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Arts & Performance

Author Mindi Meltz writes fairytales for adults, weaving the earthly and otherworldly

Mindi Meltz image.png
Matt Peiken | BPR News
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Mindi Meltz reads and signs copies of her book June 18 at City Lights Books in Sylva and July 23 at Of Wand and Earth in Marshall.

Like many novelists, Mindi Meltz turns to the seeds of her life and observations as the foundation for her fiction. Also, Meltz said she’s always wanted to write the kind of fiction she wanted to read.

“I guess fairytales seem like to be the realm of children,” she said. “The whole realm of the mythical and dreams, it’s not recognized how important that realm is for defining meaning of our existence and how we behave as a society.”

Meltz has just published the final part of her “After Ever After” trilogy. The inspiration and larger question behind it is right there in the title. Meltz wanted to explore what happens after the happily ever after.

She will read and sign copies of her book June 18 at City Lights Books in Sylva and July 23 at Of Wand and Earth in Marshall.

“There is no fairytale about marriage or longterm intimate relationship itself. That’s just kinda considered boring, everyday life,” she said. “There’s no mythical fairytale about that and I wanted to create one. It’s also about becoming a sovereign woman and what does that fairytale look like? What does that story look like?”

Since her first novel in 2008, reviewers have likened Meltz’s prose to poetry. She said nature has always been at the heart of her language, and she imbues animals with characteristics that bridge the earthly and otherworldly.

“Now I write what’s called fantasy, but I don’t even think of myself as a fantasy writer because I actually don’t like genre fantasy,” she said. “I love the mythical, I love fairytales and I ended up bringing literary fiction kinds of writing into that world.”

Her characters and settings are so vast, Meltz orients readers at the front of her book with maps of her made-up world and a reference list summarizing each of her characters.

“My inner world is very big. I go into it and it’s like another place. It’s a combination between this intuitive sense of the character’s journey and what I intended,” she said. “It feels almost like a spiritual process, something almost very mysterious about it, and then there’s a-ha moment when things are clicking together.”

Meltz grew up without siblings in mid-coastal Maine. Her father was a movie critic for the state’s largest newspaper. From her early childhood, Meltz remembers feeling empty if she weren’t writing.

“Early on, I loved to write about animals and I loved to read about animals,” she said. “That’s always stayed with me, that nature is kind of foundational to the language I use in writing and the themes and spirit of it.”

Meltz earned a master’s degree in transpersonal psychology and later was a teacher and counselor. She said she now can devote her time to writing, though she doesn’t expect or need to earn a living from it. Before she’d built any kind of audience, Meltz said that financial freedom allowed her to walk away from a well-connected agent who offered to take her on, if only she would shorten her work and steer it toward more traditional fantasy.

“If I was going to write something else, I might as well get some other job,” she said. “The whole point to me of writing is writing what’s coming from my soul. I know that sounds dramatic, but that’s how it feels to me.”

Meltz and her husband moved from California to Bat Cave in 2006. She said the landscape has worked its way into her writing.

“California was super dramatic landscape and that was a dramatic period of my life, emotionally, whereas here, I’m writing about longterm relationship and this kind of deeper, more intimate process,” she said. “The mountains here echo that because they’re just more subtle. It took me while to really appreciate this place and all that it has to offer. It feels like a place I grow into more. Also, it’s very jungley here, and that helps with the jungle part of the writing, too.”

Meltz said she’s giving herself time to let the stories and characters from her trilogy grow more distant in her rearview mirror before plotting out her next book.