Interview with Allison Merritt

Please welcome Allison Merritt to our blog today.  One lucky commentor will win a copy of a book, so please leave a comment..

How did you get started writing?

I’ve been writing since childhood, but in middle school I made up my mind to be a writer after one of my friends declared she was going to be a writer. She moved on, but it stuck with me. A few years ago I took a break from it, but eventually the need to tell stories came back to me and here I am.

  1. What genre(s) do you write in and why?

I started out writing historical romances and a contemporary romance, but lately with the interest in steampunk and the glow cast by movies like Sherlock Holmes, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Jonah Hex, I really wanted to get into writing some fantasy/adventure/steampunk romances. It’s so exciting to put a different twist on the past.

  1. Tell us about your current series.

The Treasure Hunter’s Lady is an fantasy/steampunk romance about a fiery British adventurer’s daughter and a brash Texas cowboy who have to find a legendary jewel in order to save the lives of people who are dear to them. They don’t intend to fall in love because she believes he’s after the treasure to sell it to the highest bidder and he thinks she’s a giant pain in the butt, but as they face a journey to the Dakota Territories, evil henchmen, a band of Indians and a mythical serpent, they learn they can’t live without each other.

  1. What movie best describes your life?  Why?

It might sound funny, but I like to relate my life to a horse movie like Seabiscuit or Secretariat. You always see these horses that grow to be champions after they have a rough start or life throws them a curve, but they bounce back to win a race. I like to think that with the ups and downs life gives me, I’ll manage to break from the pack and win by a dozen lengths, but heck, I’ll be happy to win by a nose too.

  1. What inspired your latest book?

I was working on a historical romance set in Australia when I started researching aboriginal myths. I read one about a god called the Rainbow Serpent, who created the world and controlled the waterways. Originally The Treasure Hunter’s Lady was set in Australia, but I had a hard time selling it to agents and publishers, so I revised it to set it in America. I had to research additional myths to supplement the plot line and change so many things. It has an entirely different ending than the first draft, but every second of revisions was worth the ending it has now.

  1. What is your favorite part of writing?

The adventure of not knowing where the characters will end up. That and writing the dialogue. I like my characters with a lot of spark and clashing personalities at first, so they keep me entertained.

  1. What is your least favorite part of writing?

Editing. I’ll look at a manuscript until my eyes cross and still miss little details.

8    What is your next project and when will it be released?

My next project is a novel called The Sky Pirate’s Wife. I started writing it during NaNoWriMo in 2010 and am working on a second draft of it now. I hope to have it out by fall 2012 or early 2013.

  1. What is your typical day like?

Work, work, work. I’m a full-time cataloger at my county library, so I’m always surrounded by books. There’s plenty of time at the circulation desk too, so I often take the opportunity to write—by hand, which I later type out. Then I go home and I might go out with my husband to dinner or we’ll stay in and watch a movie. I also do critiques in the evenings and work on the Sky Pirate’s Wife.

  1. How much time do you spend promoting your books?  What works best for you?

I always try to mention it in the afternoons on Twitter. I heard someone say more people are active in the afternoons, therefore more likely to take a chance on something they haven’t seen or read before. I keep people posted on Facebook too when I’ve just put something up and I blog two-three times a week and hopefully people are getting the message there too.

I have pretty good friends on Facebook and in my local writer’s group. They can always be counted on to buy and spread the word when I have something out. You can never have too many friends eager to pass you along. I hope some of the purchases have been made when a reader stumbled along through my blog. I’d like to think I can hook ’em that way.

  1. How has your experience with self-publishing been?

So far things have been pretty slow, though they’re starting to pick up. I have two short stories up besides The Treasure Hunter’s Lady. The contemporary one is free at Smashwords and I’m pleased with the downloads. The other is a western and I think people aren’t really into westerns these days.

I love the control self-publishing allows me. I decide what the covers look like, I decide when to publish, it’s very freeing.


  1. Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

I’ve loved stories about the Old West since I was a teenager, so the ideas for the steampunks sort of stem from that—making up the technology for this is much harder. The historicals are the same way, I read a lot of Louis L’Amour and Leigh Greenwood with their great tales about the men and women who forged paths and took chances on love. The contemporaries are usually spur of the moment type stories, both of the shorts I have out now that are contemporary just popped into my head.

  1. What advice do you have for other authors wanting to self-publish?

I really wondered if I could do it. I’m not very tech-savvy and I’m very shy, so I worry that people think I’m cramming my stories down their throats when I advertise them on my Facebook fanpage and my Twitter account. But when I sat down to learn how to format, just out of simple curiosity more than anything else, I was amazed at how easy it was. If you have a document that you can work with as you read the instructions for formatting (I started with Mark Coker’s e-book about how to format for Smashwords), then you can work on it step-by-step. I’m very visual, so that worked well for me. I also made the cover of The Treasure Hunter’s Lady, which wasn’t too difficult, but a little more frustrating. I recommend getting someone to make a cover for you if you can afford it. I still agonize over my font colors. If you have the knowledge and a good work and the determination to put it all together, don’t hesitate. There are so many people willing to help you if you network a lot and take advantage of that. You’ll never know what you can accomplish if you hide your stories in the closet and worry that you won’t be a success.

15 thoughts on “Interview with Allison Merritt

  1. Allison – Thanks so much for being here today. I agree with everyone. Your cover is gorgeous. I’m so not talented that way, I envy anyone who can do their own cover.
    Hope today brings lots of comments.

  2. Excellent job on the cover, Allison. I like steampunk and your book sounds like a lot of fun. BTW, I also like westerns–you could combine them in a Wild West way.
    How long does it take you to finish a book?

  3. Hi Allison, I think your cover is just beautiful. As soon as the page opened I knew I would comment on it, even before I saw your comments. Fascinating blog–thanks for sharing with us!

  4. Hi Allison! *waves* Hi Cynthia!

    I would never have guessed you’re shy by your rib-tickling posts on Facebook. I can’t wait to read The Treasure Hunter’s Lady. It’ll be my first steam punk.

  5. I am off to buy this story. I really can’t wait to read it. And who doesn’t love a Texas Hero.

    BTW Ally- you keep running your race. (I love those moives too. Very inspiring)

  6. Hi, Allie, my friend. I love this book so much! It’s one on my keeper shelf. I hope you sell a gazillion copies!!!

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