ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Melissa has always loved reading and grew up about 600m from the local library. She spent a lot of time at that library reading the likes of Judy Blume, Enid Blyton, John Marsden, Ann M. Martin and Francine Pascal. She lives in Leopold which is the middle of Geelong and the beach. It is a pretty great place to be. She has been lucky enough to live and travel overseas and see some amazing places. Some highlights include Carnivale in Venice, Italy. La Tomatina in Bunol, Spain. A tomato throwing festival not for the fainthearted. Also Mt.Sinai, Egypt where she began climbing a mountain at 2am to reach the top in time for the most spectacular sunrise. As a primary school teacher she is passionate about encouraging her students to enjoy reading and writing. As a mum she loves creating stories aloud with her kids and reading to them. Melissa is an emerging author who looks forward to sharing her stories and spending many more hours creating new ones.
1. You got published via a writing competition. What was your publishing experience like?
When I first entered the competition I only had to send the first 4 chapters. Once my entry got shortlisted I had to send the entire manuscript (which I madly finished editing the final chapters!). Morris Publishing Australia are a fabulous publishing house who are developing their author list. You can go to this link to read the 1st chapter of Destiny Road for free.
Elaine Ouston is the editor who allowed me to be completely involved from the start. She very patiently answered my numerous questions along the way. Elaine also allowed one of my best friends to do the photography work for the front cover. This made it even more special. So my first time publishing experience has been very positive.
2. Did you continue to edit your Novel after you won, or was it done and dusted?
It took me 18 months to write the manuscript. At this point I sent it to a manuscript assessor for feedback. I also gave it to a trusted friend to read. The assessor pointed out the structural edits and other things to consider whilst my friend bluntly pointed out the boring bits! Between the two I added another 15,000 words and another element to the story. Elaine then spent time going over it, making edits and questioning a couple of things. Then I read through it again making even more changes before returning it to Elaine who went over it once more with my changes. I haven’t actually read it in the novel format yet as I am afraid I might want to change something!
3. When did you know you wanted to become an author? Was there a certain book/author/series that you think influenced you?
I always enjoyed writing. I lived and travelled overseas for almost 2 years and kept a detailed diary of every place I went. It wasn’t until I had my first baby that I decided to take a creative writing course. It was by correspondence and took me 18 months. Since then I have kept writing (when I have time) and trying to develop my skills. I have entered and won/received mentions for other pieces of writing. I always thought it would be cool to have my own published book but I don’t think I thought it would seriously happen. When I started writing it was for middle grade readers (7-10 year olds). But my sister-in-law told me about these two great series, one called Twilight and other was The Hunger Games! I read them reluctantly at first then of course, could not put them down. From then on I was hooked on young adult books and rarely read anything else now. I suppose that is what made me first think of writing on the YA genre.
4. Do you have any special requirements that help you write? A special place? A HB pencil with a flimsy attachable eraser on top?
Sometimes I love to have music blaring with a special soundtrack of my favourite songs. Other days I enjoy the peace and quiet of having an empty house. Often my writing is done at night after my two children are asleep so I might just pop some headphones on to get in my own little world of writing. I just invested in an Ipad to do some writing whilst out and about. Otherwise I carry a notebook with me and write on that, only to have to type it up when I get home. Although I do enjoy scribbling across the page except my ideas come out faster than the writing. When I read it back it doesn’t always make sense!
5. Are you working on a second book now? If so, what can you tell us about it?
I am halfway through an idea called Summer Change. It is about a teenage girl who spends the Summer with her cousins. Whilst there she begins to investigate the secret her parents are hiding. But then I got sidetracked by another idea called Late Bloomer. So I’ve spent some time on that and actually received an honourable mention in a writing competition for the Gold Coast Writers Festival late last year. Late Bloomer is about wanting to grow up and all the embarrassing moments this can cause. I am not admitting to any truth that might be found in this story! You can follow the link to read the entry.
6. Is Destiny Road the first book you’ve written, if not, what made you think that the other books you wrote were not up to being published?
I have written lots of other stories but they are all for a younger reading age group. Destiny Road is my first attempt at a young adult novel. I think the other stories were good but I have found my voice is the YA genre. Destiny Road is my first published book and I am very proud of it. When I was 16 I went to live with my father for the first time. Unlike Jessica from Destiny Road I had known him all my life, but my parents divorced when I was very young. I was never able to say thank you to my dad for saying yes when I asked could I live with him. He passed away several years ago and it has always bothered me that I could not get those words out before he died. Now with Destiny Road I feel like I have said them, so hopefully he knows.
Available for purchase:
Thank you to the wonderful Melissa for letting us host her on the blog today. As an added bonus she has let us hold an international giveaway for her debut novel 'Destiny Road'. Enter below to win a pdf version of the book for all international entries, or a signed physical copy for Australian entries. Don't forget to check out Ely's review, here.
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