Nicole Meier presents “The Girl Made of Clay”

What: Book launch party and happy hour with Roundabout Books

When: 4 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Washington Dining & Cocktails, 900 Mt. Washington Drive, Bend

Cost: free

Contact: roundaboutbookshop.com or 541-306-6564

What: Meier reads from and discusses her new novel

When: 3 to 4 p.m., Oct. 28

Where: Downtown Bend Library — Brooks Room, 601 NW Wall St.

Cost: free

Contact: deschuteslibrary.org or 541-312-1032

Bend author Nicole Meier made a splash with her 2016 debut novel, “The House of Bradbury.” The story about a struggling writer who buys the Los Angeles house formerly owned by science fiction author Ray Bradbury, was named to a number of “best of” and “must read” lists.

Meier will celebrate the release of her sophomore novel, “The Girl Made of Clay,” at a launch party in Bend on Tuesday evening.

The success of her debut book brought opportunities — an agent, and strong interest in her next manuscript from publishers — but also some unexpected challenges. “I was working on a brand-new book after ‘Bradbury,’ and my agent loved it, and I’d had feedback from some other publishers that they loved it, but everyone wanted me to change it a little bit, and certain people wanted me to change it much more than I was willing to,” Meier said.

Lake Union Publishing, the book club fiction imprint of Amazon, wanted to offer Meier a two-book deal, but felt the manuscript she had in progress, a sister story to “Bradbury” also set in Los Angeles, was too similar to her first novel.

Still, Meier was excited about the opportunities that the marketing and distribution reach of a large publishing house like Amazon offered, so was willing to discuss some of her other story ideas with the publisher.

“I wound up pitching ‘The Girl Made of Clay’ over a coffee date in Seattle with Amazon and they literally said, ‘Hurry up and write it,’” Meier said. “It’s a curse and a gift right? Here’s your two-book contract, but you better hurry up.”

Unlike “Bradbury” where Meier had no contract or deadline and often wrote without any particular plan, she found herself under the gun to write a novel from scratch.

“This time around, I was much more organized and probably more professional about the actual logistics of it,” Meier said. “I took about a year to write that, and as soon as even the rough draft went to Amazon, I had to start work on book three,” due out in fall 2019.

“The Girl Made of Clay” is a family drama about a difficult father-daughter relationship. When famous sculptor Thomas “TR” Harlow is badly injured in a fire at his artist compound on the Oregon Coast, his estranged daughter, Sara, is forced to take him in and care for him. This reopens old wounds and places new strains on her marriage, but also provides a chance for forgiveness and redemption between father and daughter, and the opportunity to establish a new bond between Sara’s young son and his grandfather.

Meier describes “The Girl Made of Clay” as her most personal work so far. It was inspired by her father, who created pottery as a hobby when Meier was a child.

“Some of my earliest memories when I was 5, 6, 7 years old were of being in the clay studio with him, which I loved, and that’s really visceral to me,” Meier said.

While Meier and her father did not have a fraught relationship like that of Sara and TR in the novel, she did take care of him at the end of his life when he was living in a memory care facility.

“I think anyone who’s had to take care of any family member whether it’s a parent or a sibling or another relative could maybe relate,” Meier said. “Because we don’t always agree with our family members’ decisions, but we still try and support them because it’s blood.”

While writing “The Girl Made of Clay,” Meier’s new editors kept pushing her to dig deeper and explore more of her characters’ emotions and motivations, which the author said was one of the hardest things she’s ever had to go through with her writing.

“I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is not my natural go-to,’” Meier said. “I tend to be a little more quick-witted and sarcastic, but to get emotional is difficult because you have to sort of bare your soul on the page.”

That process involved cutting 35,000 words from her rough draft and spending months rewriting chapters. Meier feels her writing is richer as a result.

Meier has found Lake Union very author-centric, supportive and collaborative, although on a much bigger scale than her first publisher.

“Whereas the small publisher would be excited if you sold 5,000 copies, Amazon wants you to sell 100,000 copies so it’s a big step up,” Meier said. “I’m sure I will start checking the sales figures once the book hits the shelves and then I’ll feel the pressure.”

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