In conversation with Leonora Meriel

Hi everyone

Today we have with us the master of literary and experimental fiction -Leonora Meriel

Please give an intro of your books to the readers.

My books are literary fiction and experimental fiction. This means that I try to write great literature, but I also try to experiment with styles and genres and themes to create something entirely original and something that has never been written before.

My debut novel “The Woman Behind the Waterfall” is a tale of three generations of women in a Ukrainian village. They are all trying to find happiness in their own ways and they all face their own fears and barriers to happiness. There is a lot of transfromation and magic in the book, but ultimately it is about what happiness means, and the role of family.

My second novel “The Unity Game” is a literary thriller with elements of science-fiction. It is set in New York City, on a distant planet, and in an after-life dimension. The essence of the book is: what is the meaning of life? – life on Earth, and life beyond Earth. I explore many different strands of this theme and try to look at it from different perspectives. It is quite philosophical, but at the same time there is an exciting storyline to keep the readers involved.

The genres of your books are diverse. How did you develop a likeability to both?

The only genre I set out to write is literary fiction – that is, great quality books. However, my stories take on a journey of their own and suddenly my characters are coming back from the dead, or are transforming into a bird, or are on another planet. I am really interested in creating something different in literature, so I allow my imagination and my pen to go in whatever diretion they desire. At the same time, some of my favourite books are in the genres I write – magical realism, science-fiction etc. So I am familiar with some incredible writing in these genres and have true masters to emulate while I am writing.

Tell us about your background

I am English and grew up in England, but I was always passionately curious about the world, and escaped from the UK as soon as I could – which was during univesity. I studied for a year in Canada, and then lived in New York for several years before moving to Ukraine for 10 years. From then I lived in Barcelona, and I am now back where I started in London. It’s been quite a journey. Career-wise, although I had always wanted to write, I worked on Wall Street in New York and then founded a business in Ukraine, as well as running a charity. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of real-life experiences to draw from when I turned to writing full-time. Now I am a full time novelist, although I do some teaching as well to supplement my income.

Which genre is your favourite

Literary fiction is my favourite because some of the greatest books ever written are in this genre. I also categorize some favourites from other genres as literary fiction, however, as I define it as the very highest standard of writing with a conscious movement towards the deveopment of liteature. So, for example, my favourite science fiction novel “Solaris” would fall into this category, as would Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” – ususally thought of as magical realism.

Did you maintain a time table or pattern in writing books?

When I am writing a first draft of a novel, then I give myself a target of a daily word count – usually 1000 words a day. This means that I am writing something, and if it’s a slow day then I just do the 1000 words, and if it is a highly creative day then I can write for hours. Once the first draft is complete, then I am very disciplined about the editing process and work for 3-4 hours each morning on the manuscript. 

How was your publishing experience?

My debut novel was picked up by a London agent, who loved it, but didn’t manage to sell it to a publisher. We got great feedback on it, however, and after I had done some research into self-publishing, I decided to go ahead and release it myself. I had been an entrepreneur for the last 10 years, so I was familiar with launching a new venture. I set up my own publishing impring – Granite Cloud – and set about learning everything about publishing. It was an intense journey, but now I absolutely love having creative control over my books. It is an empowering thing to put your work out there and build your own fortune. 

How are you planning to promote your book?

I promote my books by thinking about which readers might enjoy them and then creating a strategy for finding those readers. It’s different for each of my books, but it can involve blogging, reviews, promotions, visiting book clubs and social media. It’s a case of trying lots of different approaches, and keeping the ones that work and that connect me with readers who love my work.

Are there more books in your pipeline

I have started my third novel and hope to have a first draft complete by next summer. Then a year or two of editing and perfecting and it will be ready!


How can readers reach you?

I am very accessible to readers. I am happy to have direct e-mails at leonora@leonorameriel.com or alternatively I am on Facebook and also Twitter - @leonora_meriel and my website . I have a lot of readers contacting me and it is one of the best things about being a writer – after years of creating something in solitude, suddenly you can talk with people who have read and loved your work. It’s very special.

Thanks for your time and all the best for your future ventures.

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