Thursday, December 6, 2012

10 Questions: M.H. Mead

M.H. Mead is the shared pen name of Margaret Yang and Harry R. Campion.

Margaret Yang is a full-time writer and parent who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She loves living in the modern age, and she wants to be the first person on her block to own a flying car.

Harry R. Campion is a writer, teacher, and parent who lives in Harper Woods, Michigan. He is happiest when camping in the wilderness, especially when he has a canoe and a river to explore.

Margaret and Harry have been friends and co-authors for many years.

Contact Links:
Twitter: @Margaret_Yang

#1: How did the writing duo of M.H. Mead come about?
Completely accidentally. If either of us knew what we were getting ourselves into, we never would have done it. But Margaret had this idea for a cool setting (near-future Detroit) and Harry had this idea for a cool plot (lots of mayhem and murder) and it just sort of happened. And then, because it worked so well, we did it again. And again.

#2: Does living in different cities help or hinder your writing efforts?
Living an hour apart from one another is what makes this work! We’re slightly less accountable to one another, which is a good thing. We like to do things on our own schedules, and if we lived next door to one another, we’d be constantly checking up. Can you imagine it? “Don’t tell me you were writing all day. I saw you out walking your dog.” Or “Your lights were on late last night. Were you writing?” We already share a brain. We don’t need to share a neighborhood.

#3: My day job is that of programmer, so I know a little bit about collaboration. For the life of me I can't picture it when it comes to writing a novel. Tell us a little about the mechanics of your process.
A lot of writers collaborate on a small scale, they just don’t call it that. Anyone who works with an editor, brings pages to a critique group, or bounces plot ideas off a friend is collaborating. We just do the extreme sports version of it. We make an outline together in all-day gonzo brainstorming marathons that involve lots of coffee, lots of laughing, and a smidgen of yelling. Then we each write part of the first draft. We come together again for editing, which takes a long time. We edit for consistency of voice as well as consistency of plot.

#4: Taking The Highway is your third novel. Speak directly to readers who have read your previous books and tell them how this one is alike and how it is different.
There’s no denying that this one is different. It has more vowels, for one thing. And a lot fewer semicolons. Also, we think the reader will appreciate our skillful use of the prepositional phrase.

We kid, we kid. Actually, we have no doubt that fans of our earlier work ( Fate’s Mirror and The Caline Conspiracy) will like Taking the Highway. Like our previous novels, Taking the Highway takes place in near-future Detroit, which is prosperous, clean, and almost crime-free. But that prosperity has come at a price. Our hero is a jaded homicide cop who moonlights as a professional hitchhiker. Lots of cops have second jobs. None of them have a job quite like this.

#5: Picture a typical fan of M.H. Mead books. Dwell on it for a moment, then describe that person.
Well, obviously, this person is brilliant. Also, insightful, well-read, with high standards and great taste in literature. This person is also extremely good looking and even bathes regularly.

#6: Do you ever see yourself writing solo?
We’ve both written and published short stories on our own. (You can find links on our website.) That’s something we’ve always done, even during our collaboration. However, we’ll always be each other’s first reader, honest critic, and best cheerleader.

#7: Do you have a mutual contract or is this strictly a handshake deal?
We do the thing that writers are told never to do. We trust our business partner. No doubt it will come back to bite us in the hindquarters later. But really, there are so many ways that a writer can get screwed over in this crazy business. We’re more worried about threats from outside our partnership than from within it.

#8: What advice would you give to other writers who may be considering such a partnership?
Run! Run as fast as you can in the other direction. Collaboration is a hard way to write a book. You both have to clear your schedules and then you have to coordinate time to write. It’s hard. Sure, it’s the most fun we’ve ever had writing, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

#9: Think marketing. What is the most important thing you will do differently this time?
We’ve had Taking the Highway edited, proofread, formatted, and completely ready to go since mid-October. However, we held it back and made the release day December 1st. Waiting was hard. It was like we’d bought someone a great present and then made them wait to open it. Torture. But that little delay gave us time to get advanced reader copies into the hands of reviewers. It gave us time to set up a blog tour, and make a book trailer. It gave us time to breathe. We hope our fans think it was worth the wait.

#10: Let's do something different. There has to be a question you were hoping I would or wouldn't ask. Ask yourself that question (please let us see the question), then answer it.
Question: How did you come up with your shared pen name?
Answer: The M and H are Margaret and Harry. The “Mead” is an inside joke from college. Margaret lost her notebooks a lot, so she used to write her name on the front of them in hopes that someone would return them. Harry thought this was funny, and he held up his notebook, which said “Mead” on the cover, and claimed he’d written his name on his notebook, too. Margaret started calling him “Mead,” and the name stuck.

We thought it was a perfectly fine pen name until a reviewer on Amazon gave us a one-star review, because she thought “M. Mead” meant Margaret Mead and was aghast to find out she’d downloaded a science fiction book. Somehow, it was our fault for having a pen name similar to that of a famous anthropologist. We’d offer to refund her money, but she got the book for free.
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Thank you both for participating. To learn more about the writing duo of M.H. Mead, visit their website and blog in the contacts section (above the questions).

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