Indie author A C Merkel is all set to launch the sequel to his debut novel Her Name Is Murder (HNIM). ‘Titled “London Calling”, it is the second book in the Lady Dreamscapes Series and will be released on October 26, my birthday,’ begins Mr Merkel, speaking to the Literary Express in an exclusive interaction. The certified automotive technician, who lives and works in Birmingham, a city in the state of Alabama, the US, tells us that his writing is infused with history, a subject which has interested him since his tenth grade World History class. ‘There is also music incorporated into my writing. The main character in HNIM and London Calling is a talented musician,’ he shares with us.
A Flash Fiction Prompt Led to HNIM’s Birth
Talking about his debut book, the former songwriter, who indited songs for his bands in the early half of the 2000s, states categorically that HNIM is definitely the debut of his writing fictional original prose in ‘any kind of complete manner’.
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‘The story sprung up from an online flash fiction prompt during October 2019. It was almost like the character picked me,’ he lets us know, adding that it was a snowball effect, and his book began taking shape soon after. ‘I finished the first draft for NaNoWriMo 2019. With ten days to spare, it was far from finished. It existed, and that was so exciting!’ he shares with us.
‘Started Writing Regularly in 2018’
Be that as it may, the forty-two-year-old says that before he became a songwriter, he had hardly written. But that does not mean he never came up with story ideas. ‘It is just that I never penned them down. I did start working upon a book ten years ago but had no idea how to stay motivated. I would say I started writing regularly in 2018,’ Mr Merkel, who juggles a full-time labour-intensive job and writing, lets us know.
Talking about how he goes about with his books, he says that although he has an idea of what he is writing about and towards, he is always left surprised with the final product. ‘The character Tress in HNIM, for instance, appeared the moment I first typed in the draft about her. That incidental character carries more than a third of the sequel as a leading character now,’ he shares with a smile.
Inspired by Ray Bradbury and C S Lewis
On the question of whether he has authors that he draws inspiration from, Mr Merkel tells us he is fond of Ray Bradbury’s works. ‘He inspired me at a young age as did C S Lewis,’ he says, going on to clarify that he happens to be mostly reading indie authors these days. ‘My co-conspirators at queerindie.com have a part of London Calling that was inspired directly by their books and our friendship,’ Mr Merkel shares, naming some authors he adores: Halo, Ash, TT, Mario, and Evan. ‘They have all affected my art in meaningful ways,’ he tells us.
Mr Merkel also says he is fond of authors Anna Mocikat and Anya Pavelle. ‘They are amazing, and I strive to emulate both in terms of writing compelling stories and being amazing people,’ he lets on, adding, ‘Emily Vanderbent is a recent discovery whose work is in a vein similar to my own yet different. I wish I had come up with Emily’s Crimson Time to go alongside my Lady Dreamscapes series. Although, it wouldn’t be the same without her at the helm. She’s a historian and feminist, and I’m in awe.’
‘Learnt Writing Books From Reading Them’
While Mr Merkel, who is now planning his third book, says he is considering becoming a full-time writer, he avers that his goal is much more than that. ‘It is to write something that outlives my legacy. Like Michal Crichton. Jurassic Park and Westworld… What a legacy!’ he exclaims.
Joking that he could never come up with a book if Google Docs did not exist, he lets us know that he writes whenever he can. ‘During lunch breaks, at weekends, and while getting my knees soaked,’ he says. And on whether he consciously decided to become an author, he answers in the affirmative. ‘I learnt to write books from reading them,’ he states, adding, ‘I once developed a comic book idea with a friend and wrote several scripts but couldn’t afford the art for the comic book,’ he shares with a smile. ‘So, the idea of converting the comic into a book became tangible. I wrote it. Then I shelved it when I came up with HNIM,’ he adds.
‘Writing Is A Fun Escape’
While Mr Merkel strongly feels that between writing a book and marketing it, the latter is more challenging, he says that writing more often than not is a “fun escape” to him. Stating that he is a satisfied artist, he asserts he is proud of what he has accomplished so far. ‘And I hope for more. Let’s make a movie!’ he says with a guffaw.
On the question of what he would like to tell budding authors who lose motivation if their works don’t do well, Mr Merkel, who works tirelessly for thirteen hours each day, pronounces he would want them to know that doing well is relative. ‘Write what you want to read and do it with passion and pride, and you cannot go wrong,’ he suggests. And what is the one thing that he would surely want to be changed in the world? ‘The division in society. It is brutal. I would strip hate from people’s hearts and replace it with compassion,’ he tells us, signing off with a compassionate smile.
PS: Author A C Merkel’s social media can be accessed on the landing page at https://acmerkel.com. The audiobook for Her Name Is Murder is available and can be found on the author’s website. It is read by Jaimee Moore, a well-known and talented artiste. The audiobook for London Calling, on the other hand, is in production even as you read this. Mr Merkel told us that he had heard samples and found them great. ‘Jaimee deserves a medal for her acting and voices and for dealing with my love for ensemble casts of international characters. New character Wynter is a Glasgow native, and Jaimee has gone above and beyond. There is a scene where she is playing eight different characters in five distinct accents, all while delivering tear-jerking, and authentic portrayals,’ he had said. You can check out Jaimee Moore’s website here.