I’m delighted to welcome MJ Meads to my blog today. MJ’s novel, Milk, was released in March 2015 and I am ridiculously excited about reading. It sounds fantastic and quite different from your average romance novel. MJ was kind enough to give us all a bit of background information on Milk and reveals where he found the inspiration behind the story…
Hello MJ, a big, warm welcome to Bookaholic Confessions! Thank you so much for participating in this interview. Would you like to start by introducing yourself…?
Hi everyone, I’m a thirty-something former copywriter who’s decided to follow his passion and write creatively for a living. I live in a small village in Cheshire, having moved all over the UK in my twenties. When I’m not writing I love nothing more than curling up with a good book myself.
Can you tell us a bit about your novel, Milk: A Modern Love Story (released 1st March 2015)?
Milk is such a tricky novel to describe. Part love story, part coming of age tale, part tragedy. In essence it tells the story of a teenage girl with a crush on a much older man, a friend of her late mother’s. The novel deliberately sets out to ask the question ‘Is it ever ok for these relationships to exist?’ It looks at whether ‘love’ is something that can be accurately defined and whether confusion over the parameters of relationships between similar aged adults is mirrored in these kinds of inter-generational relationships.
I absolutely love the sound of the storyline for Milk and I can’t wait to start reading! What inspired you to write a gritty, realistic romance?
I guess I felt it was a story that wasn’t being told. Most romance fiction is escapist fantasy, I wanted to take a ‘warts and all’ look at love. In Milk I explore love as a ‘social construct’ and examine how different forms of love can be confused and collated under one umbrella term. I feel that all art should set out to challenge the observer, to ask the difficult questions and force us to draw our own conclusions and find our own answers.
Can you tell us a little more about your lead characters, Becky and Mike? Are they completely fictional or are they based on anyone in real life?
Like all literary characters Mike and Becky are a product of a variety of individuals and experiences. There’s bits of me in Mike, but there’s also plenty of me in the character of Becky. Everyone I meet makes an impression on me and the ability to pick and choose parts of people to create a character is one of the joys of writing fiction. I do know a Becky and a Mike, but as I mention in my book’s foreword, they’ve never actually met!
How have you found writing in the romance genre, a genre which is primarily dominated by women?
Writing a book with a romantic theme wasn’t something I shied away from. I don’t pay much attention to gender stereotypes and I’m a bit of an old romantic at heart. My biggest concern was being accepted as an author working in the genre, hence using the pen name MJ to detach myself slightly from my real life persona. I’ve been pleasantly surprised how many female romance authors aren’t in the slightest bit bothered by my being a man in a woman’s world.
Was it an easy process writing a novel from a female perspective?
It wasn’t as difficult as one might think, but it was definitely the thing I was most concerned about when penning the novel. The biggest issues came around clothes and make-up. I sought guidance a few times to make sure the illusion of the teenage girl didn’t slip when I wrote about wearing my hair up, applying foundation or the cut of my dress!
Do you plan on writing a sequel to Milk?
At the moment I’m enjoying the fact that Milk ends in an unusual and somewhat unsatisfying way. I see it as a comment on the fact that sometimes we strive for closure in relationships but ultimately we don’t always get it. That said, I do have an idea in my head of where the story goes next, but I’d want to wait until the time is right before revealing that to my readers.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication?
I spent far too long writing Milk, from conception to release it was close to ten years. Obviously it sat gathering dust for years at a time during that process. I wanted to write it initially just to prove that I could and because I felt the story needed telling. As such I self-published it in paperback and as an eBook without giving it much thought. It may be that the novel gets re-released at some point through a traditional publisher, if I feel it would bring the book to a wider audience.
Who are your favourite authors and what kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I spend my time at the moment reading and reviewing works by other Indie authors on my website www.MJMeads.com. I find there’s nothing more exciting than discovering a new or up-and-coming author. I spent my formative years reading lots of Shakespeare, Greek classics and philosophical dialogues by Plato and Socrates.
And finally – can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
This is a bit of an exclusive reveal, but I’m working on a series of ‘kidult’ books. They should appeal to both little kids and us big kids who refuse to grow up. I’m in the process of working with an illustrator for the cover design, they may even make it into print with additional illustrations. The first in that series, called ‘Open, Season’, should be out before Christmas. Meantime I’m still reading and reviewing books and blogging on the process of writing via my website.
Get hold of your copy of Milk here.