Tag Archives: Melissa Barker-Simpson

July Recap

Here are the highlights of July’s blogging:

Series

Interviews

Publications

Awards

Contribution to Other Blogs

Photo Credit: Sonja Langford.

Photo Credit: Sonja Langford.

Author Interview: Melissa Barker-Simpson (The Contract)

Changing Worlds 2

Today, Melissa Barker-Simpson is with us to talk about The Contract, prequel to The Fractured series. I fell in love with the world and its characters so I am happy that Melissa accepted to be interviewed about this novella. The Contract is featured in the Changing Worlds anthology, which also includes Saunders’ Choice, a Natural Gifts Novella by Gina Briganti.

NG: Where does your love for prologues and epilogues come from? How did they happen for The Contract?

MELISSA: I know that prologues aren’t popular, but I’ve always felt they build tension and give me, as a reader, a little background into the story. It’s a kind of, here’s what you need to know before you begin your journey. Prologues are also great for setting up the here and now, by giving us a taste of the past. They are like a window, allowing us a glimpse of a character’s motivations or the events which influenced them. Epilogues on the other hand, at least for me, are a way to ease the reader out of a story. The journey has come to an end, so it’s nice to catch up with the characters; a way to tie up those loose ends.

When I began writing The Contract, I wanted to give my readers a little perspective on the world they were about to journey into! I felt it was important to show the origins of the world, not only to entice, but to set the stage.

NG: How did you decide to have both Maddison’s and Tobias’s points of view to tell the story?

MELISSA: Originally I wrote The Contract from Maddison’s point of view, and though I enjoy being inside her head, during my first edit I realised that Tobias’ motivations; his distinct sense of humour – were lacking. I wanted readers to know how he felt about the journey, so I began to rewrite and add a few scenes. It turned out Tobias had a lot to say and this reflected their unique relationship. It felt right to do it that way.

NG: Is there any character you wish you could tell more about in The Contract? If so, will we find out more in the upcoming books of the series?

MELISSA: I loved the scenes with Orion Reece, they were an absolute pleasure to write. He actually took me by surprise, his appearance anyway. I planned to introduce him in the first book of the series but, being the exhibitionist that he is (he’s a god after all), he decided he wanted in on the action. You can expect to see him quite a lot in the next adventure!

NG: Do you have a “dream” cast in your mind when developing and writing the characters?

MELISSA: Absolutely. The characters in my head are so vivid that I only have to close my eyes to see them acting out a scene or talking among themselves.

NG: Do you have a writing playlist to inspire you?

MELISSA: I rarely listen to music when I write because I find it a distraction. I can’t hear the characters in my head and it interrupts my flow. There are times when I’m struggling to convey a particular emotion, or want an action scene to come to life, and at those times I’ll listen to a piece of music before I begin writing. I understand and appreciate the power of music; the way it can impact a scene. You only have to think about John Williams and what he did for Star Wars in terms of musical score. The emotion it incites is phenomenal, and sometimes I use that kind of inspirational score to breathe life into a scene.

Quite often I’ll hear music in my head even when it’s not playing. For example, when Orion Reece appeared at the beginning of The Contract, he was accompanied by sound (part of the score from Guardians Of The Galaxy).

NG: Are there any writing rituals that help you tackle low inspiration problems?

MELISSA: It depends on the problem. I suffer from depression so when my motivation is exceptionally low I accept that I’m not going to be able to write. I just have to wait it out, utilise the coping mechanisms I have in place.

There are occasions when a character isn’t communicating well, or I can’t envisage a scene clearly. At those times I’ll either throw a little dialogue at them – give them something to talk about so they can hash it out. Or I might write a short story, move on to another project, or step away completely and return to it with a fresh perspective.

NG: Will Tobias get Maddison a dog in the future?

MELISSA: I love this question! Tobias found it hilarious too, though Maddison – not so much. Strangely, Marcus, Tobias’ second in command, popped into my head when I thought about the answer. If he knew about that particular conversation, he would use it against her at every opportunity. He’d certainly transform into a dog just to get a rise out of her – it’s fun working with a shapeshifter!

***

Mel2I’ve been writing since, well…since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I often look back on those earlier stories, and apart from laughing at the heavy-handed drama, or cringing at my inexperience, I am reminded that I have always lived in other worlds.

My first novel was published in 2008, and I love nothing more than working on a new project. The voices inside my head invariably pull me in different directions, so although I try to work on one thing at a time, those who know me would tell you it doesn’t always work!

I have a full-time job which, though does not involve writing per se, incorporates my love of language. As a British Sign Language Interpreter, I get to translate information between two languages which is (mostly) fun.

I have two beautiful daughters who bring me great joy. They also keep me grounded, because otherwise I would have my head in the clouds permanently!

 

 

Next Week on the Blog

On Monday, I will talk about what I am up to, writing wise (if you follow me on Facebook, you already have an idea). Summer has already been busy and we’re barely mid-July.

On Tuesday, there will be an author interview with Melissa Barker-Simpson, especially about her novella The Contract.

On Thursday, I will answer my weekly question for The Digital Quill Answers feature.

Have a great weekend!

Photo Credit: Jeff Sheldon.

Photo Credit: Jeff Sheldon.

The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

Thank you very much to Vanessa from Romance Done Write for nominating me for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!

sisterhood-award1

 There are four rules:

  1. Say “Thank You” to the person who nominated you & link their blog to your post.
  2. Answer the 10 questions given to you.
  3. Pass the award on to 7 other bloggers (I’m passing it to 5) and let them know they have been nominated.
  4. Include the Award Badge in your post.

Answers about Me:

  1. What would you rather eat: dessert or breakfast? – Breakfast! It is a favorite moment of the day with food I love to pieces (both salty and sweet).
  2. Do you have siblings? – No, I am an only child.
  3. Where would you visit if money wasn’t a factor? I would take a long trip to the UK and then the US to visit many of my friends.
  4. What’s your favorite color? – I often say black but it really depends what we are talking about (clothes, decoration and so on). I love black, red, purple and blue a lot.
  5. Are you a morning person or a night owl? – I’d love to be a morning person but I’m more of a night owl. It tends to vary this past couple of years.
  6. What’s one talent you have that people wouldn’t expect? – I’m good at fixing some stuff in the house.
  7. What’s your favorite book? – I’m not good at picking favorites. I’ll say that among my favorites are the Book of the Order series by Philippa Ballantine, many Star Wars novels, Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés and most of Joseph Campbell books.
  8. If someone described you as a fictional character, who would you be? – I’m not a scientist/doctor (or a FBI agent!) but I’ve been nicknamed Scully for many years.
  9. What fictional character would you most like to meet? – I already have a ton living with me. My characters tend to stop by for a chat even at the most unpractical hours! I remember Keno (villain in upcoming Fantasy short story collection) popping up at 1am to tell me about what he had been up to since Stone Age. Really? Yes.
  10. If you were an animal, what would you be? – A cat!

10 Questions for my Nominees

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. Do you enjoy crafty hobbies?
  3. What is one of your favorite foods?
  4. What movie are you most looking forward to in 2015?
  5. What brought you to blogging?
  6. Do you like poetry?
  7. Do you have a favored computer brand?
  8. What is the one software you couldn’t live without?
  9. What book(s) from your childhood left a most significant impression?
  10. Do you like notebooks?

My Nominees

As always, if you don’t do blog awards, you can simply consider this award a token of my appreciation.

Real Neat Blog Award

real-neat-blog-awardMelissa and Hannah surprised me with two nominations for the Real Neat Blog Award on the same day! Thank you very much! May I also say that having only one (hard!) set of questions to answer is awesome? It is!

1. What is the #1 most played song on your iPod (or other listening device)?

I have been listening to the Mass Effect soundtrack for countless hours over the last months. It has become one of my favorite go-to music for writing. To finish a project with a bang, I switch to Star Wars: Throne Room and Finale. It has been a ritual since my higher education days!

2. What is one of your favorite quotes?

  • May the Force be with you. – Star Wars
  • The lyrics from Let Your Light Shine (Bethany Dillon), Le Blues du Businessman (Starmania), Here’s to us (Halestorm), Senorita (Jean-Patrick Capdevielle), Book of Love (Dar Williams) and many more!

3. If you were immortal for one day, what would you do?

Give up on sleep to have more time for doing other things.

4. What’s the most recent movie/book you’ve seen/read? Tell us about it.

The last movie I saw was Sapphire Blue (the day after watching Ruby Red). I haven’t read the books but enjoyed the movies a whole lot more than I expected! I can’t wait for the third one to come out and plan to get my hands on the novels in the meantime.

I am currently reading Fairy Tales and Feminism: New Approaches (edited by Donald Haase). I’ll have probably finished reading it by the time this post goes online. There is a lot of fascinating material in this book. To anyone interested in Fairy Tales, I highly recommend it!

5. What have you always wanted to study (but never had the time)?

Russian, Spanish, Portuguese and Greek.

My nominees are:

As always, if you don’t do blog awards, simply consider this a token of my appreciation!

My questions for you are the following:

  1. If you could adapt one book for the big screen, which one would it be?
  2. Do you have a favorite blogging tip?
  3. What is your favorite genre to read?
  4. Which season is your favorite?
  5. What is your dream vacation destination?

Tag, you’re it! A Reading Habits Tag

When I found this Reading Habits Tag on Melissa Barker-Simpson’s blog a while ago, I knew I would have to post my own answers to these questions. I always love learning about other people’ reading habits. So thank you Melissa for sharing the reading love! Anyone who’d like to share their answers are welcome to do so!

Question #1: Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

No, I don’t. I can read anywhere, whether at the kitchen table, on the couch in the living room or in bed before sleep. The same way, I can read in the car, train, subway or plane. As long as I can pick my book and read it, I am happy to do this anywhere. The only reading restriction I have is when i read something on my laptop. In that case, I prefer doing this at my desk.

Question #2: Bookmark or a random piece of paper?

I prefer bookmarks. I’d love to have more bookmarks the day I can. I also use a lot of postcards as bookmarks. I only rely on the random piece of paper if I just bought a new book and am starting it even before being home. Or I put random pieces of paper when I mark pages in work books for a paper I am currently working on.

Question #3: Can you stop reading anytime you want or do you have to stop at a certain page, chapter, part, etc.?

I prefer stopping reading at the end of a chapter. I always do this whenever I can. If I really have to stop at once, I can stop right where I am but I highly dislike it.

Question #4: Do you eat or drink while reading?

I don’t eat while reading. I used to do this younger, but I prefer eating without doing anything else. I drink while reading though, whether water or tea, which are my two favorite beverages.

Question #5: Can you read while listening to music/watching TV?

I can read while listening to music but I prefer not to. I can’t read while watching TV. Since a surgery end of 2011, I can’t watch much TV while doing nothing else, so I often multitask by working on the laptop or doing tapestry while watching TV. Yet, reading a book isn’t an option for multitasking while watching TV.

Question #6: One book at a time, or several at once?

I prefer reading one book at a time, but I can read two at once, if one is fiction and the other is nonfiction (either personal development book or one for my research). When I read a novel in paperback/hardcover and a nonfiction one on Kindle, it also helps me read both at the same time, because it doesn’t feel the same.

Question #7: Reading at home or everywhere?

Everywhere. I always have a book with me wherever I go. It’s a necessity. It’s as important as leaving home with my wallet. And when I leave for a trip, I always have several books in my bag, making sure that I have enough spare books to read. The only times I just pack enough for the travel time is when I go see friends whose book shelves I can borrow from during my stay.

Question #8: Reading out loud or silently in your head?

Always silently in my head.

Question #9: Do you read ahead or skip pages?

I very rarely do that. I only do this with certain nonfiction books for my research, when I realize that a certain section isn’t useful for my work. For fiction, I avoid reading ahead as it can ruin the experience.

Question #10: Breaking the spine or keeping it new?

Neither. I never break the spine, but I also know that books have a life of their own, especially after multiple readings. So I do my best to keep them in optimal conditions, but some of my books show their age and my love for them!

Question #11: Do you write in books?

Yes, but only in my work books. It makes it easier for me to find things back. I didn’t do this earlier when I was studying for my first Master’s degree and it can delay my search through books I used back then. So my work books as mostly scribbled on and I always have a recap per chapter and pages of exact topics in the opening pages of the books.

Image courtesy of patpitchaya / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of patpitchaya / FreeDigitalPhotos.net