Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Memories of High School You - Meradeth Houston

As a young adult writer, the foundation for most of my writing starts with my own teenage experience.  Times, fashion and music have changed but that overall quest-for-self is still the same.  So in that spirt, I share these bi-monthly interviews:  Memories of High School You.  

Buy it here
I'm pleased to introduce, Meradeth Houston. Meradeth is one of the fabulous members of my critique group. Her book, COLORS LIKE MEMORIES, was released last week by Muse It Up Publishing. And just like her main character, Julia, I'm going to ask Meradeth to take us back to remember an earlier time in her life.

(And here's the shameless commerce plug. Buy her book! It's a love story with history, friendship, the Civil War, and Sarys all rolled into one - but since I'm lousy at blurbs, I'll just let you follow the link above to find out more - besides you're here to get the dirt on teenage Meradeth anyway.)

Meradeth then
Meradeth now

Tell us about your high school, public or private, size, demographic, location?
--I went to a large (2000+) public high school in my medium-sized town in Northern California (outside of the capital Sacramento). My graduating class had over 500 students. We were very diverse—lots of Latino, Hmong, and Middle Eastern students. 

Were there cliques at your high school?  What were they?  Who did you hang with?
--There were totally cliques: the theater kids, the band kids, the stoners, the nerds. I mostly hung out with the band kids, which in my school was a pretty nerdy group, I have to admit. I had friends in other groups, but I really wasn’t into being popular during high school and didn’t care much what people thought, especially when it came to who I hung out with or what lunch table I ate at.

Did you have a memorable teacher?  Good or bad?  How did they influence you?
--This is something that came to mind last summer when my 10 year reunion came up (not that I attended, but I did think about my favorite teachers). Anyhow, my history teacher I had for 10th and 11th grade—Mrs. Correa—was totally awesome. It was her influence that really got me “ready” for college. And she made history fun! That’s some serious magic right there. My sister had her too, and we both thought she was an awesome teacher. 

Did you have an inkling as a teenager that you would become a writer?
--Yeah, I was already writing a lot in high school. I didn’t talk about it a whole lot, but my friends knew I wrote, and I let a few of them read my (really horrible) early work. I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to do with my writing, other than getting it published. I was one of those random kids who knew what they wanted to do with their life from a young age (I knew I wanted to go into anthropology in elementary school—wow, am I nerd!), and I knew writing would always be something I would continue working on, though probably not full time (I was pragmatic like that, *snort*). (I once had a first grader tell me he was going to be a pharmacist - both of his parents were very blue collar - I think it must be something he came in to life with and I feel certain he may end up doing just that - sort of like you!)

What book had the biggest impact on you as a high school student?  How?
--Er, can I pass on this one? I can’t pick just one! (I know, it's like letting you only pick one chocolate.)

What band could you not get enough of in high school?  Were you an album or a CD kid?  Cover art you remember?
--I wasn’t into music much in high school. My husband doesn’t believe this, because I listen to music all the time now, but back then, I just didn’t get it. I listened to a lot of classical (haha, this interview is making me sound even stranger than I normally do!) and instrumental soundtracks. I got the CDs for the music to Titanic (which I’ve never actually watched), and Ever After (the one with Drew Barrymore) and listened to those a lot. It wasn’t until college that I started branching out more and finding music I loved.  (But you were in band!)

What was the fashion rage - the one article of clothing you either got, or didn’t get that rocked your world?
--Oh, wow, even thinking about this is making me blush. I was pretty much fashion incompetent in high school. I’m not too much better about it now, though I do put more thought into it at least! Anyhow, I’m going to have to go with my cute overalls I got in 10th grade. They were totally in style, and I loved them! (My current MC is an overalls girl)

Good kid or wild child or a little of both?  Details? (Mwaahaa)
--I was a good kid. Really, I kind of had to be. High school started off with some really tough times in my family, and I ended up living full-time with my mom, while my siblings went back and forth between my mom’s and dad’s. Life at home was a mess. I wasn’t about to add to the stress of my mom, so I did my best to stay on the straight and narrow. Honestly, I think I broke curfew like once. *Sigh* I was boring.

Did you have a favorite phrase or slang word?
--Because I’m from California, I used “dude” a lot, haha! And “hell’s bells” for some random reason that I still don’t really recall. I was queen of the random phrase, probably because I found some turn-of-phrase in a book I was reading and wanted to try it out. I may still be guilty of this…  (sort of like giving yourself a "word of the day"?)

If you could say one thing to your high school you, what would you say?
--“You know your biology teacher that walked up to you after school one day and told you that you’d be one of those people who’d do really well in college? He was right. Survive high school. Enjoy college.”

Thinking of the characters you’ve written, is there one who embodies more of your high school self than others? What attributes do you have in common? Differences?
--Oh wow this is a tough, but good question! So, the character I resembled most in high school would have to be Marcy from Colors Like Memories. She’s got a whole lot on her plate at home, and she can’t help having it bleed over into everything else. Not that I ever got to the point Marcy’s at in my book (she’s at rock bottom and contemplating ending her life). Still, she compensates by studying too much (something I totally did). I found myself channeling a lot of the troubles I had back in high school while I was writing about her. (And I did notice that Marcy spent a lot of time at the science department when she and Julia went on their college visit :0))

How do we find you now? 


  1. Great meeting and learning about Meradeth. :))

  2. Great getting to know a little about you, Meradeth. Anytime I hear about a writer who knew they wanted to write from a young age (which is many), I'm jealous. There is so much I could have been writing and learning...

    1. I'm with you Barbara, I had no clue I could write novels until I hit my 30's and it wasn't till now in my 40's that I hit my stride. Think of all the books I could have written from age teen to present.

  3. Thanks so much for hosting me today JRo!!! (I'm a little late getting by today--my brother's graduation stuff has taken up much of the day!). Posting some links around the webs now :)

  4. Hell's bells, it's fun getting to know more about my critique partners! I'm also envious that you knew what you wanted to do so young and that you started writing in your teens. Hope you're enjoying all that comes with being a published author!!

  5. I always enjoy these interviews and flashbacks to the past.


Hey, do you ever wonder why they call it 'your two cents?'