I’m joined today by friend and fellow author Mike Meier, who’s first book, Join With Me, sparked my curiosity and imagination by asking “What if the internet came to life?” His new release, The Love Hex or Nicest Flings in Mexico is a charming romantic comedy that is already an award-winning screenplay.
As the New York City summer of 1929 gives way to autumn, socialite and poet Rose is unhappily married to a mobster lawyer and suffering from early-onset arthritis. Her friend Alice, a recently-widowed mother of three, languishes in her posh home with chronic fatigue. Rose’s doctor recommends a daring cure: a hot-springs treatment in Mexico. Together the women travel to the small town of Tehuacán…and hook up with two young beaus. The days are jolly—that is, right up until Día de los Muertos, when Rose’s jealous husband arrives out of the blue… This charming romantic comedy, which started as an award-winning screenplay, examines the many things in life we don’t quite understand—such as enchantment, magic spells, and love of all kinds.
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. Magic spells are in Mike’s blood— his grandfather was the 1930s traveling magician and fortune-teller known as Wladi-Kami.
- What do you love most about Writing?
Writing is about creating a world that was not there before…and then having control over it. This is almost God-like. In real life, it is often the circumstances that dictate what happens to us, but when you write a story, anything is possible. Unlike real life, one can even resort to a little magic to resolve a problem.
- What Inspired you to write your book?
In the early 1990s I heard a program on National Public Radio (NPR) in which a young lady discussed some of her social studies research for her PhD thesis. She mentioned that in the earlier part of the century, American women often traveled to Mexico to engage in illicit relationships with Mexican gigolos. I was intrigued and wrote the first draft of the story, maybe 2 pages or so.
Maybe once or twice a year, something would occur to me, and I continued writing a little. I tried to find that young lady and her research thesis. NPR does not archive programs for that long. So I contacted libraries and went through listings of PhD theses, but could not locate it. I had to do the factual research myself.
In the early versions of the screenplay, no one died. However, years ago, on a flight back from Europe, I sat in the midst of the U.S. Olympic skiing team. During the eight-hour flight, I chatted with the young Olympic skier next to me, and I told her about my story idea. She made the point that “to have a passionate story, someone has to die.” I gave this a great deal of thought, and eventually decided to kill off Rose’s jealous husband.
With COVID-19, I had time to write. I pulled out the old draft, maybe 40 pages at the time, and continued writing. I first turned it into a screenplay, then into a book.
- How do you write your stories?
I start with a simple idea and write down about a paragraph or two. For example, the Neolithic story I’m currently writing began with a news article about a discovery dating back to the Neolithic times. It gave me the basic idea for the story. Thereafter, I search for related material, such as an article about the subject. I did find a scientific article about other Neolithic discoveries. I read the article, and the world began to form in my head. Once I have a few pages written, I convert the text into spoken language (I use the free software Balabolka for that) and listen to it during long bike rides or while running.
- Although it’s often hard to select just one, do you have a favourite or least favourite character in “The Love Hex”?
My favorite character is Ramiro, the professional gigolo in the story. He learned guitar the same way I did—not by formal lessons, but practicing and asking others for advice. His failures reflect my own failures in life. I would have enjoyed his lifestyle–he lives a life of leisure; he does not know the word “stress.”
- What’s your number one tip for an aspiring Author?
To write something down. When there is nothing written down, there is nothing to re-write. I often hear from other people “Oh, I want to write a book too,” but they never start, or never get far. A friend of mine once showed me the first draft of her book – she only wrote half a page, and that was the end of it. And to write consistently. I write something every morning and every evening. In fact, sometimes I have an idea during the day, and I will open the draft it pertains to and make that change or correction. Some people call that “constant, never-ending improvement.”
- Is there something in particular that may have inspired your story?
I noticed only after I finished “The Love Hex” that some of the inspiration (apart from the NPR interview I heard in the early 1990s) must have been the 1988 Japanese animated film My Neighbor Totoro. I watched it many times with my kids. It is a post-war story of a family who move to the countryside. Their two young daughters befriend the wood spirits. It must have influenced me somehow, because The Love Hex also includes the connection between reality and the spiritual realm. As in my story, the line between reality and the spiritual realm in Totoro is unclear.
- What’s exciting you about your next project?
I’m currently writing on a screenplay that takes place in the Neolithic period. As I said before, it began with a news article about recent Neolithic discoveries. Previously, I knew very little about that time period. Since then, I have been reading about our ancestor’s survival, their ways of building homes, and their migration across the continents. I like to base the world I create in the story on true facts and real-world settings.
- Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
My office looks like a band practice room with currently 8 guitars, a piano, and several electric guitar amplifiers. I am largely self-taught on the guitar, but when I lived in Argentina, I studied with one of the great tango guitarists at the time, the late Carlos Luna. Everything that I can do on the guitar is thanks to him. I start each day by stumbling to my computer with a mug of coffee. I push the “start” button on my computer, and play guitar while my computer starts up. When I need a break, I turn on the amp and practice electric guitar for 10 minutes or so.
I always love hearing about the successes of my friends and fellow authors, so I’m delighted to share the awards Mike’s new release has already achieved!
Many Thanks, Congratulations, and Wishes of Continued Success to Mike! I’m so delighted to have the opportunity to help share his story.