Author Appreciation: GiGi Meier
We have read and loved GiGi Meier’s debut novel, Coyote, which you can read our review of here! But now we got the opportunity to have a fun chat with the author and get to know her a bit more. If you haven’t checked out her novel yet, be sure to do so! You can purchase it here! And you can also check out GiGi’s site here. We already knew she was pretty awesome, but after interacting with her and getting to interview her, she’s even more incredible. So keep reading to check out our interview!
CC: Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma, or something else?
GiGi: The opening scene for Coyote came to me in a dream. I was the original Sammie Smith, racing across the desert, trying to escape with the trafficked girls. I added her mom when I wrote the first 20,000 words of backstory that I partially used in the flashbacks. Maximiliano was not part of the dream. He was merely a “what if” in my mind. Meaning, what if she made it to the Pancho Villa fort? Is it occupied or abandoned? If abandoned, they could be captured again. If occupied, they had a fighting chance but would need a sympathizing party that wouldn’t hand them over to the coyotes chasing them. Thus, the creation of the cartel kingpin and former lover, Maximiliano Maldonado.
CC: What book or books are you currently reading?
GiGi: I am reading two right now. The Mountain is You, by Brianna West, discusses how we knowingly and unknowingly sabotage ourselves. It gives examples and exercises for various emotions to work through to eventually master them. I find it very interesting and helpful to clear mindset blocks that pop up as we traverse through life. A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah Maas is the fifth book in her series. These books contain vivid imagery, extensive detail, and some witty dialogue. I like her sentence structure and overall plot. She gives proper names to objects and multiple names to the same place or several nicknames to the characters, so I can’t always remember whom she is referencing because I don’t read it every week. But her crafting is very clever.
CC: How do you come up with character names and personalities for your books?
GiGi: Some names, such as Maximiliano, came to me immediately when I started the character profile. I had his name from the story’s onset; however, Sammie’s name went through two rounds of developmental editing before I could finally decide on a name to match her personality. Same with Carlos, I struggled to find a name that fit his strong and silent type personality. Personalities are formed throughout the story. I prefer there be some commonality and duality between the characters. For example, one’s weakness is the other’s strength. Or good versus evil, where the good outweighs the bad, or vice versa. Sammie’s self-sacrificing acts were the opposite of Maximiliano’s, and they could rely on each other’s modus operandi. I also take notes of people, personalities, and quirks. I study people everywhere I go to figure out their motivation, what they are hiding, and what part of themselves they want the world to see. It’s fascinating to observe.
CC: When you’re writing a really emotional scene, what is your process? Do you find them difficult to write?
GiGi: I write in deep first person because I want the reader to feel the main character’s feelings. To face the same challenges and obstacles that she is encountering and decide based on the information she has. I find it makes the emotional scenes more profound or impactful. I like to close my eyes and ask myself. “What would I do?” or “How would I react?”. There are several emotional or gory scenes in Coyote, so my initial drafts were to build the walls of the scene, such as how did it start? What happened in the middle, and how’s it going to end? Those scenes take time for me to work out when I write them because I ask myself a bunch of questions. Is it realistic? Can I visualize the character’s actions? Body placement or impact blows? When the mechanics of the scene are down, I think about the emotions, how it feels physically, mentally, psychologically, etc. Frequently, I’ll step back from the writing to marinate on the scene so I can identify gaps easier and see where there isn’t cohesiveness to the actions and adjoining emotions.
CC: If you could spend a day with another author, who would you pick and why?
GiGi: There are so many talented writers. SO MANY. It’s hard to choose because they are talented in different things. I love researching author interviews for tips and tricks on the craft, writing habits, pacing, and plotting. I have a bunch I follow on YouTube or on podcasts to see how they schedule their work, write, and structure their stories. Applying what I learn to my work can be challenging, but I always try.
CC: What has been your favorite part of becoming an author and having your book come out?
GiGi: Becoming an author has been a dream for many years now. I reached the top of my career a few years ago, having achieved what I set out to achieve. Thus, I dreamed a new dream and wanted to climb a new mountain. I’d been in Corporate America for thirty years and retired to become a full-time author. I’ve never been an entrepreneur and I didn’t know a thing about it. However, I knew I had to try because I didn’t want to get any older and watch my dreams ebb away. Life moves quickly, the years fly by, and even though tomorrow isn’t promised, I thought it was now or never. Writing and publishing Coyote was proving to myself that I could do it. I could leave a life I had built to start anew and dive into the unknown. Talk about duality. It’s been scary, exhilarating, and full of fear and doubts, yet inspiring and amazing to see how far I have come. The best part is meeting new readers and interacting with so many wonderful people on social media who root for me like long-lost friends. That’s been an incredible gift.
CC: Do you listen to music while you write? Or think of certain songs when you’re writing?
GiGi: I do. Coyote has its own playlist linked on my website that I listened to when writing it. Music can set the tone or mood of a scene. It tells its own story in many cases, which speaks to me when I write. Music soothes the soul, eases my overactive mind, and can bring ambiance to my environment. It also can draw me into dark places with scary thoughts. It’s why some of the best pieces are used to set scenes in movies.
CC: If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
GiGi: Believe in yourself. There will always be non-believers, those that tell you no, you can’t do it, or want to keep you at their same level. Don’t listen to them. Ensure your voice is the loudest in your head because people’s motivation for you may not be in your best interest. Many times that includes our closest friends or even family members. And never accept no for an answer. You’re not talking to the right person, so keep asking until you hear a yes.
CC: Do you have any future projects or series in the works? If so, can you tell us anything about them?
GiGi: I do! I have a WIP toppling over 150K words so far and am going to publish it as a duet because my characters hijacked the story and added a bunch of stuff I didn’t know about. Half kidding. If you have written anything, you know there is magic in the moment. Sometimes, your characters speak differently than you plotted for, especially when they take matters into their own hands. I have a few twists in this plot that I didn’t see coming, but they add to the richness of the story. That’s what is pushing the word count way longer than a typical romance novel.
Rough blurb: A foul-mouth, hard-ass classic car preservationist meets her match with a World Champion and three-time Judo Olympian when he becomes her customer, business partner, and love interest.
I’m plotting two other books in the duet cast of characters and then have a modern-day cowboy story after that. The ideas are flowing. I just need more hours in the day.
CC: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
GiGi: I read all my reviews, although I have been warned not to by other authors. I’ve always been open to constructive criticism to make myself better, and I value feedback in the reviews or when readers have messaged me directly. I want to continue to get better at my craft and continue to grow as a storyteller. Positive reviews make my heart flip as I read the words. It’s amazing when readers love my story and characters as I do. To take people on a journey, have them feel what I felt when I wrote it, and when the book lingers with them long after they finish it, is the biggest compliment I could ask for. Time is precious, and people have many things demanding their attention, so even choosing to read my book in the sea of options is humbling.
CC: What comes first for you — the plot or the characters?
GiGi: Wow, this is hard. Probably the characters, since they become whispers in my head. I identify closely with the characters I create, visualizing them in my mind before putting them on paper. I’m a pantser by nature; therefore, I heavily rely on character profiles and their arcs. I want to take them on a journey to discover why they are the way they are, where they want to go, and how they will get there.
Isn’t that reflective of life? We are on one path until it diverges, and then you must decide, right or left. Only when you traverse the path, do you get confirmation that you took the right one. Sometimes, the path crumbles over the edge of a cliff. Then you must go back and start over. It’s the same journey I aim to take my characters and readers on because life is never a straight line from the desire of a dream to the achievement of it. It’s lots of false starts, hoping you get off the starting blocks, sprinting, tripping, falling, and getting back up to finish the race, i.e., achieve the dream.
CC: What part of the book did you have the hardest time writing?
GiGi: The middle. I’m no different from other authors in worrying about sagging middle syndrome. Trying to make sure I don’t lose pacing while continuing the storyline, maintaining tension and conflict, etc. I also worry that I am trying to achieve too much in the plot and rely on my developmental editors to help me tighten up any issues, as I am too close to the story to see.
CC: What part of the book was the most fun to write?
GiGi: I love the ending! I love it when all the secrets are revealed and the storylines come to their conclusions. It’s very satisfying to wrap everything up.
CC: If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?
GiGi: Oh gosh, I don’t really know. Did I get it right? Did I do justice to their story and how they wanted it to be told? I think it would be fun to interview my characters. If I do, I’d add it to the Freebie section on my website.
CC: If a film were made of your book, who would you cast in the leading roles?
GiGi: What a great question! I struggle to answer this because my goal in any novel is to provide a few basic details about the character’s physical features and idiosyncrasies. However, I prefer the readers paint a picture for themselves of what they look like and who should play them. I have inspiration pictures that I posted on Instagram to help me create my picture, and they are: Sammie Smith is American fashion model Lauren Van Hoosear. Carlos Mendez is American actor Mario Rodriguez Jr. Maximiliano Maldonado is Italian actor Michele Morrone. The rest of the characters didn’t have an accompanying face I could pinpoint, as they were a combination of people.
In this house, we stan GiGi Meier! If you haven’t read her debut novel Coyote yet, we can’t recommend it enough! Because GiGi Meier is an author to watch and she has more than earned herself a spot on our favorite authors list. You can find us on Twitter @capeandcastle and you can find me @Sarah_Jeanne 17! Gigi Meier is also on social media, she has TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter! For more content on all things Disney and beyond, be sure to check out our site!