Interview with Mike Meier, Author of JoinWith.Me

 Nov 16, 2020

I was privileged to invite Author Mike Meier for an interview to discuss his latest book JoinWith.Me and the inspiration behind it. Enjoy!


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What's your book about, and what inspired you to write it?
JoinWith.Me is a cautionary tale about our increasing fusion with technology as a society. The idea of this book came to me years ago when I was working for an internet marketing company. I was well aware that Google, Facebook, and the like track every keyboard move you make, then sell the data they have collected about you. Thus, I only worked in “incognito” mode in the Firefox browser; cleared the cache and cookies off my computer several times a day; and used a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Once, while working in incognito mode in the Facebook account of a customer, there was a pop-up by Facebook, suggesting that I connect with someone. There was a picture of the Mexican gentleman who had painted my house a few years earlier. We had never communicated over the internet. How is this even possible? At that moment, I felt as if the internet were a living human being that was spying on me. That was when I wrote the first draft of this story.

Who is your target audience, and why do you think this book will appeal to them?
I’m sure everybody has moments when the internet appears overbearing and maybe even overwhelming—pop-up ads that remind you of what you were looking at earlier; YouTube suggestions that are right on point; and websites welcoming you back. That is the target audience for JoinWith.Me: everyone who has the uneasy feeling that this merger of technology with human life may get out of hand.

What message do you wish to pass across to your readers with this book?
JoinWith.Me is a cautionary tale about our increasing fusion with technology as a society. There may be unintended consequences if we don’t control the technology that surrounds us. That’s why I quote Goethe’s “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (better known to most Americans as the Mickey Mouse Fantasia story) at the beginning: “Wrong I was in calling Spirits, I avow, For I find them galling, Cannot rule them now.”

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
I’m now preparing my next book for publication (Palmetto Publishing, January 2021), “The Love Hex or Nicest Flings in Mexico.” I started that story in the early 1990s. Then life got in the way. Years later, I wrote a little more after the Olympic skier I met on a plane suggested that someone has to die in the story. Off and on I added a few ideas. Several years ago, I sent a draft to my old friend Thomas to hear his opinion. When my regular job came to a standstill with COVID-19, I finally had time to focus on the story and finish it.

As a writer, is there anything you've learned about yourself while writing this book?
Absolutely. First of all, I learned that writing a long story is hard work that requires dedication. I have forgone many events and social activities to concentrate on writing (and rewriting) JoinWith.Me. It took me more than a year. As for what I have learned about myself…well, I never thought I could do it. I completely lacked the confidence until I started. What helped me a lot was to frequently request criticism. Frequent criticism is crucial to writing a story that others can follow and enjoy. After all, a story is written for an audience. For example, the original ending of JoinWith.Me was much more downbeat, but each critique I received suggested that the audience would not accept that. So I changed the ending about a dozen times until I found one that is acceptable to me and the audience (I hope).

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books, and why?
I am old-fashioned in many ways. Thus, I refer to myself as a dinosaur. I do read eBooks occasionally, but I strongly prefer traditional paper because I can mark it up, reread something, or just fold the page where I’ll continue next time.

What is your niche genre, and if you were to write in a different genre, what would it be?
I don’t have a niche genre (yet). I create stories. The stories I have completed so far are in different genres (Sci-Fi, Comedy, Thriller), but all have a dramatic story at the core. If I were forced to pick a genre, it would probably be “dramatic stories with occasional humor sprinkled in.”

What books and authors have most influenced you?
Number one on that list is “The Tripods” trilogy of John Christopher (Sci-Fi). I read those books when I was very young (and actually reread them not too long ago). But I also enjoy dramatic stories that are at times humorous (such as Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray”... even though it was decades ago that I read it, I can still cite from it).

Is there anything you'd like readers to know about you?
That there is a lesson for every aspiring writer in the fact that I finished JoinWith.Me: If I can do it, anybody can. Few people have faced as many obstacles in finishing a book (or story). If you want to put a story to paper (or computer), let nothing hold you back.

Do you have any more books in the works?
Yes, my next book, a Rom-Com, will be published in January, “The Love Hex or Nicest Flings in Mexico,” based on a screenplay I wrote. I’ll probably turn some of my other screenplays into books.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
That’s a fact of life—we have to deal with the opinions of the people who surround us. Sometimes those opinions are negative (for whatever reason). When I receive negative criticism, I try to figure out if there is something I can do better. Later I may decide to discard the criticism. I’m glad I carefully reviewed the first critique of the first draft of JoinWith.Me from “the Dr. Phil of script analysts,” Mike Cheda. It was only one paragraph, but he basically told me that my protagonist was such as wuss that nobody would want to read about him. I took his suggestion to heart and completely rewrote the first draft. I’m glad I did.

What is the cover of the book about?
The cover represents a stylized siphonophore, the Hula Skirt Siphonophore to be exact. In fact, “Siphonophora” was the original title of the story, but most people could not pronounce or understand it. Siphhh…what? So I changed it to something simpler, JoinWith.Me, just like the creature’s website in the story. I searched for a living organism that could symbolize the future of humanity. I first found slime mold, single-celled organisms that congregate and form a single body. By the way, slime mold is smarter than you think; it can move toward more fertile ground, move out of the sun, and grow back together if separated. But slime mold does not sound very exciting as the future of humanity. Then I found the siphonophores, sea creatures that consist of other animals that connect to function as a single organism—a so-called colonial organism. Curiously, a siphonophore does not have a brain. It is largely unknown how they function. I just added an electronic circuit around it on the cover to allude to the fusion of biology with technology.

How can readers get in touch with or follow you (website, personal blog, social media handle, Goodreads)? 
I create a separate website for every story I finish, and there is always an email link. For example, https://JoinWithMe.tv has a link to my email.

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Mike Meier grew up in a blue-collar housing project in Germany. On his own since his teens, he has lived in several different countries, including Argentina and Japan, and has worked jobs such as washing dishes, repairing bicycles, and painting homes. When he is not writing books or award-winning screenplays, you’ll find him playing Latin and Flamenco guitar in the Washington, DC area. He holds a master’s degree in political science, as well as a Juris Doctor and Master of Laws. Mystery is in Mike Meier’s blood—his grandfather was the 1930s traveling magician and fortune-teller known as Wladi-Kami.

Amazon/Bookstore Link: https://amzn.to/35CrdBP

Video Links:
Trailer 1:
https://youtu.be/-phCm-voV9g
Trailer 2: https://youtu.be/-phCm-voV9g





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