- Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a fantasy author with Asperger syndrome. I’ve been writing since I was roughly 13 years old, and have been developing the world of Aeldynn since then. I sail on tall ships as a hobby (and became a volunteer deckhand), and I’ve done martial arts since childhood and am now a black belt in Kung Fu. I’m also an avid gamer, and occasionally attend anime/gaming conventions during which I partake of cosplaying as some of my favourite characters.
- What do you write (genre, length)?
What I write would primarily be classed as epic/high fantasy, but there are also elements of dark fantasy and sword & sorcery in there, too. The Scions of Balance saga is set to darken in future installments, and I have other projects I’m working on which include further short story collections and some novellas about some of the characters. It’s a big world that I’m still developing, and there are many events and individuals that interconnect in one way or another. The length varies as a result, but The Scions of Balance books are generally quite long books being epic fantasy.
- What is/are your current project/s? Please give us some details.
I am currently working on Mindseer Oracle, book 2 in the Scions of Balance series as my primary project, but I am also working on a short story collection focussed on Larkh and his crew on board the Greshendier, and two character-focused novellas. One of those novellas is about the Fralh demon Dhentaro and how he came to leave his underworld homeland, and the other is about how the half Nays/half Kensaiyr mercenary Lerçadien and the Shäada soldier Daegar escape across the icy northlands (both of these characters have short stories which set them up in Endeavours of the Unsung, my first short story collection). All of these tie into The Scions of Balance series. Aeldynn is a huge world, so many stories will interweave with one another.
- Who (author or otherwise) or what book inspired you to write?
I think I was always going to be a storyteller of some description; I’ve been writing stories ever since I learned how to read and write. However, I’d say Tolkien inspired me to be a world-builder. While I found his writing style excessively verbose, his world-building is exemplary and I’m endeavouring to follow in that example to ensure Aeldynn is a believable world.
- What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
It’s a harsh world out there for authors; I’m learning that now, but if it’s something you really want, don’t give up on that dream. Always improve your writing, do your research, do it right.
- What do you do for a living?
At the moment, I only have my writing, but I’m in the process of figuring out a new career path.
- Who is/are your favorite author(s)?
I’m not sure that I have any particular favourites; just those whose books I’ve enjoyed. I’ve very much enjoyed Maggie Furey’s books, along with Julia Gray in terms of earlier fantasy titles. A more recent author I’ve enjoyed the works of is John Gwynne, and I’m currently taking to Andrzej Sapkowski. I’ll be trying Evan Winter and Tomi Adeyemi soon.
- What is/are your favorite book(s)?
There are too many I like for different reasons, but some of those that have stood out are: The Shadowleague trilogy by Maggie Furey; The Guardian Cycle quintet by Julia Gray; The Faithful and the Fallen quartet by John Gwynne, and I’m now warming to Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher novels as I’ve both enjoyed The Witcher III: Wild Hunt video game and the The Witcher series on Netflix. I’ve a few authors I’ve never read before lined up, so who knows? Maybe I’ll be adding to the list soon.
- What’s the best compliment someone can give you as an author?
Write them a heartfelt review of their books, and don’t stop recommending and talking to others about what you love about their writing.
- What is the strangest/most interesting/coolest/weirdest/scariest thing you’ve had to research for a book or short story?
To figure out the physiology of the Fralh (a species of demon with a somewhat feline appearance and phenomenal martial arts skills), I had to do some extensive research into the structure of a carnivore’s digestive system, and how they differ from omnivores and herbivores. I’ve also had to figure out how they and other species such as the Drahknyr function in terms of other systems of the body as well, such as: multiple hearts or heart chambers; lung size/capacity, energy consumption, speed on the ground for the Fralh or in the air for Drahknyr; why the Drahknyr have feathered wings and how they see through the wind when aloft (to answer that latter question, like birds they have a third, clear eyelid to shield from the wind). These are just some of the weird but fascinating subjects I’ve researched.
- What is the most difficult part of writing for you? Why?
I can’t “make things up.” Basically, my story is there but I just don’t know all of it yet. I get imagery from here there and everywhere, and most of the time I only get those visions in dribs and drabs and almost always entirely out of order. It’s like there’s a big picture buried somewhere and I’m the archaeologist brushing away piece by piece trying to uncover the bigger picture. I discovered in December 2019, that for the past few years, I’ve been experiencing autistic burnout, so my ability to write has been impacted by that. However, I haven’t given up; it’s just taking a bit longer than I’d like to get those words on to the page. Believe me, I want to get that next book out as much as my current readers are keen to get their hands on it.
- What is your favorite genre to read? Why?
Fantasy, always. Why? Because it’s all about the what ifs that exist out there. The universe is vast; quite possibly infinite; so we can’t possibly know what’s really out there. What works in this world may not in another, and vice versa, so saying fantasy only deals with the impossible would be silly, as it assumes you know everything there is to know about the universe. So what is there to explore outside our tiny little island we call Earth?
- What are some little known facts about you? Hobbies, talents, anything?
Other than what I mentioned at the beginning of the interview, there’s not really much to add apart from some random things: I have a spiritual belief system which includes a deep reverence for nature; I usually have a strong sense of discernment; I have some heightened senses that come with my Aspergers, with one example being over the years my hearing has (to this date) got sharper and more acute, not worse – but my brain focuses more on the sounds I don’t want to hear than those I do; and I’m a bendy, somewhat hyper-mobile tall lady with one leg about 5 mm shorter than the other. *Shrug.*
- Do you like physical books, ebooks, or audiobooks better? Why?
I prefer physical books. I sometimes buy an ebook from a fellow indie author to see if I like them, and then buy physical copies. I rarely look at ebooks though. I can’t do audiobooks at all because I generally need visuals for my autistic mind to focus on. Listening to words being spoken without visuals means I’ll end up focusing on whatever else I’m doing at the time and won’t take anything in that way (the same goes for reading subtitles on a screen; I don’t read fast and I can’t focus on what’s actually happening on the screen if I’m reading text). However, saying that, I gain a lot of imagery for my own books in listening to music, which is why I can’t have music on while reading but I can while writing, so long as it’s relevant to the particular scenes I’m working on. I know, I’m strange; but why be ordinary when you can be extraordinary?
Find Melissa at the links below!
Keys of the Origin
Endeavours of the Unsung