New Interview!

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Hi Everyone!

I was recently interviewed over at Layered Pages by the fabulous Stephanie Moore Hopkins. I hope you enjoy getting a peek into my writing process, and learning more about my new dark fantasy novel, Deadmarsh Fey.

All the best,

~Melika

fey_promo

The story takes place in England at the tail end of the 19th century. I should explain that Deadmarsh is not only the name of a family, but also the manor on the English moors which they call home. The main protagonist of this novel is Roger Knightley, a ten year old boy, who is the cousin of Havelock (Lockie) Deadmarsh, the heir. For nearly every summer of his young life, Roger has gone to Deadmarsh to while away the days with Lockie. He doesn’t expect anything to be different this year, but as soon as he crosses the threshold, he realizes that everyone has changed, especially Kip, the family cat, who has inexplicably grown and altered in other alarming ways. After several terrifying encounters with creatures from a death-haunted world called Everl’aria, Roger begins to understand that something evil has been awakened within the halls of Deadmarsh, something that is not only after Lockie and his older sister, Travers, but Roger, as well. A tapestry of secrets and lies has woven itself around the Deadmarshes, and Roger now finds himself in the position of having to unravel the mystery of why a being called the Dark Wreaker has bedeviled his family for 700 years, just what exactly the Deadmarsh connection to Everl’aria really is…and how his ancestress with the unpronounceable name, whom Roger has always called Bloody Granny B, fits into the grand scheme of things. All this, he must unravel before Lockie’s 11th birthday, two days hence. If he doesn’t, blood will drown the earth. And that’s not an overstatement.

Your book cover is amazing! Who is your cover designer and age group this story geared to?

Thank you so much, Stephanie! The designer is Ravven (ravven.com), and she is brilliant! I had a very specific vision for the cover, and she was able to bring every single element of it to life in ways that still astound me.

Even though the main protagonist is a young boy, Deadmarsh Fey is not a children’s book. It is geared to anyone who enjoys an intense and detailed genre-bending story with a supernatural twist—a tale that entwines elements of dark fantasy, mystery, horror, and the inexplicable. As for an age group, I think those 14 and older would be able to appreciate and enjoy this story the most.

What is the research that went into for the setting and period of your story?

My last two novels were also set in the late 19th century, so I was already very familiar with the mores, history, vernacular, etc., of this era. For Deadmarsh Fey, my main research centered on folklore, specifically that of Wales and Norway, which are the two branches of myth that flavor the events of this and the subsequent books in my Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light series. I love exploring mythology, then coming up with my own legends and histories for my characters. Names and their meanings have also always played a huge role in my novels, but never more so than in Deadmarsh Fey.    Returning to myths…the backstories of Everl’aria and the beings who populate it, especially the Guardians, were my favorite parts of the novel to write.

Please tell me a little about the Deadmarsh name and how you came up with it. 

About 16 years ago, I was watching a sporting event on TV, only half paying attention to what was going on, when I heard the announcer call out the name Deadmarsh. My first thought was, “Wow! What a fantastically creepy and portentous name that is!” And so it stuck in my head all those years until I finally found a story to build around the family which bore that name.

Will you tell me about the Jagged Ones?

Yes, of course! Their identity is rather sensitive, but I can tell you that Carver, the blue menace on the book’s cover, is their leader. There are many reasons why they are called Jagged Ones, and the main one is not revealed till a few chapters from the end of the novel. Basically, these creatures are the servants of the Dark Wreaker, and use their power and mesmeric qualities to trick their victims into doing their bidding, which opens the door for these creatures to have a rather horrifying rite of access to said victims. I really can’t say more without revealing the entire rationale behind the Jagged Ones’ existence!

How did you get into writing Dark Fantasy?

I’ve always been fascinated by writing fantasy. It was my original love, actually, since my first (as yet uncompleted) novel, which I began writing at 14, was a fantasy novel with a decidedly dystopian flair. You won’t be surprised to hear that sharks played a large role in this book. I revisited the novel in 2012, and wrote a prologue and three chapters before realizing it still wasn’t the right time to be working on this project.

About a year later, I began work on what would be the fourth novel in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light. At the time, I thought it would be the first. I’m glad I wrote that novel, though, because the myths that were explored in it helped me tremendously when writing Deadmarsh Fey, which I quickly realized had to be the inaugural book in the series. So, in 2014, I began working on it in earnest. Deadmarsh has actually been with me for a very long while, albeit unknowingly. It turned out to be the prequel to a fantasy trilogy I started writing in 2003, in which Roger was a grandfather! Life and other projects intervened, and I put that story on hold, but the idea of exploring why Roger’s life had turned out the way it had done became too insistent to ignore, and I decided to go back and create an entire foundation for why the events in that trilogy even happened. Needless to say, it’s been a tremendous amount of work, but great fun, as well, because there were story arcs and strands of legend that I’d only scratched the surface of that I got to reveal in Deadmarsh Fey in all their (sometimes hellish) glory.

And that’s where the dark part of dark fantasy came in. The seeds for writing horror were sown in my last novel, Corcitura, which is dark Gothic horror, along classical lines. Think Dracula instead of Twilight. I’m not a person who enjoys writing “sweetness and light” books, although there are always elements of comedy and sarcasm in my novels. Authorial confession: I can’t separate that from my own personality, so it finds its way into my characters! I have to be engaged when writing, and how this happens for me, I’ve noticed, is placing characters into situations, often dire ones, in which life and death are at stake, then having them battle their way out by using their wits, engaging the help of allies, and sometimes, through a confluence of events that saves them from imminent destruction through no doing of their own. They also don’t always find happy ways out of these situations, just to be clear. It depends on where the story tells me to go.

Who is your antagonist and what is a redeeming quality he or she has?

I have several antagonists in the book, but there are five main ones who wreak the most havoc on Roger and his allies. Two I can mention by name, because the identities of the others are revealed gradually. The first is Trahaearn Coffyn, who we meet in the opening chapter. His redeeming quality, though twisted, is his intense loyalty to the evil powers he serves, specifically to a woman he’s been faithful to for, well…for a good long while.

The other is Carver, the blue fiend on the cover. As I mentioned before, he is the leader of the Jagged Ones, and not someone you’d want to run across in real life. And yet, although I despise him…I also like him quite a lot! I think it’s because he’s so comfortable in his own evilness that he oftentimes came out with lines that cracked me up, even though he was being his despicable self! For quite a while, I was mystified by my being able to laugh at them, until I understood that the reason I could was because Carver knew he was irredeemable, and had no qualms about being so. And, yes, you’ve probably noticed that I’m talking about him as if he is a flesh and blood entity. Well, that’s how he, and all the characters in this book, feel to me. I was just the facilitator who was writing down what they wanted me to say. It sounds crazy, I know, but that’s how it was throughout this entire novel!

On a personal level, how does this story resonate with you?

Writing Deadmarsh Fey was a very intense experience for me. Corcitura was an incredibly complex novel, yet I think that because Deadmarsh Fey is not only its own complete story, but also lays the groundwork for the other novels in the series—it required me to plumb depths I never had before as a writer. I also became very attached to these characters, even growing fond of the villains in some strange way, which surprised me!

But the main thing for me when writing this novel was the gamut of emotions I experienced, especially in regards to Roger. The entire book is told from his perspective (third person), and because of that, I felt like I became Roger in this story. I discovered things as he did, saw things through his eyes, which meant that everything he endured, everything he felt—pain, fear, excitement, terror, disappointment, panic, elation—I felt  intensely, too. It was exhausting and rewarding at the same time. And made it very hard to put him through the ordeals I had him undergo. Very hard, but not impossible, and I did feel terrible afterward, but what the story called for, the story got.

Story wise, the events in Deadmarsh Fey resonated with me because they are about fighting for the ones you love. That is the main impetus that propels Roger’s actions, and the actions of his allies. It’s not just about survival, or stopping the evil of the Dark Wreaker and his servants from  being unleashed upon this earth, but about saving the very souls of those who are most important to you, those you’d give your life for. And that is something that has always appealed to me, not only in storyweaving, but in reality.

Please share with me your writing process and your favorite spot to write in your home.

After writing Deadmarsh Fey in chronological order from beginning to end without deviating, I have become addicted to this process, so that is how I now work. I cannot see myself going back to writing novels piecemeal after this experience.

I’m a rover when it comes to my favorite spot to write in at home. I do have a designated office/study/library, with a lovely writing desk, but I don’t like to stay in one place for too long. I feel like I become stagnant if I don’t have a change of writing scene every now and then. So, since I work on a laptop, I take it all over the house, and settle where I’m most comfortable.

Where can readers buy your book?

The Kindle edition of Deadmarsh Fey is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com  (HERE). The paperback edition will also be available for purchase (through Amazon) on May 2nd, the book’s official release date.

About the Author:

Melika

I have been an author since the age of fourteen and write novels that incorporate a variety of different genres, including historical fiction, suspense, thrillers with a supernatural twist, and dark fantasy. I am also a classically trained soprano/violinist/pianist and have been performing since the age of three. Additionally, I hold a BA in Management and an MBA in Marketing.

If I had not decided to become a writer, I would have become a marine biologist, but after countless years spent watching Shark Week, I realized I am very attached to my arms and legs and would rather write sharks into my stories than get up close and personal with those toothy wonders.

Website: Books In My Belfry

Twitter  @BooksInMyBelfry

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Deadmarsh Fey Unleashed!

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After four long years of writing, editing, and everything else necessary to get this book published, Deadmarsh Fey has finally been released!!!!

The book is available in both Kindle and Paperback editions.

fey_promo

 

Flesh and bone and hearts unknown, lead to the rath and your fate will be shown…

Deadmarsh. The name struck terror into the hearts of all who heard it. But to Roger Knightley, neither Deadmarsh the house, nor Deadmarsh the family, had ever been anything to fear. Nearly each summer of his young life had been spent in that manor on the moors, having wild adventures with his cousin, Lockie, the Deadmarsh heir. This year should have been no different, but when Roger arrives, he finds everything, and everyone, changed. The grounds are unkempt, the servants long gone. Kip, the family cat, has inexplicably grown and glares at Roger as if he is trying to read the boy’s mind. Roger’s eldest cousin, Travers, always treated as a servant, now dresses like a duchess and wears round her neck a strange moonstone given to her by someone known as Master Coffyn, who has taken over the teaching of Lockie at a school in Wales called Nethermarrow.

And soon after he crosses the threshold of Deadmarsh, Roger discovers that Coffyn has overtaken Lockie. The boy is deceitful, riddled with fear, and has returned bearing tales of creatures called Jagged Ones that claim to be of the Fey and can somehow conceal themselves while standing in the full light of the moon. What they want with Lockie, Roger cannot fathom, until the horror within his cousin lashes out, and it becomes savagely clear that these Jagged Ones and the Dark Wreaker they serve are not only after Lockie and Travers, but Roger, too.

Joining forces with an ally whose true nature remains hidden, Roger seeks to unravel the tapestry of lies woven round his family’s connection to the death-haunted world of Everl’aria—and the Dark Wreaker who calls it home. The deeper Roger delves into the past, the more he begins to suspect that the tales of dark deeds done in the forest behind Deadmarsh, deeds in which village children made sacrifice to an otherworldly beast and were never seen or heard from again, are true. And if there is truth in these outlandish stories, what of the rumor that it was not an earthquake which rocked the moors surrounding Deadmarsh sixteen years ago, but a winged nightmare attempting to break free of its underground prison? Enlisting the aid of a monster equipped with enough inborn firepower to blast his enemies into oblivion might be as suicidal as Roger’s friends insist, yet the boy knows he needs all the help he can get if there is to be any hope of defeating not only the Dark Wreaker and his servants, but an unholy trinity known as the Bear, the Wolf, and the Curse That Walks The Earth.

And then there is the foe named Blood Wood, who might be the deadliest of them all.

Racing against time, Roger must find a way to end the battle being waged across worlds before the night of Lockie’s eleventh birthday—two days hence. If he fails, blood will drown the earth. And Roger and his entire family will fulfill the prophecy of fey’s older, more lethal meaning…

Fated to die.

Deadmarsh Fey Cover Reveal

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Hi Everyone!

I’m thrilled to finally get to share the details about my new novel with you. Here it is…Deadmarsh Fey!

fey_promo

Flesh and bone and hearts unknown, lead to the rath and your fate will be shown…

Deadmarsh. The name struck terror into the hearts of all who heard it. But to Roger Knightley, neither Deadmarsh the house, nor Deadmarsh the family, had ever been anything to fear. Nearly each summer of his young life had been spent in that manor on the moors, having wild adventures with his cousin, Lockie, the Deadmarsh heir. This year should have been no different, but when Roger arrives, he finds everything, and everyone, changed. The grounds are unkempt, the servants long gone. Kip, the family cat, has inexplicably grown and glares at Roger as if he is trying to read the boy’s mind. Roger’s eldest cousin, Travers, always treated as a servant, now dresses like a duchess and wears round her neck a strange moonstone given to her by someone known as Master Coffyn, who has taken over the teaching of Lockie at a school in Wales called Nethermarrow.

And soon after he crosses the threshold of Deadmarsh, Roger discovers that Coffyn has overtaken Lockie. The boy is deceitful, riddled with fear, and has returned bearing tales of creatures called Jagged Ones that claim to be of the Fey and can somehow conceal themselves while standing in the full light of the moon. What they want with Lockie, Roger cannot fathom, until the horror within his cousin lashes out, and it becomes savagely clear that these Jagged Ones and the Dark Wreaker they serve are not only after Lockie and Travers, but Roger, too.

Joining forces with an ally whose true nature remains hidden, Roger seeks to unravel the tapestry of lies woven round his family’s connection to the death-haunted world of Everl’aria—and the Dark Wreaker who calls it home. The deeper Roger delves into the past, the more he begins to suspect that the tales of dark deeds done in the forest behind Deadmarsh, deeds in which village children made sacrifice to an otherworldly beast and were never seen or heard from again, are true. And if there is truth in these outlandish stories, what of the rumor that it was not an earthquake which rocked the moors surrounding Deadmarsh sixteen years ago, but a winged nightmare attempting to break free of its underground prison? Enlisting the aid of a monster equipped with enough inborn firepower to blast his enemies into oblivion might be as suicidal as Roger’s friends insist, yet the boy knows he needs all the help he can get if there is to be any hope of defeating not only the Dark Wreaker and his servants, but an unholy trinity known as the Bear, the Wolf, and the Curse That Walks The Earth.

And then there is the foe named Blood Wood, who might be the deadliest of them all.

Racing against time, Roger must find a way to end the battle being waged across worlds before the night of Lockie’s eleventh birthday—two days hence. If he fails, blood will drown the earth. And Roger and his entire family will fulfill the prophecy of fey’s older, more lethal meaning…

Fated to die.

To preorder the novel in Kindle format (the paperback edition will be available on the day of the book’s release, May 2nd, 2018), click here.

Below is a short piece I wrote, giving more detail about the creation of the book’s menacing cover art!

The Anatomy of A Book Cover

by Melika Dannese Lux

The title was there from the beginning. The idea for the cover, as well—a vision of the fog-haunted nightmare Roger Knightley unwittingly walks into the moment he sets foot in Deadmarsh, the manor on the moors which shares its name with his kin.

Four years and nearly 700 pages later, I finally had the book. You’d think that would have marked the end of the heavy-lifting. All the hard work of writing was over; now it was time for the fun to begin. Time to jacket the pages in dazzling attire and send the novel out into the world…

But you’d be wrong. It’s one thing to have a vision in your head for what you want the cover to look like; it’s quite another to find an artist who gets that vision and is able to magic it into life. Several designers told me my concept was much too technical and complex to ever be featured on the cover of a book. Images that matched my vision just did not exist, and Carver, that charming little blue fellow (So adorable, isn’t he? *shudders*) lurking behind Roger Knightley (I’d like to see what kind of look you’d have on your face were you in Roger’s position!), would be impossible to portray, not to mention the writing on the mirror from a source that might be ally…or enemy. Actually, forget the writing. Even the mirror itself was in doubt!

I’m a tenacious person. All right, fine, let’s be honest and stop sugarcoating. I’m as intractable as a shark that’s latched onto a seal it has singled out for its lunch. I refused to believe no one could do this! It seemed, to quote that wise sage, Vizzini, “Inconceivable!” And it was! Because very soon after I had cut ties with yet another designer, I was fortunate enough to meet Ravven.

*insert wild clapping for this amazingly talented artist*

A handful of cover iterations were all it took. Ravven was able to reach into my imagination and extract every element that had been racketing around in there for years. From the beautiful woman hovering outside the window, to the blue fog she brought with her from whence she came, to the cat, the mirror, and its writing…and, most of all, to those two combatants in the foreground, the boy and his otherworldly tormentor with talons black as obsidian and sharper than carving knives—it was uncanny how in synch with my vision Ravven was. Her work astounded me, and I am still in awe of it.

Those you see on the cover of Deadmarsh Fey, friend and foe alike, you shall meet within the pages of the book.

Dare you be led to the rath for your fate to be shown?

If yes, then dive in.

And remember …beware what’s hiding in the moonlight.

Was it Jack the Ripper…or Vampires?

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Taken from Corcitura, Chapter 10, The Ratliff Horror

Millionaire Philanthropists Found Dead

I snatched the paper off the tray and held it before my eyes, foolishly hoping the millionaire philanthropists of the headline were not the same ones I had been acquainted with since the days of my childhood. The headline danced before me, blurring in and out as I read over the words again and again, too scared to look at the report and have all my fears confirmed. Finally, I looked away from the headline and forced myself to read the article below.

London, Monday, 13 August 1888—Late last evening, David and Marishka Ratliff were found brutally murdered in their home in Westminster. Scotland Yard inspectors immediately questioned Mr. and Mrs. Ratliff’s servants and neighbors, but all were cleared of any involvement in the crime. The inspectors have noted that the modus operandi matches that employed in the murder of a woman, Martha Tabram, who was found stabbed to death in Whitechapel nearly one week ago. Although the authorities had ruled that the Tabram murder was an isolated incident, this new crime has made them reconsider. Do we have a killer in our midst? The authorities seem to think so. As with the former victim, the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Ratliff were covered in stab wounds, but in this case, the killer has added an additional weapon to his murderous arsenal: slashing throats in a particularly savage fashion with what the Americans call Devil’s Rope. Upon further inspection, it was determined that Mr. and Mrs. Ratliff’s throats had been savagely ripped open by a piece of barbed wire. Authorities had thought the killer to be from Whitechapel, but in light of this recent crime in Westminster, it is feared that the murderer has taken up residence in this district and will begin to perpetuate more atrocities in this part of the city. They caution against widespread panic, but one cannot help wondering when the next ax, or piece of barbed wire, as we now have it, will fall.

I ignored the last line for the sensationalism it was and turned the page. A photograph of David and Marishka with Stefan as a child took up half the page and underneath it ran the following:

Mr. and Mrs. Ratliff were well-known throughout Europe for their care of and generosity toward Romanian orphans, many of whom they brought to London to be educated. They are survived by their son, Stefan, who was not home when the murders were committed and is not a suspect in his parents’ deaths. Mr. and Mrs. Ratliff’s only son and heir, who was overcome with grief when given the horrible news, has asked that we print the following in memory of his beloved parents:

In Memoriam

As they were loved in life, so they shall be loved in death. They will be sorely missed.

“Sorely missed by everyone but you, that is,” I grunted, my teeth clenched in anger, my heart appalled by such blatant hypocrisy.

©2010, 2018 Melika Dannese Lux and Books In My Belfry®. Unauthorized use or reproduction of this excerpt without the author’s permission is strictly prohibited.

Redaction, & Jagged Ones, & Bears—oh, my!

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Well, it’s that time again! I’m only going to be posting a few more teasers from the new book after this snippet, which happens to be one of my favorites. Chapter 9 is quite eventful, and due to the sensitivity of its title, and the identity of a chief character within it, I had to engage in a bit of spycraft and redact said character’s name. Humor me, guys. If I give away all my secrets, there’ll be no reason for you to read the book!

Third Teaser Tuesday post--8-28-17

I bet you’re now consumed with curiosity about the Bear and what exactly those Jagged Ones are, right?  😉

Hope you enjoyed this sneak peek!

All the best,

~Melika

The Darkness Within—Tuesday Teaser

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Hi Guys!

Well, here it is, the second Tuesday Teaser from my new book. This excerpt was taken from Chapter 2, The Darkness Within.

Second Teaser Tuesday Post--8-21-17

Oooo! What did he wake up, I wonder?  😉

Look for another snippet next week. I hope you are enjoying these!

All the best,

~Melika

Teaser Tuesday—The Return

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Hi Everyone!

First, a little update. I finished writing my third novel in May and have spent the last few months editing and taking the necessary steps toward publication, which will FINALLY happen this Fall. But in the meantime, how about a little teaser from the new book? This novel does have a title, I promise. I’m just attempting to draw out the suspense as long as I can.  😉

And now, without further ado, here is a sneak peek taken from Chapter 1, The Return.

(2) First Teaser Tuesday Post--8-14-17

As you can see, things are definitely afoot. Or, rather, apaw.

I’ll be posting another teaser next week. Hope you enjoyed this one!

All the best,

~Melika

Corcitura on sale for $2.99!

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Hi Everyone,

It’s Black Friday! Tis the season for sales, right? Well, from today through Cyber Monday night, you can bring home the Kindle edition of Corcitura for $2.99! Where else could you get a deal like that without standing in line for hours in the freezing cold, being jostled by crabby people? You don’t even have to leave your house to buy the book. In fact, you don’t even have to change out of your pajamas! ;D

Purchase Corcitura from Amazon by clicking here.

Corcitura

Corcitura.  Some call it hybrid, others half-blood, mongrel, beast.  They are all names for the same thing:  vampire—the created progeny of the half-wolf, half-vampire, barb-tongued Grecian Vrykolakas, and the suave but equally vicious Russian Upyr.  Corcitura:  this is what happens when a man is attacked by two vampires of differing species.  He becomes an entirely new breed—ruthless, deadly, unstoppable…almost.

London, 1888:  Eric Bradburry and Stefan Ratliff, best friends since childhood, have finally succeeded in convincing their parents to send them on a Grand Tour of the Continent.  It will be the adventure of a lifetime for the two eighteen-year-old Englishmen, but almost from the moment they set foot on French soil, Eric senses a change in Stefan, a change that is intensified when they cross paths with the enigmatic Vladec Salei and his traveling companions:  Leonora Bianchetti, a woman who fascinates Eric for reasons he does not understand, and the bewitching Augustin and Sorina Boroi—siblings, opera impresarios, and wielders of an alarming power that nearly drives Eric mad.

Unable to resist the pull of their new friends, Eric and Stefan walk into a trap that has been waiting to be sprung for more than five hundred years—and Stefan is the catalyst.  Terrified by the transformation his friend is undergoing, Eric knows he must get Stefan away from Vladec Salei and Constantinos, the rabid, blood-crazed Vrykolakas, before Stefan is changed beyond recognition.  But after witnessing a horrific scene in a shadowed courtyard in Eastern Europe, Eric’s worst fears are confirmed.

Six years removed from the terror he experienced at the hands of Salei and Constantinos, Eric finally believes he has escaped his past.  But once marked, forever marked, as he painfully begins to understand.  He has kept company with vampires, and now they have returned to claim him for their own.

Thanks so much, guys! Hope you have a great weekend!

All the best,

~Melika

Fourteen years ago today…

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…I began working on what would become City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Ilyse Charpentier. I can still see myself sitting on the floor in my spare room, rough-drafting the outline of the novel while listening to Lifehouse’s Hanging by A Moment:

*sniffles nostalgically* This song ended up becoming Ilyse and Ian’s anthem to me, and was a tremendous source of inspiration over the eight months I spent writing their story. It is still a huge inspiration to me so many years later, and is probably the most-played song on my iPod till this day.  🙂

Oh, and if City of Lights ever becomes a movie, I am so getting the Lifehouse guys’ permission to use that song on the soundtrack.  😉

Best wishes,

~Melika

 

Getting to know you!

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Hi everyone!

Be honest…the title of this post has now got that song from the King and I spinning through your head, right? 😉 Anyway, I was scrolling through my old blog posts today, and came upon an interview I did a few years ago. I had so much fun answering these questions, and decided to dust it off and update it with more current info, so it would be ready to see the light of day once again.

I hope you enjoy getting a little peek into my world–and all it’s attendant zaniness, er, um, uniqueness! 😉

Cheers!

~Melika

1. Favorite song/singer?

My favorite song is usually whatever I’m listening to while writing. Sometimes, a scene calls for absolute silence, while at others, it’s nice to have something pumping in the background to get the ideas flowing. For City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Ilyse Charpentier, I listened to Lifehouse’s Hanging by A Moment. This song was a tremendous inspiration for me and became Ilyse and Ian’s anthem. For Corcitura, I listened mainly to Promentory from the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack when I was writing dramatic/conflict or chase scenes (the constant beat really helped focus my thoughts) and then Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis when I wrote a death scene for one of the vampires in the book. Given the sanguinary nature of the lyrics, I thought it was appropriate. 😉

For the novel I am nearly finished writing (One chapter to go, HUZZAH!), it’s epic music all the time. This final chapter is battle-heavy, and music such as this puts me in a suitably warmongering mood. 😉

Celine Dion has been my favorite singer since I was eight years old. I was lucky enough to see her in concert at Caesar’s Palace in 2005. Some singers sound terrible live, but Celine sounded amazing, even better than she does on her CDs. She was also really interactive and did quite a bit of dancing and kept up an incredible energy and excitement level throughout the whole show. It was a tremendous experience, and one that I’ll never forget! I also have recently become a fan of Michael Bublé, with my favorite of his songs being Feeling Good. It’s so James Bondish and awesome and just AHH!

2. Favorite season?

Definitely fall. Just the feel of it. You can almost sense that it’s time to break out The Turn of the Screw for a millionth reread. Or is that just me? I love the crispness in the air, the glorious burnt orange and golden hued leaves, the carte blanche you have to read all the horror/Halloweeney books you want and classify them as “seasonal reading” without making everyone wonder if you’ve been bitten by a vampire and developed rather bloodthirsty reading tastes. Plus, fall also means I get to bake these delicious chocolate chip pumpkin spice cookies that have become a tradition with me over the last ten years.

3. Worst vacation?

I haven’t had one yet, thankfully, although when I visited Paris in 2004, my hotel room was the size of a shoebox. There was also only ONE iron in the entire hotel, as I discovered when the concierge knocked on my door the second day I was there and asked for it back! But that’s beside the point. The important thing was, I was in Paris, and apart from the smallness of the hotel, the location was fantastic! I spent most of my time seeing the sights and wandering around the Rue de Rivoli, making daily stops at W. H. Smith English Booksellers. They were running a 2 for £5 and 3 for £10 sale, so I stocked up on all the UK Penguin editions of the Jeeves novels that weren’t available back home. I would go back to Paris (And London, too!) just to shop there.

4. Guilty pleasure?

British detective & mystery shows. I can’t get enough of them! Midsomer Murders was the show that launched me on this trajectory seven years ago, and I haven’t looked back since, moving on to Miss Marple (with Joan Hickson), Campion, Inspector Alleyn, Rosemary & Thyme, and Inspector Lewis, which is a real favorite. As if visiting the haunts of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien weren’t incentive enough to go to Oxford, there is now the added chance that I might bump into Robbie Lewis and Jamie Hathaway while they are on a case. 😉 I also recently discovered Father Brown, and am hooked!

5. Favorite book and/or author?

David Copperfield. I read this book close to twenty years ago and can still quote passages and remember scenes vividly. All the suffering and hardships this young 19th century Englishman endured and all the mistakes he made in love and in life transcended the ages and became so relevant to me, a preteen living in the United States in the 20th century. That is truly a testament to the genius of Charles Dickens. It is also what I think makes a book a classic—its timelessness.

My favorite author is Agatha Christie. I’ve devoured almost all of her novels, and do not know what I’m going to do when I have no more of them to read. Another author whose books are automatic buys is Sarah Rayne. Nobody does psychological horror/suspense quite like her. She’s amazing!

6. One item you cannot live without?

As a writer, this would definitely be…my laptop!!! I cannot even imagine writing a book, let alone a 700 page novel like Corcitura, in longhand. My admiration for Charlotte Bronte and Dickens especially (who was not known for his brevity) has skyrocketed ever since I became a writer. How did they do it?!

7. Hobby?

I’m a classically trained violinist, pianist, and soprano and have been performing since I was three. I wouldn’t call this a hobby, but for something completely frivolous and unbookish, I can probably recite the entire script of Jaws, complete with dialects and sound effects, and enhanced by the singing of various sea shanties. I can also do a pretty mean Gollum impersonation, precious.

8. Favorite movie/actor/actress?

Jaws. No question. I started watching Shark Week the year it premiered and became fascinated with Jaws around the age of five when I went to Pic ‘n Save and saw the movie poster. I didn’t see the movie in full until I was 15, but I can’t remember a moment when I wasn’t aware of Jaws. It’s been a part of my life for ages.

My other favorite movie is The Fellowship of the Ring. I love the whole trilogy, but The Fellowship (and Gandalf) had a direct bearing on my decision to become a writer, so it will always hold a very special place in my heart.

Favorite actor…hmm…how about we do a modern one and one from the past? Russell Crowe for modern (I love him in every movie I’ve seen him in, but am a huge fan of his historical epics Gladiator, Robin Hood, and Master & Commander), and Danny Kaye, who has provided me with countless hours of laughter since I was a kid. There are also many classic actors I’m a fan of, including Humphrey Bogart, Tyrone Power, James Cagney, Errol Flynn, and Gregory Peck.

Favorite actress…Judi Dench. Love her! Her movies are great, but I’m a huge fan of her BBC sitcom As Time Goes By. I can watch that show over and over again, and have. I own the complete series (plus the reunion specials) on DVD. It’s such a great show—like visiting with old friends.

I’m also a fan of several classic actresses, such as Greer Garson, Vivien Leigh, Lauren Bacall, Maureen O’Hara, Myrna Loy, & Grace Kelly, just to name a few.

9. Favorite food?

Anything that has cheese in it. I think I’m part mouse.

10. Who would you like to meet? (dead or alive?)

Can’t I invite them all over for a ghostly dinner party and count them as one? No? Ok, then, let me think. I’ll keep it in the authorial realm and settle on C. S. Lewis. Jack! The Chronicles of Narnia have been a constant source of inspiration across all areas of my life for many years. I’ve read and reread my copies of the books to ragged shreds. One of my favorite of Jack’s quotes is “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” I would love to hear him talking about his thought process when creating such magnificent stories that are relevant to both young people and adults, since that is something that I strive to do in my own writing. I would also love to have a deep conversation with him about faith, God, and, of course…The Inklings! Ideally, this chat would take place between us in the “Rabbit Room” at The Eagle and Child. Then Jack could give me a tour of Oxford, where we might just run into Professor Tolkien—and I would make Tollers read the “Riddles in the Dark” scene from the Hobbit in Gollum’s voice. As you can see, I’m determined to meet at least one other person from my phantasmal dinner party. 😉