Violette Meier has a ready laugh and describes herself as a cheerful, optimistic person, but when she writes fiction she’s inclined to go to the dark side. Science fiction, fantasy and paranormal fiction are her favorite genres, she said.
“I think it comes from my great-grandmother,” Meier said. “She was born in the late 19th century, and I was still a child when she died, but I remember her stories of ghosts and the supernatural. She was a devout Christian, as I am, but she was able to combine that with some of the traditions of her African roots.”
The Decatur author, who says on her website she’s “seen a few ghosts,” said her stories aren’t dark enough to be called horror stories but include “eerie adventures that take readers to some strange places.”
“These are not the stories readers expect from an African-American writer,” Meier said. “Most African-American writers produce urban fiction or historic fiction. People ask me why I don’t write urban fiction since it sells so well, but it’s not my thing. Some of the themes that are popular among Black readers surface in my books but in a different genre. You don’t have to talk about drugs and jail to talk about choices and consequences.”
The author of a poetry book, a book of short stories as well as two novels with a third scheduled for release Jan. 20, Meier said she has been writing since she was a child but started to take her literary efforts more seriously when she was a student at Clark Atlanta University.
“Like a lot of college students, I was playing around a lot and not doing as well with my academic work as I could have. Then an instructor assigned us to write a novella—a short novel. I not only got an ‘A’ on it, but the teacher pulled me aside and said, ‘What are you doing clowning around when you can write like this?’”
Later Meier expanded the school assignment into a full length novel, Out of Night, and sold it through a small publishing house. “Even though it has supernatural elements, it taps into my background as a Christian,” said Meier, who holds a master’s degree in divinity from Interdenominational Theological Center. “It explores whether a person with a dark nature who truly wants to become a good person can actually change or can only suppress his true nature.”
After publishing a couple more books through a small publisher, Meier, with encouragement from her husband, decided to start her own publishing company. “It’s relatively easy to do today and the upside is that you get to keep 70 percent of the profits as opposed to 10 percent of the profits when you work with a publishing house,” she said.
The downside, she acknowledged, is that “anybody can self-publish” and potential readers often have low expectations with self-published books.
“The publishing business has changed dramatically in only the past few years. With social media and sites such as Amazon, readers can learn about your work and see samples of your writing. The big book store chains where nearly everyone bought their books a decade or so ago have almost disappeared. It’s all done on the Internet these days,” Meier said, adding, “No matter which route you take, the biggest challenge is marketing—getting the word out about your work.”
After establishing her own publishing company, Viori, Meir bought back the rights to her books and reissued them. “My goal is to have a book on The New York Times best seller list. That would have been an absurd thing for a self-publishing author to shoot for at one point, but now it can and does happen. No matter what,” she added, “I will definitely continue writing. It’s my passion.”
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