Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hello, and thank you for this opportunity, Fiona!
My name is Melissa E. Beckwith and I’m 49.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Southern California but I’m living in Indiana right now to be near my grandson, Bryar.
Fiona: A little about your self
I got married very young to my high school sweet heart. We had three kids in quick order so I just stayed at home and raised my kids. I’ve wanted to be an author since I was about four years old. When I was very little—too young to read—I made picture books of my stories. I was strongly discouraged from writing by my mother and was told that I could not go to college, which I wanted to. So, I got married and had babies instead.
Eventually when my youngest graduated high school I did start community college and I have two years of general college education. I wanted very badly to earn a MFA in creative Writing but I don’t want to get any further into student loan debt. Maybe someday.
My husband of 30 years and I live in Indiana now to be near our beloved grandson, Bryar. I am a full-time writer and my wonderful husband supports my efforts to start this indie author/publishing business.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I am currently working on Sword of Stone, the third book in The Sword of Rhiannon epic fantasy series. The first two books are already out on Amazon. Sword of Stone should be available at the end of the summer 2017. The last (maybe?) book in the series, Daughter of the Forgotten Tree will be out in late fall 2017.
I have also commissioned art work for the covers of my first two books so I will be changing those covers within the next few months. It’s exciting to work with an artist to create my vision!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have always had a wild imagination. I started “writing” at a very early age to escape a horrible home life. I can remember back to about the age of four making picture books. One of the story series that I invented was a set of triplet sisters who found people’s lost pets…lol
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Again, at a very early age. About four, maybe even earlier. I always knew I’d be an author and I told everyone who’d listen.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I don’t know why it took me SO long to write and complete that first book. But I had a weird dream (which I do a lot) and that idea kind of morphed into this series. A year or so before that dream I had been reading Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Up until then I hadn’t even known it was possible to write a story where people just popped into a different time/world. It was fascinating and opened a whole new world of possibilities for me since I love the theme of leaving your old life behind for a new adventure!
I had read (and loved) C. S. Lewis’ Narnia books when I was younger, but I guess at that time I just wasn’t ready to write this story, plus I was still under the negative influence of my parents at the time.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Let me say, I hate the title of my first book….lol. I could not come up with a title to save my life! So, in desperation I just picked the best of a handful of bad choices. However, I do have a good title for my first book now and I will be changing it when I redo my covers. The new name will be Tree of Bone and Mist. It has must less of a Disney Princess feel to it like the current title has. I’ve been wracking my brain for over a year for this book one title, and finally, one sleepless night last month, it came to me. Finally!
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Well, anyone that has read my first two books knows that I tend to be very wordy. In fact, it has been mentioned a few times in my reviews. I am working on that and I think this third book will read a lot smoother. Becoming a good writer has a steep learning curve. I might have been “born a writer” but I was not born with any special talents or knowledge at all. We should always be in a constant state of learning new things and pushing ourselves to try new things. We can’t be stagnant with our education, not matter how old we get or how many books we put out. There is always something new to learn. I am hoping that every new book I put out will be better than the last.
My writing style is a bit more old school, or literary maybe. I think J. R. R. Tolkien’s books, TheLord of the Rings and The Hobbit, were some of the most beautifully worded literature I have ever read. I was completely mesmerized by the poetic, harmonious word choices. This is what I strive for. I’ve set myself a high, high bar.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Well, it’s an epic fantasy, so not much of it is based on real life. That being said, in this third book that I am writing now, my protagonist, Rhiannon, starts having trouble with depression and anxiety, something I have struggled with my whole life. So, I hope I can write about it realistically and hopefully bring attention to something that millions of us suffer from.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I wrote the first two books while still living in Southern California. I did not travel to get an idea of my world. However, I do look at a lot of pictures on the internet and we have traveled in the past to almost all the States in the Union. In the last part of Sword of Stone, that I’m currently writing, it takes part in sort of a jungle beachy place. My husband and I took a vacation to Pensacola (we used to live there in the mid 90s) in April and I took a lot of pictures and paid attention to how things looked because this is how I will portray this area in my new book.
I have a story idea for a future book that I’d like to loosely base on a real event in the past. I love to be able to travel to the actual place (in Arizona) to get a feel for the area. We have been there before, but it was 27 years ago so my memory is fuzzy.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I picked out and purchased the clip art for my current covers and then Courtney Cannon over at www.Fiction-Atlas.com put it all together and made it beautiful.
The artist that I have commissioned to do the art for my new book covers is Jackie Felix at https://jackiefelixart.deviantart.com/
Once she is done with the art, Courtney will be remaking my covers again.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Well, mostly my story is there to entertain and to take you on an exciting journey through a rich new world with interesting, engaging characters. But I guess the underlying theme would be to never give up, not matter how hard it is, you can achieve your goals.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Well, besides J. R. R. Tolkien that I mentioned above, I also love Robin Hobb and N.K. Jemisin. I’m fascinated by the worlds they create and captivated by their characters. Jemisin also has that poetic, flowing language that I love and she is so totally original it’s mind-blowing.
For new writers, I recently found Sara C. Roethle. I am really enjoying her Tree of Ages books. Her world building is great and she takes you on a wild ride! I love all the different creatures in her books.
Also, R. K. Thorn’s The Enslaved Chronicles. Her writing is modern, up-beat and witty and there’s even a little bit of romance in the story. I’m not so patently waiting for the third book in the series…lol
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Outside of my husband, I can only name Joanna Penn over at www.TheCreativePenn.com . She doesn’t know me, but her podcasts, books, blog posts, webinars and Tweets have made my career possible. I’ve been listening to/reading her for years and she is the one that, unbeknownst to her, continually encouraged me and made me realize that, yes, I can do this. She is the one that gave me the confidence, despite my disability, to go for it. Go after my life-long dream. It isn’t too late! Maybe someday I will be able to meet her and tell her what an impact she’s had on my life.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. The minute you don’t take this seriously is the minute you let self-doubt creep in and then it becomes just a hobby you get to whenever you’re not doing something else…which is never.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Well, I am changing some things in (minor) in book one to fit the new cover. The problem is, you never feel like a book is truly done. I wrote those first two books about 12 years ago and they just sat on my computer. Over the 12 years I must have edited/re-wrote them ten times. Those books are as good as they will ever get. This third book will be better, and the fourth will be even better than that. At some point, you just have to move on to the next book or series. I’m looking forward to finishing the next two books and moving on to something totally different. I don’t even want to think about my first books any more.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I’ve been learning all along. I’m learning more about sentence structure. Hopefully that will cut down on my wordiness. I’m also learning about character progression and story arcs. Fun! Oh, and I’m trying to finally learn how to use Scrivener…lol
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Hum, well I don’t know. My protagonist most resembles a very tall Native American. That would be fun to see who they would castas Rhiannon and Shih ‘Ni.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Don’t give up! Work through the self-doubt you have, we all have it. Life is way too short not to grab your dream and hold on tightly! Also, never stop learning. Read every book you can on writing, every podcast, every webinar and ever course (you can afford). There is a learning curve here…you just have want it bad enough.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Keep your eyes out for my new covers! I’m excited about those. Also keep a look out for Sword of Stone which should be out by the end of summer.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Blood Forest bySara C. Roethle
How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Wow…no. I remember the Dick and Jane books, Saggy Baggy Elephant, and Dr. Seuss…lol
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I absolutely love math jokes…lol
I cry at cruelty to children or animals.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Oprah, Maya Angelou, Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton, Joan of Ark, Sacagawea, and Pocahontas. Because I can’t pick only one and they are/were all strong women who fought through difficult circumstances.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I love watching movies! I also love nature and love to go camping and bird watching. I have an affinity for fine art and I can spend hours analyzing a piece. In the future, I’m also going to try my hand at making custom furniture pieces…I know, that’s weird. lol
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Of course The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit moves were the best. I also loved Avatar and though I’m not a Trekie, the Star Trek movies. Don’t laugh, I love the new Planet of the Apes moves, too. I don’t watch much tv outside the news and home improvement shows.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I’m obsessed with red!!!
I rock out to heavy metal (love Disturbed, 5 Finger Death Punch, Seether) and Celtic Rock (Flogging Molly, Drop Kick Murphy).
I love tacos, pizza, and chocolate, alas I’ve been trying to go 100% vegan for a year so I don’t get much of those things any more. I also hate to cook, otherwise I’d be able to whip up great vegan versions of those yummy things.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
A world traveling wild life biologist/restaurant critic/art collector.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I want fairies and dragons on my head stone with the line “Welcome to the enchanted land of the fae. Here be dragons”
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
You can get a FREE novella called Flight of the Raven at my website. It’s a prequel to the Sword of Rhiannon series that I’m writing now. You can also read original short fiction and poetry. There’s also some beautiful art there.
Here are my books:
The Empress of Ventra: The Sword of Rhiannon: Book One
War of the Gypsy: The Sword of Rhiannon: Book Two