Within the Indie Author Hub, you can learn about other authors, their thoughts and opinions, what makes them tick and how their writing process works for them.
All this week I will be releasing segments of an interview I conducted with fellow author, Melanie Rose. Have a look at her profile and books here.
Last summer she shaved her head to celebrate ten years as a cancer survivor…thus the bald author photo.
Part 1 : Melanie’s life as a writer
What made you want to become an author? I really can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be an author, but I was a practical little girl. I thought I would get into journalism and write novels on the side, maybe publish something when I was middle-aged or later. Then, when I was sixteen, I went through chemotherapy for Hodgkins Disease. It sounds cliche, but going through something like cancer changes your priorities, forces you to recognize how short life really is. It made me realize that I didn’t want to wait for my dreams, that I wanted to pursue them from the beginning, even if it meant I had to wait tables for years to fund my habit. As it happened, I spent six years as a baker and barista at a local coffee shop, a summer as a bartender at a country club, and I even delivered pizzas for a while, and now I have two historical novels and a children’s book published. I’m not rich, but I’m doing what I love.
If you couldn’t be an author, what would you be? A circus performer. I’m thinking trapeze artist.
What inspires you? Life. I know that’s broad, but I think for the writer no aspect of life is really off-limits, and the ways a moment, sight, sound, or experience can be used are pretty much limitless. I remember one summer when I was growing up, going on a camping trip with my parents along the Snake River. I woke up early in the morning and went down to the river just as the sun was coming up. The sky was pink and orange behind the cliff across the river, and I made up a story about it on the spot. I don’t remember the details now, and that particular story never was written down, but I remember it was somewhere totally different, not the Snake River at all, but far more exciting, and the water lapping on the riverbank was lapping against the side of a boat, with three people inside trying to be as quiet as possible to make their escape from…something.
Do you have a special writing place? Several. It depends on the weather. I love writing outside in the summer. I have a desk, but I don’t really use it much for writing. I unplug my laptop and carry it around. I also like to write in coffee shops: hot coffee, good people-watching, a change of scene. It helps if they’re not people I know well. The conversation creates a sort of hum in the background. I like to write with music, and the conversational hum has the same sort of effect, except that the conversation can take unexpected turns…which helps jolt my mind sometimes when I’m experiencing writer’s block. It doesn’t always work, but often, and the coffee is always good, and sometimes I get some great character ideas out of it.
Do you have daily word targets? It depends on the day. Generally, I’d rather write one page that really satisfies me than ten that disappoint me. I will set myself goals occasionally if there’s a particular scene I want to get through.
Do you think writing is a lonely job? Absolutely…most of the time. To get any good creative work done you certainly have to isolate yourself to some degree. You have to be comfortable being alone with your own thoughts, which I don’t think many people are. On the other hand, so much inspiration comes from social interaction, from living, so I think there has to be a balance.
Do you plan your books to the last detail? Nope. I’m a pantser. I usually have some sense of where the story’s going, but it’s always flexible.
How do you decide on your characters and what they will be like? The characters are generally the easiest part of the process for me. Sometimes I use traits or characteristics of people I’ve met, or seen somewhere. I love people-watching, and I pick up a lot of quirks and mannerisms that way. Other times I don’t know where they come from, they just appear in my head, fully formed, with their own personalities and motivations.
How do you get over the fear of a ‘blank page’? I stare. Then I write something, even if it’s terrible. The something fills the void, and makes it less intimidating.
How do you deal with rejection or a less favourable review? I fume for a bit, march up and down a little, then I read it again. If there is criticism in it that I can use, something specific, then I try to file it away to use later, to learn from my mistake. If it’s just vaguely unfavourable, I try to tell myself that I don’t care for Danielle Steele novels, Anonymous Agent doesn’t like George Eliot, and there are plenty of people who do like my books. Once you get past obvious things like spelling and grammar, it’s all about personal preference.
How do you keep yourself motivated? I try to always learn new things, read new things, and observe the world around me. Oh, and coffee helps.
In Part 2, Melanie talks about book promotion and the publishing industry.