I had the great pleasure of interviewing the author of The Woman Behind the Waterfall and today I would like to share it with you. If you would like to read any of Leonora Meriel's works or contact her, all of her information will be linked at the end of this post. Enjoy!
When and why did you begin writing?
I had dreamed of being a writer through my childhood, and wrote a lot of stories and poems growing up, and novel when I was 17. When I graduated from university I had several different jobs, such as working for the United Nations and for a law firm, then starting a business of my own. However when I turned 30, I decided it was the perfect time to give everything to my dream. I left my job, and I’ve been writing full-time ever since.
What have you written so far?
I have written two novels, which could be described as speculative fiction. My first book “The Woman Behind the Waterfall”, is literary fiction mixed with magical realism. It is the story of three generations of women in a Ukrainian village, and how each generation finds happiness. My second novel, “The Unity Game”, is literary fiction mixed with science fiction with metaphysical / philosophical elements. My main goal when writing a book is to create something original that will push the boundaries of fiction, whether with techniques, settings, characters or other elements.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
My favorite fictional character is the seven-year-old girl Angela in my first novel “The Woman Behind the Waterfall.” Angela is at the turning point between the world of pure imagination that children inhabit and the adult world of accepted reality. For now, she can enter the spirits of birds and plants and wind and she experiences these as a part of herself, but she knows that she will not be able to do this forever. I based her character on observations of my own daughter growing up and the world of pure possibility that children live in. Until you tell children a fact, then they don’t assume that anything is fixed or limited. It’s the most beautiful thing and adults would do well to try to learn some of this flexibility again.
What role does research play in your writing?
I believe that every fact that can be checked in a novel, should be checked and should be accurate. It is a sign of professionalism and it is part of the trust between a writer and a reader. You ask the reader to pay money for your work, but you have to make sure they are getting a well-written, professionally edited book. For my own novels, I have spent a great deal of time and money travelling to collect the correct facts to make each scene accurate. There are plenty of elements in fiction that don’t require any research, but anything that does – needs to be done.
How do you feel about indie/alternative vs. conventional publishing?
I think it is possibly the most exciting time in the history of writing, to be an author. Never before has a writer been able to have total creative control over their work, as well as access to the best editors and designers in the world, and access to distribution anywhere they want. In previous years the entire system has been controlled by publishing companies, and now all those barriers are coming crashing down. I absolutely love being an indie writer, and am determined to write and distribute books of equal quality to those put out by publishing houses. I’m fascinated by where these market changes are taking the book industry, and it’s very exciting to be a part of such an enormous creative movement.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?
Writers and artists who push boundaries inspire and influence me. This can be in the usage of language (such as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, David Mitchell) or in the twists of reality (such as Haruki Murakami) or in the simple beauty of prose (Michael Cunningham). My goal in writing books is to create works of art that push boundaries, so I am always inspired and excited by artists who achieve this, and seek to learn from them.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
The main thing to do is write, write, write. Learn how to complete a piece of work professionally. Set a word count (short story, novella, poem, novel), then write the first draft. Edit the work as well as you can. Then let it go. Write another one. It will be better. Then write something longer. This way, you build up confidence in your ability to work professionally, and also learn to grow and develop your skills.
What is your next project?
I’m currently working on three different books. I spent between four and five years each on my first two novels and I wanted to work on several projects now to get some diversity. In my first novels I wrote in the genres of Magical Realism and Science Fiction, so I’m now experimenting with some straight literary fiction. It’s challenging, as my imagination likes to roam, but I’m trying to keep it at least on the Earth this time!
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
I am very accessible to readers. I am happy to have direct e-mails at email@example.com or alternatively I am on Facebook - www.facebook.com/leonoramerielwriter and also Twitter - @leonora_meriel and my website is www.leonorameriel.com . I have a lot of readers contacting me and it is one of the best things about being a writer – after years of creating something in solitude, suddenly you can talk with people who have read and loved your work. It’s very special.
"The Woman Behind the Waterfall" is literary fiction and magical realism
Heartbreak and transformation in the beauty of a Ukrainian village.
For seven-year old Angela, happiness is exploring the lush countryside around her home in western Ukraine. Her wild imagination takes her into birds and flowers, and into the waters of the river.
All that changes when, one morning, she sees her mother crying. As she tries to find out why, she is drawn on an extraordinary journey into the secrets of her family, and her mother's fateful choices.
Can Angela lead her mother back to happiness before her innocence is destroyed by the shadows of a dark past?
Beautiful, poetic and richly sensory, this is a tale that will haunt and lift its readers.
Reviews for "The Woman Behind the Waterfall"
“Readers looking for a classic tale of love and loss will be rewarded with an intoxicating world” ~~ Kirkus Reviews
“The language is lyrical and poetic and, in places, begs to be read repeatedly for the sheer joy of it… A literary work of art.” ~~ Fiona Adams, The Richmond Magazine
“Rich and poetic in detail, it is an often dreamy, oneiric narrative rooted in an exaltation of nature… A lovely novel.” ~~ IndieReader
About the Author
Leonora Meriel grew up in London and studied literature at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Queen’s University in Canada. She worked at the United Nations in New York, and then for a multinational law firm.
In 2003 she moved from New York to Kyiv, where she founded and managed Ukraine’s largest Internet company. She studied at Kyiv Mohyla Business School and earned an MBA, which included a study trip around China and Taiwan, and climbing to the top of Hoverla, Ukraine’s highest peak and part of the Carpathian Mountains. She also served as President of the International Women’s Club of Kyiv, a major local charity.
During her years in Ukraine, she learned to speak Ukrainian and Russian, witnessed two revolutions and got to know an extraordinary country at a key period of its development.
In 2008, she decided to return to her dream of being a writer, and to dedicate her career to literature. In 2011, she completed The Woman Behind the Waterfall, set in a village in western Ukraine. While her first novel was with a London agent, Leonora completed her second novel The Unity Game, set in New York City and on a distant planet.
Leonora currently lives in Barcelona and London and has two children. She is working on her third novel.
You can find Leonora Meriel here:
Until next time,