LHHS alum launches career as Young Adult novelist

Jodi Meadows in New York City where she attended meetings with her agent and editor. (Courtesy Photo)

By Kate Ludlow

“It was four months of hard work, but it took three years to simmer.”

That’s how author Jodi Meadows described the process of writing her first novel, Incarnate, in an exclusive interview with The Independent this week. What began as an idea and a chance to show a strong female main character has turned into a three-book deal with Harper Collins Publishers, and a great addition to the booming Young Adult genre.

Jodi (Lawrence) Meadows is a 2001 Liberty Hill High School graduate. After graduation, she met a man online.

“It was scary, and I thought, I shouldn’t do it. But I did. I moved to Virginia, and we were married,” said Mrs. Meadows.

Her husband, Jeff, understood and supported her desire to become a published author, and for eight years has worked at a printing press, allowing his wife to stay home and write. It was a gamble that paid off. She wrote, mostly through her blog at www.jodimeadows.com on a variety of topics. Raising ferrets. Knitting. She shared her thoughts with the world, arguably the hardest task for an author to do.

“When you write, you’re writing for other people also,” she said.

The idea for Incarnate came to her in 2006.

“I didn’t immediately work on it, it was too challenging. Finally, I was ready for it,” she said.

She began laying out the plot and getting everything in order. The first draft was written in just two months. She spent another month on revisions, and a month procuring an agent. After landing an agent, they worked together on revisions, and finally struck a deal with Harper Collins.

Incarnate focuses on Ana, whom Mrs. Meadows describes as “the only girl new in a world where souls are perpetually reincarnated.” She enters a new relationship with a boy named Sam, all the while searching for meaning behind her unusual birth circumstances and fighting against her mother’s wishes.

Mrs. Meadows says Ana came to her “fully-formed. She was her own character. For me, she represents that feeling like when I was a teenager. Like, everyone else had it together. I think those feelings are pretty universal.

“Teenagers are at this exciting point in their lives where you’re figuring out who you are, and how you work in the world. Plus, first loves are exciting,” she said.

The Young Adult genre, and writing for teens in general, is attractive to her, because it offers more freedom.

“There’s so much you can do. There is all this place for freedom. Even at the bookstores, all the adult genres are separated out. In the Young Adult section, it’s all shelved together. If it was an adult novel, they wouldn’t know where to shelve it,” she said.

Mrs. Meadows describes the novel as “romance, action…a mix of dystopic future and science-fiction. There’s a whole lot of genres in it.”

In high school, she was a member of the Panther Band, and the Liberty Belles. She says that those activities left little time for writing, but that she was always an active reader. When asked what she was currently reading, she laughed and said, “Let me get my lists.”

She reads Jerry Smith Ready, Myra McEntire, and Robin McKinley — fantasy authors with whom she will soon share shelf space. Though it’s a booming genre, Mrs. Meadows doesn’t enter into competition with other writers. Take for example, Stephanie Meyers, author of the massively popular Twilight series. “It wasn’t for me,” she notes of the books, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t hold Meyers in high regard. “What she has done for Young Adult is amazing. We have to be thankful to her for showing girls actually doing things. There’s something about it, for it to be such a phenomena, and cause such a big splash. I feel very grateful to her.”

The Twilight series consisted of four best-selling novels, each with its own movie, and enough merchandise to satisfy any teenager’s desires. Even knowing that’s a possibility with her book, it’s not something Mrs. Meadows is seeking.

“I don’t know that I would want that kind of success. To have everybody watching and judging you. I would say that I would like a moderate amount of success,” she says with a laugh.

Writing a strong female lead was important to her, though not a necessity. “There’s not a responsibility to write a strong female character. I just write for fun. But I was passionate about writing a character that did things, that would stand up for herself and be confident,” she said.

The cover of the book is done in bold pinks, purples, and blues and features a model that looks surprisingly similar to Mrs. Meadows herself. While that wasn’t the intention, she said she is thrilled with the results.

Mrs. Meadows embarks on a nationwide tour soon, that brings her back to her home state of Texas. As part of the Harper Collins’ Dark Days of Winter tour, Meadows will travel with a small group of other authors to Dallas, Houston, with a stop at Barnes & Noble’s Arboretum location in Austin at 7 p.m. Feb. 17.