Friday, November 24, 2017

Virtual Book Tour + #Giveaway: Shadows, Shells, and Spain by John Meyer @johnmeyerbooks @GoddessFish

Shadows, Shells, and Spain
by John Meyer
GENRE: Travel Fiction


John Meyer's "Shadows, Shells, and Spain" is a thrilling new adventure where a husband desperately searches for his missing wife along the ancient Camino trail across northern Spain. It’s also a bold, new take on a modern-day pilgrimage that feeds the mind and soul of every character while testing the limits of their bodies... and their comfort zones.


It became a miserable daily existence, made worse by a George Bernard Shaw quote that singly gnawed at me: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

George was right. I had to do . . . something. Anything! Teaching teenagers wasn’t fulfilling me; I needed to find a more creative outlet—and I thought I had found it when I started writing novels.

I tried several genres. My young adult novels only reminded me of my apathetic students, and my science fiction books always morphed into Star Wars. My dystopian novels were too depressing. My horror novels gave me nightmares. My political thrillers gave me headaches. I settled on detective novels starring rugged private eyes and leggy dames.

I wasn’t very good at it.

In fact, I never came close to completing any of them. I wasn’t clever enough to conceal the credible clues. My attempts at misdirection were too misleading. I was heavy-handed when I needed to be charming, and I was lightweight when I needed to be conclusive. And anyone who read any of my early chapters always deduced the killer right away.

I even gave my early chapters to my brightest students as an extra-credit homework assignment.

“So, what did you think?”

“Sir, I didn’t finish it . . .”

“Never mind that. What did you think?”

“What is this, a murder mystery? Am I supposed to guess who the killer is? What does this have to do with my history project?”

“Never mind that. What did you think?”

“I don’t know . . . Was it the chambermaid with the stutter?”

“Damn it!”

Interview with John Meyer

What inspired you to write Shadows, Shells, and Spain?

Shadows, Shells, and Spain, was first conceived while I was visiting the town of Estella during the research stage of my previous book, Bulls, Bands, and London. Exploring the town, I saw many hikers marching through Estella with their gigantic backpacks and their walking sticks. What was going on? Who were these people?

I dropped in a local albergue where many of these walkers were staying and discovered a diverse group of people from all over the world, who were determined to walk 800 kilometers across the country along an ancient Roman trading route in order to visit Santiago de Compostela. Each walker had their own personal reason for their demanding journey. Some had just quit their jobs. Some had just quit their marriages. Some just needed to unplug from their stressful lives back home. Whatever their reason they were all united in their belief that walking across Spain would help them heal from their hurts or stimulate their minds to live their lives better when they returned home.

So in the June of 2014, I joined this pilgrim party and walked the Spanish Camino from Pamplona to Santiago. The adventure had everything I needed to write my next fictional travel memoir. I had the rich history of the Camino; I uncovered interesting anecdotes in every town; and I met wonderful characters from around the world. All I needed to do was add my fictional story to my already unbelievable reality.

Can you tell us what you have planned for the future?

This book marks my third fictional travel memoir in a row. Now while they're unrelated in terms of their stories, they are similar in style, of course. And they all face the same small struggle with certain ebook websites: in which category should they be listed?

No two ebook websites are identical and certainly no two ebook websites share the same categorization. So I slot them the best I can, often writing numerous emails to the website administrators to ask them to file them under both Fiction and Travel. "But Travel is under Non-Fiction." "Yes, well, they're also travel books loaded with authentic details about each location which is incredibly helpful to travelers." "So we should put them in Non-Fiction." "However, they are also fictional stories. So ultimately, I would like them filed under both sections, if possible." Some website administrators are accommodating. Some are not. So I file them the best that I can.

This minor struggle has led me to wonder if I should maybe write a more straightforward novel next. I could still include colorful travel elements but maybe tone those sections down a little, so the resulting book is easier to categorize. But I'll wait to see how well Shadows, Shells, and Spain does first in the marketplace. And then I'll plan my future...

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Shadows, Shells, and Spain?

Well, the main character, Jamie Draper, is certainly me to a large degree. I always write in the first person and I want to share my thoughts and conclusions about what I saw and experienced with my readers.

It's also important to me that the story takes place in real time. So when my Camino trip took 22 days, Jamie's trip must now take 22 days. Because one theme that always pervades my books is that the adventures are entirely truthful and possible. The story is fictional but the traveling part is authentic. If you stood where I stood at that certain time and place, you would probably see what I saw. Maybe your conclusions would be completely different from mine but that's the wonderful mystery of traveling. However, the only way I can competently express my feelings for the exotic locations that are featured in my books are through my main character.

Again, this only holds true for the traveling sections and not the main story. The character itself is not me!

Now while Jamie's missing wife, Pam, and his traveling companion, Brie, are completely fictional, all the other characters in Shadows, Shells, and Spain are based on real people whom I met on the Camino trail—especially the more colorful personalities. It was funny how many people wanted to be in the book. "You're writing a book about the Camino? Can I be in it?" "Sure, do something outrageous." "Why?" "You think I'm going to write about a nice guy who says and does nice things all the time? Where's the drama in that? You want to get in my book? Punch that guy in the face. Organize a cock fight. Do something!"

(Spoiler alert: there are no cock fights or random punches in the face in my book...)

Who is your favourite author and why?

Maybe Nick Hornby. Not only do I appreciate his easy, relatable, style of writing but I like what he writes about i.e. whatever the hell he's personally interested in! Hornby doesn't care about what's popular or what might sell. He loves his local soccer team so he writes Fever Pitch. He loves his indie rock 'n' roll so he writes about it in High Fidelity, Juliet, Naked, and 31 Songs. Nick Hornby just follows his own literary muse and (thankfully) his fans are along for the ride.

If you could time-travel would you travel to the future or the past?

Going to the future might depress me. "What am I doing on the couch? Get up! I'm watching you. Do something. Punch that guy in the face. Organize a cock fight. Do something!" 

So I would have to travel to the past. However, I ain't no fool. Nobody's speaking 21st Century English so I wouldn't be able to communicate with anyone or understand what they're saying. And what would I be wearing? Do I have to beat up somebody my own size in order to steal their clothes? And I certainly don't have the old local currency to buy food. So I expect I'll be ravenously hungry in just a few short hours in my trip. And it won't be a good look for me. Here I'm a writer with an apartment. There I'm an unintelligible beggar wearing stolen clothes. Plus those an ancient disease might suddenly attack me...and where would I find a good, modern doctor to heal me? You know what? Maybe I'm better off staying right here...

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

John Meyer writes fictional travel memoirs—unique adventure stories that combine fun facts of history with present-day drama and humor—always revolving around a fictitious love story and always based on his own thrilling journeys. His previous publication, Bullets, Butterflies, and Italy, was selected as a November Best Book by Chatelaine magazine. Meyer is also the studio writer for Entertainment Tonight Canada and has been ever since the popular daily show launched back in 2005.

Buy Links:


$25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC

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John Meyer said...

Thanks for hosting me today!

Unknown said...

Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

John Meyer said...

You got it, Lisa!

John Meyer said...

Thanks for hosting me today!

Victoria Alexander said...

Happy Friday! Thanks for sharing the excerpt & interview :)

Bea LaRocca said...

I have always wanted to travel but really can't afford to. I'd like to ask, out of all of the places that you've visited, which city/country is your favorite?

Bea LaRocca said...

Happy Hunp Day! Hope the rest of your week goes well.