Welcome to another edition of the Emerging Writer Interview Series! I'd like you to meet Meaghan Rauscher, a lovely lady who has a talent for bringing out the child in all of us and tantalising our imaginations with her tales of mermaids. I downloaded meaghan's book a while ago so that I could relive my Little Mermaid Fantasties and I will be sure to put a review about it when exams finish.
Why don’t you first tell us a little about yourself?
Where should I start? I guess I’ll begin with family, because if there’s anything I treasure in my life it’s my family. I grew up, and still live, in Augusta, GA with my family. I am one of seven kids and have enjoyed the benefits of a big family atmosphere. When I was eight years old, I started to swim on a year-around club team and spent the next twelve years of my life in the pool, or so it seemed. I spent two of those years at East Carolina University where I swam on the varsity team, until I decided to transfer. Last May, I graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in English and last fall I spent six months down in Orlando, Florida working for the Walt Disney Company. Now enough about my life, let’s talk about writing!
Did you always possess a passion for writing? When did you have the epiphany that you actually wanted to write a book?
That’s a really tough question. Unlike some writers, I can’t pinpoint an exact moment where I had this amazing idea to write a book. More than anything, I think my passion for writing has come from my love of storytelling! When I was little, I shared a room with two of my sisters, and we did everything together. From Barbie’s to baby dolls, we always played together and I think it was during those times I found out I had the ability to make up stories. As I got older, I took some writing classes and fell in love with it! It was so fascinating to create something out of nothing and have readers enjoy it! I do remember when I was about fourteen years old, my dad had me write down the goals I wanted to accomplish in life on a little index card. The first goal had to do with swimming (my obsession at the time), but on the second line I wrote: “Write and publish a book”. That was the first time I had ever written the idea down and around two years later, I began the first draft of DROPLETS.
What is it about the fantasy genre that draws you to it?
I think it’s the endless possibility which I find so exciting! With fantasy, you can do whatever you want in a story. There are worlds you can set up with different rules, such as people who can fly, or in my case merfolk who also walk on land. There is something about the genre that’s fantastic in its ability to transport a reader into a world they have never seen before. But there is also a challenge in writing fantasy that I love as well! With fantasy, you get the chance to create something new but you also have to make it real, real enough that your readers not only comprehend the world you’re describing, but see it.
There was a quote from Stephenie Meyer, which I read years ago, that I loved. When she was asked why her vampires were so different, she responded saying she could do whatever she wanted with them because they’re mythical. That quote really affected me, and it was a driving factor in the creation of the merfolk world my characters live in. To say the least, these aren’t your typical mermaids and mermen.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers that are struggling getting their book noticed?
First, you must know all writers go through this, I’m still going through it, so it’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the millions of books out there. One of the biggest things I have found to be helpful is social media. After I self-published DROPLETS, I felt as though it was lost in the Amazon database where no one could find it. Now, through the help of some really great friends, I have begun to create a fanbase which is really quite exciting! So my tip here would be to use social media as wonderful tool to get some notice!
My other tip, and I learned this one the hard way, is get a cover which attracts a person’s attention. When DROPLETS was first published, the cover was very simple and poorly made. This year I decided to purchase a new cover and released a second edition on Amazon which has resulted in tripling my sales in the last two months!
DROPLETS is set in Coveside, Maine where seventeen year old, Lissie Darrow lives with her family. One night, when Lissie is out on the deck of a boat singing to herself, she hears a murmur reach out over the water and when she goes to look, a splash reaches her ears. The following evening, she is swept overboard in the grips of a horrific storm only to be saved by a mysterious merman who returns her to her family, but not without a price. The merman transforms her into a mermaid, with the ability to both sprout fins and walk on land; she now finds herself a captive of the dark merman and flees into the night. When she ends up, exhausted, on an island and meets the mysterious and handsome Patrick, she thinks she has escaped the merfolk world. But as events begin to unfold, Lissie realizes that meeting the dark merman wasn’t just a mere twist of fate. And the closer she gets to Patrick, the more she learns that Patrick’s past is entangled with her own future.
Where did the inspiration for this come from?
Oh, this is tough to answer and I have been asked this many times. I know one of the main inspirations came from my childhood. As I said, I was a swimmer and as a child, I loved being in the water. Most days I would pretend I was mermaid, so that’s where the idea for a story about mermaids came from. As for the rest of the story, I remember my younger siblings were watching Disney’s The Little Mermaid and I wondered how the story would be different if Ariel could have walked on land. From there, the idea of merfolk being able to sprout fins and walk on land became the foundation for my story. I then decided to create a character who was unwilling transformed into a mermaid and making these creatures different from the ones you read about in myths.
How did you keep motivated to write during high school?
Honestly? Writing was what kept me relaxed and sane through the years of high school. One of the greatest benefits was that I was home schooled, and was able to get my school work done earlier in the day than had I gone to public school. More than that, were the swim practices. There were many times during the two to three hour practices that I spent my time thinking about writing and actually, most of the plot for DROPLETS was written inside my head while I was swimming. Usually, after I was done with practice, I would rush home to tell my younger sister, Lauren, who has been my go-to critic since the beginning, and the next day I would flesh it out on paper. So to answer your question, I mainly stayed motivated because I loved it! It was something which made me excited and in a sense it was similar to reading a book. As I wrote, I couldn’t wait to see where it would end.
How did you go about writing your book? What is your planning process (if you have one)
As I mentioned, my sister is one of the biggest tools in my writing process. Sometimes we go to lunch or on a walk and I simply talk about the book. She is a great listener and contributes here and there, but more than anything I have found this process to be helpful in getting my creative side into full-throttle. Usually after one of these meetings I am ready to sit down and write as much as possible before the day is done. My next step, after speaking everything out loud, is to write down the major points which need to take place in the plot. Typically there are only about ten of these when I start, but as I go along, there can upwards of a hundred. In a sense they become the chapters broken down into little pieces.
The only other important part of my process is that I really have to “see” a scene before I can write it. Often times, when I get stuck in the middle of a part or in between chapters, I listen to instrumental music and it helps to get the story moving. In particular, I listen to movie soundtracks and I typically listen to them in the background while I sit down to write.
Your main character goes through some really trying times. How do you make her reactions to her circumstances realistic?
Great question, this is something that comes from personal experience and through reading. Some of Lissie’s reactions are simply my own response when things happened to me, but accentuated. Other times, she goes through things I have never experienced and this is when being a well-read writer is important. If there is anything I love as much as writing, it’s reading. I think by reading so much, I have picked up important aspects that make a character’s reaction human and realistic, but it’s not always an easy thing to do.
You have created an intense love between Lissie and Patrick. How do you create a spark between your characters that comes off the page?
Again, this is something that comes down to being an avid reader of the young adult fantasy genre. There are many things about Lissie and Patrick’s relationship which are influenced by other books, but I think a lot of their differences come from the situations they go through. This is not a typical romance and the trials they face intensify the emotions between them. Whenever you see the vulnerable side of a person, you feel closer to them, I used that idea to create a deep relationship between both characters which I hope my readers enjoy as much as I do!
At first, it was really hard. I found it difficult to even send my work out to someone I didn’t know, and to then have it denied over and over again was very demeaning. In some way it made me think they hated my work, but as time passed I had a few agents who held onto my book until turning it down in a second round. Although those ended up as disappointments too, I soon realized what they really meant; my work wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t specifically what they were looking for.
I would say, to aspiring writers, that the most important thing you can do is write what you want. Sometimes when I got a denial from my queries, I felt I should tweak the story so it would fall into a more definite genre, but now I see how wrong this would have been. More than anything else, keep true to your story, but don’t forget to learn from each disappointment.
What was the trigger that finally made you self publish Droplets?
This is a rather embarrassing question because it has to do with my pride. As I was busy querying, and hating the process, I had several people mention self-publishing to me. I nodded my head, but I was really thinking “Yeah, right. I’m going to do this the real way”. Two years later, and not having gotten any farther, I finally decided to look into self publishing and was hooked! I have found self-publishing to be a really great route to take.
What benefits have you experienced in doing it this way instead of the traditional route?
Keep in mind that I haven’t published a book the traditional way, but I think one of the best parts of self-publishing is that you get the opportunity to reach out to readers on your own. At times it can be time consuming, but it’s worth it! I have met people through social media and gotten to know them as people rather than just their book review. I would think publishing the traditional way gives you a greater separation from you and your readers, where as I have found that I get to know them on a more personal level.
You are currently writing the second book of the Droplets series due to its success, congratulations! Can you hint for your readers where the story might be going?
Yes! I am very excited about the second installment, RIPPLES, which will be coming out next month! If you have read DROPLETS, you know the story was left at a bit of a cliff-hanger. All I can say is this problem will be resolved early on in the book. However, there will be even larger trials for Lissie to go through. All the suspense, drama, and action of the first book will be back again and this time it will be even bigger! And can I tell you a secret? In my personal opinion, I love this book even more than the first!
Thank you Meaghan, this has been a great interview! You really bring my childhood dreams to life and to be honest every time I went to the beach I scouted for mermaids (and I still do haha). I wish you the best of luck in publishing the next instalment of Droplets and I will eagerly be anticipating its release. So get cracking on that draft!
Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me!
If you want to hear more from Meaghan and watch her dominate the publishing world you can follow her on her other accounts: