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Meet Featured Author Christine Meade

Christine Meade is a writer, editor, and educator. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the California College of the Arts. A native New Englander, Christine currently lives and writes outside of Boston, MA. “The Way You Burn” is her first book, to be published by She Writes Press in April 2020. This is her story.

What inspired you to write The Way You Burn?

I started writing The Way You Burn when I was in my mid-twenties, a time when one is forced to navigate personal boundaries within romantic and familial relationships as a new adult while carving out their space in the world. I wanted to explore the challenges associated with this unique transitional time in novel form.

"The Way you Burn by Christine Meade"Before I began the writing process, I went on a historical tour of the Lane Tavern in Sanbornton, New Hampshire. The building was constructed sometime before 1808. I love small, historical towns–they always come chock-full of interesting stories–and this tour of a historical building in a small town was the impetus for the first chapter I wrote of the novel, which is now a scene in the middle of the book with my protagonist David and his girlfriend Hope. One of the biggest obstacles David faces is the clashing of his present-day reality with the history of his family’s past.

Have you always been a writer?

I started writing when I was five. To be more specific, I started copying my children’s books–a practice I now understand to be plagiarism–onto folded sheets of construction paper and calling them my books. My first masterpiece was an inspirational, heart-wrenching tale of a young, scared animal separated forever from his mother. You may know this more familiarly as Bambi. I was supremely proud of my creation, although I recognized even at that age illustrating would not be one of my strong suits. But still, I forged on. Around this same time, I also started keeping a journal–a daily habit I remain loyal to even more so now as an adult.
I have always wanted to be a novelist and I made my first attempt at writing a completed one in the fifth grade, but it wasn’t until my early twenties–after lots of starts over the years–that I accomplished my goal for the first time.

What was the most difficult part about writing the book? The most rewarding?

I find the first draft to be the most rewarding part of the writing process. As hard as I try to become a good pre-drafting outliner, I always succumb to the whims of my subconscious when writing. I can write a first draft fairly quickly, and the process is exciting and disorganized and feels like going on a vision quest led by a colorful, rambunxious troll doll. Yes, the spiky-haired topless toy popular in the 90s with the jeweled belly button. That’s how I envision my subconscious at least. Sitting down to analyze my own work after the first draft is down, however, to weed out the sloppy parts, expand on the sparkling, jeweled-belly-button parts, and rearrange it all into something that makes sense, has a plot, and is readable takes quite a bit more focused strength and attention. This part of the process–also known as revision–is considerably more difficult, but at the end of my 500 drafts, I’m left with a work that has purpose.

The Way You Burn covers a lot of psychological territory, much of it painful, all of it realistic. Did you do any research in order to write such compelling characters?

Some of the psychological territory covered in The Way You Burn is pulled from stories I’ve been told or experienced indirectly. When writing, I find it is important to imagine myself in each character’s shoes by drawing from my emotional reservoir of personal experiences rather than just pulling from formal research. Reading a lot of other good fiction is another tool to help writers better understand how to write compelling characters.

In your writing, you expertly capture the complex mental state that comes with being on the cusp of adulthood and maturity. Why was it important for you to portray this second coming-of-age?

I’ve always seen the post-collegiate world–and new adult novels–as a grittier coming-of-age moment where the stakes are higher than the more common high school coming-of-age tale. After the confines of the parental home and conventional college education are left behind, many individuals find themselves ostensibly standing at the edge of the cliff of life, trying to make real decisions for the first time about career, home, and love without any real sense of the possible consequences their decisions can hold. I find this to be one of the most interesting and one of my favorite places to write from. All the sureties we thought we knew about ourselves are tested–and that makes for good writing and reading.

What do you hope readers will take away from The Way You Burn?

I wanted to take on the challenge of attempting to understand the various abuses women have faced throughout the generations from a young man’s perspective. It felt important, in this day and age, to explore this reality from a second-hand observer instead of from a victim’s perspective in order to guide readers to empathize with experiences that may not match their own. I hope readers finish the book questioning their own perspectives and the opportunities they are presented with to test their own boundaries when such opportunities arise.

To learn more about Christine Meade’s life and work, visit her website, https://www.christine-meade.com.
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