Thursday, October 27, 2022

Meredith Ireland

Meredith Ireland was born in Korea and adopted by a New York librarian. Her love of books started early and although she pursued both pre-med at Rollins College and law at the University of Miami, stories were her fate. She currently resides with her two children, and Bob, a carnival goldfish, who’s likely a person. Ireland writes young adult books, some of which you may like. She is the author of The Jasmine Project and Everyone Hates Kelsie Miller.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Everyone Hates Kelsie Miller is the perfect introduction to the main character Kelsie. She has been ghosted by her friends and her academic rival is the only one speaking to her. I’d first named it The Breakups, which I still like but would’ve worked better if Eric, her nemesis, had a POV.

What's in a name?

For some reason the name Kelsie Miller came to me immediately. When writing for teens you need a name that a twelve to twenty-year-old could be called. I liked that it was simple and yet distinct. The story starts in Saratoga Springs, New York, where I lived for a number of years. I like showcasing Upstate New York and how it can be both rural and cosmopolitan at the same time.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your novel?

My teen self would see a lot of herself in Kelsie. I also attended a magnet school in New York City and felt the pressure to “be something.” I wanted to convey the unique stress and competition of that environment with the fun of a road trip to a college campus.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Beginnings are harder! My chapter ones must be rewritten and tweaked a hundred times. For Kelsie, I wanted to convey her loneliness and where better than standing alone at what’s supposed to be a fun house party. With a rom-com you want a meet cute, but these characters know each other already so I found that by having them physically fall into each other, that would be akin to a meet cute where they’re introduced to the reader.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

I definitely see myself in my characters. The reason I wrote Kelsie was to deal with the sudden death of my childhood best friend. Maybe the greatest thing about fiction is getting second chances we didn’t in life. I was able to create a falling out and a character learning that what’s most important is being there for her best friend. I still wanted to make it a romcom though, with the emphasis on it being funny, so for better or worse, Kelsie has my sense of humor.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Movies! In Kelsie, her dad wants to be a screenwriter so I got to incorporate Say Anything into the book. Family also plays a strong role in my work as I am adopted and never saw stories like mine growing up. Like me, Kelsie is a transnational adoptee and discusses it. I also draw from life experience of having been pre-med when I created Eric’s character and then friends and loved ones as I built their interests and personalities from art to football.
Visit Meredith Ireland's website.

--Marshal Zeringue