In this installment of the Author showcase we interview have a chat with Merideht Rose. She writes fantasy and historical fiction for diverse readers who want to feel seen, understood, and valued. She is known for portraying deep friendships and characters who become real to her readers.

Q    you had written stories for a number of years, what made you decide to take the plunge to become a published author?

When I was growing up, I wanted to be published. But I didn’t think it was possible for a “normal person” like me. Authors, to me, were celebrities. They were super special, and it seemed absurd to think I could ever be one. I didn’t have the faintest idea how publishing works, and I didn’t have a lot of support or encouragement to even try.

But after college, I found some online writing communities and started to go to writers conferences and learned a lot about the business of writing. I started submitting work, got a lot of rejections, and then eventually got an agent and then, shortly after that, my first book contract when I was 29.

And I found out that, sure, authors are super special, but also—they’re super normal, and it’s not an easy career path. Or necessarily a lucrative one. But it is possible. And I love it, in spite of the challenges.

Q    Is it important to you to have a diverse group of characters in your books?

(Warning: Rant Ahead!) Absolutely yes. As a cis white woman, I’m aware that there are certain diverse stories that are not mine to tell. But I think it’s every author’s responsibility to be inclusive as possible in our storytelling.

We’re often told “Write what you know,” and some people look at that as permission or even a command to only present their own lived experiences. Only—no successful writer actually does that, because most of our real lives are totally boring! We are always presenting scenarios and characters that are wildly different from our mundane selves. And good writers do that through a lotof research and talking to people who have the experiences we are trying to write about, and by getting feedback from those experts to make sure we are on the right track. It’s the same process for writing diverse characters.

Fiction is all about empathy, after all. I have to have empathy as an author in order to portray my characters’ experiences and emotions in an authentic way. And reading fiction generates greater empathy in the hearts of readers.

If I can’t muster enough empathy to put myself into the shoes of someone whose lived experience is different from mine, and if I can’t or won’t do the research and get the feedback I need from people who do have that experience, I’d better put the pen away entirely and find something else to do with the remainder of my life.

Q  Do you think writing and stories can help us get through the hardships of reality?

Writing is a really powerful form of therapy! Whether it’s a book, poetry, letter writing, or journaling, writing helps us process our feelings and gain new insight into ourselves.

Especially when it comes to fears—there’s something so powerful and healing about writing them out. It diminishes them in a way. Before I turned 40, I was feeling really down about it because of the stigma our society places on “middle-aged women.” So I made a list of all the things I was worried about or scared of. And at the time, it helped me feel a lot better. And now, in my late 40’s, I look at that list, smile, and say to my younger self, You had no idea how amazing life was about to become.

I think stories are one of the best tools we humans have for surviving this often-harsh reality. Stories serve as cautionary tales, as encouragement, as shared wisdom. When you see yourself in a fictional character, it makes you feel recognized, valued. And even though we know that the story is made-up, stories help our brains process different scenarios and broaden our understanding of the world.

Q     You had started out having your books put out by major publishers but now you run your own independent press, what made you decide to go your own way?

Ohhhh, shall I be diplomatic or blunt AF? Let’s just say, when I first got into publishing, traditional publishers were really the only viable route for publishing.

And one of the first lessons I learned after getting my book contract from a Big Five imprint was that as hard as getting published is, staying published was often even harder. It was bad when I was first published, and it’s only gotten worse for everyone in the years since.

After having another Big Five publisher seriously mismanage one of my books, and then struggling to get publishers on board with the stories I wanted to write, when indie publishing became viable, I decided to make the switch.

As an indie publisher, I’ve given up some of the perceived prestige of being published by one of The Big Five, but I’ve gained real, meaningful control over my writing career and the content I produce. I also have to take on tasks that I’m not as good at, like marketing, but at least if I fail at that, I have the control and the ability to do better.

To me, that’s a worthy tradeoff.

Q      You like to write uplifting and hopeful endings, is there a reason you choose not to embrace the dark side of literature?

Yeah—my own mental health! I am extremely affected by the tone and content of the media I consume. A tragic ending or unrelentingly dark or violent storylines and themes can depress my mood for days afterwards. So I’ve learned to be careful about what I watch or read—to the point where I will spoil the endings of stories and movies for myself if I’m worried that they could be a downer for me.

I figure if dark stories affect me like this, there’s probably other people out there who have similar responses. So I write for those folks as well as myself. That doesn’t mean that nothing bad ever happens in my books, or that I don’t explore weightier themes, but my goal is that, overall, my stories will leave you feeling good instead of wrecked.

Q    You have a new book that is just being published. Can you give us the lowdown on A Study In Garnet?

A Study In Garnet is the first book in my new Ladies of Baker Street series. It’s a gender-swapped, sapphic/queer, Victorian take on Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Here’s a very short blurb: January 1881: Dr. Siân Watson survived war disguised as a man, but life with her unconventional new flatmate, Miss Sherlyn Holmes, is an entirely different adventure.

So you get all the canon Sherlock Holmes tropes and shenanigans you love from the original, but with sapphic ladies and a far more diverse Victorian London than anything the classic stories can offer.

I have done a ton of meticulous research on the lives of women in the late Victorian era, and I found out that they did so much stuff we assume Victorian lasses could never do. They became doctors (ahem, Dr. Siân Watson—she’s no doctor’s wife in this series!), and there were even some female private detectives—mostly doing undercover investigation for divorce cases.

A lot of stories set in the Victorian era tend to start from the premise of what women could not do. I think the biggest difference with A Study In Garnet (and the series going forward) is that my starting point is all the things they could and did do. And that, hopefully, will give my readers a fresh and fun new take on the Victorian woman’s experience.

The idea for the Ladies of Baker Street series came a few years back when the Sherlock community was still very active on Tumblr. Several people I followed were bemoaning the fact that there wasn’t much “femlock” (female Holmes and Watson in a relationship with each other) fic available.

And I was just starting to realize and explore my own bi/pan identity and thought, I wonder if I could set a sapphic Holmes and Watson in their original time period and setting? Turns out, the answer is a resounding YES, and so here I am.

I never thought I’d be writing Sherlock Holmes pastiche, but I’m having a bloody good time of it.

Q} if people want more info about you or your books where should they go?

Well, I’m in the process of launching my TikTok channel (@wildwoodgoddess), and I’d love some encouragement as I get started there.

But for details on me and my work, head over to my website: The Books tab gives you info on my books, including sample excerpts, as well as letting you buy them directly from me.

 If you do decide you want to get your own copy, please consider buying from my shop. My ebooks are there, and A Study In Garnet is also available in hardback! For ebooks, I use BookFunnel to help you download your ebook and get it onto whatever device or app you prefer. I even have some artwork I’m selling now in my shop, too.

Buying direct from authors when you can is a great way to support the creators you love.

Final four questions –we ask everybody
Q) When the zombies take over the world where will you be?

Probably at home, pissed off that the internet isn’t working!

Q )  What is your favorite Fandom

I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the Sherlock fandom for obvious reasons (see above!) but I have a life-long abiding love for Anne of Green Gables and Jane Austen, and lately I’ve been a bit obsessed with Critical Role. (eclectic hodge-podge, I know)

Q) What piece of art, be it in the form of music, a book, a film or picture, do you think people must experience before they die?

Nessun Dorma from the opera Turandot is one of the most transcendent songs I’ve ever heard, and I would love everyone to have a chance to hear it sung well in their lifetimes.

Q) Give one fact that most people would not believe about you?

Well, some people in my in-person life seem shocked to learn that I am bi/pan and in a poly “vee” relationship (I have my husband of 26 years and my female partner of a year and a half). I guess I just don’t fit their mental image of “that kind of person”—whatever that is! 

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