Welcome to Melissa's Official Website
Know Your Author
1. Starting with basic questions: Where are you from?
That is a toughie. Rumors abound that I am actually an alien sent here to evaluate the human race as a potential dietary supplement, but that never really panned out, so I'm basically just a regular human person born in Pullman Washington. I have lived in half a dozen parts of Washington State, but Vashon Island is my favorite.
2. When did you start writing?
Like many writers, I started writing more or less in infancy, but I didn't consider it seriously as a career until I was around 13. Before that, I wanted to be a horse.
3. Did your family support your writing?
For the most part. I think my parents sometimes looked at me and shook their heads and hoped I would marry someone rich who wanted to support the arts because my skill set was not conducive to gainful employment.
One of my grandmothers was so mortified that she would tell people I was studying library science.
4. Did you marry someone rich?
No, I fell for a computer programmer with a saxophone. Fortunately, my skill set turned out to be not entirely impractical, and I was able to find satisfactory gainful employment.
5. What other hobbies do you have?
Well, you can't write all the time because you would get bedsores on your behind. Ever since I read Little House in the Big Woods (Laura Ingalls Wilder), I have loved the idea of being able to supply my essential survival needs by my own ingenuity. To that end, I am laboring doggedly to convert our 2+ acres of mostly gulch into a permaculture paradise. With chickens. Lots of chickens. Also geese--which are basically useless, noisy animals who do nothing but eat their heads off, but I can't eat them because they are pets--although they are waddlingly fat and would probably be delicious.
6. That all sounds like you have a lot of energy
I'm mildly bipolar, so in cool sunny weather, I'm like an explosion in a fun factory, never sitting down and living mostly on caffeine and nerves. When it gets hot or cold or gloomy, I mostly just sit and write, which is how I know about the bedsores.
7. Moving on to the actual writing, why do you write Science-Fiction and Fantasy/Horror?
Did I mention the alien thing? Yeah, besides that, it probably really started when I discovered Grimm's Fairy Tales. I mean the really Grimm fairy tales where the ugly stepsisters cut off parts of their feet, and severed horse heads give good advice. I loved those stories. I started dreaming in fairy-tales, which I loved even when it was scary.
From there, I graduated naturally into sci-fi and fantasy, though I read gluttonously in every genre.
8. Do you have a favorite character among the ones you've created?
It changes all the time. Currently, my favorite is Audette, the protagonist of the novelette of the same name which you can only get (and it's free) by subscribing to my fan list. She is six-foot eight, 63 years old and a sexy swashbuckling adventurer.
9. Is that some kind of feminist political statement?
Not really. Her age is necessary to the sequel, which features her niece and which I will get around to when about five other projects are finished. For the rest, I always pictured her as big. The kind of big that makes everything around her seem bigger--as if she is so much larger than life that life has to get larger to contain her.
But as I get older, I do get tired of seeing twelve-year old women on TV and in movies being cast in roles much too old for them opposite men who are age-appropriate for their characters.
It's not like women drop dead when we turn 45.
10. So you tend to juggle a lot of projects at once?
Not if I can bloody-well help it, but you always have ideas waiting in the wings, and sometimes a nice little Lovecraftian urban fantasy novella spirals out of control and becomes a twelve-book series. In my case, it's just a three-book series with a stand-alone follow-up. Then there's a sequel to one of my sci-fi novels and the sequel to Audette, and King of Midwinter, also a free novelette for subscribers, clearly indicates future installments. Gods help me.
10. What authors most influence or inspire your writing and why?
Eeek! What a question! Well, I'll do my best:
JRRT, of course. Steven King for his universal themes, HP Lovecraft for his exploration of the vast and drastic indifference of the universe, Anne McCaffrey for her accessibility and for being one of the earliest writers to really focus on the humanity within the genre, James Schmidt because Telzey Amberdon, Barbara Hambly for her often-dark world creation and powerful characters, CJ Cherryh for her alien psychology and her exploration of how the alien inspires the political.
There are other writers I love, of course, but they don't have as much influence on me.
11. How do you see your writing as a vehicle for social change?
I don't. I write because I love reading and I love readers. I write stories that I love, and I work hard to make them just as much fun for a reader.
I certainly don't write stories with a preconceived notion of proving a point or persuading readers to a moral position.
That said, I don't know how anyone can write anything without something of their world view reaching a reader, and if that world view strikes a chord, then maybe somebody is changed a tiny bit. In a good way, I would hope.
12. Does that mean you write for readers or for yourself?
Yes. I don't choose a story or plan a story based on what is popular, or on "what readers want." I can't do that. You have to live with a story for several months at the very least. Sometimes for years. It had darn well better be something that comes out of your own gut, or you just won't be able to stand it that long.
On the other hand, if I'm not thinking about making the story accessible and enjoyable to a reader, I might as well forget about writing and go read somebody else's book instead.
13. Are you a Pantser or a Planner?
Yes again. I love outlines. I say that if you find an outline restrictive, you're doing it wrong. Your outline should be part of the creative process, not a pre-programmed story formula.
Then you start writing, and change happens. If you've been creative in your outline, then the changes fit right in, stimulated by the whole creative process, which includes the creative progeneration that went into the outline itself.
Or you're off the rails and headed over a cliff. One or the other.
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