Writing Hopepunk in a Grimdark World by Meredith Egan – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Meredith Egan will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Writing Hopepunk in a Grimdark World

I find this idea enchanting. I think it describes something I’ve lived for a lot longer than the past few years, which is weird for an old white lady. I hope my readers find sparks of this in my novels!

The past few months have created a whole new world to navigate. In North America, and around the world, we are self-isolating, wearing masks and limiting our contacts even with the people we usually love lavishly. We are moved by an expanding awareness of how some systems in our communities are biased against our neighbours. Law enforcement and policing are being examined and are not measuring up to our hopes for our communities.

We live in interesting times! And unfortunately, after 30 years of hanging out with marginalized people, I’m not surprised…and I realize these times are challenging and sometimes scary.

So where do my ideas come from?

I work with victims of serious crimes and the people who have committed them, mostly in the field of restorative justice, I know many people who have thought about the challenges North America is waking up to. I’ve been in prisons all across Canada leading and listening in workshops and writing groups, with the goal of waking up in a world with no more victims.

Both of my books, Tide’s End – a just living novel and Just Living – a novel, take place in British Columbia, and are a mashup of crime writing, current social challenges and hopepunk.
In Tide’s End, Taylor struggles to find and rescue his little sister Jenny, who is the victim of the foster care system, and cyberporn. To do this, he has to navigate through difficult systems and situations, working with both ex-offenders and sexual assault survivors. He has to face his own struggles before he can help his sister.

And I learned about all of these struggles through stories from real victims and perpetrators who hurt and were hurt by others. I learned about how our systems marginalize both victims and offenders. I listened hard and learned to ask questions.

And I couldn’t tell these stories that were shared with me because they weren’t my stories, so I turned to writing fiction.

Every page of my work is worked with prisoners inside a medium-security prison here in Canada, and some of those writers I’ve known for 25 years. They challenge me, and my privilege and perspective, and always improve my stories. I am forever indebted to them.

And my early readers all have known victimization and/or marginalization. They, too, want no more victims.

My novels explore a place where people are complicated, and always changing, where anger and marginalization and struggle and hurt are real and affect people’s friendships, and families, and communities. It’s a place where people know what fear and safety feel like.

If you want to explore how we’ve gotten to this place, and how we can build a better society, I hope you’ll be a part of the conversation that comes from my books, and these questions.

What will our new normal look like when the pandemic stops being a threat to our loved ones?
When we start talking about ‘defunding police’ or releasing prisoners who have hurt people in the past, will our neighbourhoods be safe?

How do we, as we think about true crime, respond in ways that lead to #NoMoreVictims?

And how do we engage in the conversations that will lead to a new society, even when we also know that safety, like love, is never assured?

Join me at justlivingnovels.com to be a part of the ongoing conversations. I’d love to listen and learn from you, or your book clubs, about these ideas!

Taylor Smythe dreams of having a loving family. But first, he has to rescue his little sister Jenny from the gritty underbelly of the child cyberporn industry. Taylor journeys from homelessness in the inner city to a community in the dripping forests of the Pacific Northwest to confront the relentless pounding of his fiercest pain. Can he become the big brother Jenny needs right now, and for the rest of their lives? Tide’s End explores the many faces of sexual assault and human trafficking, and how life can shatter for those most affected – the victims. Because #MeToo is more common than we can imagine. As is #ChildrenToo and even #BoysToo. It tears apart our families and neighbourhoods. And wherever there is suffering, there are guardians and helpers who still the relentless pounding to encourage Tide’s End.

Enjoy an Excerpt

If this is what I have to do to rescue Jenny, I’ll figure it out, I thought as I drove along the dark, narrow roadway. My little sister is worth it, even if I feel like throwing up. Occasionally the overhanging trees dropped massive dumps of water onto my car. Or rather, into my car through rust holes and windows that didn’t seal. Every time there was the thunder of falling water, I ducked.

What the hell have you gotten me into, Marta? I thought, wishing daggers at the social worker who’d sent me here. Crawling further up the driveway, I turned a corner and gasped.

Holy crap, I thought, staring at the building in front of me. I’d stayed in dodgy motels. Run down apartments. But I’d never been in a place like this before. Ever. In my life. This place was huge, and gorgeous, and knew I wouldn’t fit in. I’d registered for the Survivors of Sexual Assault Retreat, but would it be okay? What would it take to blend?

The money I’d need to pay for the rest of the damned retreat was in my torn duffle. But this looked decidedly upper class, and, well…here I was hoping my junker would make it up the driveway. It’d been my home for the last three months…so not upper class.
Is this really what I need to do to get Jenny back? I’d just turned 19, and getting custody of Jenny Benny, being an epically amazing big brother for a change…that was the most important thing to me. Marta thought I’d better deal with my sexual…history first.

My mind bounced all over. Then it landed on maybe tonight I’ll get warm. Like, to my bones, warm. I smiled.

About the Author:
Meredith Egan is an author of critically acclaimed novels, Just Living: a novel and Tide’s End: A Just Living novel. The stories are shaped from her work with crime victims and violent prisoners over more than thirty years. Meredith is trained in mediation and peacemaking circles., and has been honoured to learn from many First Nations peoples. Meredith coaches writers and other creative folks and offers workshops and training through her Daring Imagination work.

Meredith is the principal at Wild Goat Executive Coaching where her clients include leaders in the automotive, technology, government and small business fields. She lives at the Groundswell Ecovillage in beautiful Yarrow, BC. with her dog Mollie, and rambunctious feline sisters Firefly and Filigree. For fun she dabbles in cooking soup for her neighbours, and soaking in her hot tub with her four adult children when they visit.

You can find Meredith through her website, and on Facebook and Twitter for information about her novels, and her coaching work. Meredith welcomes opportunities to speak with groups about justice, and writing. Her books are available through Amazon and local bookstores.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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  1. Thanks for hosting!

  2. Mya Murphy says

    Very pretty cover.. Love the colors!!

    • Thank you! I had a great photographer taking a photo of a great subject – my stuffed animal that a friend knitted for me. Russet might have been the first character in my book!

  3. Bernie Wallace says

    Have you started to write your next book yet?

    • Hi Bernie!
      Thank you for asking.
      I have started the third book in this series, which is being written with the working title of Ricky’s Place.
      It’s about family dynamics and prison around the time of death.

  4. James Robert says

    Thanks for sharing your great  book and for the giveaway too.

  5. Peggy H. says

    Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and, if so, how do you overcome it?

    • Hi Peggy,
      Sometimes I ‘get ahead of my story’, and I lose the track of the plot.
      Which is frustrating! It happened with the novel I’m working on now.

      I had to step back for a bit and ask myself some questions about what was the point of writing the story, and I asked my characters a bunch of questions also.

      Finally, with getting back to first principles (of why I write in the first place) and not rushing the story helped. I’m back at it!

  6. Victoria Alexander says

    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Thanks for hosting me! I look forward to hearing from any readers who are interested in the conversation!

  8. interesting

  9. Great giveaway and excerpt. 🙂

  10. Bernie Wallace says

    Which character was most fun to write for?

    • Hmmm…I think I enjoyed writing Padma, especially because of her relationship with Taylor.
      My crit groups enjoyed a story of two young people that was platonic, so feeding that was fun.

  11. Victoria Scott says

    This sounds so good! Thank you for sharing! Also, my 6 year old daughter’s name is Meredith 🙂

    • You have very good taste in names!
      My sisters grew up with fairly “normal” names for the times…and I was lucky because my mother’s best friend was named Meredith. I love it!

      I hope you enjoy the book – do reach out and let me know!

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