1. S: Hi Meira! Thank you for accepting this interview! How about telling the readers some facts about you?
Meira: Hi, Simona. Thank you for inviting me! I live in Colorado with my Dutch husband. We have two daughters, one black labrador, and two insane cats. I love to read everything from science fiction and thrillers to mysteries and children’s fantasy.
2. S: What is your book “Firefly Beach” about? Let the readers know some things about it.
Meira: “Firefly Beach” is a paranormal cozy mystery. A strange combination, I know. But it has both supernatural themes and a female sleuth who wasn’t expecting a mystery. It is a character-driven novel, and I love eccentric personalities, so you can expect some quirky characters roaming through the pages. I endeavored to take the reader on a vacation to the coast of Maine, visiting both the present and the 1970s. It is a story about accepting the past, settling unfinished business, and cherishing family. . . and it’s also a good old-fashioned mystery with a few supernatural elements to spice it up.
The Official Blurb: When Beth LaMonte rents a cottage on the coast of Maine, she wishes only to withdraw and paint. A mysterious ball of light disturbs her peace and leads her to a secret beach where she finds the diary of a girl who disappeared in 1975. Now Beth is on a mission, not only to bury her own past, but to put to rest the spirit of Firefly Beach.
3. S: How did you come up with the idea for this book? I found it really interesting!
Meira: “Firefly Beach” developed in stages before it took off in my brain and wouldn’t leave me alone. I first envisioned the firefly in 2004 when my husband and I were on a retreat. We participated in a relaxation seminar. The instructor asked us to imagine a very safe and quiet space – a room, a meadow, whatever came to mind. I pictured a small beach secluded by high cliffs. But, honestly, meditation and I do not do well together. Thoughts run around in my brain in spite of my efforts to quiet them. Shortly after arriving at my special beach, a firefly joined me dancing around the cliff. Then a diary and the idea that it belonged to a long-lost girl.
That concept drifted to the back of my mind while I worked on another manuscript from 2004 through 2007. As soon as I declared my first attempted novel finished, the firefly returned to me, flooding me with ideas. I could not write them down fast enough. I realized that Beth’s story was far more compelling than the words I had labored over for three years. At that moment, the old manuscript found its way to a shelf in the back of my closet, and I passionately dove into “Firefly Beach”.
4. S: The cover of the book looks amazing and it really fits the story! How did it become your choice for “Firefly Beach”?
Meira: The current cover was painted by a friend of the family. She created it in 2007. It hangs in my office, and it is a constant reminder of my early aspirations for “Firefly Beach”. This beautiful painting nurtured me through dozens of rejection letters. When “Firefly Beach” finally found a publisher, they created their own cover. It was attractive, but it did not really fit the story. So after my contract with the publishing company was up, I re-published “Firefly Beach” with the new cover!
5. S: Which are your favourite and also less favourite characters from your book?
Meira: I like them all. . . Well, I enjoyed writing all of them. Most of the characters are flawed or damaged in some way, as well as gifted or insightful in other aspects of life. My favourite character is Kenny McLeary, the jeweler. He is a survivor. Painful childhood experiences made him strong, resilient. He has a quiet wisdom.
The character I dislike the most is Mack McLeary, Kenny’s father. Some of my “bad guys” have a little heart in them, but Mack McLeary is pure bully.
6. S: Do you have a playlist in your mind for this book? Did you use to listen to something when you wrote it?
Meira: Ooh. Love this question. Three songs in particular come to mind, and they represent three sections of the book.
“Gravity” by Vienna Teng – Beth driving from Albuquerque to Maine
“Chemistry of a Car Crash” by Shiny Toy Guns – Chapter 22 “Look out for Loons”
“Enough to Go By” by Vienna Teng – Very last scene in book
7. S: Which authors do you consider to have been your inspiration?
Meira: I have so many favorite authors as well as individuals who have inspired me over the years, but I will choose one woman who recently inspired me to self-publish “Firefly Beach” after it went out of print (the first edition was released in March of 2009). I believe many of your readers will have heard of her – Tracey Garvis-Graves. Tracey and I met on a writer’s forum called AbsoluteWrite. She had this interesting story idea about a teenager and his tutor trapped on an island in the Maldives. I sent her a message asking if I could read it. She wanted to finish the novel to cross it off of her “bucket list”. We became writing buddies (call each other cyber-sister). Now she has a best-selling novel called “On the Island”. She was delighted to be an indie author, but after several months of successful sales, her book was picked up by Penguin and is available in bookstores.
8. S: Where do you write your works? Any place you love the most?
Meira: I have a home office in the corner of our house which is private, and I love the paintings I’ve collected (including the cover for “Firefly Beach”). But I also absolutely love to sneak away to a corner of the local library with a laptop. . . My husband indulges me with a “writer’s weekend” from time to time – I hole up in a motel and write for two days straight. The first chapters of “Firefly Beach” were written in a motel room in a beautiful little town called Manitou Springs.
9. S: What country would you like your books to be popular in?
Meira: I had never really thought about it before. I assumed “Firefly Beach” would be popular among American readers. I am surprised by the number of emails I get from readers in both Romania and India.
My second novel, “Nine-Tenths”, is a dystopian fiction based on the Soviet East Germany, so I had originally hoped to find German readers who would enjoy the story, but the novel may also appeal to victims of the occupation in other Eastern Bloc countries.
10. S: What do you think about Romania, the country I live in? Would you like to visit it one day?
Meira: I would, actually, especially after connecting with so many people in your country via email. The Romanian people have a long history of survival in the face of adversity, which is admirable, and the country is blossoming in spite of the general economic turmoil in Europe, another tribute to the creativity and resiliency of its people. I am truly honored that “Firefly Beach” has become so popular in Romania.
11. S: As an ending, you can say anything that comes to your mind to the readers. Thank you for answering all of these questions!
Meira: Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. It has been fun. My newest novel (eight-to-ten-year-old reading level) will be coming out in April. “Sarah and the Magic Mayonnaise Jar”. So if you have children who enjoy chapter books in English, they may like it.
If you have questions about anything, please leave them in the comments below and I’ll check back. Thank you!