Ms. Merrie Destefano is multi-talented author with over 20 years of publishing experience. She is a novelist and magazine editor for Victorian Homes (previous editor on Vintage Gardens, American Farmhouse Style, and Zombies).
Her latest books include the YA psychological thriller, Lost Girls (Entangled Teen); the Southern Gothic, SciFi thriller, Afterlife (HarperVoyager); the urban fantasy, Feast (HarperVoyager). She also self-published quite a few YA including YA urban fantasy, Fathom; the YA post-apocalyptic short story, The Plague Carrier; the dark short story collection, Waiting for Midnight; and Cursed, the novella prequel to Feast.
Ms. Merrie Destefano was born in the Midwest and currently lives in Southern California with her husband, two German shepherds, a Siamese cat and the occasional wandering possum. I am so exciting to have a chance to interview her and learn more about her latest book, Lost Girls.
J.J. Gow: Tell us about your newest book – Lost Girls. What is the most memorable or unexpected experience in publishing this book?
Merrie Destefano: I think my most memorable experience is one that I see happen rather often in publishing. I finished writing this book in 2013. My agent sold it to Entangled Teen in 2015. But it wasn’t published until 2017. Publishing moves incredibly slow. This is one reason why I try not to include current slang or situations in my stories. They won’t be current by the time the book comes out. Right now, I’m editing a book I wrote in either 2012 or 2013, and I can’t believe how many changes have taken place in our world/culture since then. It’s a science fiction book and one thing I wrote—to make the story sound futuristic—was that the MC’s parents held parties to sell MJ (marijuana) because it was legal. That doesn’t even sound like science fiction anymore! (LOL)
J.J. Gow: How did you embark your journey as an author? Did you have an agent?
Merrie Destefano: I sold my very first book, which ended up being a series, by myself to Thomas Nelson Publishing. I broke every rule they tell you not to break, except I did tons of research on the market and knew which publisher would be best suited for this project. I had created a small gift book that would fit in the price point between a greeting card and a gift, so it would accomplish both purposes. Thomas Nelson loved it and asked for a series of four books. I signed the contract, they paid me, I delivered all four books…and then silence. I found out that my publisher had merged with another large company (Word) and they decided to drop all their mid-list authors—of which, I was one. As a result, those books were never published. But I got to keep the money, which was one of the largest publishing checks I’ve ever gotten, had an agent ask to sign me, and ended up staying home to write full-time for two years. I didn’t make another sale until 2009, when Afterlife and Feast were sold to HarperVoyager. My career has had long spans of time between contracts.
J.J. Gow: Tell us what other books that you have published. Do you have a favorite?
Merrie Destefano: My traditionally published books are: Afterlife, Feast and Lost Girls. My self-published full-length novel is Fathom. I also have a self-published short story, The Plague Carrier, and a self-published, short story collection, Waiting for Midnight. I love all my books, but I think my favorite is Lost Girls. I really like the voice and the slow unfolding of the mystery in that book. I also really enjoy writing YA, and that was the third YA manuscript that I’ve written, and I can tell that my young adult voice is improving.
J.J. Gow: Do you attend writers’ conferences? Which ones are your favorite and why?
Merrie Destefano: I have not attended any as a participant recently, but I do have two favorites. For the general market and because it’s close to where I live, I love the San Diego State University’s Writer’s Conference (SDSU Writer’s Conference.) For the Christian market, I adore Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference. I won Writer of Year in 2010 at that conference and it meant a lot to me. I had recently gotten a contract in the general market (for Afterlife) and it was very encouraging to see that achievement appreciated by CBA professionals. I love the fact that we can value, encourage and appreciate writers, even when they work in different markets than we do.
J.J. Gow: Some fun facts to share with your readers/ fans. What is your usual choice of beverage when you write?
Merrie Destefano: Iced chocolate latte
J.J. Gow: Your favorite city that you visited?
Merrie Destefano: San Francisco — it’s where my husband and I went on our honeymoon. I adore that city!
J.J. Gow: What is your favorite breakfast dish?
Merrie Destefano: Scrambled eggs, potatoes and toast, all made by someone else because I’m too tired to cook in the morning. (LOL)
J.J. Gow: If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?
Merrie Destefano: Either go to the beach or the mountains with my husband, my son and my dogs.
J.J. Gow: Thank you for chatting with me! It’s a pleasure to learn more about your new book, Lost Girls and your journey as an author.
If you are interested to find out more about Merrie Destefano and her books, you can visit her website and sign up newsletter at Ms. Destefano’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.