made up (or both)?
The Manidone is a real Native American myth I found while researching an encyclopedia of Native legends back when I was in college. The legends of Myrr were loosely based on Arthurian lore but I decided there were enough stories about Merlin and Arthur, so made enough modifications to make Myrr original. (Merlin & Arthur merged into Armaqya; Excalibur became a battle-ax known as Boi-Bresh; Myrr now was located in Northern Eurasia, and so forth).
Q: 4. Whoa, now that you mention it, I can really see those themes woven into the Myrr legends. So where did your idea and inspiration for this book come from?
The original idea was a Halloween themed creative writing assignment in 5th grade. Most of the novelized inspirations came to me in my dreams.
Q: 5. Wow! That’s so neat. Last October, a Halloween themed contest spurred me to start a series that is now in its fourth book. What was the hardest scene you had to write?
Unquestioningly the hardest scene for me to write was the final scene in the Cave Spring parking lot, when Blaze comes to help TJ and Amanda (trying to avoid spoilers here).
Q: 6. Yep. I thought it was that one. How did you come up with such unique voices for your characters? They’re all so different and easy to tell a part especially TJ and Amanda.
TJ’s voice was easy. His voice is based on my own difficulties in speech. I have a slight stutter in speech, and I am known to omit words and change word order in my speech. Amanda’s chipmunk mode is based on a friend of mine who literally did exactly as Amanda. I remember one conversation with my friend where she was talking, she got really excited, and she spoke for about 5 straight minutes without a breath. The longer she spoke the quicker she spoke, and the higher pitch her voice became (I might be exaggerating in the exact time but it felt like an hour), and when she finally stopped to take a breath her face was beet red. Everyone else’s voices are based on how I hear them talking with me.
Q: 7. Haha! Amanda’s voice reminded me of me, because I do the same thing a lot, especially when I fangirl. I think it’s so neat that you use real life voices to influence your character voices (which is probably why they feel so real). What made you decide to kill off a certain few characters (ones that I really liked by the way)?
If it makes you feel any better, I killed off my absolute favorite character. She was not supposed to die originally, but as I wrote the book it became obvious to me that she needed to die. The main reason certain characters died was because I need them to be Creatures of Rai in Book 4.
Thank you, James, for this interview and answering the questions I was dying to know as I read through the United. It’s an epic fantasy that I think a lot of people will like, so here’s the synopsis and buy link down below, so please check it out.
The United Realm of the Light Book 1 (Rai Saga), by James Quinlan Meservy
KINGDOMS FALL, ONE DESTINY AT A TIME
Some time ago in a land since long forgotten, an evil force by the name of Lord Yrimwaque – servant of the Threat of Rai – threatens to destroy everything and prepare the world for a harvest. The only thing that stands in his way are three reluctant heroes: Tyler, his girlfriend KimberlyAnn and his best friend Blaze Morrison, who have been recruited by the followers of the Light of Rai. Upon their journey of knowledge, TJ and his friends are forced into an unlikely encounter with a creature of legend, and find themselves in the midst of an ancient battle between the Light of Rai and the Threat of Rai, with our world hanging in the balance. As the Light of Rai teach them to hone their various gifts and talents for the greater good of the kingdom, faith is restored, in the hopes that they will be able to stop Lord Yrimwaque and vanquish the evil horde he desires to unleash upon the land. Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, allies and enemies, the fate of the land hangs in the balance, as the lines between good and evil become more skewed. But will all their efforts be enough, or will the kingdom be plunged into darkness forever?