Meet JoAnn Meaker

Written By: carolmoye - Jan• 22•15

Today, I am thrilled to introduce you to JoAnn Meaker. We are both members of the Walkerton Writers group. I first met JoAnn last year at about this time when she was putting the finishing touches on Four Branches. I really enjoyed reading the chapters she presented to us, and was thrilled when she asked me for advice on character names. When she told me about My Dear Emma, I purchased it and loved it.  We both have spent a great deal of time researching our family histories, so that common bond, along with my interest in historical fiction made me interested. Her incredible writing style kept me reading. The characters were very real, very likable. There were great twists and turns that kept me interested from page one through the end. Of course, I had to buy Four Branches as soon as it came out, and was equally impressed. JoAnn is a great weaver of tales, yet takes the time to make sure she is historically accurate. If you enjoy historical fiction interwoven with a modern tale, you will love her books.

A Line of Shorts is a mixed-genre collection of short stories. I enjoyed almost every story. They are really well-written and for me were perfect bedtime stories.


Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?

I was born in Brooklyn, NY and raised on Long Island before leaving for college in upstate New York. After years of traveling while my husband was in the Navy, we lived for almost 30 years in Ontario, NY. Five years ago we moved to Richmond, Virginia. During my years in Ontario, I volunteered at the town’s historical society, which owns a nine-building museum. This is what started my love of history and of the Civil War period specifically, since that is what the museum focused on. I helped organize their archival materials, writing manuals, and curriculum materials for visitors. Then, when the town celebrated its bicentennial, I was co-chair of the committee, and as such I took on the task of writing weekly articles that appeared in the local newspaper. This became my first book, published by Arcadia Publishing, and titled,  Ontario.

Ontario by JoAnn Meaker

When did you first start writing?

While I was never a journal writer and never kept a diary, my love for the printed word began as soon as I could read. While I wrote a lot during my twenty-seven years as a teacher, it was mostly curricular materials or newsletters for parents and teachers, manuals etc., not anything that was formally published. It never occurred to me that I might be a published writer until I wrote Ontario.


What’s the story behind your latest book?

A Line of Shorts by JoAnn MeakerMy latest endeavor, A Line of Shorts, is a compilation of short stories I’ve written since moving to Virginia and joining the Walkerton Writers five years ago. This group has helped me immensely to grow as a writer. The stories encompass a variety of topics, historical periods and are written for different age groups.

Just before that I published a sequel to my first historical fiction novel, My Dear Emma. It’s called Four Branches Four Branches by JoAnn Meakerand deals with a mother and daughter, lost and injured, seeking refuge in what they believed to be an abandoned cabin in the woods. The daughter begins to “see” images from the past and follows a slave family as they seek freedom in Canada in the early years of the Civil War. How the past interacts with the present is what drives the storyline to its exciting conclusion.

What was the hardest part about writing your books

The editing is by far the most difficult part. I love and thrive on research and the first draft of each novel was written in a month. It took several months though, for the edits and revisions.  It’s probably because the books really contain two-story lines – the past and the present – and interweaving them and keeping them organized was a feat in itself.


Is there a message in your book that you want your readers to grasp?

There’s no hidden message in any of my books. If the reader learns something about history, about relationships, then that is a plus for me.


What motivated you to become an indie author?

I wanted My Dear Emma to be published in 2012 which was the 150th anniversary of the facts in the past section of the storyline.My Dear Emma cover It follows a young man who enlisted in the cavalry in 1862 and winds up captured, imprisoned, and died in October of 1863. I know if I tried to go the traditional publishing route, it would potentially have taken longer to get it published. I absolutely loved the autonomy of self-publishing. I did it all – wrote it, did the cover art, formatting, and all the detail work.


What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

The greatest joy is having someone (not a relative) come up to me and say they loved the book.  That is most fulfilling.


What writing advice do you have for other aspiring writers?

Just do it!  Believe in yourself and give it a shot. It’s a lot of hard work and, for most of us, we won’t be able to quit our day jobs. As I said before, when someone who reads the book says they enjoyed it. Ah…that’s the best.


What do your fans mean to you?

When a person takes the time to email me or contact me through my website or Facebook and tells me how much they enjoyed the book, it’s the best. One fan told me he played hooky one day, didn’t go into work, and spent the day reading My Dear Emma.  Wow!


What are you working on next?

My next book will be non-fiction. I’m tentatively calling it Hollywood Cemetery: The Stories Beneath the Stones. I’m researching those soldiers who were reinterred into the Richmond National Cemetery when it started in 1866. I’m hoping that it will be finished to commemorate the 150th anniversary of that event.


Who are your favorite authors?

I really have too many to mention in detail. I love Dan Brown. He includes so much in the way of history in his mysteries.  I also like James Rollins, and Mercedes Lackey (fantasy). When I find an author I like, I focus on reading all the books he/she has written.


What inspires you to get out of bed each day? When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

The sunshine inspires me! And knowing that sometime during the day I’ll be doing something that will be helpful to others. I am a member of the Hanover Rotary Club, the current president of the Hanover Writers Club and a volunteer with the Henrico County Recreation and Parks Historical Preservation Department. In addition to writing, I love sharing my love of history with my three grandchildren.

Amazon Purchase Links


My Dear Emma

A Line of Shorts

Four Branches





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