The Demagogue Wars - Award Winning Author Interview with C. Elmon Meade
Updated: Dec 8, 2022
Interested in what our dystopian future may have looked like if the height of 2020's COVID-19 never ended, continuing for the next 50-100 years? How would society unravel? What would be undone? What would be created globally in its wake? Today we interview C.Elmon Meade on his latest book The Demagogue Wars and his reasons for creating this work of historical based fiction. We'll also learn what it is that makes Meade an author and if you're also a writer, Meade shares his tips and advice on self-publishing to help you get your next manuscript published.
Question 1 – C. Elmon, where are you from, what’s your story?
I was born in High Point, North Carolina and grew up in Guilford, Randolph, & Davidson Counties. I am a member of the Coharie Tribe of North Carolina via my father's bloodline and also have links to the Lumbee Tribe via my father and the Cherokee and Haudenosaunee (Mohawk & Tuscarora) from both sides of my family tree. I am writing under a pen name in order to honor both sides of my family. Elmon is an old family name on my father's side and Meade is the maiden name of my maternal grandmother.
I graduated from Ledford High School, Class of 1994 and attended Elon College (now Elon University) for one year prior to enlisting in the U.S. Army. I grew up hooked on Stephen King and Tom Clancy novels when I was given a copy of Alex Haley's Queen by my grandmother. This was my first experience reading a book that was based on historical times, settings, and character, but added fiction via the author's vision of what dialogue may have been like between the characters in the historical account.
I have read Queen multiple times and every time I read it I find new parallels to Haley's family tree. I became an author very much by accident based largely upon my love of reading historical fiction and alternate history, a la Harry Turtledove.
I began writing historical fiction based on my family tree when the events of 2020, COVID-19, social unrest, political turmoil and the like, resulted in my pausing of book #1 to write The Demagogue Wars. I have taken some of those elements and reversed the timeline of the story to project today's news headlines, issues, and geopolitical fault lines several decades into a dystopian future of pandemics, authoritarianism, and open warfare. My time in the Army (Air Defense Artillery) and the South Carolina Air National Guard inform much of the combat scenes depicted in my story.
Question 2 – Tell us about your book.
The Demagogue Wars was nominated in five categories for the first annual Feed My Reads Awards Show in October of 2022 and went on to win Sci-Fi Novel of the Year by a wide margin.
My logline is "Disparate Rebel factions, an unlikely Allie promising 'world peace,' and forces both other-worldly and supernatural combine to combat Communist China’s hegemonic dreams in a globe beguiled by decades of pestilence, war, and death." That one sentence is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the major themes within The Demagogue Wars.
I incorporate my Native and Christian roots throughout the book; not in a preachy way, but as a lens by which to view current affairs and one possible outcome to the decisions being made and alliances being formed today. My Coharie (Southern Siouan) people have a tradition of Heyoka empaths and I see myself as a modern-day Cassandra figure; somehow "sensing" or inferring potential outcomes, yet being powerless to do anything about it.
Writing The Demagogue Wars was my way of "doing something about it" at a time when many of us felt powerless to control our own physical and mental health, much less unify our nation in the face of so much political angst going into the 2020 election.
The thing to know about The Demagogue Wars is that I purposely kicked the book off in the year 2108 to get away from the vitriol and angst of 2020. The reader is unaware of several major global events that have occurred during the almost 9 decades since the first COVID pandemic: three Russia-Ukraine wars, a "Velvet Revolution" in Russia, two Chinese invasions of Afghanistan and the annexation of Afghanistan (and others), a Civil War 2.0 has occurred in the United States with direct involvement by the Chinese Communist Party and the People's Liberation Armed Forces.
As if that were not enough to peak your interest, I dare you to find a book published in 2022 with a more diverse collection of characters. My template for embracing diversity within the characters of my story are a direct reflection of my friends growing up in the Triad of North Carolina and my Army unit when I was stationed in Ft. Bliss (El Paso), Texas.
This story contains strong female characters in lead roles, African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, and plenty of Native American characters. Of the last category, comes one of my favorite characters in the book, Stephanie "Selah" Wolf.
Stephanie is 7-years old at the beginning of the story and is a member of the Sewah S’iina Nation (fictitious tribe) in Alberta, Canada who ends up being a war refugee at a camp in Staten Island, New York. Selah ends up being the hero of the story at the tender age of 8-years old. One characteristic I introduced readers to is the use of the Tsalagi (Cherokee) language as Selah uses this to communicate with her best friend who is Cherokee.
The Demagogue Wars is sold at most online retailers including Apple, Google Play, Walmart.com and many more. Here are a couple of sites where you can purchase my novel and also review additional resources like color maps, illustrations, and my blog:
Question 3 – Tell us about self-publishing. The Tips, the do’s, the don’ts, things first time authors might not know?
Do your research. I will pass along the best tip shared with me via the #WritersCommunity on Twitter which is to view rankings for publishers, distributors, copy edits, illustrators, etc. via the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). Their rankings helped steer me clear of a "bad apple" within the self-publishing community. As far as the category of things not to do, relying on self-editing has to be near the top of the list. With a simple web search you can find a plethora of affordable editor options with very clear expectations regarding turn time and pricing.
Question 4 – If there’s one piece of advice you could give first time authors, what would it be to help them finish and publish their first book?
Go into the final stages of publishing expecting at least a three to four month lag time between final manuscript and actual listing of your finished product online. I would use that time for buzz marketing via email lists, social media, word-of-mouth, etc. Pre-launch planning and self-promotion work can go a long way to ensuring good sales your first month out of the gate!
Question 5 – Do you have a question important to you that I may have missed?
A question I often get asked at book clubs and book signings is "Did you purposely create a character in your story that is a version of you?" The answer for this story is yes. On a personal note, I was forced into early medical retirement while serving in the SC Air National Guard. While in the Army, I suffered multiple Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and toxic battlefield exposures which led to the development of Young-Onset Parkinson's disease (YOPD) later in life.
The character Malachi ‘Quarters’ Greenberg is an old Combat Vet, who like me was diagnosed with YOPD. He plays a fairly significant role in fighting back against a superior invading Army while continuing to serve alongside fellow freedom fighters. It kind of resembles the 80's cult classic Red Dawn, but with a wheelchair bound Wolverine fighter!
Thanks for reading today. And thanks again to C. Elmon Meade for sharing his incredible story.