Featured Author: Michelle Mellon began her writing career in poetry, and had several pieces published in World of Poetry Press anthologies and independent journals before changing her focus to short fiction. Since then, she has had stories published in Cecile’s Writers Magazine and Silent Voices literary magazine; the science fiction anthologies Ecotastrophe and When the World Runs Thin; the Slices of Flesh, Thou Shalt Not, and Scary Stories Series horror anthologies; and the inaugural issue of Hinnom Magazine. Her upcoming publications include stories in a fantasy anthology and a mystery magazine.
In August 2015, Ms. Mellon and her husband relocated from San Francisco to Germany. She is currently a stay-at-home mom to their cat while she revises a horror story collection, works on new stories, and writes a blog about living overseas. You can find links to her published works and blog on her web site: www.mpmellon.com and follow her on Twitter here: http://Twitter.com/mpmellon.
Featured Author: Michelle Mellon Interview
- How long have you been writing?
- What/who inspired you to be a writer?
- What genre do you prefer to write in?
- Describe your writing process. What comes first–character or plot? Do you “pants” it or outline?
- What is your daily routine as a writer?
- What are some of your biggest challenges you feel like you have to overcome in your writing career?
- Do you prefer short stories or full-length novels in your writing?
- Can you give some us some insight into your story?
- What advice can you give other writers?
LHP: How long have you been writing?
Michelle Mellon: I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I started writing poetry in elementary school and continued through grad school, with short stories sprinkled in along the way. For my graduate thesis I wrote a novella, and decided then I wanted to concentrate more seriously on developing my voice as a fiction writer. Back to top >>>
LHP: What genre do you prefer to write in?
Michelle Mellon: My first love is horror. It’s what I read the most growing up, and what I feel the most comfortable writing. But most speculative fiction is a lure for me: science fiction, some fantasy, a dabble of alternate history. I think a well-told story is captivating in any genre, and I would love to someday look back and have published across the fiction spectrum, including western and romance.
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LHP: What/who inspired you to be a writer?
Michelle Mellon: Reading inspired me to become a writer. I’ve always been an avid reader, and as we were encouraged to do small writing exercises in school, I started paying more attention to the things I read and how the writing itself influenced how I felt about the ideas presented. Back to top >>>
LHP: Describe your writing process. What comes first–character or plot? Do you “pants” it or outline?
Michelle Mellon: I get an idea for a story first. Sometimes I jot it down or type it up and put it in my “ideas” folder. Sometimes I sketch out the basic plot and put it in my “draft stories” folder. Sometimes I sit down and immediately write out a first draft—it’s like I’ve been possessed. In all cases, I let the story decide how much it wants to give me at any given time.
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LHP: What is your daily/weekly routine as a writer?
Michelle Mellon: I do not have a regular routine or daily word target when I write. If I’m writing something for an anthology, I work so I can finish a couple of days in advance of the deadline, then I read through and edit, then read it again out loud and do my final edits. Otherwise, I tend to work on 2-3 stories in a rotation. I’ll pull something out of my draft or idea folder, play with it for a few days, then move on to the next one when I get stumped. My process is best described as “fits and starts,” unless a story has grabbed hold of me and won’t let go. Back to top >>>
LHP: What are some of your biggest challenges you feel like you have to overcome in your writing career?
Michelle Mellon: I think my biggest challenges have all centered on me, and not external forces. My insecurities about being “good enough” as a writer delayed me in pursuing writing—both as a communications professional and as a fiction and blog writer. That fed a “what’s the point?” mindset, and discouraged me from becoming more disciplined and organized. In addition, I tend to obsess over getting things just right. It took me years to stop editing myself as I wrote, and to learn to let go of things that were ready, because they were never going to be “perfect.” Finally, there’s been overcoming the challenge of just being able to enjoy the stories that come into my head, and not worrying about adding greater symbolism or meaning as some sort of obligation to represent either/both my statuses as a female and a person of color. Back to top >>>
LHP: Do you prefer short stories or full length novels in your writing?
Michelle Mellon: I’m a short story writer. It was a struggle for a while, because I felt pressure to “evolve” from stories into longer pieces. I drafted a screenplay, and outlined a novel, and they were good challenges for me, but not where my passion lies. I think there’s a skill to story writing that’s underrated, and I would love to help change people’s minds about the value of shorter works of fiction.
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LHP: Can you give some us some insight into your story?
Michelle Mellon: My original thinking with “The Will and the Way of Things” was to write a straightforward vampire story set in an ancient Earth or alternate traditional culture. But as I began to write, the story started to take a more mystical tone. The secondary characters in my original idea became the focus, and the struggle was less about good v. evil and vampire v. human, but about those grey areas of give-and-take that are the reality of life, no matter the time or place.
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LHP: What advice can you give other writers?
Michelle Mellon: Read. See what’s missing and fill the void, or see what’s out there that you can do better. Study good writing to inspire your own craft, and study not-so-good writing so you can avoid those same pitfalls.
Don’t stop. When I first started sending out my writing and got rejection notes back in the mail, I’d put them up on my wall around my desk. To me, it meant someone read what I wrote and respected me enough to take the time to acknowledge my effort. I kept reminding myself if my writing wasn’t to their taste it wasn’t a reflection on me or what I wrote; it simply meant I had to keep pushing on till I found the right fit.
Be your own advocate. It sounds cheesy and cliché, but it’s true: if you don’t believe in yourself, in your talent, in the message you want to be out there in the world, then there’s no way anyone else will. No one owes you anything for being able to tell a good story; 99% of writers have to work all the angles to be successful, like with any other profession.