NTMI: Hello everyone! We're here this evening with Meratocat, whose tales have spun their way between sand and snow and everywhere else in between. Welcome, Meratocat!
Meratocat: Thanks, I am glad to be here
NTMI: So, our first question: what got you onto neopets?
Meratocat: Well, that was actually an accident on my part. It was somewhere around three years ago, and I was really into the Petz 3 gig, and while looking up different creatures to adopt, I came across one called a 'lupe' with "courtesy of Neopets.com" at the side. Being curious as usual, I clicked on the link, and since the site looked interesting, I created an account, spikka. I went on a bit, and then after awile I moved on, and didn't come back for about a year (and my trophy didn't update during that time I believe) and I slowly started to use it once again. I have been on since really, especially after I started writing for the NT.
NTMI: So you come back to another account- Meratocat. Why Meratocat?
Meratocat: Well that is simple, at the time of creation, I had just gotten a kitten whom I named Merato off the top of my head, and since he was my cat, I created Meratocat. It was just a spare account at the time, but then as spikka I got hacked into, and re-started my life as Mera.
NTMI: So you restart as Mera... and THEN do you find the Neopian Times?
Meratocat: Not for awhile after if I remember correctly.
NTMI: Well what did finally suck you into that one?
Meratocat: I just sort of stumbled in, and soon I found myself waiting for the next parts of series, and checking up everything else every week.
NTMI: What prompted you to start your own writing?
Meratocat: It was a story that I read in the times about shoyrus. I don't remember the name, but after reading it, I really wanted to write a story for the NT.
NTMI: What did you write first?
Meratocat: It was an adventure story staring shoyrus. I wrote it all down on paper, and never did get around to typing it up. I even wrote a sequel down next to it. Looking back at it, the storyline was holey, and there was a misspelled word ever five words or so, and it most likely never would have made the Times if I had typed it up and sent it in.
NTMI: Well that obviously didn't discourage you from continuing to write. What was your first actual submission?
Meratocat: It was a rip-off comic of garfield that I made on paint, I'm not too surprised that it didn't make it.
NTMI: Comic? But what about stories?
Meratocat: That was my favorite, The Zafara Assassin which made the front cover three weeks later.
NTMI: What gave you the idea for using the Zafara Assassin?
Meratocat: It started out as a test of my writing, because before that I had always written third person following the 'good guy' around. I had just gotten my first glimpse of Neopets Zafara Assassin trading card, and decided to try a first person story from a not-so-good main character.
NTMI: What lessons did you learn when you did that?
Meratocat: That when you try new things, that the result can be amazing. If I hadn't tried something new, I never would have written The Zafara Assassin.
NTMI: What happened when the Zafara Assassin came out as a battledome contender?
Meratocat: That was as big of a surprise to me as it was to the other Zafara Assassin fans. After that, I must have gotten a ton of battledome challenges, and mail asking me all sorts of questions, from where to find her, to how I felt about neopets using my character. (Which I had to explain that they drew the card, though I still like to think that it is all mine)
NTMI: How long did it take you to find her?
Meratocat: Not too long, a friend had found her, and told me the whereabouts of her.
NTMI: Did you defeat her in the 'dome?
Meratocat: A few times, but I am not much of a battledome player.
NTMI: I see. Well, although she is your most famous character, you've also started another series of sorts. What gave you the idea for the Boldheart series of stories?
Meratocat: That was just a random story that I wrote for the heck of writing, and after getting a lot of feedback to write a sequel to it, I started up the series, which I will continue soon, I just had to take a break from it for a bit.
NTMI: Any particular reason?
Meratocat: Mainly I felt like writing a story with dragons in it.
NTMI: So we have a playing card, whims about different species, and what else have you used to get story ideas?
Meratocat: Some also comes from feedback that I get from friends, and other neopets players.
NTMI: In other words, if you want to see something in a story, one of the best ways is to suggest it to the writer?
Meratocat: It really depends on the writer, and if you do, don't become disapointed if they decide to not use your idea. Generally I combine several when I take them myself. Just remember that if you do do this, that you ask in a good manner.
NTMI: That's true. Best to regard it as a pebble tossed in the sea, just to see what sort of ripples might come back.
Meratocat: That's it.
NTMI: So what do you like best about your whole neopets experience?
Meratocat: Talking to people, and seeing my writings do more than collect dust in my desk.
NTMI: And the worst part?
Meratocat: All of the annoying people who ask to plagiarize my work for school, or take it for their own in any other way, and the fact that prices for items are sky high.
NTMI: Prices change, but people don't, I've found. But enough of my advice. What would you advise someone just starting out writing?
Meratocat: To never give up, that happens all too much. If your work doesn't appear in the Times, just keep on trying, and if it still doesn't get in after about a month to try and re-write your story, or move on to another. My first two stories were nothing compared to my third attempt. Also, to not plagiarize others work, it won't get in.
NTMI: But for the ones that do get in, what fault or faults do you notice most often?
Meratocat: That their stories are sort of flat, and don't get the readers attention as much. This can easily be fixed with just a simple overview of your story before submission. I also see a lot with very slow beginnings. This isn't a major fault to most, but to some readers, myself included, won't be able to drop a story if we get attached to it at the very beginning.
NTMI: In other words, hook them hard and fast and don't let up?
Meratocat: That's right!
NTMI: Good idea! But more than just the content of the stories, what about the Times itself. Is there anything about how it is laid out or organized that you would change?
Meratocat: Not really, I don't really have a problem with the Times, and seem to get around well enough.
NTMI: And expanding from the Times to the whole site... have you gotten anything else published on Neopets?
Meratocat: No, though I am working on it. My ultimate goals outside of the times would be to get into the art gallery, and the storytelling contest.
NTMI: What about anywhere else at all? Anything out there on the net for us to check?
Meratocat: Not yet, though I entered a poem contest about a month ago, and am still waiting for the results...
NTMI: Well good luck in it! Anything else planned for the future?
Meratocat: Well, after I finish up the Boldheart and Assassin series, there is a good chance that I will write up a story about my pets and I, yet another change from my usual style, but for the less distant future, I would like to make a few comics of my own, and try submitting them in.
NTMI: Hey, sounds like a plan to me! Well, I think that about covers everything I had to ask. Was there anything else that you wanted to mention?
Meratocat: Just good luck to all you future writers, and to keep on reading the Times!
NTMI: Sounds great to me. Thanks for your time this evening!
Meratocat: The pleasure is all mine.
Would you like to read all of Meratocat's pieces? Just click here to check her out in our database!