"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Author Interview: Melanie Rose

Melanie Rose calls herself a “Renaissance Girl”. In fact, the name of her blog is Musings of a Renaissance Girl:  http://www.roseandwren.blogspot.com/ She lives Chewelah, Washington, a small town with an underground artistic community.  "Chewelah" means "land of little water snakes". Her novel Ashford is now available.

1) How did you develop an interest in writing? It's been a life-long passion, dating from about the same time I learned to read. I loved watching people, and from that creating characters. I loved the way a good book made me feel, and wanted to make other people feel that way. As a little girl I used to write short stories for my sister on her birthday...usually involving unicorns or pegasi.

2) Please tell me about your blog. I've been keeping it for about a year. Everyone I talked to at writers' conferences, every article I read, kept reinforcing the fact that you really need an online platform to get anywhere in writing these days. As I didn't have a novel out at the time, it felt presumptuous to create a blog about my writing alone, so it's a little bit of everything. I love creating unique up-cycled clothing and ballet costumes and have an Etsy shop for that, I'm an amateur ballet dancer. I'm a cancer survivor, so that provides a different perspective on life. There were things to write about. Then, when I decided to go with indie publishing for my novel, Ashford, in October, the blog was already there. I also have a Facebook author page: www.facebook.com/MelanieRoseAuthor

3) Please tell me about your novel. Ashford is a historical novel about Anna, a young American woman traveling in Europe just before the outbreak of WWII. She flees to England with her chaperones, and that is where most of the story unfolds. I wrote the opening chapter (where Anna first meets Perry Bertram on the train) one day on a whim, not sure where it would go, just fascinated by the characters. I wrote the last lines of the novel shortly after (I never do that, I'm more comfortable writing chronologically, but it just happened that I knew what I wanted for the end before I knew what happened in the middle) and it went from there. I was very certain from the beginning that I did not want it to be a war story. I wanted it to be a very human story which just happened to take place during the war. I wanted to show the lives of the ordinary people who had to live their lives through it. I wrote it for a young adult to adult audience. My best reviews have come from a wide range of ages. One of my biggest fans is a sixteen-year-old girl. Another is a man in his fifties. It is pretty clean. Certainly appropriate for younger audiences.

4) What other styles do you write? I work mostly with novels, though Ashford is the first I have published. I've messed around with some short fiction, and have notes here and there for a memoir of my experiences as a sixteen-year-old cancer patient. There are always new ideas popping up.

5) Is this a hobby or do you plan to make a career from writing? I have always dreamed of a career as a novelist. I was twelve when I started submitting my first manuscript to editors and agents. Looking back on those early submissions always makes me cringe, but it was good practice and accustomed me to rejection (a must for any writer). For years I dreamed of landing a publishing contract, and I have an enormous stack of rejection letters to show for it. I had been having ongoing frustrations with the manuscript of Ashford last spring, receiving many form rejections, and never any explanation of why. I got bolder and shared the manuscript with a larger number of people, trying to figure out what was wrong. That was when I realized the only people who didn't love it were the editors and agents, who wouldn't tell me why, and I thought, I'm not writing it for them, I'm writing it for the readers. The world of indie publishing has changed drastically in the last few years. It no longer takes hundreds of dollars up front to publish your work. If you are willing do most of the work yourself you can make it available for next to nothing. You have to be very self-critical, and the more people you have edit it for you, the better. It can be done, and it can be done well.

6) What authors do you admire? I've always been a sucker for the classics. I have an aunt who is an English professor specializing in Victorian British Literature, and I always get the best recommendations from her. My first love was Shakespeare, but since then I've become an avid fan of Dickens, Eliot, the Brontes, Austen, Trollope, E.M. Forster, Anthony Hope, and Thomas Costain. I love the travel writing of Norman Lewis, and Norton Juster. But my favorite author of all time is Elizabeth Goudge.

7) What music, places, people inspire you? I love music of almost any sort, but as far as what I like to listen to when I'm writing...it depends on what sort of scene I'm working on. Of course, as a dancer, I love classical ballet music: Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Minkus, Drigo...and I love Grieg. I also enjoy certain kinds of jazz, rock and folk. I'm very keen on Fleet Foxes, Juliette Greco. While I was writing Ashford I listened to a lot of old jazz, especially Ken "Snakehips" Johnson, who gets mentioned in the novel. My husband is a singer/songwriter, so I like to write while he practices. I love watching people in any situation, and I must confess to being a serial eavesdropper in public. I find the conversations of the people around me thoroughly fascinating. Some of my inspiration has come from the British Isles. I love the UK more each time I visit. My husband and I spent our honeymoon in the tiny Welsh village of Llandygwydd.

8) What do you do when you have writer's block? I've found that the best cure is to pack up my laptop and go to a coffee shop. I find the change of scene helpful, and at the very least I'm drinking something delicious and soaking up a different atmosphere. When I'm blocked my mind goes in crazy circles, and the change of place pulls me out of that.

9) How long did it take you to write your novel? Three years, and then more for the editing.

10) Have you ever attended a writer's conference? I have attended the Pacific Northwest Writers' Conference for the past four years.

11) What is your writing process like? I like to get a fairly early start in the morning, but I can write at any time of day the muse decides to favor me. I have on occasion dragged myself out of bed in the middle of the night because an idea was pestering me so much I couldn't sleep.

Anyone interested in learning more can contact Melanie through her blog (mentioned above) or at melanierose.writes@gmail.com


anthony stemke said...

I enjoyed reading this interview and found it interesting, from writing the ending shortly after completing the first chapter to the types of music listened to while engaged.
Thank You Sylvia,"Ashford" sounds like a good historical novel book.

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