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A Conversation With Meghan Brunner
An interview with Cindy Lynn Speer
November 2004

© BJ Palashewski
Meghan Brunner
Meghan Brunner
In 1994 Meghan Brunner auditioned for the Minnesota Renaissance Festival -- and things haven't been the same for her since. This home-away-from-home crept into her blood, and given her lifelong obsession with capturing the spirit of reality in words, it was only a matter of time before the world of the faire-folk fell subject to her pen. Eleven years, two books, several visits to out-of-state faires, and a Unicorn Award later, she's still picking up speed... and loving it.

Meghan Brunner Website
ISFDB Bibliography

From the Ashes
Into the Storm

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Meghan Brunner has stuck to the adage, "Write what you know." A genuine rennie (she has worked at Renaissance Faires around the USA), it seemed only natural that she set her magikal series in the already magical world of the faire. Her books so far include From the Ashes and Into the Storm, with many more planned.

You once said that part of the reason why you were writing this series is to correct some misconceptions about the rennie life style. Do you think the books have done anything towards that so far, and what do you think is the most important idea that the reader should take away with them about this life?

I think the answer to your first question is hard to gauge. I haven't had anyone write me specifically to say that they used to think rennies spent all their time in drunken, drugged-up orgies but now their minds have been changed. So I can't say that I know for certain. However, I've had people tell me that they've changed their minds on same-sex couples (from thinking they were perverted to realizing they're just people in love, like anyone else) and a couple other things. So I'd like to think the misconceptions about rennies are getting changed too, and I'm just not hearing about it.

I think the most important lesson is that if rennies have one thing going for them it's their sense of community. No matter what happens; someone will always catch you if you fall. It might not be someone you've ever seen before, but they'll be there for you anyway. I think the world at large could learn a lot from that.

Why are you drawn to the faire life? And is it the same thing, you think, that draws your characters Ryna and Phoenix?
I think for Ryna, it's habit. This is her world, and she doesn't much enjoy being out of it. For Phoenix... well, there's Ryna, but also the ability to be herself and not worry about condemnation.

For me it's a little of everything. The creative energy, the ability to play outside the normal box, the incredible people I've befriended over the years. And the thought that every year, I have a chance to get to know someone new. And that every day out at Festival, I have the chance to make people smile.

One of the main themes seems to be about family and how sometimes you choose your own family, rather than are born to it. What inspired this?
It's something I've been discovering over the years. Don't get me wrong; some of my blood relatives are fantastic. But there are people I'm just as close to who don't share my DNA. They're family, too. And I think people underestimate those bonds.

I've read that you're planning a sequel to Into the Storm and several related projects. Please tell us about those.
I'm amidst three books at the moment, which might be utterly mad, but they're turning out to be so intertwined that I can't work on just one. Following the Desert Sun will give the reader a look at the Scheherazade faire in Arizona through Niki and Tanek's eyes. Toward the Fates is the next book at Pendragon with Ryna and Phoenix. There's one in between at the Highland Faire in Colorado. Tremayne and Kaya are spearheading that one, although they haven't named it yet.

What do the people you work with think about the books?
I've gotten good reactions so far. I've had some criticism, but it's all been constructive, and I like to think I'm learning as I go.

What is your approach to the Fae? In the last book (From the Ashes) they seemed almost beneficial, deific, though Into the Storm kills some of that. What is their connection is to this world, and to the people on it?
I don't think they're gods in the traditional sense, though I think it's easy to be blinded by their glamour. I think they and we have a symbiotic relationship, but that we're from really different cultures, so misunderstandings are bound to happen. I hold them in a great deal of respect. I also realize that for every one thing I think I know, there are probably a hundred I don't. I just hope I don't offend them with the bits I'm forced to make up.

Another theme that you use is the idea that perhaps redemption is possible, no matter how evil you are. Do you think that this is so? Do you think that Liam can possibly be redeemed, or are his crimes too great?
I'm not sure I believe in redemption, per se. When you've done nasty things, they can't be undone. Saying you're sorry isn't going to fix it. Even doing nice things or saying you accept the responsibility for the things you've done doesn't fix it. The people you've hurt have still been hurt. About the best you can do is try to learn from what you did and not make the same mistake again. It still won't make your past actions all right, but at least you're not inflicting more harm on the world.

When you're not writing, what are you usually up to?
Promotional work takes a lot of my non-writing time, as does research. And, naturally, faire. When I'm not working, though, I like to spend time with my partner and my friends. I'm a big gamer geek, so that's where a lot of the hours go.

Would you rather have magic, or fighting ability?
Magick. You can pretty much only use fighting ability for one thing, but Magick is much more versatile.

What do you think will have to happen before you'll feel you've "made it" as a writer?
I think I've already "made it." The first time someone told me they enjoyed my work... that was the moment for me. I made a difference in someone's life, and that's what barding is all about. The rest is frosting.

Lest I sound too much like Miss America, though… I wouldn't be one to turn away a huge royalties check.

What would you name the monster under your bed?
Floyd. It's hard to be terrified of something named Floyd. Even if it is a dust bunny with three-inch-long fangs.

Who are your influences?
I have to tip my hat most to the storytellers in my life, especially my immediate family and all the rennies who have spun yarns after-hours and let me listen in. I've learned a lot about comedic timing from them.

And, of course, my editors. If they don't influence me, I'm not listening well enough.

Copyright © 2004 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at www.apenandfire.com.


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