Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author Meredith Allard about her life and career, what inspires her, and the work that went into her latest book release; Painting The Past; A Guide For Writing Historical Fiction.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m a writer and an editor and I live in Las Vegas, Nevada. The books in my paranormal/historical Loving Husband Series have been bestsellers. When I’m not writing historical fiction I edit historical fiction for The Copperfield Review, a literary journal for readers and writers of historical fiction. I’ve also written a book about writing historical fiction called Painting the Past: A Guide for Writing Historical Fiction. When I’m not writing or editing, I like to cook, bake, and journal. I’ve also been a writing teacher for more than 20 years and I’ve taught writing to students ages 5 to 75.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I decided in high school that I wanted to write a book. I’ve always loved to read and I loved getting lost in the worlds that other writers had created. I always had these crazy ideas floating around in my head and I realized in high school that I could share those stories with others. After I finished college with a degree in English, I discovered the joy of writing historical fiction and I haven’t looked back.
When did you take a step to start writing?
I took my first step toward writing a book when I was getting my degree in English. I took a number of creative writing classes and I started to learn more about how to tell a story. After I finished college, I finally had time to sit down and write for myself instead of writing the endless papers I had to write for school. I started reading books about how to write a novel, and after about two years I finally took the plunge.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
It was about two years from my first idea for Her Dear & Loving Husband until it was released. It took more than a year to write since there were a lot of rewrites in order to make sure the story I saw in my head was the story readers saw on the page. And then there was a lot of editing.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
Painting the Past: A Guide for Writing Historical Fiction took me about a year to write. I knew a lot about writing historical fiction since I’ve been reading and writing historical fiction for more than 20 years. Also, many of the chapters are based on blog posts that I had already written.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Painting The Past?
I had learned a lot about writing historical fiction over the past 20 years and I wanted to share what I learned. As the executive editor of a literary journal of historical fiction, I’ve read thousands of historical short stories and I’ve picked up a few tips about what works in historical fiction and what doesn’t. I enjoy sharing tips and tricks with other writers.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Painting The Past?
I wanted to find something new to say about writing historical fiction that hadn’t already been said one hundred times before. I think I was able to use my unique situation as a writer and editor to find some new points to make. I feel like many writing guides say the same thing over and over and I didn’t want to do that.
What was your research process for Painting The Past?
Luckily, this was one book I didn’t need to do any research for. I already knew a lot about reading and writing historical fiction. Plus, the chapters in Painting the Past are based on blog posts I had already written
How did you plan the structure of Painting The Past?
I already had a lot of the book written in the form of blog posts, so my plan centered on figuring out the best order to place the blog posts so that the organization made sense to the reader. I also didn’t want to publish the posts exactly the way they were written on my blog. I wanted to add new information and flesh out my ideas. Blog posts tend to be on the shorter side, but I wanted Painting the Past to be full of information.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Painting The Past need?
Yes. Since I’m an editor, I know other editors and we often help each other with our books. Often, I’ll work with the other editors from The Copperfield Review on my own books. Primarily, my books need someone to proofread for typos. I’m pretty good at revising my own writing, but I do sometimes miss those pesky typos!
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
The best way to learn how to write a book is by writing a book. Read what you can, learn what you can, but at a certain point you just have to go for it. Also, be patient with yourself. Writing isn’t easy, and it can take time to grow into the writer you want to be.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I’m currently working on the latest edition of the Loving Husband Series, The Duchess of Idaho. It’s set on the Oregon Trail. At the moment, I think it will be released in the spring of 2022.
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Yes, I am proud of my accomplishments. Writing a book can be hard work, but it’s worth the time it takes to learn how to write. I’m most proud of the fact that my books have found fans all over the world, many of whom have read everything I’ve written. To me, those fans are priceless and I’m grateful for every single one of them. I have many more books I want to write as well.
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