If you could be an extra on a TV series or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?
Thanks for having me! Well, since it’s too late for me to be an extra on The Next Generation, I guess I’d want to be a Dothraki horse lord on Game of Thrones (minus the torture and murder of innocent shepherds, of course).
Is there a genre or literary niche that you feel hasn’t gotten its deserved amount of attention?
I’m not sure this counts as a whole niche but one thing I’d like to see in high/epic fantasy is more inclusion of LBGTQ characters. It doesn’t have to be overtly political and heavy-handed; in fact, I think it’s better if it’s done subtly. One of the protagonists in my first trilogy was a gay male, and there are a couple more homosexual characters in the latest novel (The Dragonward), but their sexuality is fairly peripheral, just another aspect of their character. And incidentally, one of my gay characters named Jalist has been mentioned by readers over and over again as their favorite character. So that means, without having to get on any kind of big political soapbox, the novels were able to introduce readers to the prospect of a gay character that they liked simply because he was a good character—which is the whole point.
I’d also like to see more fully realized female characters. That’s something that’s improved a great deal, especially recently (thanks in no small part to GRRM), but honestly, there’s still a big temptation to write female characters in fantasy stories that fit into one of the three old archetypes: 1) the hot female who exists to be hot, 2) the frilly innocent female who exists only to be murdered/raped in order to fuel the male protagonist’s quest for revenge, and 3) the two dimensional swordbro who happens to be a woman. That doesn’t mean that writers can’t play around with these archetypes, maybe take an old idea/trope and put a twist on it, but providing both male and female characters who have actual personalities, including both internal and external conflict, is a good start.
(Whew, just realized I kinda went off on a rant there…)
What’s the most interesting gross fact you know?
One of my favorites doesn’t exactly gross ME out, but I’ve seen it make others cringe: dust is mostly human skin. In other words, when we clean, we’re basically mopping up tiny pieces of other people’s flesh. And when we have allergies, or if we’re in a dusty room, we’re breathing in—and sneezing—on other people’s arms and elbows.
I’d invite Anne Sexton, the Buddha, and Nikola Tesla to discuss Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye… and maybe just for kicks, Twilight.
Myths and beliefs that we would consider fiction or fantasy in modern literature once upon a time shaped history (think of all the hunts for unicorns & dragons). Do you see modern fantasy fiction affecting human cultures today and how?
Absolutely! I think the issues raised by art and literature—the politics, for lack of a better word—have always influenced the outside world, but with fantasy and sci-fi, that influence is more readily apparent, simply because those genres have such a huge, thoughtful audience. I’m not just talking about the inspirations that led to us having some of the technology from Star Trek and Back to the Future, but cultural aspects, too. It seems to me that the relatively new acceptance of homosexuality is owed not just to brave real world activists, but the compassionate portrayals of gay and lesbian characters in fiction. The same could be said for female empowerment. Sure, there’s always been a shortage of fully realized female characters, even in sci-fi/fantasy, but those that DO exist have had an enormous, culture-shifting impact, I think.
Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?
I remember a book I read as a kid, pretty sure it was The Neverending Story, in which the narrator asks that same question. Introducing reality is good for making your stuff more realistic, of course, but “because it’s realistic” isn’t quite a good enough excuse. There has to be something else going on, some metaphor or plot point that advances the story. For instance, the main character stepping outside the crowded inn to go to visit the outhouse isn’t very interesting, and therefore, isn’t really pivotal to the story. On the other hand, the main character visiting the outhouse and noticing something important on their way back in, or even just musing how the reek of the outhouse is starkly different than the perfume of the pompous nobles celebrating back at the inn… that’s a bit better.
Ha, funny you ask that, given my answer for the previous question, but one of the most difficult jobs I ever had was collecting urine samples in a treatment center. I only worked there for a few months, but my job was basically to… well, put on rubber gloves, stand there while somebody did their business, then collect said business whilst trying not to look creepy. Often, I was required to use eyedroppers and thermometers and weird space age gadgets to test the sample for drugs or alcohol, while the person was standing right there, glaring at me. In all cases, the difficult part of the job wasn’t actually handling the samples—believe it or not—but trying to appear casual, even tell jokes to try at put the other person at ease as quickly as possible. In a strange way, that job was a good trial run for being a teacher.
What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?
I’ve always wanted the Dragonlance books to be made into a good video game. I’ve played a few versions that were all right, but none that felt truly epic. A version that focused mainly Raistlin’s quest to become a god (and maybe also on Caramon’s quest to protect and/or stop him) would be interesting, too. I’d also like to see a big Game of Thrones-like MMORPG made for Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni books.
Actually, where and when I write isn’t really all that important, since it changes often. The basic routine is mostly the same, though. Whether I’m home or in a coffee shop somewhere (usually with a few gallons of caffeine within easy reach), I put in headphones, tune out the rest of the world, and basically just force myself to start typing—even if it’s a mess and will require lots of revision later.
Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?
With The Dragonward out now and its sequel (The Wintersea) forthcoming, I’ve mainly been promoting this new series (The Godsfall Trilogy). When I find the time, though, I work to spread the word about its predecessor, The Dragonkin Trilogy. I’ve been amazed and humbled by the sales and reviews, but as we say in this business, the work never stops. Especially lately, I’m offering free review copies, and possibly even free copies of the audiobook versions to anyone willing to write a review. I don’t think I really understood how important book reviews could be until I started publishing books. They’re basically what keeps us going. So if anybody wants to give The Dragonward and/or the previous Dragonkin Trilogy a try, let me know! I’m happy to provide free review copies, in exchange for a good faith promise to write a fair review.
Places to Find Michael Meyerhofer
Book Blurb for Wytchfire, Book 1 of The Dragonkin Trilogy: In a land haunted by the legacy of dead dragons, Rowen Locke has been many things: orphan, gravedigger, mercenary. All he ever wanted was to become a Knight of Crane and wield a kingsteel sword against the kind of grown horrors his childhood knows all too well.
But that dream crumbled—replaced by a new nightmare.
War is overrunning the realms, an unprecedented duel of desire and revenge, steel and sorcery. And for one disgraced man who would be a knight, in a world where no one is blameless, the time has come to decide which side he’s on.
Book Blurb for The Dragonward, Book 1 of The Godsfall Trilogy: Three years after the War of the Lotus, alliances have already begun to unravel. As Rowen Locke struggles to maintain peace, troubling news reaches him from every corner. Persecution of the Shel’ai has reignited in the south, spurred on by a fanatical priest. To the north, the Isle Knights are withering under the leadership of mad Crovis Ammerhel. Old friends fight each other when not drowning their sorrows in taverns.
A new threat emerges from across the sea, dispatched by the same exiled Dragonkin who have been plotting their revenge for centuries. Rowen and his companions soon realize that the target is the Dragonward itself: their one and only defense against an evil so vast even Knightswrath could not vanquish it.