Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Gary Meehan to the “Chouett stage”.
If you remember at the beginning of September I introduce Gary as the author I wanted to read and write about as part of a Yashot feature that I did here. I also wrote a review of “True Fire” the first book in the Trilogy where I tell you what I thoughts.
Today also happens to be Gary’s publication day of the last book in the Trilogy “True Power” so congratulations to Gary!!
And now, I have a great interview for you where Gary lets us in in his world for a little while at least. So without any further ado…voila!
How do you feel now that “True Power” is out, signalling the end of the True Trilogy?
Bit weird, like watching your kid leave home: proud, emotional. but with the dread they’re going to be back soon: foreign editions, etc. Of the books, not the children, I should point out. The trilogy’s been part of my life for four years now, more if you count the time if you were planning it.
Is it really the end? Or can you still envisage a future for our characters?
It’s certainly the end for these characters as the main characters. However, I might nip down to the Diannon Empire and see what Afreyda’s former girlfriend is up to, or wind things on a few years and see what kind of a mess Werlavia is in after Megan’s actions in True Power, which would concentrate on the two youngest characters in the True trilogy (trying to avoid spoilers). However, I’d have to be sure I’m telling a new story: I don’t simply want to retell the first trilogy with a different cast.
Was Megan always meant to have a twin sister or were you toying with several ideas of how to develop her?
She was originally meant to be one of five sisters: the prophecy I had in mind needed the circumstances of her birth to be rare but going to happen somewhere. However, I only had use for two of them, Megan herself and Gwyneth, so I ditched the other three and gritted my teeth and succumbed to the old cliché of twins.
Damon brings great balance to the saga, what was the inspiration behind his character?
He’s the anti-Megan, the pragmatic coward rather than the idiotic heroine (I love Megan and all, but she does do some stupid things), there to make the reader ask themselves, “Would I do what he does or what she does?” I think more of us are Damons than Megans, forever battling with our conscience and winning more often than not.
I was also attracted to the idea of the only male character of our trio not being attracted to the main character but to her much older friend. It adds a different dynamic and reminds the reader that not everything revolves round the main character, opens things out a little.
From a functional point of view, I also needed someone who could provide a point-of-view when Megan couldn’t; someone to explain the plot — realising his vocabulary meant he was educated, which meant he’d had priestly education, was a great help here; and someone to make all the rude jokes.
The world you created sees a war between two faiths; were you drawing inspiration from your own beliefs maybe?
I don’t have any, so not exactly …
Like lots of atheists, however, I’m interested in religion and how people use and abuse it. The idea of the Faith and the True was drawn from the Reformation when the Protestant church (later churches, later lots of churches) broke away from the Catholic church. From a theological point, it raised the question of whether intermediaries are needed between the believer and God or whether you can address Him directly. From a practical point, it excused an awful lot of Bad Things.
It was this idea of using religion as an excuse for political ambition that was the idea behind the True trilogy. We start off in True Fire seeing the witches as this monolithic, terrifying demonic force but by the end of True Power we can see the people behind them and understand, if not forgive them.
What do you enjoy doing, when you are not writing?
I enjoy not writing immensely.
If you were to write to your younger self, what advice would you give him?
Your hair looks better shorn; you’re going to need glasses before you go to university; there’s no shame in being seen to be on your own; oh, and get that girl’s number before she drives off because it’ll save you a year of heartache.
If you could be any fictional character from a book, who would it be and why?
I was going to say James Bond, but then remembered he got lots of beatings as well as lots of girls and I’m really quite pain averse. So I’m going to nominate Mycroft Holmes. I fancy the idea of lounging about in a club all day being frightfully clever and doing no real work.
Can you tell us “10 things” we don’t know about Gary Meehan?
- My biology has altered so it’s chemically dependent on caffeine.
- My colleagues want to install a swear box just for me. This would cancel out the deficit in a week.
- I thought longitude was spelt “longtitude”. This is still plaguing me.
- I have a framed picture of Dempsey and Makepeace on my wall. This is why single men should not be allowed to decorate their own homes.
- I hate cucumbers. Yes, I know they’re mostly water, but you could say that about Hitler.
- I cannot swim, but I can walk across a shallow pool and move my arms in a circular motion.
- Neither can I drive. My dream self keeps forgetting this.
- I am a kind and sensitive lover.
- I did a PhD solely so people would call me doctor. No one calls me doctor. Not even my mum.
- I own the Grease And know the words.
What was your favourite book as a child?
I’m not sure I could nominate a particular book. I did read and reread a lot of Enid Blyton books and Doctor Who novelisations. The local library, which fed my literary needs, was only a ten minute walk away, and in those days you could let kids wander the cobbled streets on their own with nothing more than a stack of paperbacks to protect them.