Dorene (M. D.) Meyer is the author of seven novels, two children’s books and a reference book. Besides being a contributor to Hot Apple Cider, A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider and Measured Words, Dorene has edited and published twelve anthologies: six with adults, three with teens and three with children.
Dorene teaches classes that provide encouragement and practical help to writers of all genres. As owner of Goldrock Press, Dorene has also published various books written by authors whom she has mentored.
At Write! Canada, Dorene will be co-teaching the Continuing Class “When I Write, ‘I Feel God’s Pleasure’” with N. J. Lindqjuist and appearing on the panel: “Writing Fiction That Entertains While Addressing Real-life Issues”
Dorene, you write, teach, and speak at writers’ conferences. How do you balance your time?
Good question! It is a challenge at times. The classes I teach at University College of the North often take priority over any writing or speaking that I do simply because there are set times when I have to be in the classroom.
Carving out a piece of time to write takes discipline but once I get into a story, it’s hard for me to want to switch off and get back to preparing lessons and marking student papers! I do take all of my commitments seriously though, and if I have an invitation to speak, I plan my schedule accordingly so that I am well prepared when the day arrives.
Your books deal with real people going through real struggles. Why do you think it’s important for Christians to touch on the difficult subjects?
As I grow older, I am reminded of how short our lives are. I guess I just don’t want to waste time “playing church” instead of being honest and upfront with people around me. I have seen the healing power of God’s love at work in others and in my own life. When we are open and transparent about our very real struggles, we can help others to feel less alone, and help them to believe that Jesus can truly bring hope and healing to their lives as well.
You write both non-fiction and fiction. If you could only write one or the other, which would it be and why?
I would just love to write fiction all the time! I love the freedom of letting the characters grow and develop, and allowing the story to tell itself.
I do still quite often get the journalism bug though, seeing events around me in headlines and newsbytes. I tend to take my camera everywhere – another form of storytelling, I suppose.
Beyond entertaining readers, what do you hope to achieve with your novels?
Oh, there is so much I wish for my readers. Where do I begin? I think the apostle Paul said it best in his letter to the Ephesians (3:14-19):
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Actually, I think there are more similarities than differences. Young people don’t want to be talked down to; they face many of the same basic human struggles that adults encounter. And as Christian authors, we should never forget that many young people read novels written for adults; I know I did when I was a kid.
Personally, I feel we need to have more quality YA (Young Adult) books out there for kids to read. There are so many “coming of age” YA books that dwell on the sexual development of tweens and these books seem to imply that all kids are sexually active–or wish they were. Especially young boys are depicted as having sex on their minds 24-7.
Having been the mother of three boys, I can tell you they do have other interests. My youngest son mowed lawns and started his own repair business to save up for an expensive drum set he’d had his eyes on (he has since released two music CDs). My middle son, from an early age loved studying the Bible and sent away for books from Christian speakers he’d heard on the radio (he recently graduated with his MA in Theological Studies). My oldest son loved to read and loved to draw. His artwork has been published in a book and a series of magazine columns.
All three boys were active in a Mime troupe, church youth groups, Scouts, camping, swimming, canoeing, motorcycling, etc. I think that we dishonour our youth by painting them all with the same paintbrush. We are all uniquely and wonderfully created by the Master Artist who has many colours in his pallet.
Growing up among those belonging to the First Nations, it is natural that you call northern Manitoba your home and write novels featuring First Nations characters. How would you suggest other writers tap into what they know and incorporate it into their writing?
Yes, I am embarrassed to say that I set my first novel in the deserts and mountains of the southwestern United States – a place I have yet to visit! As I wrote that first manuscript, I began to run into some obvious difficulties (such as setting descriptions!) and then I began to hear the advice (oft repeated) to “write what you know.” But I wanted to write about some faraway exotic place! It took me a while to realize that what is familiar, mundane and boring to me is unfamiliar, intriguing, and exotic to someone else! Now, I write about the North, which is what I know.
Dorene was interviewed by Stephanie Nickel co-lead of the Write! Canada PR team.