Gary Meehan is the author of the True Fire trilogy, the second book of which, True Dark, was published at the start of the month. I hadn’t heard of the series before I was contacted by the publisher, but the elements of the books – witches, power struggles, and a teenage mum – sounded fascinating. I’ll be reviewing both books after my May Historical Month, but for now I was happy to have the chance to ask Gary some questions about the books. I was especially interested in the teenage mum aspect of the story.
Let’s start with the basics. How would you introduce people to the world of Megan and her friends?
Werlavia’s a medieval land (mostly) united in a single Realm under a single religion known as the Faith. This is a fantasy world with no fantasy. There’s no magic, no supernatural creatures, no paranormal forces, and their gods are a matter of belief not reality.
Forty years prior to True Fire, there was a war against a group of zealots known as the witches. The witches were defeated, but in the process the priests who controlled the Faith overthrew the aristocracy and took over the Realm. At the start of True Fire, the witches have returned and they’re after Megan. Over the course of the book, she and her friends — Eleanor, a snarky countess and one of the last remnants of the old regime; and Damon, a former priest with his own take on morality — learn the truth about the witches and why they want Megan and her unborn child.
Come True Dark, the priests have raised an army to confront the witches. But this isn’t going to be a simple battle. The witches have gunpowder and the priests … don’t. Everyone’s plotting to turn the upcoming war to their own advantage, including Megan’s closest friends. Meanwhile, Megan’s daughter is hundreds of miles away in foster care, supposed safe, but if the witches find out where she is…
I wanted a book where sex, pregnancy and abortion where things that were discussed and happened as part of regular story, rather than shunted away in an ‘issue’ book. Megan’s pregnancy is such an integral part of True Fire, and her motherhood of True Dark, that anyone who was likely to be bothered by it wouldn’t have picked the books up in the first place. I’m not sure how many teens would be offended by such things, anyway: it’s usually gatekeepers getting shocked on their behalf
What’s next for you? Any appearances or conventions planned?
I’m working on the final book of the trilogy, True Power, which should be due out in the late Autumn of this year, so I don’t get much time for appearances, etc. I will, however, be appearing at YA Shot, which is happening on the 28th October in Hillingdon, London along with lots of other (better) authors.
Finally, I have to stay true to my roots and ask a librarian question to finish off with: Do you shelve your books alphabetically, by genre or do you have an ingenious system?
It’s more of an anti-system. When I unpacked after my last move, the books went in the first available space with an intention to arrange when I had time… You can still see hints of patterns — blocks of fiction and non-fiction, with all the heavy Maths and Computer Science books on the strong shelves — but I’m afraid entropy has taken over. I can generally find what I need — given time, a fair wind, and a dim memory of where it was the last time saw it.
Bio: Gary Meehan was born in Bolton, Lancashire. He has a BA in Mathematics and Computation from Lincoln College, Oxford, an MSc in Applied Artificial Intelligence from the University of Aberdeen, and a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Warwick. He now works as a software engineer. He lives in Derby with his family.