Local writer Merren Tait has recently released the third book of her Good Life series and also celebrates winning an international award and TV option for her first book, The Year of the Fox.
Tell us about your new novel The Misdeeds of Sadie Quinn.
It’s the third of four stand alone novels in the Good Life series and is a comedy about a woman on the run from the law who seeks sanctuary with her grandfather in his small-town home. His condition for living with him is that she must help him relive the misdemeanours of his youth, and the wilder the acts become, the more attention they draw from the local law enforcement. Initially, she believes their misdeeds to be inspired by the frailty of an aged and decaying mind, but as she helps her grandfather tick the items off his list, she begins to see a pattern emerging; that maybe they offer answers to her own troubled past. There are plenty of laughs, and readers who like a bit of romance won’t be disappointed.
When did you start working on it? What was the process like this time?
I started writing The Misdeeds of Sadie Quinn early this year and had the book ready for publication in about seven months, which is reasonably fast. I put that down to having a bit more of a clue about what I’m doing after a couple of novels, and being very disciplined about writing. Now that I work in Hamilton, I have less spare time in my day to get words on the page, so with this novel, I committed to getting up at 4.30am to get in a couple of hours writing before heading to work, and I decided that the commute time would be productive, so I started dictating on the drive.
Was there particular inspiration for the content?
The book had a few false starts. I had originally planned to position it as book number four in the Good Life series and have it function as a story that bridges this series and another one I have in my head (a comedy about an all-female criminal organisation, which may or may not get written). However, I brought it forward when I couldn’t make traction on the novel I’d planned to be third in the series. Not far into writing it, Sadie decided she didn’t want to be part of that bridging narrative. She wanted a story all of her own. Characters do that. Quite often they lead you, rather than the writer determining their path. In terms of inspiration, my last two books were heavily influenced by issues or events in my life, but this one wasn’t, or at least, not consciously. I can honestly say I have no idea where the story came from, which is one of the magical things about the creative process.
Your first novel, The Year of the Fox, has won an international award and is heading for TV production. Tell us about the award and how you signed for a TV option.
I won Best Chick Lit Novel in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, which is the biggest international book awards for indie writers. It was an absolute thrill and a complete surprise; I didn’t think I’d have much of a show with a debut novel, but it has given me a lot of confidence with my writing. And about the same time as I won the award I was approached by a production company about adapting it for television. The owner of the production company, who will also direct the series, rang me the same day she read the book to offer the option. She said she absolutely loved it and couldn’t stop laughing. I’m unable to reveal much about the project, but it is in development now and if all goes to plan, will be shot next year. The TV show will still be set in New Zealand, but will be aimed at an international audience as well as a local one.
What comes next for Merren Tait?
I’m writing book number four, which has a working title of The Misfit Lessons, and I’ve made a good start on book number five, The Chatroom. I’d love to get them both published next year, but that depends on how efficient my muse is and my ability to continue juggling working full time with writing. I’m also part of a local writing collective with seven other authors, called Inkspillers, and we hope to run a series of workshops on writing and publishing beginning sometime in the new year.
How do Raglan locals get hold of a copy?
The Misdeeds of Sadie Quinn is available as an eBook and in print. Readers can buy it at Made, Zinnia and iHub, through all good online bookstores, and from my website www.merrentait.com.