Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Guest Post: Meradeth Houston, author of the SARY SOCIETY

A while ago, I had the opportunity to meet author Meradeth Houston on Twitter. We ended up talking about churros and things that are yummy! I thought her SARY SOCIETY series sounded intriguing. Somewhere along the way we decided it would be fun to exchange guest posts and settled on the topic of Spirituality. So here we are, and here is Meradeth! (If you'd like to visit her blog, and check out my blog post, please do so here.)

Thanks so much for hosting me! It’s always fun to get to meet other authors, and especially their readers .

My series, Sary Society, is made up of Colors Like Memories, The Chemistry of Fate, and the forthcoming Surrender the Sky, and deals with a type of being I made up. Well, maybe not entirely made up—they have some similarities to guardian angels, but are a bit different Basically, the main characters in my books are the souls of children who die before taking their first breath. They are offered the chance to come back to earth as a Sary, or someone who helps those who are thinking about taking their own life. They blend into society and keep a low profile, but hide their true identity—especially their wings.

With creatures like the Sary, it’s hard to avoid any sense spirituality. Plenty of other questions are mentioned here and there—like what happens after death. It’s kind of an integral part of the story. And for me, there’s some influence from my own beliefs that creep in here and there. I do mention light and dark being present after death, and the penalty for taking one’s own life in my series is pretty steep. Personally, I wasn’t raised in a religious household, but became pretty active in church throughout high school and college. I don’t find myself in a structured religion today, but some beliefs still stick around.

So, what does that mean in writing? For me, it’s striking a very careful balance of keeping some elements of spirituality that goes along with my characters, but working hard to ensure it’s not overbearing or preachy. At least, that’s what I’m striving for!

I can think of a lot of books lately that have to handle this same issue: The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare has angels, demons, and nephilim in it, but she avoids much (if not all) discussion of any kind of deity in her stories. Also, Angelfall by Susan Ee is another case where angels and demons exist, but there’s kind of a black hole with any kind of ruling god or gods in the picture (anyone else as excited as I am for book 2?!?). The Fallen series by Lauren Kate kind of took the other route, bringing God, angels, and the devil into the picture in the classical sense (not to give away too many spoilers!).

I’d rather error a bit on the side of the former examples here, just because I think that makes the book more accessible to a wider audience. But that does mean I don’t dig in as deep to some of the thornier issues of where my characters come from, or what their role really means (though, I definitely know myself, I just don’t talk about it!).

I’m curious what you all think: is it better to give a whole lot of background on a world, even if it’s pretty religious, or leave things a little more open ended so it’s more accessible? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

~About Meradeth Houston~
Meradeth’s never been a big fan of talking about herself, but here are some random tidbits about her:
>She’s a Northern California girl, but now lives and teaches anthropology in Montana.
>When she’s not writing, she’s sequencing dead people’s DNA. For fun!
>She’s been writing since she was 11 years old. It's her hobby, her passion & she’s so happy to get to share her work!
>If she could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because she’s terrified of heights.
~Find Meradeth~

About  THE CHEMISTRY OF FATE

“They are everywhere, can be anyone, and are always the last person you’d expect.”

When Tom stumbles across his grandfather’s journal, he’s convinced the old man was crazier than he thought. The book contains references to beings called the Sary, immortals who are assigned to save humans on the verge of suicide. They certainly aren’t allowed to fall in love with mortals. Which the journal claims Tom’s grandfather did, resulting in his expulsion from the Sary. As strange as the journal seems, Tom can’t get the stories out of his head; especially when he finds the photo of his grandfather’s wings.

Tom’s only distraction is Ari, the girl he studies with for their chemistry class.

Ari has one goal when she arrives in town: see how much Tom knows about the Sary and neutralize the situation. This isn’t a normal job, but protecting the secrecy of the Sary is vital. If Tom is a threat to exposing the Sary to the public, fate has a way of taking care of the situation, usually ending with the mortal’s death. While Ari spends time with Tom, he becomes more than just an assignment, but how far can a relationship go when she can’t tell him who she really is? When she finds out just how much Tom actually knows about the Sary, Ari is forced to choose between her wings, and her heart.


THE CHEMISTRY OF FATE is a companion to COLORS LIKE MEMORIES and is set before the latter takes place.


About COLORS LIKE MEMORIES

Julia has a secret: she killed the guy she loved. It was an accident—sort of.

Julia is a Sary, the soul of a child who died before taking her first breath. Without this 'breath of life' she and others like her must help those on the verge of suicide. It's a job Julia used to enjoy, until the accident that claimed her boyfriend’s life—an accident she knows was her fault. If living with the guilt weren't enough, she's now assigned to help a girl dealing with the loss of her mother, something Julia's not exactly the best role model for. If she can't figure out a way to help her, Julia's going to lose her position in the Sary, something she swore to her boyfriend would never happen.

7 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for hosting me today!! This was so fun :)

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    1. Meradeth, I love how you created the Sary and what you created them to do! Very awesome stuff:) And yes, THANK YOU, for doing this exchange. It has turned out to be quite fun, Heidi

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  2. I find myself in my own work on that threshold: it's real-world, and my protagonists are largely secular, but much of the action takes place in the Holy Land, so finding the balance can be tricky.

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    1. Yeah, I can totally imagine the Holy Land getting to be a tricky place to find balance in! It's not easy to work out even in some small California town like my stories :)

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    2. William, that sounds intriguing:) Heidi

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  3. Meradeth, this is definitely a tricky subject, but I think you struck a great balance with Colors Like Memories. Spirituality is such a rich area of the human psyche to explore! In my own writing I always try to approach it from a neutral ground. Characters can and should have their opinions and views of it, but I think the author's opinions shouldn't be blatantly obvious. Great post!

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    1. Thanks, Jimena! I really need to read your book--it's going to be bumped up in my list!! :)

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