I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with BookCaliber for a chat about BLOOD & WHISKEY. Read our interview here:
BOOKCALIBER: Blood & Whiskey looks like a great gangster thriller. Any plans to make it into a series?
MEREDITH ALLISON: Yes! Currently, I am writing book two in the series. Mia Scalisi’s story will span three books, and there will be two more that follow, each about a different Scalisi family woman, one set during WWII and one set in contemporary times.
BC: What do you think makes a great crime fiction book?
MA: Focusing on the psychology of the characters rather than just focusing on the plot elements or the violence. In Blood & Whiskey, I wanted to examine a character who had to terrible things out of a sense of family loyalty, because it was expected according to the rules of the underworld at the time, and not because she wanted to. I wanted to show her struggle with some of those choices, and bring to light the darkness that comes about after events such as those.
BC: What inspired you when writing Blood & Whiskey?
MA: I’m huge fan of mafia films, and also a huge history geek. The Twenties were an incredibly fascinating time for America. I also love immigration stories (being the daughter of an immigrant myself). Also, there’s something so enticing and darkly glitzy about the Roaring Twenties. Boardwalk Empire is one of my favorite shows of all time, so visually and historically (though, admittedly, liberties with historical accuracy were taken!) it was a huge inspiration as I was writing Mia’s story.
BC: What are your ambitions for your writing career? Full time? Part time?
MA: I definitely aspire to be a full-time writer. Currently, I have a day job I enjoy, but writing is my foremost passion. There are so many stories I want to tell, and sometimes, a day job gets in the way of that! Also, I’d love for one of my books (maybe Blood & Whiskey?) to get optioned for film with an incredible director attached one day.
BC: When did you decide to become a writer?
MA: I have been writing stories and poetry since childhood, and as an adult I wrote as a hobby, stories for myself and some friends. I never actually believed I could be a writer professionally, but I didn’t really know anything about the writing business at that time and that self-publishing was becoming a common form of publishing. I went to graduate school to get an MFA in Creative Writing and I joined some local writing groups, and I learned a lot more about the business (and am still learning—that will never stop!) and I started self-publishing a couple of years ago. I publish subgenres of romance as Wynter S.K., and I’m going to launch a third pen name this year or next to publish the Sci-Fi/Fantasy fiction I love.
BC: When writing Blood & Whiskey did anything stand out as particularly challenging?
MA: I wrote/rewrote the story about eight times. It took forever for me to nail down Mia Scalisi’s true story and where it needed to go for the rest of the series. At its inception, Blood & Whiskey originally started off as a historical romance focusing on a WWI vet-turned-bootlegger as the main character, with a different title. It took me several drafts to realize that this was entirely Mia’s story, and that romance was not to be a part of it at all really, though there are hints that she’ll have a love interest. But finding the true story I wanted to tell with this book was the biggest challenge. And the nonstop research that accompanied it, as writing about this particular point of history was sort of threefold—what was life like in the 20s? How did organized crime develop in America in the 20s? And what were the laws and specifics of Prohibition? But, as I mentioned, since I’m a history nerd, it was all terribly enjoyable.
BC: How did you come up with the story in Blood & Whiskey?
MA: As I mentioned before, I have always loved mafia/gangster films. My all-time favorite is The Godfather. The character of Michael Corleone is complex in the most masterful of ways. I was in the early drafts of what Blood & Whiskey began as, the romance, while having a Godfather movie marathon one day. In Part II, where he’s visiting Cuba with his brother, the moment he discovers his brother’s lies and betrayal in that weird bar they’re at was so beautifully portrayed by Al Pacino. It’s the moment he realizes his brother has betrayed him, and I think, the moment he realizes he is going to have to kill his brother according to the rules of the underworld. Betrayal can’t go unanswered.
That was the moment Blood & Whiskey as it is now was born. I imagined a young woman wearing a cloak of criminal responsibility like the one Michael Corleone wore, and how she would deal with it. And because the 20s are so interesting from the standpoint of it marking the rise of organized crime in America, I wondered what would happen if I took a young, carefree showgirl who just wants to be in movies and put her in charge of having to make literal life-and-death decisions.
BC: What do you like to do when not writing?
MA: I love to read! I’m always reading something. Currently, it’s the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I also love working out—kickboxing and lifting weights. I love video games—currently playing through the Resident Evil 2 Remake, which is completely terrifying. I also love going to the movies, playing with my dogs, and spending time with my family.
BC: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Readers can also sign up for my newsletter here and here. I don’t send them out unless I have something to share or a question to ask, so I try not to spam my followers! But those are the best ways to get the most up-to-date news from me, as well as see cover reveals, getting sneak-excerpts, learn about sales and giveaways.