Name Melissa Lummis
Where are you from The United States. Born in Morgantown, Pennsylvania, but currently live in Culpeper, Virginia.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I received my teaching/English degree from Penn State University in Pennsylvania and taught both public and private school for several years before meeting my husband while living and working in Washington D.C.. We moved to Pennsylvania together where my career path took a left turn into technical writing and instructional design.
After we married, we packed up all our belongings, put them in storage, and took off on the biggest adventure of my life: hiking the entire Appalachian Trail. It’s a 2100 mile trail that runs through the Appalachian Mountain range on the east coast of America. We spent six and a half months hiking from Georgia to Maine, and I must say it fundamentally changed my outlook on life.
Coming back to the “real” world after living in the woods for over half a year was a bit unnerving, but we cushioned the blow by moving to an intentional community in the Green Mountains of New York. What’s an intentional community? That’s a politically correct, updated term for a hippie commune. But after a year of learning the ins and outs of commune life, we decided to head back to Virginia and start a family.
I decided to stay home with my kids, but I can be quite restless and needed something of my own to do outside the home. I’m not sure how it all started, but I ended up becoming a registered yoga teacher, which led to teaching different fitness classes, and becoming a personal trainer. But what was supposed to be a very part-time gig that I could work around my family’s schedule became a hectic, all-consuming career.
During all that time, I was attempting to write my first novel, but something always derailed me. Jobs, motherhood, you name it, I let it be an excuse not to finish the book.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing since I learned to write. Writing stories was a way for me to channel an insane imagination and my chatterbox personality. My mother will attest to my long, long descriptions of television shows, books, movies, and my daily life during car rides. I couldn’t seem to stop my mind from processing and creating, and if I didn’t get it out of my head one way or another, I would explode.
I got series about writing a novel right after my grandmother died, my Nanny Baer. She’d always encouraged me to follow my dreams and somehow her passing suddenly woke me up to the passage of time. We only get a certain amount of time on this earth so we better do the things we really want to do before it’s too late.
So I left my fitness job and wrote my first novel. This was around the time the self-publishing movement was just taking off and I decided to go the indie route. I’m glad I did.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably since first grade. I was six years old when I wrote my first little story as a school assignment. The teacher wrote on my paper, “You’re going to be a writer some day.” And I said to my mom, “But I’m already a writer.”
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My Appalachian Trail adventure. While the book I ended up writing was nothing like the first idea I had, hiking the trail definitely inspired Enlightened, my first ever novel (which is free, btw). The idea that we all have to take a journey, one way or another, in our lives in order to really figure out who we are feeds that story.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I’m sure I do, I mean it’s our voice as a writer, right? But it’s hard for me to describe it other than to say I write new age suspense in a fantasy setting. I wish I could take credit for that description, but someone else put it that way and it sounds exactly right to me.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Enlightened has several layers of meaning for me, but I came up with it for the title of my first book because the main character is not only on a journey to discover her true self, but she’s also shedding light on her past. Secrets are revealed by each of the characters, enlightening themselves and others about who they really are, what their real motives are, and fundamentally, who they are as a person.
It’s also a play on the magical nature of the main character. This is a paranormal romance and Loti, the main character, is something that no one has seen for a very long time. I don’t want to spoil it, but it definitely inspired the title.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes! I don’t want to spoil it, but the essence is “Know yourself. Be Yourself. Trust Yourself.”
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
Well, it’s paranormal in the sense of the TV show Supernatural. It’s like taking the world we live in now and adding all the fairytale and folklore you’ve ever read about. The magical part of the world is of course unreal, but the relationships between the characters and the internal journey of each is very real.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Well, I think everything I write is somehow influenced by my own experience and the experiences of others, but no one I know has ever met a vampire, so, uh, lol, no. I will say that certain scenes were fed by personal experiences, like the scene in the first chapter where Loti is hearing something in her house that she can’t see. That happened to me.
Also, there’s a scene where she has to hike in the rain in the mountains. Definitely been there.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
My biggest influences as a writer are Stephen King, Franz Kafka, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Unlikely trio, I know.
I fell in love with King’s style when I read Carrie many years ago. His characters feel like real people you either know or have seen around town. His horror is legitimately scary, not gory. Those are very different things. He may include some gore, but it’s not at the core of the scare. Gore. Meh. Psychological thriller? Yeah. I want to write that.
I’ve read most of what King’s written over the years, devouring each new release in a matter of days. I’ve been known to stay up all night to finish one of his books. I wouldn’t be surprised if all the binge reading has led to absorbing some of his style.
As far as Kafka, all I have to say is The Metamorphosis. A story about waking up as a giant bug…brilliant. I want to write surprising things like that.
Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby has to be my all-time favorite classic. His writing style is elegant and authentic. What I mean is, a lot of “classics” tend to sound forced to me, overly wrought and painfully laborious, as if the writer had something to prove and was far too in love with their own words. Fitzgerald writes like a man with clean hands and an open heart. He understands love, regret, remorse, hope, and friendship because he’s lived it. He’s not trying to do anything; he’s doing it. He conveys a visceral experience with words seamlessly. I want to write like that. That’s magic.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Beam: Season 1 by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant. Loving it. It’s a sci-fi thriller.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
See above. Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant. They are prolific and their plots are bendy. Love that.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I am currently wrapping up my urban fantasy, the Little Flame Series (the first novella, Nine30, is free). I’m writing book 9 in the 10 part series right now. Book 8 is getting prepped for a January 28, 2016 release. I hope to have the last book done by February and the final release out the end of March.
I’m also researching my next project, a sci-fi/fantasy speculative fiction series that’s a little off the beaten path for me. It asks hard questions about freedom from fear versus the freedom to choose. It’s a love story and sci-fi thriller.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Oh definitely my tribe. I have two distinct tribes in my life: the hikers I met on the AT and the fellow authors I’ve met along my writing journey.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. I run my writing business as a business, but that doesn’t mean writing isn’t also a calling, a craft, an art, and a passion. I don’t know if blending the two is the easiest thing, but it’s worth it. I don’t have to set my alarm to wake up early and get to work. That speaks volumes.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Funny you should ask that. When it was with the editor, I must have sent her a dozen questions about things I should change or add, but in the end the answer is a resounding no. Yes, there are things I could have done better, but I’ll get to that in the next book.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
With my mother reading to me. My earliest memories are of my mother reading stories to me at bed time. Brer Rabbit, in particular. Big colorful pictures of Bible stories: Noah’s Ark, Moses in the wilderness. I’m not sure how it occurred to me that someone actually wrote those stories down, but when I figured that out, I knew I wanted to write stories as vivid and engaging as the ones in the books.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m assuming you mean a little teaser? Absolutely! This is from Music, book #9 in the Little Flame series. This is the first time I’m sharing anything from that book.
When the universe began, was someone there? Did it start not with a bang of nothingness, but with a broken heart? With utter silence and a stillness so profound, an emptiness so unfathomable that their heart and mind imploded? Did they collapse in the vacuum, and then under the crushing weight of so much nothing, did they detonate in despair?
Leaving Max had left me something so much less, and so much more than blank and broken. I stared at the Friday night crowd oozing through the French Quarter without registering the humanity; it was all one long, living thing that would eat me alive if I stopped moving. But that wasn’t why I kept walking. What kept me going? My mission: to save Dee and protect Max.
But that hadn’t always been my mission.
“This way, Fiamette,” Hross said, gesturing to a big guy guarding a flight of stairs. Hross touched the small of my back as he gave me a worried frown. I shivered. The one thing I could feel? The maddening, sexual urge to seal the blood bond with Hross. Being this close to the vampire was unbearable. When he touched me? Oh God. I bit my tongue, hard, and the pain cleared my head for a second.
My mission for over 200 hundred years had been to find Antonio. I glanced up at Hross’s blond hair, his grey eyes, the square jaw. Had I found him?
The bulldog of a bouncer unclipped the velvet rope without asking Hross anything, standing back enough to let us pass. He nodded at Hross as if he knew him, but didn’t so much as look at me. I wondered if he was told not to pay attention to the people the special clientele brought to the VIP section? Maybe the bouncer didn’t want to see me. Maybe he’d seen too many souls enter one way and leave another…or not at all.
Oh good grief. I needed to snap the hell out of this melancholy funk. I needed my A-game to get through what lie ahead. If I wanted to keep Max safe while I took care of Dee’s murderer, the only way to bring Dee back from the curse and limbo where I’d left him, then I had to get a fucking grip. I rubbed the well-worn leather of my healer’s satchel in little, soothing circles. I not only could do this, I had to.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Creating the right balance between action, inner dialogue, and description. Also, so much character gesturing is trite and overused, but people do what people do: raise eyebrows, rub the back of their necks, bite their lips, etc. etc. How do you keep it from sounding overused (which it is)? And what other gestures do we make that tell things about our feelings and thoughts?
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I think I got ahead of myself and answered this in a previous question, but it’s Stephen King. He is the master of crafting believable characters and making unbelievable plots and story arcs utterly credible. That’s why his books are so scary and so satisfying.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I try to keep book travel to twice per year, otherwise, it eats up too much of my budget. I only have one event booked for 2016, however, because I decided to spend the money on a trip to England with my daughter, instead. I will be a featured author at the Indie Bookfest in October of 2016. It’s in Orlando, Florida and is one of the best author events I’ve ever participated in.
Also, I have two kids still in school, a husband, a dog, two guinea pigs, good friends, and a home in the woods that I adore. This is not the time in my life to be rushing all over the world. This is my time to spend with my family under one roof. I know that will change all too soon and I’ll have plenty of time to devote to my writing career when the kids are on their own.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I designed the covers for my Little Flame series. I kept them simple, but I think that’s what makes them powerful. Stephanie Nelson designed my Love and Light series covers. They are exquisite.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part of writing my first book was pacing myself and being patient with the process. It’s a long, long road, much like hiking 2100 miles. I had to remind myself that a little bit every day would get me to the end, but I also needed to make sure I was enjoying the journey itself, not just rushing to finish.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that I am capable of just about anything I set my mind to. I learned that nothing worth doing is easy and sometimes all you can do is put one foot in front of the other. I learned that it takes a team to produce a novel, that writing the first draft is the easy part. It’s the second draft and third and fourth and edits and late night mind-wracking plot untangling that’s the real hard work.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Oh boy. Okay, I’ll keep it simple: writer’s write. Write.
It’s okay to take breaks; it’s okay to live your life because if you don’t you won’t write much worth reading. BUT (you knew there was a but coming) writer’s write. Sit your butt in the chair or on the floor or wherever and put words down. Create the habit of writing because it makes the writing flow easier and you can’t get better at the craft any other way.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I want to say THANK YOU!! Thank you for taking a chance on me, for buying my books, for actually reading my stories. Thank you for telling your friends about my books and for leaving reviews. Thank you for following me on Facebook and Twitter and Istagram and Tumblr.
Thank you, because without you reading my words, my stories would be like trees falling in the woods without anyone around to see or hear it. Maybe that’s okay for some people, but its way too sad for me. What’s the point of writing a story if no one reads it? So THANK YOU for watching and listening to my trees fall. ❤
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The first book I remember reading to myself was The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I don’t know if was the actual first book I read, but it’s the one I remember.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Oh gosh. So many things. Sometimes the same things. I love stand up comedy, but what makes me really laugh from the belly is a witty, honest observation of the absurdities of life. Like how we as humans argue over the most ridiculous things that mean nothing, yet we are passionate about. Like, say, which way the toilet paper should be hung. Lol! I am guilty of having a very strong opinion on this matter, and that is the funniest thing ever.
What makes me cry? Real people with real problems. Real people who help solve those problems. The tiny little acts of love and light. The tough and beautiful moments of our every day, every day. And Kleenex commercials, Christmas Hallmark movies, and even romantic comedies depending on the weather and my mood.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
If we’re talking celebrities or famous people, I would have loved to have met Eleanor Roosevelt. She strikes me as a woman who carved out her own life at a time when women were meant to be seen and not heard. Powerful woman with a lot of love and conviction.
Think about this: she was 36 years old when women were granted the right to vote in America. I would love to have talked about that with her.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Because, to me, those are the most important things you can do with your life. Namaste, loosely translated means “The truth, the light, and the Divine in me sees and honors the truth, the light, and the Divine in you.”
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Yes! Reading, yoga, knitting, crochet, crafting, cooking, hiking, backpacking, and baking.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Too many! I love the Blacklist and Supernatural. I also adore the Big Bang Theory, Vikings, and Bob’s Burgers. There are so many more (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars, True Blood) but those are my current obsessions.
Movies are harder to narrow down because I’ll watch anything and often do. I’m looking forward to the new Star Wars movie, but love the classics. I particularly love science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy movies like Lord of the Rings and The Fifth Element, but romantic comedies like When Harry Met Sally, 50 First Dates, Shallow Hall, and He’s Just Not that Into You are awesome, too.
I don’t like horror movies that focus on blood and gore. I guess those would be called slasher movies, but I do love the film adaptations of Stephen King’s books, like the Shining and The Stand, as well as psychological thrillers like the Sixth Sense. I really love the kind that have wonderful, gasp worthy twists at the end.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I love food, but I am picky about freshness and quality so I tend to cook myself and am choosey about restaurants. I love Indian, Thai, Mexican, and authentic Italian but am not that great at preparing them myself, so I tend to go out for that.
I love all colors, really. Seriously. I’m knitting a lap blanket right now that is sort of a rainbow. Look:
As far as music, I am an avid music junkie. I love all kinds of genres and am willing to listen to anything at least once. I’m open to all genres because I have discovered amazing songs when I’ve stepped outside my preconceived notions of what is good. BUT…
I currently adore EDM and Dubstep—artists like Skrillex, Diplo, Dillon Francis, DJ Snake, and Deadmou5. I also love classic 80s pop stars, like Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, the Police, Prince, and Duran Duran.
You’ll also find me listening to the Civil Wars, Nathanial Gunderson, and John Mayer.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I think I’ve already done them: teacher, instructional designer, yoga instructor, personal trainer, and fitness professional. The only other thing I might want to try my hand at is professional voice work, like narrating audiobooks. I don’t know if I have the time right now to break into that business, but maybe in a few years when the kids are off to college.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Enlightened Amazon US http://amzn.to/1OZ0EGT
Nine30 Amazon US http://amzn.to/1OYY8k1
Little Flame Box Set (Books 1 -5) Amazon US http://amzn.to/1OZ0OxY
Here’s the link to my Amazon Author page on the US site http://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Lummis/e/B009Y4BE8U
and here’s the UK version. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Melissa-Lummis/e/B009Y4BE8U/