Terrie Leigh Relf: What are your favorite literary genres to write in and what type of writing do you do?
Melissa Mead: Fantasy, mostly. Sometimes a little SF or the occasional dark fantasy. Lots of Flash. Most of my short stories are under 5,000 words.
TLR: What is your area of subject matter expertise? How did you discover this niche? What intrigues you about it?
MM: I love twisting fairy tales. I grew up with them, and Robin McKinley’s been one of my favorite authors since I was a kid. Fairy tales are so well known that right away you’re starting off sharing a background with your reader, giving them a comfortable, familiar starting point. Then you can go off in all kinds of directions without spending words to lay foundation first.
TLR: How do you balance your creative and work time?
MM: I’m fortunate enough to have a 9-5 day job that pays the bills, and I can write after work, so that works out well.
TLR: What tips do you have for other writers?
MM: One of the best pieces of writing advice I got was from an English professor who assigned MAXIMUM word limits on assignments. Until then, teachers had always given minimum limits, which led to padding and superfluous verbiage. Staying under a certain word count is a great way to learn how to distill a story down to its essence.
Also, when you feel stuck, try writing Drabbles. They’re a great way to get the feeling of “Yay, I finished something!”
TLR: What are your thoughts on the creative process in general and your creative process in particular? Where do your ideas come from? What inspires and Intrigues you?
MM: Ideas can come from anywhere. I try to keep my senses open to new input, and combine it in new ways. Some things that have lead to published work include a misread dictionary definition, a nature documentary and cooking show, watched back-to back, and a weird light in my closet.
TLR: Where have you been published? Upcoming publications? Awards and other accolades?
MM: Most of my work lately has been in Daily Science Fiction. I have a new story pending with them, one coming out in Myriad Lands (an anthology from Guardbridge Books), and a drabble coming from Alban Lake Publishing’s Confessions of a Shapeshifter.
TLR: What are you working on right now?
MM: A handful of fairy tales that started off great and still need endings.
TLR: What challenges have you faced as a writer and/or with a particular project? How did you meet them? What did you learn from these challenges and how did it make you a better writer?
MM: A few years ago, my life as I knew it fell apart. If I hadn’t already promised to write the Twisted Fairy Tale Flash Series for Daily Science Fiction, I might’ve given up on writing altogether. But I’d made a promise, so I wrote. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to produce decent work, but I’ve learned that it’s possible to write publishable stories even when you’re in a lousy frame of mind.
MM: Miska and Juliar, from my Double Dragon novel, Between Words, will always be dear to me. Miska’s been with me since I was a kid. And Juliar, well, he was supposed to say 3 words and leave. Instead, he winked at Miska and took over the book.
And someday I’d love to introduce readers to Malak, who’s half serpent-demon and half angelic being, and who looks like David Tennant’s Doctor in scaly pants and an alligator tail.
TLR: Are you currently, or have you ever, been in a writing group? Your thoughts?
MM: I’ve been part of an online group called Carpe Libris. We’ve lost two of our three founding members, and the rest of us are mostly “Friends hanging out online and cheering each other on” these days.
TLR: I know our readers would love to hear about your networking, marketing, and promotional experiences – including tips.
MM: Don’t try to “network.” Just be friendly. Go to conventions if you get the chance. Meet people. Read their books. If you like the books, let people know. What goes around, comes around.
TLR: What would you like to see more of in your specific genre? In the publishing field?
MM: I’d like to see more upbeat stories. Dark and “gritty” doesn’t do much for me. And I’d like to see publishers follow through with series. It’s so frustrating to enjoy Book 1 of a trilogy and then learn that the others haven’t been picked up.
TLR: Thank you for participating in this interview series, Melissa. Looking forward to reading more of your work – including for the next drabble contest! Please follow the links below to read her work!