Have you read Meghan Redmile books?
Welcome to my interview with Meghan Redmile! Let’s learn about her triumphs, learning experiences, and awesome books.
Hi Meghan Redmile – Please introduce yourself and share 5 fun facts!
I’m a Canadian, historical fiction author who is also a history nerd and loves the bygone eras. I began writing about five years ago, but have always loved being creative since I was little. I’m married with two miniature dachshund kids and live in the beautiful Eastern Townships of Quebec. When I’m not writing, I’m either researching, reading, or sewing. I’m also a mental health advocate, trying to end the stigma by being open about my own diagnoses and story.
What inspired you to write your first book?
About five years ago now, I was organizing my grandparents’ photos into albums and came across a photo of my grandparents with my grandfather’s father, sister, and a woman I didn’t recognize. When I asked my dad who it was, he told me it was my great aunt Katherine who went missing after WWII. Of course it only piqued my interest and curiosity as no one ever talked about Katherine, thinking my grandfather only had an older sister.
I’m a big family history buff as well and have done a lot of research on Ancestry, building our family tree, so I got to researching and slowly, I found a few things about her life. A woman in one of the research groups has become such a great friend now, all because of being brought together by the mystery of Katherine’s whereabouts. The biggest discovery, to date, is finding Katherine’s granddaughter and contacting her on Facebook. Since then, I have spoken to her and Katherine’s eldest daughter who gave me what information they knew. The more I shared my finds, the more encouragement I received to make it a book.
What are your favourite parts about writing historical fiction?
Probably the research and sharing Canadian history. I don’t feel our history is shared enough or as well known as the USA or even the UK, especially when it comes to WWII. There have been too many important events our families and friends have lived through to forget. It’s my way of keeping their stories alive.
What are the most challenging aspects?
Writing about a place I have never been to. Or, imagining a city, like Montreal, back in the 1940s to give a correct description to the reader. Searching for old photos online or contacting friends who have a special interest in certain subjects have helped a lot. Just recently, I had a zoom “date” with a friend who gives tours of the old red light district of Montreal, learning what shows a character could see while visiting Montreal, transportation, restaurants, etc.
What were your most notable victories creating your first book from start to finish?
Finding the confidence to hit that publish button after three years of my hard work. Discovering details or events that helped me bring my storyline to life has such a high, the ideas just flowing and sometimes getting away from me.
What were the most challenging parts?
Keeping a schedule. If I don’t write down what I need to get done, I just push it aside. Writing is a bit different as I don’t believe in pushing myself to create, but when it comes to editing, I set a certain amount of pages a day to complete so I can see the finish line easier. I’m the queen of procrastination.
What was your experience like being inspired by a family member that no one spoke of to write your book?
There have been so many emotions writing this book. Hearing from her daughter, Beverly, who was about seven years old at the time, sharing her last memory of her mother and wanting to know what happened. How she and her siblings were given to child services and the abuse they endured, it was heartbreaking. Since my grandparents and great aunt Mary have all passed on, I have no one to ask about Katherine. I have no idea what she was like and what their feelings were when it came to her and her life choices.
What do you hope people will gain from the experience of reading your books?
That WWII and the eras were not all romantic or a Hollywood movie. War and the struggles people lived through in those times can be a tough read, but something none of us should ever forget. Though my novel is inspired by a dark family secret, it is still fiction. But the characters’ ups and downs are something we have all experienced at one time or another. And of course, Canadian history!
What advice would you give to aspiring historical fiction writers?
Do your research! From clothing, haircuts, the music, movies that were in theatres, transport. My husband caught a few things, I hadn’t considered, but since he’s a car mechanic and loves old cars, he pointed out that my character couldn’t whisper to not wake the baby in the car, as the cars back then weren’t soundproofed as they are today. He also said I couldn’t have my characters put my cars into park, the majority of cars back then were manual. Sayings as well, I have looked into the origin and history of sayings or slang to make sure I don’t include something from the 1950s in a 1930s chapter. Also, find an editor, they’ll make your manuscript shine.
What have been the greatest lessons you’ve learned in your writing career?
Keeping organized in all aspects of my writing. Each novel I begin researching or writing gets its own notebook. Making sure to record all names of people who have helped me or books and websites I have found information on. Reading is just as important as writing. The more books you read, the better writer you’ll be. As tempting as it is, don’t ask anyone to read your first draft, or second for that matter. I was too eager and asked too many people to read my first or second draft and got back too many notes and suggestions, etc.
You need to work your characters and storylines better before handing them off to someone. You want them to read your novel, not correct it. As much as your parents want to help by reading your work, you need to find someone who will be honest and provide constructive criticism. Find another author or a bookish friend to help. Make sure you write what you know. I myself love the 1930s and 1940s, so I would never create a story around a robot in the 1800s. Readers can see through your words, show them how much you love your work and world you created in those few hundred pages, as much as they do.
What are your goals for the future in writing?
To grow as a writer and show it in my future novels. Though I’ll only write historical fiction, I do want to push myself a bit with perhaps things I don’t know about as much. To continue writing novels and perhaps look into traditional publishing, as scary as it is.
What can you relate to with the characters you’ve created in your books?
I use a lot of my life experiences and emotions when I create characters. Some have the same fears I had at one point, or currently have. Others might have my sarcasm or go through a heartbreak as I suffered, but survived. Characters are much more believable if you play the chapter in your head like a movie, placing yourself there. Feeling the small things, the thoughts that could be racing through their minds. I try to sprinkle in a bit of me and others in my life into my work.
How do you differ from them?
Unfortunately, I can easily write in their confidence or erase their fear. They may work on themselves in my novels, but a book is much shorter than real life. I have a certain amount of time to have characters work through their flaws or challenges, but it’s a day by day selfcare and working on myself. Also, mental health doesn’t have the same stigma as back in the 1930s and 1940s. Though it’s definitely not easy in this day and age, imagining how I would have had to fight my own personal battles without the support I have today is scary, and heartbreaking.
Any last thoughts for Meghan Redmile readers about you and your books?
Not just for myself, but all the other hard-working writers, just know that so much love went into every word we typed. If something interests you in a chapter, look it up! Enjoying a story is one thing, learning something is another.
If you enjoy a book, the best way to thank the author is by leaving a review and sharing their work with a friend. It keeps us writing, trust me.
I’m also very happy to answer questions new writers might have. It’s a very scary process, putting yourself and work out into the world. But I had kind strangers help me along the way, and I discovered blogs and websites that continue to help me to this day to be the best author I can be.
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Thanks for reading about Meghan Redmile. Join me next time for fun blog posts! What did you think of the interview? Please comment below.
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