I Love You More Than Pierogi
Marek and Adrian dated in high school, but a bitter breakup led them to choose different paths. Adrian is out and proud while Marek is in the closet. Adrian embraces his eccentricity while Marek clings to a conservative image. And while Marek worked hard to build a successful life and financial stability by climbing the corporate ladder, Adrian threw caution to the wind and has spent the last five years backpacking across the world.
Now Adrian is back in Warsaw, Poland, but while Marek thinks they will have a hookup and have a blast from the past, Adrian is just looking for a place to crash. Worse still, Adrian turns up at Marek’s advertising agency for help with his outrageous new business venture, and if Marek wants to get promoted, he might have to work with the guy who broke his heart.
World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.
Alpha Book Club Welcomes Author K.A. Merikan!
We’ve been thinking about setting a book in our native Poland for quite some time now, and the submission call for “World of Love” helped us come up with an angle 🙂 The two main characters are former high school sweethearts who meet after several years, and after the bitterness that resulted of their breakup, the reconnection is everything but smooth. Through those characters we explored two conflicting feelings many immigrants face – the longing for home and everything it stands for, and the unstoppable curiosity that pushes them to explore. Who knows, maybe one doesn’t have to choose 😉
Answering questions in the name of K.A. Merikan will be Agnes! Thank you for having me 🙂
Where do you normally draw your inspiration for a book from? A memory, a myth, a place or journey, or something far more personal?
There is no rule for this. We are often inspired by movies, articles, books, or documentaries, but it can also be a random person I spot in the street, or a place. In case of I Love You More Than Pierogi, many details about Marek’s workplace and his colleagues were inspired by real life. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the thing his boss does at the end of the book actually happened to a friend of mine several years ago. I know a wide variety of people, and so I witnessed and heard things that I put in books, only to find out some readers find them unrealistic. I guess life is the source of the weirdest stories 🙂
Are you a planner or a pantzer when writing a story? And why?
I used to be a pantser, but once I started treating writing more seriously, I switched to planning. I would not go back, because when I look back at my older works (mostly those written in my native Polish), I find them unfocused. If I were to be a pantser and still try to end up with the same quality that I achieve through planning, I would have to rewrite and delete many scenes, and I confess that I am a practical person by nature 🙂 Planning gives me focus and allows me to communicate my ideas more easily, but no plan is fixed, and it happens that things get moved around.
Contemporary, supernatural, fantasy, or science fiction narratives or something else? Does any genre draw you more than another when writing it or reading it and why does it do so?
I’ll start with reading, because that’s the easiest one. When given a choice of good book in all of those genres, I almost always will choose a historical book, because I am fascinated by the way people used to live, by the change in morals and reasoning throughout history. We are about to publish our first historical novel in February, and I am super nervous about it, because it’s a genre we normally don’t write. The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple is set in 1780s Cornwall, and the main characters are not good boys. They are ready to break all rules for one another, so in this sense this book is very much in line with our style. I really enjoyed writing it, even though it took more time than usual because of research, and I’d gladly write another historical in the future.
But there is no denying that we specialize in suspenseful contemporaries. The biker series, Sex & Mayhem, and the mafia-themed Guns n’ Boys, are stories with very high stakes, which is what we enjoy. I like writing books that are cathartic, although sweet contemporaries, such as I Love You More Than Pierogi are just as lovely. We also have an urban fantasy coming in 2017, and I would like to dip my toes into fantasy, but sci-fi is not my thing.
If you had a character you’ve written you would write differently now at this time in your writing career, who would it be and why?
I don’t think I have a character like that, but if I could turn back time, I would have a different approach to plotting and marketing of our first books 😉
Can a author have favorites among their characters and do you have them?
I admit, as much as I love all my characters, there are favorites. Domenico from Guns n’ Boys has been one of them for so many years now, I also love Red Jack (Red Hot), and Ryan (Special Needs). I guess what those characters have in common is how outrageous they are. Says something about me ;D
If you were to be stranded on a small demi-planet, island, or god forbid LaGuardia in a snow storm, what books would you take to read or authors on your comfort list?
I am a big fan of historical romance, so I would definitely take books by KJ Charles, because I can re-read them indefinitely, and also a lot of monographies about cultural history.
How early in your life did you begin writing?
I first noticed I am good at writing stories when I was around 12 or 13, but it was only in high school that I began creating more complex tales and consider writing a hobby.
Were you an early reader or were you read to and what childhood books had an impact on you as a child that you remember to this day and why?
The earliest book I remember my mom reading me to bed was Peter Pan, and I particularly remember the scene when Peter decided to save Wendy at the risk of his own life. I always enjoyed more dramatic stories, with a lot of adventure and action. I read The Three Musketeers while still in elementary school, but YA adventure books set in exotic locations were my favorite. There was a Polish series by Alfred Szklarski, set at the turn of the century, it was focused on Tomek, a young guy whose father captures all kinds of animals for zoos. Tomek joins his expeditions, and in each book they had incredible adventures in all corners of the world 🙂
What question would you ask yourself here?
It would be ‘What was most challenging in writing a book set in your own country without alienating the international audience yet still keeping the local flavor?’
And the answer is: we needed to second-guess everything and make sure certain concepts are understandable. For example, there’s a kind of cheap government-subsidized restaurant in Poland called a milk bar, and we needed to think of ways to convey what kind of place they are. Then there is the language, particularly that used by urban hooligans. Polish slang works a bit differently than the English slang, as the grammar allows a lot of word-manipulation for comedic effect, and it was a challenge to show this flavor when writing in another language. Other than that, we needed to think of a balance between being true to the character of a Polish person and conveying who they are to non-Polish people. Because Polish people are rarely represented in international media, I feel that there is no concept of who we are other than the vague “Eastern European” feel, and I Love You More Than Pierogi was mine and Kat’s way to show Poland from our perspective.
If you were writing your life as a romance novel, what would the title be?
“Oh, look! Shiny!”
K. A. Merikan is the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan, a team of writers, who are mistaken for sisters with surprising regularity. Kat’s the mean sergeant and survival specialist of the duo, never hesitating to kick Agnes’s ass when she’s slacking off. Her memory works like an easy-access catalogue, which allows her to keep up with both book details and social media. Also works as the emergency GPS. Agnes is the Merikan nitpicker, usually found busy with formatting and research. Her attention tends to be scattered, and despite pushing thirty, she needs to apply makeup to buy alcohol. Self-proclaimed queen of the roads.
They love the weird and wonderful, stepping out of the box, and bending stereotypes both in life and books. When you pick up a Merikan book, there’s one thing you can be sure of – it will be full of surprises.
More information about ongoing projects, works in progress and publishing at:
K.A. Merikan’s author page: http://kamerikan.com
Agnes Merikan’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/AgnesMerikan