Hi Melissa, welcome to BookDragon Club! Tell us, what are you working on right now?
My most pressing project is finishing the edits for Autumn’s Exile, which is the conclusion to the Sidhe Diaries. I’m looking for beta readers to give me feedback once I finish up the current round of edits. If you like telling authors what’s wrong with their work before it gets published, I’d love to hear from you here: http://melissawalshe.com/books/autumns-exile/
The conclusion of the trilogy will, of course, make the most sense if you’ve read the first two, which are both available on Amazon for readers who prefer both paper and digital.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
First drafts. Writing a first draft is like falling in love. You adore your characters, you think every little nook and cranny of your world is a revelation, and without the distance and perspective you need to see things like plot holes and excessive use of adjectives, all you experience is the dopamine high of feeling like the cleverest person in the world for creating something new from spun imagination. That’s what it’s like for me, anyway…which probably goes a long way towards explaining why I find the editing process to be so viciously grueling.
Tell us a little bit about the last thing you wrote.
The last thing I published with Autumn’s Sister, which is the middle book in my Sidhe Diaries trilogy. It’s the dark horse of the series, which made it tough to let it go out into the world. The series is YA fantasy, but that didn’t seem like any reason to hold back from exploring the darkness in the world I built. The narrator is Birdy, the sister of the narrator from the first book, and it centers around her journey to heal after having been kidnapped in the first book. Her journey includes a romance with a mysterious guy who she knows is awful for her, and the book ends with mounds of unresolved emotional tension. My beta readers were crabby at me for ending the book the way I did, but I think it’s necessary to set the plot up for the resolution in the final book. I’m currently sitting on a lot of anxiety: Autumn’s Exile needs to be flawless to justify the angst I put my readers through with Autumn’s Sister.
Are you on social media? What’s your favorite writer’s forum?
I’m on Twitter, Goodreads, Tumblr, and Facebook…nominally. My day job involves running social media for some big companies, so I get burnt out on all the internet time and tend to be lax with my own social media presence, although I do try to remember to share the more interesting things I come across. I don’t currently participate in any writers’ forums–I have a couple of close writing friends I exchange edits with, and I sometimes teach local writing workshops, which has so far been a pretty good amount of engagement for me. I am working on building a site to support Maine writers, readmaine.com, which I’m hoping will eventually become, among other things, a useful tool for helping Maine authors connect with other authors who are close enough to swap feedback with over coffee.
What do you wish your fans knew about you?
I love picking up new skills and hobbies. It’s the thing that feeds my writing better than anything, except maybe for reading non-fiction. (I mean, I love fiction too, but it’s the non-fiction that really fills my head with usable ideas.) I just picked up playing ukulele this summer, and I’ve got my sights set on learning how to play banjo. Mostly, I want to learn banjo because I think it’s an over-mocked instrument that’s capable of immense beauty, but I also like learning about the history of instruments I learn. I’ve been discovering that the banjo is a weirdly useful lens into the social history of the U.S., which has got me thinking about how to write a story centered around folk music and folk magic. I get asked by a lot of my writing students, “Where do you get your ideas?” What I want my readers to know is that I get my ideas from taking an interest in new things and examining those things under a microscope. If you want ideas to write from, live a curious life.
Describe your favorite protagonist from one of your stories. Tell us something nobody knows about them, something that’s not in your story.
My absolute favorite protagonist to date is only in an unpublished manuscript so far. She’s an expert in xenolinguistics serving on her first mission into space, which is an incredible personal victory for her because she also wrestles with nearly crippling social anxiety. The plot pressure I put her under forces her to deal with a scenario that would have hospitalized her earlier in her life, and which is tough even at the stage of anxiety management she’s achieved. What I love about her is that she’s healing. She’s not strong and plucky from the start–she’s got a carefully cultivated resilience that feels, to her, like it’s made of glass, but I get to use her struggle to prove to her how much stronger she has become.
Do you have any writing rituals? Describe your process.
I don’t really have any rituals, per se. I used to, when I first started out, but I found that putting the need to complete those little rituals on myself was giving me an excuse to not work. “Oh, I don’t have time to make a cup of tea and write for thirty minutes, I guess today’s a bust.” Now I try to just do what I can, when I can, wherever I can. Writing’s not my day job yet, so I have to scratch out the time when it comes. So, no rituals, but I do have some weird habits. Sometimes I’ll leave documents open for days while I work up the oomph to tackle a tough spot again–closing the file makes it so much harder to get my momentum going again. Another thing I do is keep a set of RPG dice near my computer. I have a special set in a little wooden box, and they only get used for my GM rolls…and writing. Sometimes when I get stuck trying to decide between some possible options, I’ll throw a die to force myself to just pick something and move forward.
What are you working on next?
After I get Autumn’s Exile out, I’m going to put some focus on a near-future sci-fi novella called The Body Politic, which is a fast-paced thrilled involving clones, voting security, theft of the computer that’s replaced the POTUS, and star-crossed love. It’s good fun. I just need to work in some edits from my alpha readers and then I’ll start the slow process of getting it out into the world.
To connect more with Melissa, head on over to her fantasy blog!