Interview with Jesse Teller, author of Mestlven

Revenge, Insanity, and the Bloody Diamonds 

Meredith Mestlven was abused and betrayed by her nobleman husband. After a desperate fit of retaliation, she fled for her life and lost her sanity. Now nearly 20 years later, she returns to her home at Sorrow Watch to destroy her enemies and reclaim her jewels. How far will she go to satisfy her revenge? Dark, cunning and beautiful, Mestlven will win your heart or devour your mind.


Can you tell us a little more about Meredith Mestlven?
Meredith was maybe 16 when everything fell apart. To that point, she was a nobleman’s daughter. She never had to worry about anything. In later years of her life, if she looked back at her life before 16, she would find it all to be so trivial, violin lessons, parties, dances, food, the art of idle conversation. She would have found all these things to be inane. Before the age of 16, that was her life. She was betrothed to marry a man she’d fallen in love with in the exotic city of Mestlven. She couldn’t have been more excited. She couldn’t have been happier. When tragedy, real tragedy, hits someone, it spreads like a cancer. It hits one particular facet of their life, somebody dies or something is lost, and slowly it spreads to other places, to other things, touching on the peripheral and reaching out beyond. Sometimes it can take over everything. That’s what happened to Meredith. Her tragedy spread like a cancer that devoured her mind, and she was never the same.
What inspired you to write Mestlven?
Mestlven was largely inspired by a deep-seeded anger that rested above my heart and just below my shoulders. It sat there, slowly bending my back, souring my blood. It was a quiet rage that had been building since I was a child, a seed of anger that had been planted there long ago, and no matter how much happiness I had achieved, I just could not rip out the root of that sour plant. I needed a fire, something to burn it all away, a controlled searing of that bitter brush. I needed to watch something bleed, so I wrote Mestlven. I put all of that anger in that book, all that righteous flame, seared it away. Mestlven healed me in a different way than every other book I’ve written. Mestlven took care of that seed of that anger. But there are other flora, taken care of in other books.
Was it hard to write the main character?
Meredith is nearly impossible to write. She’s insane. Insanity is hard to do well. You have a tendency to go over the top or not far enough. You have to walk the rope of delusion, where things don’t make sense at all, to reality, where things make sense perfectly. It’s a delicate balance because you can’t lose the reader. The reader has to read the insanity and know exactly what’s happening in the reality behind the delusion. It’s nearly impossible. The only reason I was able to do it is because I’ve felt that delusion. I’ve been crazy. I know what it looks like, what it feels like. I can describe the madness because I lived it. In that way, I think I was born and specially designed to write this work. You can’t get Mestlven from any other writer. And I think that’s the reality behind all of my work. The things I went through in my childhood and young adulthood were all designed to make me the writer that I am, the father that I am, the husband. All of those terrible things hammered out the man I became.
Do you have a genre you feel you like to write more than others? If so, do you know why?
Fantasy, fantasy, and more fantasy. I’m writing a blog about my life. It has stories describing things that happened to me. Partly it’s trying to make sense of my life and where it’s headed. Partly I’m just doing it for fun. But fantasy is my life. I say that, I say fantasy is my life, but the reality is fantasy is my life. It walks with me every day, everywhere I go. I see the world through the lens of fantasy. There’s something unbridled about it. I was watching a movie the other night about a group of kids with special powers, and I didn’t know what those powers were, but I did know, that at any point, at any moment, one of those kids could unleash a crippling power that I could not imagine. They could just explode their will out and some crazy ability would become known. It was so exciting. And my work is the same way. Largely, I don’t know what’s going to happen when I write. It comes out as I go along. So if I describe a man walking into a bar, I’m never really sure, I never know if that guy’s going to walk up to the bar top and order a drink, if he’s going to burst into song, or if he’s going to burst into flames. He might be no one. He might be huge. The potential’s always there. That’s why I love fantasy.
Can you tell us more about your first book? Has your writing style changed since you wrote it?
Oh yeah, so my first book was Chaste. The original draft was 776 pages. The rewrite was 320. So yeah, my writing style has changed quite a bit. When I first wrote Chaste, I felt like I needed to back up and explain everything, every tiny thing. I remember I wrote a scene where a guy walks into a blacksmith shop and the blacksmith’s tools are hanging on the wall. I went into a 50-page tale about where those tools came from. But in the end, there are very few people who want to read all that, and details like that lose the rest of the story. Every time you have to sit and read about where a pair of pliers came from, the story loses momentum. The story has to sit and get cold. It’s quite like the guy who’s in the blacksmith shop working. He’s got the horseshoe or the blade or whatever, red-hot and he’s hammering and working. The other guy walks into his shop and he sets the horseshoe or blade down, and walks over and explains where all his tools came from. By the time he gets back to his horseshoe, it’s cold and he has to heat it up again. He’s lost all that time. No blacksmith is going to willingly do that. Nor should any writer. 

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Jesse Teller fell in love with fantasy when he was five years old and played his first game of Dungeons & Dragons. The game gave him the ability to create stories and characters from a young age. He started consuming fantasy in every form and, by nine, was obsessed with the genre. As a young adult, he knew he wanted to make his life about fantasy. From exploring the relationship between man and woman, to studying the qualities of a leader or a tyrant, Jesse Teller uses his stories and settings to study real-world themes and issues. 

He lives with his supportive wife, Rebekah, and his two inspiring children, Rayph and Tobin. 

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