The Reformation of Marli Meade turns five this year, and to celebrate, I thought it would be fun to share insider info about the writing of the novel. I drew inspiration from real-life events, Disney, and folklore to create a dark, sinister, and atmospheric YA thriller, which won the gold medal for Best Regional Fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards.

Interested? CLICK HERE. The story is available in soft and hard cover, eBook, and audio.

Here are some quick facts about the writing of Marli’s story:

  • Marli has one distinguishing physical trait: wild, red hair. The inspiration behind this trait? Merida from Disney’s Brave. Her hair plays a pivotal role in the novel, and can be considered a character within itself; certainly, as a staple characteristic of Marli’s identity. What happens when that identify is threatened?
  • Marli’s boyfriend was based on Hannah’s boyfriend, Caleb, in the show Pretty Little Liars. I liked his cool yet boy-next-door character in the show and thought that kind of personality would balance the darkness and fear in Marli’s life.
  • The setting for the novel is based off my childhood home in southern West Virginia, right in the heart of Appalachia. I grew up near the New River, where mist, dew, hollers and winding mountain roads creates a landscape that has always been a launch pad for my creativity.
  • I attended a church when I was in middle school that was the inspiration for the physical structure of the church in the novel. During one of my last trips back home to visit family, my mom drove me to the church to have a look at it. I hadn’t seen it since I was young, and was surprised that the landscape surrounding the church was different than I remembered (more homes and less isolation. Has time changed that or did I just remember it differently?). I didn’t go inside, though, and assume it would be much the same if it hasn’t been renovated.
  • A certain event that happens in the story was drawn from a certain event that I actually witnessed at this church—the speaking in tongues. I fabricated the story around it, but the actual event is drawn from the memory from my thirteen-year-old self.
  • The character of Marli’s father is loosely based off my father’s father, in terms of presentation and that he was a preacher. He was not like Marli’s father in any other way, and when I say loosely, I mean loosely. He’s been deceased for so many years, I don’t have solid memories anyway, but I needed a launching point and it was him.
  • It’s my mom’s favorite novel that I’ve written.

I believe that’s about it. I can’t remember what I had for dinner yesterday, so it’s challenging to go back five years to try and remember more details about the inspiration for the story, but I believe I summed up the basics.

If you want to support the author, ahem—me, and give a shout-out to Marli on her birthday, please consider purchasing the book and leaving a review, or recommending it to others.