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?
Hi Fiona, and everyone reading! My name is Melora Johnson and I recently turned 45. (Mentally and physically I can run the gamut from about 33 to 65 on any given day.)
Fiona: Where are you from?
I am from a hilltop high in the countryside of Upstate New York.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’m a mom to one funny and sweet pre-teen girl and I’ve been married for almost ten years to my wonderfully supportive husband. I’m also a librarian in a small city, so I have a Master’s Degree in Library Science.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Well, so much has been happening lately. The really big news is about my first paranormal romance, Earthbound, is coming out from Tirgearr Publishing on January 15th2020. It’s currently available for pre-order on all ebook platforms.
It centersaround Ally, who has a special gift for healing animals through her touch. Ally keeps that a secret from everyone around her. She’s a veterinarian and a raptor rehabilitator. Then she meets Matthew Blake. He’s an ornithologist at Cornell University, where she goes to help with a raptor rehabilitation. Matthew has some secrets of his own, and some of them involve Ally. As they get to know each other, Ally learns a lot more about her own gifts and what she can do with them, but she also faces a lot more danger. The question is whether Matthew is part of the danger or part of the solution.
I also have a poem coming out in a collection from Foothills Publishing celebrating the Earth, a science fiction short story set during the recon of Iwo Jima in an upcoming anthology, and a literary short story about a woman in her final day of hospice looking back on her life, to be released in the coming year by Paragon Press.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I was bitten by the reading bug in third grade when I was sent to remedial reading classes. I started reading and it lit a fire in me from which I have never recovered. We had a wonderful little library in the town I grew up in that was within walking distance. After a few years my mother sent me with a letter to the librarian, telling her to let me check out whatever I wanted to read. I got a lot out of reading – escapism, comfort, and learning. In college I learned that there was a term for it, “bibliotherapy.” I wanted to give that back to other people. (That’s part of why I became a librarian too, to share the love of good stories with people.) I also loved making up stories and I’ve always been most comfortable communicating in writing.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve seen variations on the question of what defines a writer? Sometimes I’ve thought you can call yourself a writer because you write, but there have been some swaths of time where I didn’t write much, for various reasons, but the desire was still there, inside. Writing is how I communicate best. I couldn’t tell you exactly when I knew I WAS a writer, maybe the awareness of that came on gradually. I do know I WANTED to be a writer since I was about nine years old.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Though Earthbound is the first book I’ve written that will be published, it’s definitely not the first book I’ve written. The first book I wrote was a middle grade mystery novel about a young girl who goes to stay for a week in the country with her grandmother and sees a light on the next hill in an abandoned house at night. She goes with two friends to check it out and finds a ghost. I’d like to edit that and try to get it published someday. That was inspired by my love of mysteries and the abandoned house on the next hill from my grandmother’s house when I was growing up, where I spent many vacations, and where I now live.
However, Earthbound is one of my much more recent efforts.The only thing I can remember is a single image of a blond man in khaki shorts jumping from one boulder to another then dropping down in front of the heroine. (To be honest, I think it was at least partially inspired by Australian zookeeper Steve Irwin.) That image didn’t even end up staying in the book. I realized I probably started it during a NaNoWriMo(National Novel Writing Month) so I went to the dashboard there. My Camp NaNoWriMo project for 2014 is titled “Something About Demons.” I only made it 30 words in, but by the time I came back to it in November, it was called, “Among the Angels.”
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I’ve always been good at coming up with titles that really encapsulate my stories. I couldn’t tell you my exact thought processes on this one but it has to do with demons and angels stuck on Earth.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I think one of the reasons that I love paranormal romance is the fast-paced action of the stories along with the passion of a romance, so that might be what you would call my style. I like to read a good story with lots of action that involves the supernatural. I think the biggest challenge is keeping the pace moving while getting all the pertinent details in and really setting the scene.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Well, everything flows from experiences we have in life but with the paranormal genre a lot of it has to come from the imagination. I love coffee, so my main character gets up and starts making her beloved coffee then, bam, demon attack. I can’t say that has ever happened to me.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I don’t have to, but I sometimes do check out settings or look at information. For this book, I wrote everything from my imagination but then I made a visit to the Cornell Ornithology Lab in Ithaca, New York while I was editing. I also do a lot of arm chair travel via the Internet.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The cover was designed by Cora Graphics.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Mostly I want people to have fun with this book. I’ve put in a few things that I ponder over so maybe they’ll find some food for thought as well.
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?
I can’t think of anyone new, most of the authors I’ve been reading lately have been publishing for a while now. Favorite author? Ha, this is a classic question/problem for writers and librarians alike. Pick one? Yikes! In the supernatural area three of my favorites are Darynda Jones, for the romance, Jim Butcher for the fast paced action, and Neil Gaiman, for the sheer creative beauty of his stories. In the literary vein a few of myfavorites are Madeline Miller for Song of Achilles, Katherine Howe forPhysick Book of Deliverance Dane, and Emily St. John Mandel for Station Eleven. (I sound like I’m handing out awards but I doubt they’d notice.)
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My writer’s group. If it weren’t for the writer’s group I facilitate as part of my library work, I don’t think I would be nearly as far along as I am now in my publishing journey. We have an incredibly supportive group of people committed to helping each other grow as writers.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. I have been building my writing career for several years now and I approach it both as a creative pursuit and a business that requires dedication.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Well, every author knows a book is never really done editing. You have to pick a point to draw a line and let it go though. I can’t think of anything at the moment. I’ve heard it said that a book starts in the writer’s mind but ends in the reader’s mind. You can’t control how people are going to interpret everything because they will see it through the lens of their experiences.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
It’s a lengthy process. In research, I learned that rodenticide poisoning is a big problem for raptors in the wild. In writing, I learned how to keep the pace moving in a story. In editing, I learned how to use Track Changes in Microsoft Word, and that it’s better NOT to go back and forth between different versions of Word.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
When I’m writing, I like to pick people to play the characters in my head, but I’m afraid the person I pictured wouldn’t be available for a role like this these days — Jan Smithers from an old television show called WKRP in Cincinnati. I think I’d leave casting a movie interpretation up to the professionals.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Read a lot, write a LOT, and get feedback from people who aren’t TOO invested in keeping you happy.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Please give my book a try if you like paranormal romance or urban fantasy and, if you do, PLEASE leave a review. J
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m currently reading three books. I have a rather long commute so I’m listening to A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman in the car, I’m reading Wildfire by Ilona Andrews on my Kindle, and I’m reading Prince Caspian (The Chronicles of Narnia) to my daughter at bedtime.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not the very first book but I can tell you that in first grade I absolutely adored Are You My Mother? By P.D. Eastman.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Everything? No, not really, but I laugh easily and I empathize with people who are in mental, physical, or emotional pain so I cry fairly easily too. I seek out funny memes and comedies daily. I firmly believe in striving for life coach Martha Beck’s recommended 30 LPD, or Laughs Per Day. I think laughing is good for your health.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I just finished reading Becoming by Michelle Obama, so I’d love to get together and visit with her.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Mostly reading and writing. I do love to cook and do a little bit of gardening, plus the occasional sewing or crafting project.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love a good comedy or action film, but my favorite movies or shows are often dramas with good humor in them. For example, The Family Stone, Midsommer Murders,Father Brown Mysteries, but also Big Bang Theory, and Friends. I love science fiction movies so one of my favorite movies in recent memory is Arrival. I just love good stories, whether they are in book or film format.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Ha. I’m half polish so for food I would have to say pierogi, halupki, stuffed cabbage, and buchta, a polish nut roll. Colors are deep rich colors, like emerald and purple. Music can span the gamut from classical to big band to pop. Stevie Wonder, the Goo Goo Dolls, etc.. I don’t think there’s a genre that I haven’t heard something in that I liked, but I do like certain genres more than others.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Be cremated and start fertilizing trees.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Spend time with my family and write.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
If my family feels the need for one, they can put what they like. Otherwise, no head stone needed.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Absolutely! My web site is www.melorajohnson.com which also links to my blog, melorajohnson.wordpress.com, but I’m most active on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/MeloraJohnson.Writer/. I post a new poem every Friday and share updates on Tuesdays.
All the different platforms for my book are linked through my publishers page at http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Johnson_Melora/earthbound.htm
My Amazon author page is at https://www.amazon.com/Melora-Johnson/e/B07VPCG82Y/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1