Chandler Myer published his first novel, Jayne and the Average North Dakotan, winner of the Literary Titan GOLD Award, at age 57, following a 35-year career as a professional musician. The book is based on his short story, That Night I Ran the High Heel Race, published in the Medium publication Prism & Pen. He has been published in Bear Creek Gazette and Medium publications Rainbow, An Idea, and Atheism101.
Myer was born in Bryan, Ohio, and now lives in Philadelphia with his amazing husband of more than a quarter century. He loves to walk, travel, and make friends with every dog he sees.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
I agonized more over the title than any other part of the book! The working title changed several times as I would open the file in the early writing stages and obsess about how boring/stupid/trivial/mundane the current title was. Nothing accurately described the book nor created an interest in what was inside.
One day, while editing a chapter, I discovered a theme that ran through the book: being average. Randy, the main character, was unremarkable in every way. The titular Jayne made a point of drilling home his averageness, and I realized I had found the title. Jayne’s name needed to be there as she would have felt the book was about her. But Randy was the actual center of the story, and I decided to honor that by not naming him. Thus was born Jayne and the Average North Dakotan.
How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?
It’s hard to describe the joy of seeing the story that had lived in my head for nearly three years become something tangible. I cried (joyfully) when I saw the first version of the cover and again when the proof copy arrived. It was magical.
The graphic designers at Atmosphere truly realized my vision for the cover. I had long thought it should be in the style of the old Bewitched television series opening credits. I envisioned an Art Deco feel with a larger-than-life cartoon character Jayne daring the reader to open the book. I gave them a color palette and sample images, and they got it nearly perfect on the first try. We tweaked a few things, like the size of the martini glass and the expression on Jayne’s face, and it came out more perfect than I could have imagined. The font was something I hadn’t considered, and they got it right the first time.
I’m very proud of the finished product.
What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?
My college degrees are all in music. I spent 35 years as a professional musician before health issues forced me to give that up. My life needed quiet and artistic expression, so I turned to writing. The only other time I’ve written was for my Master’s and doctoral work, and academic writing never suited me. Creating fiction has felt like an extension of the music that once fulfilled my artistic needs.
What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?
I am currently writing my second humorous fiction novel with the working title Who Disturbs My Peace This Lovely Evening? It’s the story of two women, Wendy and Gladys, who have been best friends for 50 years. They live across the hall from one another in a dilapidated New York apartment building and make ends meet working in cheap real estate as they approach 70 years old. Wendy begins receiving mysterious bags of cash outside her door just as she unwittingly becomes involved in an international crime syndicate. Will the two widows, with the help of some unlikely allies, foil the bad guys and find happiness in retirement? Maybe…if the subway didn’t have so damned many stops!
How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?
My experience with Atmosphere Press has been positive from my very first interaction. Everyone supported me through multiple edits, graphic design, layout, marketing, website construction, and promotion. Their hybrid press model is superior to self-publishing in that I have had professionals guide me through every step of the publishing process. I would likely sell more books with a traditional publisher, but I could not break into that market. Atmosphere Press provides an essential alternative path to bringing my work into the world, and I am grateful for their ongoing support.