Welcome, L. M.!
First published at age 12, she wrote a series of half-finished fantasy novels and angsty poetry throughout her teenage years, before completing a degree in media and communications and Chinese, and freelancing extensively as a journalist. Her journalism and academic writing has appeared in The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Bulletin, East Asia Forum, Inside Story and South Asia Masala, among others. Deciding that she liked research, she then went on to do a PhD at the Australian National University, where she researched China–India relations, but she quickly realised that writing a dissertation left little time for writing anything else. After graduating in 2012, it took participation in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) to get her creative juices flowing again, and her first novel, Greythorne, was published in late 2015. She is currently finishing her next novel, an Australian Gothic mystery called The Iron Line, as well as endeavouring to complete an academic monograph, tentatively titled India and China in the Asia-Pacific, 1890–2030 and running her own communications consultancy, Pure Arts Communications. Her first non-fiction book, Communications for Volunteers: Low-Cost Strategies for Community Groups, will be released in March 2017.
A Little About
When a violent storm reveals Lucy’s body is not in her grave, Nell begins to develop suspicions about the Professor’s research. What she discovers in his laboratory, however, will turn all her ideas about life and death, morality and creation on their head, forcing her to make an impossible choice.
Author's Rating: PG-13, as it has some darkish themes regarding reanimation of the dead.
Ten Things You Should Know
About L. M. Merrington
1. What is your favorite song(s) to listen to while writing?
The sound of silence – quite literally. I hate having music on when I’m working – I find it really distracting. If there must be something playing in the background, it needs to be classical music or an instrumental soundtrack – something without lyrics. My husband is the opposite and can’t work without noise, so our compromise if we’re working in close proximity at the same time is video game soundtracks, which are instrumental-only and fulfil his need for sound without distracting me too much
2. What is the first thing you remember writing?
My oldest surviving story is a highly derivative fairytale called ‘Rose Red and the Nine Pixies’ that I wrote (and illustrated) when I was about 6 or 7. I rediscovered it in a box at my parents’ house not all that long ago and my mum and I had a good laugh over it – the main character, Rose Red, is hilariously callous.
3. At what moment did you feel like you could say, “NOW, I'm an author?”
This is a tricky one. I was first published when I was 12 (a series of articles in my local paper as part of an internship) and first paid for my journalism when I was 19, so I’ve seen myself as a professional writer for many years. But to me the definition of an ‘author’ is someone who makes money from writing books, so I don’t think I really started calling myself an author until I signed my first publishing contract – even though I’d had chapters published in academic books before that. Identifying as a writer – as in saying to other people ‘I’m a writer’ rather than just ‘I write’ – has also been quite a journey, and I think I only really became comfortable with it around five years ago when I started connecting with other artists, who really encouraged me to own my craft.
4. What is one of your favorite/go-to writing resources?
I love the Writers’ Digest Write Great Fiction series, and more recently I’ve discovered Steven James’s Troubleshooting Your Novel, which has been a huge help during the rewriting of my new novel. He works through the technical aspects of writing in bite-sized chunks, and I’ve had so many ‘aha!’ moments reading it. I also love Scrivener – it’s been especially helpful with my non-fiction work, which is structurally quite complicated.
5. Do you write using a keyboard, pen and paper, or both?
Mainly keyboard, but if I’m really creatively blocked I go back to pen and paper. There’s something about the physical act of writing that makes the words flow more easily. I always edit in hard copy as well, because you catch things on paper that you miss on screen. I also had a brief flirtation with dictation software, but I found that having to ‘speak’ my writing actually interrupted my thought process – it feels much more organic when I type or write by hand.
6. What project are you working on now?
I’m currently working on the second draft of my new novel, The Iron Line, which is a Gothic mystery set in the late 1800s in the Southern Highlands region of New South Wales, Australia – not far from where I live. Australian Gothic is its own genre, so it’s been really interesting learning about it. This story has a mysterious ghost train, a creepy town and a murder thrown in for good measure – it’s a lot of fun writing it, but it’s also thrown up a lot of new challenges, including how to deal with an unreliable narrator.
7. Have you always liked to write?
Always. I can’t remember a time when writing hasn’t been a part of my life. Even when I haven’t been actively writing fiction, I’ve been engaged in journalism or academic writing, and I usually have a fictional story on the go in my head most of the time, even if it sometimes takes a bit of time to make it to paper. When I go to new places or try new things my immediate thought is ‘how could this fit into a story?’. I tend to get a bit cranky if I have to go for long periods without writing, and I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t write.
8. Do you keep anything special on your desk when you write?
Not on my desk, but next to it I have an ‘inspiration wall’ where I stick pictures of things that inspire me or just brighten my day. They include cartoons, photos, postcards of paintings, and a drawing done by a friend.
9. Describe your writing space as it is right now. What would be your ideal writing space (if it's different from this)?
Messy! I’m a bit of a slob so my desk is currently piled high with papers, pen, books and various other bits and pieces. I’m lucky in that because I run my own business and work from home, I’ve been able to commandeer the spare room as my office, which is the first time I’ve had a proper writing/work space. The best thing about it is it allows me to maintain separation of work and life – I very rarely go in there on the weekends or at any time I’m not actually working. The worst thing is it faces north so it becomes an absolute furnace in summer. It contains my desk, some bookshelves, a filing cabinet, and a couch where I sit to have my lunch or do non-computer-based work. Hanging on the walls are my university degrees and also a portrait of the villain from Greythorne, Professor Nathaniel Greythorne, which an artist friend painted for me based on a description of him in the book. He sits there brooding at me and reminding me I should be writing!
10. Do you have any other creative outlets besides writing?
I’m a musician and occasional songwriter – I sing and play piano, euphonium, and a bit of guitar (badly!). I’m also involved quite a bit in my local amateur music theatre scene. I also enjoy dancing and playing various other kinds of sport, particularly indoor soccer – I find it a lot easier to be creative if I’m also physically active.