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Interview with Pamela Meyers

Pamela S. Meyers, overseer of the Genesis contest and long-standing member of ACFW, shares some thoughts on living in Lake Geneva and how that influenced her recent release.

Your latest release, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva (which I enjoyed reading immensely), is set in your hometown of Lake Geneva Wisconsin. What was your favorite part of growing up here? Your least favorite part?
My favorite part of growing up in LG was probably what I took for granted as a child. The lake! Geneva Lake is a beautiful spring-fed lake that was carved out of the land by a retreating glacier. I learned to swim at an early age during the summer. Many days were spent at the beach next door to the Riviera building that figures so strongly in my story. During high school, I learned to water ski behind a friend’s boat. Sometimes I snuck rides on one of the excursion boats that my boyfriend worked on that circled the lake. Many beautiful mansions and estates have populated the lakeshore since the Great Chicago Fire forced the wealthy industrialists and bankers to build large homes there as retreats families while the city was being rebuilt. But, of course, I didn’t really appreciate all that until I moved away.

Do you think, having lived in Lake Geneva, you were able to write this story more easily or was it more difficult to create a world for your characters because of your history with the town?
For the most part, I think it was easier. I knew the layout of the town and a lot of the small details about it that someone who hadn’t grown up there would know. For example, the locals refer to the hill going west out of town as Dummer’s hill. I used it in the story, and my copy editor couldn’t find it on a map. I explained that property at the top of the hill had once been owned by a family by the name of Dummer and that is what it is still called today—by the locals. On the other hand, I had to be very careful to make sure I had my facts right. Especially regarding retail stores. I knew what had been there when I was a kid, but had they been there in 1933? I combed microfilms of the local weekly paper from the months during which the story takes place, looking for ads or mentions of restaurants, grocery stores, and other establishments. I had been certain that the confectionary/soda shop next door to the movie theater that had been there when I was growing up had been there in the 1930s, but the town historian said he didn’t think it was, so I had to give it a fictional name.

On your website you have the phrase “Take a sentimental journey” – why did you pick this phrase? Any specific reason?
A couple of years ago I was brainstorming with Ane Mulligan a tag line for my website. Ane mentioned that most of my stories are set in small Midwestern towns. While we were noodling this for a while, Ane suddenly suggested that it’s like I take my readers on a sentimental journey, and that’s how my tag line came to be. I have to give Ane the credit. 

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
First, staying focused and turning off all other interference while I’m writing. That means email mostly. During the first quarter of the year, now that I oversee the Genesis writing contest, I can’t turn off email, because of the need to stay connected to the entrants and judges during the process. There have been weeks, both this year and last, when I simply must put writing aside to focus 100 percent on Genesis. For the past several weeks, my writing time has been used to promote Love Finds You in Lake Geneva. I have to keep reminding myself that kind of work is also writing time.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
From the moment I felt the call to write fiction, I knew all my stories had to have a spiritual thread. My main characters’ goals include the external, the internal and the spiritual. Often their spiritual journeys are at least in part a reflection of my own. And often what God is teaching me at the moment, either through my own Bible study or through my pastor’s Sunday messages, ends up in my stories. I love how I see God working in my stories through what He is teaching me.

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career so far?
Can I say greatest year?
The year 2011 was surely the greatest year since I began pursuing fiction publication. I’d worked at learning the craft, submitting to agents and editors, and later to editors through my agent, for years. And for years I received one rejection after another. Then, finally in May of 2011, my agent, Terry Burns, called me from the Colorado Christian Writers Conference to announce he’d sold my mystery/romance Thyme for Love to OakTara Publishing. He probably heard my scream out in Colorado without the phone. LOL. Then, three months later, he called me as I was driving down a toll way at night between construction barrels (I should not have answered the phone but I did) and told me that Summerside Press wanted to buy Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. He heard another earsplitting scream that night. I later agreed to a sequel to Thyme for Love and that ended up my year. God certainly blessed my socks off .

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
The best thing I ever did was to join ACFW. Back then it was ACRW, the “R” standing for Romance. I was about the 106th person to join, give or take a few. And, so far, I’ve been to every national conference since. It is through ACFW I learned to hone my fiction writing skills (and still am), was able to meet editors and agents at the conferences, stay connected throughout the year on the loop, learn in the on-line classes, and grow as a Christian author. It’s through ACFW I met my agent, and it was by meeting Summerside Press editor, Rachel Meisel, at my local ACFW chapter one May evening that I came to submit to her my proposal for LFY in Lake Geneva.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
God inspires me, strengthens me, and holds me up when things get rough. Also, when a story grips my heart, I am encouraged to write it out for others to read. I get ideas from all different places. The history of Lake Geneva was the catalyst to the story that grew into Love Finds You in Lake Geneva and in another series of stories I hope to contract. My love of cozy mysteries and cooking led to the stories in my OakTara series.

Any parting words?
To all who read this and are still waiting for THE phone call telling them they’ve sold a story, hang in there! God is in control and at the right time He will allow it to happen. Keep persevering and pushing toward your goal. Never think that there isn’t anything left to learn because there is always something new to learn. And when you do put your work out there in a contest or a crit group, keep an open mind and grow from the constructive criticism you receive. Someday it will be your turn to be interviewed here!

Thanks for sharing with us, Pamela!

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