So! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi Melissa! I'm the author of the Jane True urban fantasy series for Orbit Books, and I'm also a professor of English literature and creative writing at Seton Hill University, in Pennsylvania. I teach undergrads, but I also teach in our MFA program, which is specifically for writing popular fiction. It's very fun!
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I've always loved reading, and I would consider myself a reader, first and foremost. I think the writing came from wanting to give people the same pleasure that I got from books. But I think the fact I'm a reader, first, means that I always think about what I'd like to read and I take a lot of joy in the process, rather than focusing on being published, or being an author.
What surprised you the most about the writing/publishing process?
It's a lot more work than I realized. I didn't know anything about the business when I wrote my book, and I kind of assumed we'd just write stuff and that would be it. But it's a whole, huge process, that includes so much that's not writing. It's a joy to be a part of the industry, but it's definitely a lot of work.
What were your inspirations for creating this story?
I was definitely inspired to write Tempest Rising by the urban fantasy I read as a child, especially Susan Cooper, Mercedes Lackey, and Charles de Lint. Then I was directly inspired by Charlaine Harris's book Dead as a Doornail. I was also inspired by the selkie mythology I'd read as a teenager. They're beautiful, heartbreaking legends.
How long did it take you to write it, and did you have any writer’s block along the way?
It takes me about 3 months to write a novel, although I plan for about a month before that. And I don't believe in writer's block. There are days that everything flows better than others, and days I'd rather edit than write. But if I'm feeling like I don't want to write, I sometimes have to make myself. I find that after an hour or so everything starts to move.
That kind of sounded like I'm talking about constipation, didn't it? I suppose it's an apt metaphor. ;-)
LOL! How do you develop your plots? Do you use any set formula?
I don't use formula, but I do outline. I think, first, about what's the "point" of each book, in terms of two things: the development of my protagonist and the development of my plot. Then I think about where I want to set things, and what I want to happen, and what I need to happen to fulfill the "points" of the book. It's a very organic process, but I'm very involved in the planning stage and would never, ever, attempt to write a book without an outline.
I wanted a female character who was vulnerable but still brave, and I'd always been fascinated by the children of selkies that so many legends mention. What would it be like to be part-magical, part-human? Jane came from these kernels of an idea, that grew and grew.
If you could pick one actress to portray Jane True on the big screen who would it be and why?
To be honest, I don't have an actress for Jane. Maybe that actress who played the older girl in Zombieland, maybe. But I always pictured Jane as anime, which I think was why I liked the covers that Orbit developed so much. So in an ideal world, for me, Tempest Rising would become an anime film.
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
I think the basics of form and structure and grammer have to be there, obviously. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but being able to adequately convey those ideas is a lot harder than people think. After that, I like fiction that has a strong voice, and that I can tell the author enjoyed writing.
This was a great story set with a divided world of humans and those from the supernatural. Was there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Definitely keeping track of everything! I haven't been very good about keeping records of the personality foibles of my characters, so each book I have to go through and remind myself who says what, and who does what, etc. I'm trying to change my ways with book five, and I've bought Scrivener and I'm trying to keep detailed records for this one that I can use for book six. But I wish I'd done that earlier in the series!
I couldn't believe it! I still can't believe it. To this day I get a real kick out of seeing my books in stores.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Probably that bravery takes many forms, and that it's okay to be comfortable in your own skin. I think women are so often being told by our society that they should try to be something they're not, or to constantly work on "fixing" ourselves according to these really skewed standards. I hope Jane encourages women to be what they want to be: be sexy how they want to be sexy, be strong how they want to be strong, and really to think about what they want and what they think is right. We shouldn't let the people around us make our decisions for us.
Thank you so much! Come by and visit Ms. Peeler at:
Ms. Peeler will be giving away a UK edition of Tempest Rising and Tracking the Tempest to one lucky winner!OPEN INTERNATIONALLY!