The Compulsive Reader: Supernatural July: Meridian by Amber Kizer and Interview

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Supernatural July: Meridian by Amber Kizer and Interview

Meridian has never been normal. She is constantly surrounded by dying things—insects, small animals, and on the day of her sixteenth birthday, a girl dies in a deadly accident right in front of her. Immediately after that, her parents whisk her away from her home and send her to Revelation, Colorado to live with her elderly great-aunt.

Once in Revelation, Meridian discovers the surprising truth about the death that surrounds her: she is a Fenestra, a link between the living and dead meant to lead the dying to the afterlife. But nothing is as simple as it appears— with the help of her great-aunt and protector Tens, Meridian must learn to master her new talent before the evil Aternocti are able to get to her.

Meridian is a unique and very imaginative first book in what's sure to be an exciting new series. The whole book moves briskly as Meridian is bombarded with one surprise after another. The idea of generations of Fenestra and their evil counterparts, Aternocti, is an intriguing one, and though it's not explained quite as thoroughly as some may like, as the book goes on, more is revealed about the two, and their histories are caught up in a local, fanatical religious group. This makes for some interesting plot twists, and some slightly uneven pacing.

Meridian, however, is a very real, very tangible character, and her thoughts and feelings about death and her newly discovered powers are handled skillfully. Similarly, the male lead, Tens, is a realistic, fallible character that will still have female readers swooning.

Though many events that occur towards the end of the novel feel too convenient and there are a few confusing sequences, Meridian is a fast paced novel that will be popular with many teens, and the ending is set up nicely for a sequel. Kizer’s latest is a dark, intriguing, and quick read filled with excellent imagery and fascinating tidbits of information that will have readers vying for a sequel.

Cover Comments: I do like this cover. The dark background is neat, and I like the model used for this cover. The red roses and thorns (with the occasional skull thrown in for good measure) superimposed over the image is a very striking effect. This cover is pretty, but also very edgy, capturing the tone of the book perfectly. The title's font is also very cool. This cover will turn heads!

And now, Amber Kizer!

What three words would you use to describe Meridian?

The character Meridian:

The book Meridian:

What element(s) make(s) Meridian unique?

Honestly I think it's the origins of the idea. I didn't set out to write a paranormal story and fit all the bits around that. This book is very close to my heart--the idea came from sitting vigil as my grandparents died (about 18 months apart). They both had very different dying experiences, though in both cases, as a family, we chose to work with a wonderful hospice organization (St. Vincent's Inpatient Hospice Care, in Indianapolis, IN).

With everything in life, I like to know as much as possible so I read and did a bunch of research on dying, the physical process itself, the psychological process, and people's near-death experiences.

For this story, I wanted to explore the idea that the "light" people talk about as they die is an actual person and what that might mean. For the story, Meridian looks like just a girl, until a soul is dying and then she becomes the bright light, the window they can take to the afterlife, the next step.

What if everyday of a person's life was that of being a window to beyond? I wanted to give a face to death that wasn't the Reaper's, wasn't something out of nightmares. And saying "God" is there in death doesn't say much--what does that mean really? How does that look?

And from a science aspect we're all energy. Where does that energy go? And isn't a soul of any animal or plant worthy energy? How does that look? How does that fit with the major religions and cultural norms?

And I also wanted to explore some organized religion as fear based--the idea that people hide behind religion because they're afraid or upset or angry. How does that twists what can be profound and comforting in faith. The mob mentality is so easy to manipulate if you're good at it--I wanted a character (Perimo) who was good at it and used it.

Of course readers don't have to know any of that-but that's where I came up with the question I tried to answer in this book!

If you could have any supernatural power, what would it be?

I think I'd like to heal [myself and others]!

What are some supernatural book or books that have influenced you and your writing?

I think as a reader the most influential books dealing with the real world in a tweaked form have been Stephen King's THE STAND, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's STRANGE PILGRIMS (all of his work on some level), Margaret Atwood's HANDMAID'S TALE, all of Margo Lanagan's short stories, Mary Doria Russell's THE SPARROW and CHILDREN OF GOD, even Beatrix Potter and her talking animals.

Books from what some people call "magical realism" ie LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE, others call "alternate reality" or "urban fantasy" ie Laurell K Hamilton-where it's a world we recognize but there's added depth or an unexplainable addition . Myths and religious texts that are metaphorical in nature also fascinate me.

As a writer though, I have to say that everything influences me-in ways large and small, obvious and not

What supernatural book are you itching to read?

I tend to read 15-20 books (sometimes more) concurrently-like some people change channels on TV. And the only subjects I don't read are computer programming and math theory (I'd be more likely to get more out of reading Dostoevsky in his native language!)-they don't appeal on any level but everything else is a mix of genres. Daniel Waters KISS OF LIFE is next to get into the rotation though-I loved GENERATION DEAD-so much subtext and great story!

Thanks so much, Amber!

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