Mindy Mejia: Writing on a Dare

Mindy Mejia, author of The Dragon Keeper and Leave No Trace, shares what inspired her most recent novel, Strike Me Down, when she prefers to start new projects, her best piece of advice for other writers, and more.
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Mindy Mejia's internationally acclaimed thrillers have been translated into more than 20 languages. Her books have been picked for People's Best New Books and listed in The Wall Street Journal’s Best New Mysteries. A CPA and graduate of the Hamline University MFA program, she lives and works in the Twin Cities. 

Mindy Mejia head shot

Mindy Mejia

You can find out more at MindyMejia.com.

In this post, Mejia shares what inspired Strike Me Down, when she prefers to start her next project, her best piece of advice for authors, and more.

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Name: Mindy Mejia
Literary agent: Stephanie Cabot, The Gernert Company
Book title: Strike Me Down
Publisher: Emily Bestler Books (Atria)
Release date: April 7, 2020
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Previous titles: Leave No Trace, Everything You Want Me To Be, The Dragon Keeper

Strike Me Down Mindy Mejia

Elevator pitch for the book: A high stakes crime triggers a woman's complicated and potentially deadly search for the truth.

What prompted you to write this book?

This was the first book I wrote on a dare. As both an accountant and a writer, I belong to various networks and have groups of colleagues and friends from each career. Sometimes it's felt like inhabiting two different worlds. This book was my attempt to marry those worlds and show how accounting and thrillers can occupy the same territory. I dared myself to make accounting thrilling.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication?

I started thinking about this book at the end of 2017, right after I handed in Leave No Trace, and began drafting it between the editing rounds of that book. It helps me to have an active writing project, especially during the final copyediting and marketing phases of the previous book. You can do a lot of thumb-twiddling otherwise. 

(10 productivity pitfalls for writers to avoid.)

The main idea of Strike Me Down didn't change during the writing process, but I did make a few major adjustments between first and final drafts. I originally had three point of view characters and two timelines. In the end I had to cut the story to two POVs and one timeline. It made for a much stronger narrative.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

I don't think you can have a bigger publishing surprise than a global pandemic. We had to cancel the entire book tour a few weeks before the launch date and try to find ways to promote Strike Me Down in a very frightening and unprecedented publishing environment. 

We reached out to podcasts, increased social media outreach, and held a virtual book launch, which was actually great because I wore pajamas and drank wine the whole time. It's my preferred method of launching books from now on.

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

When I began this novel I knew absolutely that I had three main characters and each of them, through the unfolding narrative, would earn the right to tell their side of the story. After I'd finished the original concept of the book, though, I was surprised to realize I had too much on the page. 

I hadn't left enough room for mystery, for the reader to guess at a truth that lay somewhere between the tellings as we moved toward the final revelation. This book forced me to redefine how to evaluate point of view characters. 

(6 tips to choosing right point of view.)

Yes, they need to be irrevocably changed by the action of the book. Yes, they need to be willing to tell their story. But in addition to both of those criteria, I learned that my point of view cast must be carefully curated to leave enough space for suspense to grow.

Mindy Mejia quote: "This was the first book I wrote on a dare. ... I dared myself to make accounting thrilling."

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I hope Strike Me Down is a breath of fresh air for mystery and thriller readers, especially those who are tired of the tropes featuring dead girls and serial killers. This book is about ambitious women at the top of their game in arenas we don't often get to read about. 

And yes, I hope readers will find accounting thrilling.

If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

We're all students of the craft and every book we read is another chance to learn. Read voraciously. And write exactly the kinds of books you like best.

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If you’re an author who would like to be featured in a future post, send an email to Robert Lee Brewer with the subject line “Author Spotlight” at rbrewer@aimmedia.com.