Monday, September 13, 2010
Guest Author Melanie Nowak
I am pleased to welcome guest author Melanie Nowak, author of Almost Human. Melanie is also giving away a signed set of 3 books (over a $40 value) to one commentor here. Contest ends on Friday September 17th at 12AM PST. U.S. Residents only, please.
1. What inspired you to begin writing?
I never thought that I would be a writer! As a child I was forever playing “Let’s Pretend”, and throughout school, I was an avid reader who aspired to be a singer and actress. I always had a creative imagination for stories, but I wanted to act and live them, not write them!
Although still very active in drama classes during college, I became a teacher, but after my children were born, I was fortunate to be able to stay home with them. During the day while doing housework, I found myself thinking up ideas for venomous vampires, and a story involving characters I created. It was unlike anything else I had seen or read, and I felt badly to think that my ideas would just be forgotten. So one night, I sat at the computer and decided to just write them down for myself. Before I knew it, I'd been writing for hours! It started in a sort of ‘screen-play’ format, because I was used to dealing with that in my drama classes, but I soon started expanding on that to add the characters’ thoughts, and I eventually converted it to a novel.
I never planned to publish, I just had fun writing it. The story was very long but I knew just what I wanted to happen - it was kind of like writing a whole TV season, with smaller episode arcs along the way. Due to its length, I decided to break the story into 3 parts and make it a trilogy. I still never thought about doing anything with them, until my mom and a friend convinced me to let them read it all. They insisted my books should be published, so I decided to find a way to share them with others.
2. What was the inspiration behind the characters in your most recent release Almost Human?
The 4th novel of the ALMOST HUMAN series, is my most recent release:
ALMOST HUMAN ~ The Second Trilogy ~ Volume 1: Born to Blood.
The series is being written as a succession of trilogies, with each focusing on a new aspect of the story, but the same characters continue throughout.
The Second Trilogy includes all of the characters from the first, but the plot causes Mattie and Allie to take a more central role. I don’t want to give things away to those who haven’t read The First Trilogy yet, so I won’t get into specifics. Suffice to say that all of my characters are inspired by something from within myself. Each character is driven by a specific emotion or trait that I strongly identify with, magnified.
It may seem that I am very unlike many of these characters, especially since the main cast of six are very varied and distinctly different people. However, each have been grown from a seed of something in myself that I may not often show to others. At some time in my life, I have ‘been’ each of these people.
In The Second Trilogy ~ Volume 1: Born to Blood, Mattie is in the midst of overcoming past insecurities. He finds himself evolving from someone who is constantly seeking acceptance, into someone who must be self-assured and strong for not only himself, but for the woman he loves. Maturing from insecurity to self-confidence is an evolution I think we can all identify with, and is greatly inspired by my own personal growth.
Outwardly, Allie has almost an opposite personality to the traits that Mattie displays. She is very bold, daring, and carefree, but she is beginning to recognize that these can also be signs of immaturity. In The Second Trilogy, Allie is being thrust into a position of power, and she must quickly learn to curb her irresponsible impulses, or she will risk hurting others, as well as herself. This also is a lesson inspired by life, that I think most of us can identify with and have learned (sometimes the hard way) as we have matured.
3. Which character did you have the most fun writing in this story?
I love all of my characters, and writing each of them is cathartic in its own way. I particularly enjoyed seeing Allie take a larger role in my most recent book, because she is a lot of fun to write. Alyson is the kind of person who doesn’t miss an opportunity to have fun and experience new things, and she always tells it like it is. In real life, we can’t always afford to take those chances or display such brash and open honesty, although we often wish we could.
4. What originally drew you to the paranormal/ dark fantasy genre?
I have always been into vampires, and a fan of the Anne Rice books & Buffy the Vampire Slayer on TV. I think vampires especially are a wonderful metaphor for exploring topics such as faith, addiction, abuse, ethics and prejudice, among other things. Vampires embody the persona of anyone who has ever felt outcast, alone and unable, unwilling or undeserving to find love. I think that is a basic element of why we connect with them on some level.
Paranormal creatures and powers have been an interest of mine for as long as I can remember. I believe in ghosts and elemental spirits (having had a few experiences in the past), and I’ve also studied Wicca, which deals with the natural connection between all living things and energies. I’ve just always been interested in exploring things that many other people don’t have faith in or understand. Some of it is real but misunderstood, and some of it is pure fantasy, but all of it ignites my imagination and I doubt I’ll ever write in any genre that does not include a paranormal element.
5. Do you have any favorite paranormal-themed films or TV shows?
I have always been an avid reader and movie lover. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a haunting work that I read long ago, and was probably my first experience with a vampire in literature. The first time I ever saw the world through the eyes of a vampire, was in reading the Vampire Chronicles of Anne Rice. It was new and amazing to me to have such an intimate view of these normally elusive creatures, and I loved the way her skillful writing drew me into the story. Anne Rice’s characters were soulful, passionate and fascinating. Later I became a huge fan of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer film and television series, created by Joss Whedon. His concepts regarding the interaction between humans and vampires, and his brilliant use of metaphor was very appealing to me. I greatly admired the wonderful ensemble feel of the television show, and the evolution of his characters.
While books and films certainly shaped my view of vampires in the past, once I began writing I stopped reading books with vampire characters, and have seen very few recent vampire movies. While writing my story, I temporarily stopped reading because writing fulfilled all of my fantasy needs. As the series developed into something that I was planning to publish, I made the conscious decision not to read any other books of similar genre because I didn’t want to them influence my writing, even subconsciously. I was very happy with the way my books were developing, and felt that they had a unique voice.
6. What literary projects can we expect from you in the future?
I have been thinking about my characters and their story for years, and have already planned their future for many books to come. I have decided to write my ALMOST HUMAN series as a succession of trilogies. The series will continue chronologically with the same characters throughout, but each trilogy will have a new focus and storyline that follows through its three books. Each trilogy is fairly self-contained, allowing those three books to be read separately from the rest of the series, but will be more enjoyable if the trilogies are read in order, illustrating the full history of the characters.
Writing the series as a succession of trilogies gives readers the opportunity to feel a sense of completion during points in the story, even though the series will still continue for many books to come. I have planned four trilogies for the ALMOST HUMAN series, meaning twelve books in all, and then I have plans for a spin off novel, which may result in a series of its own.
Currently available books for the series are:
ALMOST HUMAN ~ The First Trilogy
Volume 1: Fatal Infatuation
Volume 2: Lost Reflections
Volume 3: Evolving Ecstasy
ALMOST HUMAN ~ The Second Trilogy
Volume 1: Born to Blood
I am now writing Volume 2: Descendant of Darkness, for ALMOST HUMAN ~ The Second Trilogy, and hope to release that book in 2011.
You can read free sample chapters and find more information about this series and its characters by visiting my website at:
Thanks so much for the opportunity to discuss my series – and readers, thanks so much for your enthusiasm and faithful support of ALMOST HUMAN!
~ Melanie Nowak
To participate in Melanie's book giveaway contest, leave a comment with your email addy below. Angel's Gate followers get an extra entry. Good luck!
KRISI (WITHDRAWN by request)
NEW WINNER: LEA ELLEN
Congrats, Night Owl!!!