Today I have the opportunity to interview the awesome M.R. Merrick, autor of a fantastic book Exiled (The Protector #1). If you haven't heard of Exiled, make sure you check it out and you can read my review of it as well. And at the end of this interview, you can enter to win one e-book copy of Exiled!
Exiled features two seriously tough characters, both of whom I adore. So tell us, in your opinion, who would win in a fight: Rayna or Chase?
That’s a really tough way to start this interview…I really don’t know. They each have such different strengths and weaknesses. Realistically, they’d both probably inflict life threatening wounds and die together, but I if I had to bet money on it, I’d go with Rayna. She’s scrappy, a natural survivor, and has more control over herself and her abilities. There’s a fire that exists within her that’s different from Chase, and right now, I think it puts her on top.
A lot of reviews (including mine) have included a mention of how Exiled is great for fans of Cassandra Clare's Shadowhunter books. What do you think about this comparison and have you read any of her books yourself?
I’ve read the first three books. I haven’t read the fourth yet though. I’ve gone out of my way to avoid spoilers, but the drift I get is that the greatness continues. As far as being compared to it, I have mixed feelings. On the plus side, it’s an incredible honor. I mean, that series is beloved by so many, how can you not be excited about that! It overwhelms me that anyone would talk about my series in the same sentence with TMI, but I definitely love hearing it. On the down side, EXILED is the first book in a new series, from a new author. I’m just starting out, and being compared to The Mortal Instruments seems like setting the bar right at the top. Not that I mind. I love a challenge, but I hope that comparison doesn’t leave readers going into my story with expectations so high; there isn’t room for me to steal them away to my world. Although readers who enjoyed TMI are likely to enjoy EXILED, I still want them to be prepared for something entirely different. All this might be a completely irrational thought, but it exists nonetheless.
Before Exiled came out, did you already have an idea of where the series would end up? If so, has your idea of the ending to the series changed at all since you've been writing?
I definitely knew where it was going – or so I thought. Right before I sent EXILED off to the editor, I had a blast of inspiration for book two, SHIFT. It was the perfect direction for the story to go, but as I was writing it, I had an epiphany of sorts, and I realized the story might be on a more epic scale than even I realized. I haven’t committed to the new idea completely yet. The Protector series was originally planned as a trilogy, I’ve had the end in mind since I finished the first draft of Exiled, but this new idea makes everything…bigger. I really need to brainstorm and explore this new idea first, before I know if I will take it to that level, or if it will remain a trilogy.
Why did you decide to write Exiled? Was there anything that inspired you in particular? Anything you hope readers will take away from reading it?
I didn’t really mean to write EXILED. I always loved writing, but I’d never tried my hand a fiction. I kind of stumbled across the idea for the story and it just slowly grew into what it is. My daughter inspired the entire process. I’ve always been all over the place career wise. I get bored easily and need a constant challenge. One thing I never wavered from was that I would always be home at night to tuck my daughter in. We’d read stories before bed, but every now and then she’d ask me to make one up, and tell her a story, and so I would. I created new worlds, new, fun creatures, and new adventures every night. It sparked a creative need inside me that I had to explore. Although my books aren’t children books, the reason Exiled exists is because of her. I didn’t write Exiled with any special meaning behind it. If there is any underlying message in it, I didn’t put it there, it happened on its own. All I want readers to do is pick it up, and disappear into my imagination, if only for a few hours. See what I saw. Feel what I felt. Explore the world, characters, and creatures, and become a part of Chase and Rayna’s journey. If nothing else, I want to provide a temporary escape from reality.
Being a self-published author, could you share with us some of the hardest and some of the best things about taking this route to get your book published?
The hardest part is getting your name out there. Marketing is a frustrating business when you don’t really know what you’re doing. Sometimes one thing will work wonders for one author, and have no results when tried by others. It’s a constant game of change. The other part is the criticism. You can’t appeal to everyone. You know this going in. Being a self-published author comes with an instant uphill battle. You don’t have a publishing house behind you, and a lot of readers are turned off by this. You have to work harder to put out a product that’s equal to something a publisher would distribute, and do it all on your own dollar. When you pick up my book, without looking at the copyright, I don’t want you to be able to tell difference between self and traditionally published. That’s not to say my book is without errors, but I really worked towards putting out the most professional product I could. On the other side of the coin, you do all the leg work. That isn’t always fun, but you have full creative control. You decide what stays and what goes. You decide on the face you give your book. You hire the artists, you hire the editors, you determine release date, promotions, etc. That part of it is great. The other part is the community. There is a massive independent author community out there, and it isn’t a cut throat one. They’re supportive, they’re encouraging, and they pick you up when you’re down. They help spread the word about your book, and some are willing to read it, even when in its roughest form, to help you make it better. I think the worst thing an author can do, is face the publishing world alone. At times, it’s a really harsh business to be in. People can attack and tear apart something you’ve spent an entire year of your life creating, and you shouldn’t have to go through that by yourself. You don’t have to tackle this industry alone, so don’t. Join all the authors and incredible book bloggers out there, and work together to make your dreams come true. It isn’t going to happen overnight, so you might as well be in good company while you wait.
And to go along with his interview, I'm giving away an e-book copy of Exiled to one of you! It's a wonderful, fabulous book and I can't wait for one of you to read it. The book will be purchased from Smashwords, so you can see which files are available on there- even if you don't have an e-reader, this one can be purchased to read on the computer.