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?
It’s Melissa A Joy (I don’t use a pen name), and… how old do I look?
Fiona: Where are you from?
Norfolk, in the United Kingdom.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’m a fantasy author, a gamer, I watch anime and I’m a tall ship sailor when funds permit.
I have a proofreading diploma and a degree in English literature and creative writing.
My father was once an engineer, and my mother a care assistant to the elderly in sheltered housing.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Look out for my first short story compilation, Endeavours of the Unsung, and watch this space when it comes to the developments on thr Scions of Balance book 2, Mindseer Oracle.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing stories ever since I knew how to read and write. One day, I realised that was what I was called to do in this life; it just felt right.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was thirteen years old.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Tolkien’s painstakingly meticulous world-building was what spurred me on and drove me to develop the vast and inspirational world of Aeldynn, and my early gaming escapades on the SEGA Mega Drive (Genesis in the US) and Playstation 1 probably had something to do with it as well.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
During writing, I discovered there should be some force beyond the immortals of my world that even they don’t understand. That’s when I came up with the word Origin to use in the title. The (first) main protagonists have the means – albeit suppressed – to decipher and unlock worldly secrets that are necessary for bringing the world back into balance in one way or another, so Keys was another “keyword” – pardon the pun. In truth, I played with a vast amount of words for the title, and continuously rearranged them and switched them out for other words – including Origin – to see what felt right. Keys of the Origin was the result.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I think all authors have their own unique writing style, but if we’re looking for a more generic answer, I’d say I’m in the middle. By that, I mean writing in enough of every aspect of fiction writing. In many books I’ve read, I’ve always noticed a distinct lack of something, whether it be: character description; character development; too much description; too little description; a story that doesn’t deal with many (if any) major plot points until the very end of the book; sluggish storytelling, needless waffle and badly timed or too much info-dumping. It was my intention to give as much or as little of these as needed rather than too much, too little or none, so I would personally class my style as having more of an all-round feel to it. Trying to write just enough for a particular scene or plot point is certainly a challenge in and of itself.
As for what I find challenging in my genre, that’s a significant roadblock for the fantasy genre. Fantasy is packed to the gunwales with tropes, and readers typically either have a love or hate relationship with any one of them. I’ve read articles, forum threads and social media posts about such topics, and they’re quickly inundated with comments such as: “I can’t stand prophecies!” or “I’m sick of elves, dwarves and dragons” or perhaps “beings with godlike power should be avoided at all cost.” That’s just pointing out a few. What those kinds of readers don’t realise, is that there might just be an author who takes one or all those concepts and makes them different or interesting in some way, and that they might actually like that author if they gave them a chance. So, how does one either write something entirely original in fantasy when pretty much everything has been done already? And/or, how does one utilise all those overused concepts and put new spins on them, and still draw in a readership? With so many readers complaining about every concept under the sun, we have to write what’s in our hearts and then cross our fingers and hope.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Define “realistic”. There could be real things that humanity has not yet and may never discover – I digress. If we talk about what’s realistic in terms of what the people of this planet understand, then not very much; however, I will tell you that I use mythology and magic in conjunction with science to make the world of Aeldynn a believable place.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I write everything from home. When I’m travelling, I may listen to music I find inspirational, or read a book, or perhaps even play a game on a handheld console. Wherever I am and whatever I am doing, I am still always open to inspiration – I just can’t write unless I’m at home in my own space.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The stone details and dragon symbol on Keys of the Origin (ed.1) were drawn by Frostnight Illustrations, but I created the textures and put the cover together myself (with a bit of assistance from a tech savvy friend).
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are plenty of messages in my work that I’d like readers to grasp, but they really need to be open on an intuitive or perhaps even spiritual level. There are a lot of concepts, emotions and life lessons surrounding morality and balance in my writing, and while I have my own distinct views on all of them (which I also hope readers are able to notice), I endeavour to think outside the box to express as many different angles as possible.
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?
John Gwynne is one fairly new author over recent years whose works return to the more adventurous roots of the fantasy genre – albeit grimdark in nature – although I found the prophecy in The Faithful and the Fallen saga a bit too set in stone. Another recent one s Marie Brennan (though not quite so new as I first thought), with the Memoirs of Lady Trent. I’ve recently been reading A Natural History of Dragons, and now bought a few more of her books.
I’m not really sure that I have a favourite author per say, but some of my favourite stories/worlds are the Shadowleague trilogy by Maggie Furey, the Dragonlance Chronicles (the world of Krynn) by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, the Dark Elf trilogy by R. A. Salvatore, the Dragonlords trilogy by Joanne Bertin, and the Guardian Cycle pentalogy by Julia Gray. Why? They’re all adventurous in one way or another, and have intriguing worlds that I’ve found captivating. Even if I’ve found their writing styles a bit frustrating at times, their worlds and stories have ultimately earned my avid interest and respect.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Terry Gilbert-Fellows, my editor. Without his input, I’d likely be receiving rejection letters for many years.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I currently see it as one facet of a career. If it’s possible to make writing a full career, then yes, but so I understand, it’s incredibly difficult to make a living on writing books alone.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not a thing. I write my stories in such a way that I ensure the first draft is the only draft regarding way the story pans out. Of course, editing and proofreading are always necessary, but I’m so meticulous about getting the story just right first time.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I do a great deal of research before I commit what I’ve written to my story, so yes, I think so.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead? Possibly Luke Macfarlane for Zehn and Jeremy Sumpter for Larkh, perhaps.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
If you’re committed to writing no matter how many setbacks you come up against, and no matter how many times you feel like giving up, you’ll find a way. And don’t ever think you can get away without having professionals edit and proofread your work; you read your own writing very differently to how you read someone else’s.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Irrespective of what you prefer to see or not see in a fantasy novel, don’t tar every book that uses typical fantasy tropes/concepts or ideas you’d usually rather avoid with the same brush. You might find an author who does them in a way you find pleasing some day.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m rereading Julia Gray’s Guardian Cycle pentalogy as it’s been years since I last read it.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Unfortunately not the first, but I remember a few that I read in junior (primary) school.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Literally speaking? Very little. Let’s just say my humour exceedingly dry and sarcastic, and cruelty to animals and environmental destruction makes my blood boil.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
There are a fair number of individuals I’d like to meet (or would like to have met), and I’m afraid I can’t think of anyone specific. Well, perhaps one, but they’re a controversial topic I’d rather not get into; though I have far too many questions I’d like to ask them.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Gaming, watching fantasy/sci-fi/supernatural shows on Netflix,
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Mostly anything fantasy, sci-fi or paranormal/supernatural.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Foreign cuisines; autumn (fall) colours – and black if one considers it a colour; and a variety of film score orchestras, videogame soundtracks, some old school 80s and dance/electronic, and world music.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I’d probably be on the high seas on a tall ship more often, and travelling more in general.
Not writing, however, is not an option for me.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
We had a jovial family conversation about headstones some years ago. Apparently “I’ll be back” was what should be written on mine.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Readers have said:
“Overall, the best book I’ve read so far without a doubt. An epic story with mighty heroes, powerful villains, and beautiful lore. I can’t wait to read more from Melissa Joy.” – Selene Kallan (Paranormal fantasy author) 5/5.
“Keys of the Origin is an immersive venture into a meticulously crafted high fantasy world, with multiple actors both mortal and immortal revolving around a layered plot that unfolds gradually.” Damien Black (Grimdark fantasy author) 5/5.
“This has been one of the most wonderful fantasy novels that I have ever read, beautifully constructed and wonderfully executed.” Peter Hutchinson (blogger – The Grimdark Files) 5/5.
“Real and honest characters with a fantasy setting, Keys of the Origin is creative, addictive, the kind of novel you want to devour. Melissa A. Joy provides a detailed story rich with history and lore, a real literary gem full of life.” – Readers Favorite (4/5).
“Very well thought out, brilliantly written, and I eagerly await the next installment!!” 5/5.
“A very groundbreaking and interesting read; a new fantasy series by a promising new author.” 4/5.
“If you are looking for an epic novel in the same vein as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, then look no further.” 5/5.
“Got the book on day of release and took me 3 days to read. One amazing start to the story.” 5/5.
“This book was a real revelation. Such a refreshing change from the standard storylines and cliches of other books. It offers so much in colour, tone, imagination and creativity.” 5/5.
“Not to be missed by fans of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.” 5/5.
“It’s AMAZING! Packed with detail and unique and fascinating characters.” 5/5.
“I’m in love with the story so far, and I’m seeing many ways it’s only going to be getting better.” 5/5.
“The depth and detail the author goes into is incredible and the years of work she has put into the book shows.” 5/5.