Welcome, welcome. I’m so glad you could make it, and meet Melissa. She hales from Ohio, and has come in to visit, and let you get a chance to know her a little better. Melissa, will you start us out with a little about who you are, and where you come from?
- Well, I’m a wife and mother. I have a cat named Trinity and a ferret my husband lovingly named Rope. I am an avid gamer, both tabletop RPG’s and video games, as well as a hobby artist. I quite enjoy drawing my own characters, something that stemmed from my childhood of illustrating my own little short stories.
- [I’m from] Northeast Ohio
Do you remember what led you to writing, and your first book?
- Technically I wrote my first book during my childhood. If you are going for the first book I wrote seriously, then it was inspired by my love of writing and the desire to have a story the way I want it. There were a few books I read that I didn’t quite like the path they took and decided to write my own.
- Since I was a young child, I would always write little short stories and even illustrate them. My mother has a bunch of them in her “treasure chest.” It was my Freshman English teacher in high school, Mr. Kieth, who strengthened my interest in writing. I owe much of where I am now to his encouraging words.
- I began writing seriously after high school because I was unsatisfied by some other fantasy books I had read. That book in particular was never published. I was using Windows Me at the time and at one point, I got booted out of my file after several hours of unsaved writing. Later, after I was done with the books, I sat down to read it and discovered that the plot changed halfway through the book and no longer made sense. I learned a lot that day.
Do you have an instance you can look back at and say, “There! That’s when I became a writer.”?
- When I held my first book in print in my hands. What an exhilarating feeling that was. I almost started crying. My husband laughed at me, lol.
That seems to be a common answer. Either that, or the moment you hit the big button that says “publish” on it for the digital crowd. Are you working on anything at the moment you can share?
- My latest news would be the upcoming release of Opening of Lost Doors, the third installment on the Chronicles of Midgard. It was well overdue.
- My current projects are two stand alone books. Rogue’s Dance is based of a D&D character I played, a gnome thief who runs into a bit of trouble that leads to even more trouble. Winterspell is a short story based on the Brothers Grimm story of Snow White. I’ve described it to people as a dark telling complete with hot dwarves and a dragon.
- I would love to talk about it, but to quote River Song from Doctor Who: “Spoilers.”
::Chuckles:: Fair enough. Since you’ve been writing in one form or another for a while, have developed your own writing style?
- I’m not sure what kind of styles there actually are out there. I just write. I’m not sure what my style would be. I write third person past and I’m working on first person present.
Your titles are wonderfully interesting. Do you have a specific method you use to select them?
- Most of the time I struggle with naming my books. I jot down several title options, run the basic plot past friends and then ask which they think fits and go with the most popular vote. Not the best way to do it, i know, lol. Falls the Shadow, however, was inspired a bit by a poem, The Hallow Men by T.S. Elliot. I always loved the poem and the line “Falls the shadow” come up often. It just seemed to fit.
Inspiration is accepted anywhere in my book. Do you also draw inspiration for your stories from reality or your own experiences?
- Being fantasy, I believe the most realistic stuff would probably be the hand to hand combat. 😉
- [As for experiences:] Not really.
Do you have any books or authors that have influenced you, or your writing?
- I don’t remember any in particular influencing my life, in truth.
What about favorite authors? Any that you look up to as mentor figures, even if you haven’t met them?
- Neil Gaiman. He’s simply awesome.
- He always seems to be able to capture the reader. I would love to meet him one day.
Do you have any new authors who have captured your interest?
- Oddly enough, four in particular: Intisar Khanani, Elisabeth Wheatley, T.L. Shreffler, and M.A. Bronson. Upon meeting them and forming a bond with them, I started reading their books. They have inspired me to better my own writing, not to mention Intisar and Elisabeth help keep me on track.
Are you reading any of their work now, or someone else?
- The Seventh Magpie by Nancy Chase.
While you were writing, did you have anyone who supported you on your journey besides your family?
If you had to start again with the knowledge that you’ve gained so far, would you change anything about your previous work?
- Yes. I would add more action and danger. After reading a few reviews, came to agree with the readers that Melody of the Dark ended up being a bit short and boring. I’m trying to improve upon that with the next book, Opening of Lost Doors.
When you’re writing, do you ever weave messages into your work for your readers to find?
- I don’t work any particular messages into my books. I just write for the love of it.
Sounds like you’ve learned quite a bit on your journey so far. Do you have any challenges you’ve encountered or lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
- At the current moment, the most challenging thing I face is actually a specific character: Ril. The way I picture the snarky pirate, the responses he would give, the way he acts, makes it difficult for me to keep him in character. More than once I have read through first drafts and thought, “That’s not Ril. It’s not right.” And then spend hours trying to fix it.
- [The hardest part of writing is] not getting distracted.
- [I’ve also learned] That I need to cut back on characters. While I can keep them all straight in my head, having so many characters and switching between them has a tendency to confuse readers. I’m planing on only having two leading characters that I switch between in the next series, and none of all the other secondary character point of views
That’s quite an accomplishment! I think I’m in the process of learning a few of those lessons. Did you face any challenges with your covers, or did you work with someone else?
- T.L. Shreffler, author of the Cat’s Eye Chronicles.
With all that you’ve accomplished, what is your view on writing as your career?
- At the moment, no. Perhaps one day, when I have more books out and have enough sales to leave my day job, I’ll consider it a career. Currently it is a passion. 🙂
And, the big question: What advice would you pass on to other up-and-coming authors?
- Write for yourself. You know your world and characters best. Constructive criticism can help you grow as a writer, don’t let it pull you down.
Melissa, thank you so much. Before I close out the interview, do you have any last words for our readers?
- Thank you all for sticking by me. I cannot express how much it means to me to know you like my writing. I hope to keep you entertained for years to come.
Agreed. The feedback from readers is such an energy boost! Folks, let’s give Melissa a huge round of applause, and thank you for coming over today.
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