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Merri Halma Interview!


Okay, okay, so maybe that’s a little over the top. But it’s a great day here on the website; we have author Merri Halma, the mind behind the Indigo Travelers series dropping in and answering some questions!

So why don’t I step aside and let her talk? Brilliant idea! Away we go!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I had a severe speech impediment growing up, but longed to be heard and I had an active imagination. Before I could read, I would study the pictures in magazines and make up stories. I never shared those stories with my family, so my mom wasn’t aware of until much later. Approaching my teen years, my dad gave me a journal book and I started recording my thoughts. I knew then I wanted to be a writer. My parents weren’t thrilled by that desire. Writing gave me a voice that speaking did not. It also gave me a way to channel my imagination.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I started writing my first book at 12, I think. Rena Richards Freelance Photographer. I still have the handwritten manuscript. I never finished it. I ran into a block because I didn’t know where to take the story and I had no one to discuss it with. I was intimidated by my own goals.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Yes, I have. When I was a teen, I wanted to write under Merri Hudson. Now, I want to use a combination of my birth name Alice Ventaloro or name Erin Ventaloro. Erin is my alter ego.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I strive to be more original. I hear all the time that writers should write to the popular trends. I don’t. Brandon Sanderson does not write to the trends, either and he is widely popular. I admire all the planning he has put into each of his series and how he has linked them together with the Shards of the overall creator.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

Yes, I do think someone could be a writer if they do not feel emotions deeply. I have a friend who is on the spectrum and she writes powerful emotions, even though she struggles with understanding how a specific emotion is actually feels. She researches and asks others to describe it for her. In the end, she can get the emotion across so the readers will feel it. It is tougher to write the emotions if a writer doesn’t feel them, but it can be done.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be a writer, actor and later, a disc jockey. But writer is the one career that my heart kept going back to. Words came naturally to me. I wouldn’t make as a disc jockey because of all the dials I would have to learn to read and know how to maneuver them- at least back in the ‘70s.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I want each book in my Indigo Travelers Series to stand alone; but they build on each other. Most of the time, the reader needs to know what happened in the book before to understand where they how they got to the place they are at now.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Believe in your goals and your dreams. Don’t listen to those that say you can’t make a living at writing. Study English, mythology, philosophy, and all subjects that make you tremble inside. Face your fears.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I do not hear from readers as much as I would like to. Though, when I do, they say they can relate to my characters and their feelings of not belonging. My target audience are teens who feel like they are outsiders, different and will never fit in. Usually, I hear that the readers can relate to them. I would love to hear from more readers.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

 I learned at an early age, being taunted throughout school because of my speech impediment, funny last name and cried easily. I grew up seeing and hearing Martin Luther King speaking to crowds and listening to my parents discussing what he was saying. I saw the Civil Rights marches, listened to Robert Kennedy talking during his campaign stops and seeing him assassinated on TV. Words have power.  Writers must be aware of how the readers will react to what they say. Or how your children will react to what you say. Words said in anger cannot be taken back. Words spoken to hurt another will live on inside the person who receives them and they will play over and over and over again until that person learns to destroy the negative tape and heal their wounds. Words might not break bones, but they can emotionally hurt and cripple someone.

What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?

Brandon Sanderson. My son kept telling me to read the Stormlight Archives, Way of Kings. It wasn’t that I disliked Sanderson’s writing, but it took so long to get through the prologue and remember it all. The print was small, too. Finally, my son told me to start with Elantris, because he did. I read it and I was hooked. I bought a larger paperback Way of Kings and fell in love with Sanderson’s word-building, and Kaladin being able to fly, once he bonded with his Spren. I can’t wait to read the next book, Rhythm of War. As soon as my copy came in, my son took it back to his room. I probably have to get myself another copy.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on the second of the companion novels in the Indigo Travelers Series, Ian Temple and Search for the Wisdom Trees.

What do you have coming soon?

I hope it will be out by June. It will need some major overhaul, I’m thinking. I’m working with a local development editor to fine tune it as I write.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Yes. I have three stories out in the Caldwell Writers Group’s first anthology called Table by the Window. It will be on Amazon soon, if not already listed. We had it printed and will be getting it up there soon. I sent in a photo of the cover.

 All artwork was done by members of the Caldwell Writers Group.

Keep moving past the picture for more goodies!

Glad you made it! Here’s Merri’s Social Media Links, as well as a sample from Lynx on Fire!

The flames leaped into the air, snapping, crackling, and popping. Lynx and Geoffrey paced the outskirts of the bonfire, watching Xander, Sarah and other kids from the junior class throw more oak, willow and birch logs on to it. Milo led the cheer squad to build the school spirit in their homecoming football game the next night.

Something about the flames frightened, yet mesmerized Lynx. He slowly approached the bonfire, with a mixture of curiosity and repulsion – spellbound by the flames licking up to the sky, cackling and laughing. At the same time, other flames were jetting out to the sides as if they were trying to pull in those who stood too close. Drawing him in – losing control of his large paws. Memories he had closed away a long time ago held him captive.

“You’re nothing, Runt! Mamma hasn’t got enough milk for you! Better run along and find your own food!” his older werecub brother pushed him toward the entrance of their nest.

“Ro-ar!” Runt replied, trying to snarl and hiss at his brother. His brother laughed.

“You can’t even roar or talk! You’re defective!”

Those words stabbed Runt. He flattened his ears against his head, tears welling up behind his golden eyes. He whimpered as he tried to run off deeper into the cave that was their nest, but his other brothers and sisters barred his way. They knocked him back and then forced him to back-step to the oldest brother who was waiting to back paw him into the wall of the hard rocks. Runt hit it hard, knocking the wind out of him and the stone cut deep into his side. Sliding to the floor, he whimpered. Stunned and aching, he couldn’t move for several minutes.

Runt took a deep breath and felt his spirit rise from his body as he exhaled. He looked down on his weremates, observing their actions and the words.

“Leave now, Runt! You’re not wanted here! No one loves you!” When Runt didn’t move, he went over and kicked the small werecub hard. “I said leave! Get up and get out of here before Mamma and Dadpa get back!”

The next oldest sister came up, “Claude, I think you killed the little, annoying Runt. He isn’t moving. C’mon, leave it alone.”

“He would go and die like that! It takes the fun out of pushing it around. Come on, get up! Move, you yellow liver toad!”

“What’s going on here, Claude!” said their Mamma and Dadpa from behind, startling the oldest werecub.

“Um, nothing,” he said, turning around facing his parents, trying to hide the unconscious, youngest werecub.

“What’s behind your back?” Dadpa demanded.

“Nothing.” Claude shook his head back and forth.

“If it is nothing, then move out of the way.”

Slowly, Claude moved, to show his parents the unconscious werecub.

“My baby!” Mamma sobbed, running up the unconscious Runt. Gently, she picked him up by the scuff of the neck and carried him to a small fire deep inside the cave where the other werepride were. The healer came towards her, offering prayers and herbs they stole from the Ohana people in the village. They didn’t willingly give them the healing herbs.

Runt’s spirit drifted out of the cave, not sure what to do. Sensing food, he drifted deep into the forest to watch the other animals of this world. He was too young to explore on his own. All his five weremates were old enough, but Claude, being the oldest by twelve hours, saw himself as the boss. There were ten other cubs that came after Claude. Runt was the youngest. Being only few months old now, he didn’t know what to do. He should be talking, but somehow, he wasn’t learning to form the words or sounds yet. Werecats shift into other shapes and images. But his Dadpa encouraged them not to shift yet. That comes when they’re older – maybe six months or a year-old. Runt peered down from above, watching as his parents dragged his lifeless form towards the center fire, keeping the other members of their den warm. He became aware of other animals and beings stirring outside. He headed towards them.

There was another fire deep in the woods. Runt drifted to it. A large bear family sat around it, eating fish, nuts and berries. Runt spotted Ohanaians, beings that walked on two-legs and had no hair except on their heads. They were funny looking animals. These beings were not moving, too. It looked like they had been mauled by the bears. A small cub looked up, spotted Runt’s spirit and pointed.

“Look, Dadpa, there is a werecub’s ghost. We got to send it over the hill to the land of the All That Is!”

His dadpa slapped him, “There is no such thing as the All That Is! Ohanaians believe that foolishness. We are the gods of this world and the next!”

Runt felt a gentle pull and then abruptly his spirit soared back to his body. He woke, crying in pain and anger.

“Come back, my little Runt,” his mamma cooed. “It isn’t your time yet.”

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