Author Melissa Cuevas describes herself as “A little scatterbrained, but hopefully quite creative.” I will vouch for the creative side! Please welcome Melissa here on No Wasted Ink.
My name is Melissa Cuevas (pronounced kway’vis…the Spanish word for caves). My father was career military so I grew up moving every few years. I was born in New Mexico and have lived in Idaho, the UK, Arizona, Utah and Texas. That made it very difficult to keep friends, so I spent a lot of time reading by myself. I am married and have two adult children. I have lived in rural Southwestern Wisconsin for the past twenty or so years. I play video games, write fanfiction, cosplay and attend the occasional convention.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always been a reader, and the thought of becoming an author seemed like a way to go. It was the dream job idea that survived into adulthood with me. As things went on and I started to come up with my own stories, I realized that the voices in my head…the snippets of head movies that played over and over in my brain as daydreams could be silenced…for awhile at least, if they were written down.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I took myself a little more seriously as a writer in 1999 when I finished my first novel. Before that, I had started numerous, numerous projects and every single one of them failed at about page 15. Then I started ‘The Emperor’s Finest’, assuming that it would also die young. It kept going, so I told myself I would take it seriously at about, oh, one hundred pages, never thinking it would make it that far. So when it started to approach that, I started looking at submission requirements and realized that I had not been measuring it correctly, by word count instead of pages. The second epiphany was that the formatting was completely wrong and the work that I thought was short was much larger than I’d thought and I was nowhere near done with it.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
The Book of My World is a portal fantasy turned on its head. I’d read and heard about many stories that involved game players getting sucked into their games and trying to fill their characters’ shoes and becoming heroes, but I haven’t really heard many stories that involve a game character who is not the human player’s character getting out of the game world to go find their beloved friend (the player).
What inspired you to write this book?
I was honestly sitting around and working on a video game based fanfiction and musing over my character’s in game companion/love interest for that series and how much time and ‘love’ can be invested in a fictional character. Then I started to think about leaving a game, or losing access to a game and the idea of abandoning a companion that, as a player, I could have devoted hours of gameplay to making them care about me, be loyal to me, or even, love me, and how devastating my player character’s sudden disappearance would be to them if they were self-aware. Then I asked myself what they might do in that circumstance, and that become The Book of My World.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I am a terrible pantster. I plan nothing. I know the beginning, have a vague idea of some points in the middle, and usually have a good idea of how it’s supposed to end when I start writing. The Book of My World was a bit of a technical challenge to me because, although it is third person, it is not split narration. The main character is the only point of view throughout the book. I’ve done that with first person, but never third.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
The title is actually the title of a book in the book, it belongs to Tiernan’s beloved Dyre. My World is a translation of the name of the game that Tiernan comes from.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I guess I’d have to go with ‘You can’t have courage without fear.’ because Tiernan is often overwhelmed and frightened, but he still does what he thinks he should do.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?
It’s based on my experiences as a video game player, but no, it’s not based on any real life occurrences or people I actually know.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
Growing up, I definitely loved Anne McCaffery. She had an amazing ability to transport me into her world and keep me transfixed.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
An actual mentor? No. I kind of live in my own little bubble. As for a writer I respect and hope one day to become somewhat as good as, it would be S.M. Stirling. Although I know his style is vastly different from mine, I really appreciate his character building and storycrafting skills.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
I chose the stock images for my cover, sent them to the wonderful Rachel Bostwick and cried “Make me a pretty cover out these; please, please!” And she did.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read. And then write. And then read. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I love them all. Even if I don’t know who they are.
Melissa D. Cuevas
The Book of My World
Cover Artist: Rachel Bostwick