Category Archives: Author Interviews

Author Interview: Ann Snizek

Author Ann Snizek writes young adult urban fantasy with a fresh science fiction twist. Please welcome her here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Ann SzenikWho am I? I’m an eclectic person and a bit of a homebody. I do enjoy going out and doing things, but I completely enjoy my quiet time at home. We have a small homestead-in-progress (meaning we are slowly working toward being as self-sufficient as possible). I love animals, art, music, theater, movies, and nature. I tend to get obsessed with learning when something strikes me as interesting – which often happens – and I just run with it, devouring as much information as I can.

When and why did you begin writing?

It might be cliché, but I’ve always loved writing. I learned how to read before I started kindergarten and I spent my recess time in elementary school with paper and pencil in hand. Yes, life happened and I didn’t always get the chance to write, but story ideas constantly come into my mind and beg for me to preserve them in writing.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

After all those years of writing, I still didn’t consider myself a writer until I self-published my first book in 2012. Even then the concept felt foreign to me. There are still days that I forget that I have several books published.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I have several books in the works, but I’m trying to focus on For: Giva de Vine (Payton Chronicles 2). It has been a long time coming and I feel guilty for not finishing it already. How can I call it a series when I only have one book published? Second to that book is The Sword of Israj (Tunuftol book 4) which has also been a long time coming as life happens quite often.

What inspired you to write this book?

I don’t remember how the details came about initially, but I wanted to write a story that my dad would be proud of. He passed away in 2010. He loved the arts and even wrote some himself. That side of my family was big in the arts. My grandparents owned and operated their own theatre with my grandmother acting, creating costumes and sets. My grandfather was a playwright and director.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I try to write in a natural manner. I want to produce something that I would enjoy reading. I love connecting with my characters and going new places. I want to feel that I can relate, but also have unexpected things happen.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

I like to play on words. The title for book one is To Eris – Human. So, For: Giva de Vine had to come next.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I guess if I had to pick a message it would have to be to find your own inner strength. You can often do more and be more than you let yourselves believe. Reach for the stars.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Some things are taken from my own life or lives of those I know and love. Others are pure imagination. I like to blend the two. I feel it allows readers to connect as well as dream bigger. Even if you haven’t been through the same experience, everyone experiences basic emotions. That is what I try to convey.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Anne McCaffrey has long been a favorite writer. She started with a story idea that completely took off into a universe of its own. Still, with all her popularity, she always seemed to stay true to herself. Neil Gaiman and J.K. Rowling are amazing too. They create amazing new worlds with no limits except the imagination and they started at rock bottom and worked their way up. I hope to be even partially as successful as they have been in their lives.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I try to pull techniques from books I love to read and apply it to my own writing. I constantly strive to improve my skills and grow as a writer. I don’t have a specific mentor as such. There is no one person that I go to for guidance. Instead, I look to books and push myself to learn more and always get better.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

This cover is the only cover I’ve ever purchased. I saw it and just thought it called to me and fit the feel of what I wanted. Purchasing it actually spurred me into action and I started playing with my computer graphics program and have started creating covers myself.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing what you know and love. Always push yourself to do better, but have fun. If you don’t enjoy writing it, how can you expect readers to enjoy it?

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I love to hear from my readers more. I wish they would give me more feedback. If you enjoy my books write a little review, let me know, and tell others. I’d love to connect with them and find out what it is they like about it and why.

To Eris Human Book CoverAnn Snizek
Rural, central Virginia

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To Eris – Human

Cover Artist: Adrijus

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Author Interview: Jeffrey J Michaels

Jeffrey J Michael’s goal as an author is to inspire people to be better humans. All that he does is with the intention of offering the reader an opportunity to explore new ways of looking at their world (and worlds beyond).  Please welcome him here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Jeffrey J MichaelsMy name is Jeffrey J. Michaels. I am a Gemini. As such I am deeply involved in whatever interests me at the moment.

I am currently polishing a sweeping fantasy series of interconnected tales collectively known as “The Mystical Histories.” It is varied enough that I may even finish most of the stories. I like to think of my work as “metaphyictional,” combining fantasy and humor with metaphysical elements.

In my real life I am a well-respected creative and spiritual consultant

If you need to know more than this, we can sit down over a nice cup of coffee or 21-year-old scotch some afternoon and I will provide fascinating facts such as “born in the Midwest” “loves the Art Institute and architecture of the Loop district of Chicago” “likes peaceful pine forests and giant sequoias” “voracious reader” “many brushes with fame, but not impressed by it” or “likes cats”. Probably there will be a story involved with each of those facts and it may even be true.

When and why did you begin writing?

My grandmother told me that I was always telling her stories from the time I was able to speak. My mother said I was always making things up and I don’t think she always approved. Blah, blah blah, something about lying or not telling the truth, she would say.

I don’t consider myself a writer so much as a storyteller. Paper and pen seemed a good medium to immortalize some of the better lies, er, stories.

It is not so much a thing I began doing as it is an essence that makes up a great part of me, a motivation that cannot be excised from my existence.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

High School solidified my commitment to the written word. I shifted from being a passive participant to an active creator. What that means is I stopped just reading others’ work and started writing and (this is the important part) distributing the stories I was making up to others: teachers and fellow students, the kind fellow that ran Brainerd’s Bookstore, a couple of cousins who acted like they liked my work. I tended to avoid showing things to friends and family by instinct and I would say this is wisdom for every writer to follow.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My most recently released volume is the first in a trilogy that is a part of a larger series. It is titled “Tasa’s Path” and introduces us to a young girl who travels to a mystical community, ostensibly to learn how to become a steward of Gaia, the living earth. She thinks she is normal, but by the conclusion of the book she is setting off with her friends to find others, like them, who are of the Blood of the Dragons. Tasa was hoping for a quiet life of reading and collecting books, but she finds herself in possession of a sword forged in dragonfire, and one of her friends is dragon named Torin.

What inspired you to write this book?

I read a book about a young boy, Harry somebody, who is invited to a school of wizardry. He and his friends get involved in a lot of adventures in the first book and in subsequent volumes things get quite dangerous and dark for the kids. I wanted to write a brighter series, but maintain the emphasis on education and learning. Basically I was looking to tell an upbeat story about happy kids playing in the woods at a Renaissance Faire style community. It was all going fine until the beast men showed up.

I have several other volumes in progress. In structuring them I took my cue from Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series, which contains several trilogies and many stand-alone volumes. Her stories all weave a larger history of humanity in space and colonizing the planet called Pern.

In my work I tell the histories and tales of the mystical beings we know of as dragons, giants, elves and fairies. I am a metaphysician by nature and seek to weave the philosophies of stewardship for the planet and co-existence with all life forms into my stories.

Do you have a specific writing style?

There is an oft repeated phrase in writing classes these days that one should “show not tell” and to a great extent I agree, but I do like to tell sections of my tales, as if we are sitting about a cookfire and grilling up a bit of mastodon meat. I sometimes envision myself as a shamanistic type, one of the cave painters, a Druidic bard, or perhaps a Grecian student of Homer telling an epic tale.

Here is a secret about all the books in my series. There is a single narrator of the stories, though he remains well hidden and may never be fully revealed. I am just taking dictation for this great being. But please don’t tell anyone.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

“Tasa’s Path” is called such because the main character is Tasa and she learns of her path through life beginning in this book. The following volumes are titled “Tasa’s Journey” and finishing with “Tasa’s Home”. The entire series is under the umbrella title of “Tasa’s Passage” and each title has multiple meanings that eventually tie in to the greater series.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I dislike books that are preachy or purposefully sermonizing, so I tend to believe that mine are not “message” books. That said – yes there is a message. Respect the earth, love life and live it well, get along with everyone if possible and let others be if not possible. The characters in my series often get back to a single question when they are confronted with a challenge or an obstacle. It is the question that guides all the mystical beings. “Is the action I am about to take for the good and well-being of Gaia?” Gaia is the character that exists in every one of my books. Every one. She is the vital energy of the planet earth itself. We are expressions of her will and as such we do not own her or any portion of her. We are of Gaia and when we walk a balanced path we act as stewards of the earth itself.

Sorry. Looks like I got a bit of a sermon in there after all!

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Not really. One thing I get asked is “How do you write about women so well?” My life has been blessed with the knowing of powerful women. Not dominating, but strong. Not forceful, but intelligent. Not warriors, but nurturers. They have influenced me every step of the way and I cannot express enough gratitude to every single being who has shown me the balancing path of strong yin to assist yang in creating a beautiful life.

What authors have most influenced your life?  What about them do you find inspiring?

As to fiction authors that I have enjoyed I must first say that Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jules Verne connected me to the joy of imagination and adventure early on. As time went on I discovered many, many others such as Isabel Allende and Italo Calvino, but the two that remain most influential in my mind to this day are Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and Gene Wolfe.

Mary of course wrote Frankenstein and this single creation set off a chain reaction of media representation that continues strong to this day. But it is often more her life story and the fact that she is the author of many powerful novels that are relatively unknown that I find inspiring.

Gene Wolfe was kind and generous to me during a brief decade or so that I was privileged to know him personally. Many of my writing lessons are directly traceable to candid offhand remarks that Gene said in quiet discussions. In addition he is a damned fine wordsmith and quite possibly the finest writer of the late 20th and early 21st century.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I would love to be able to call Gene Wolfe a mentor, but our communication was never such a formal student teacher thing. Still, more than any of the writers I have had the privilege of knowing, Gene’s sly style and wit has shaped much of my confidence as a writer. He demonstrated early on that an author should never take the reader’s intelligence for granted. Write to a higher level and raise the bar for the reader to reach if they choose.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The initial painting of Tasa is done by a young artist named Lane Brown. He is a great talent and I found the portrait by chance one evening while looking for images on the internet. He has since done a few pieces for me and I love his art. We took that original painting and using a website called 99 Design submitted it in a contest. Of course the prize is money you provide as a fee for whoever wins and you are the one that selects the winner. We were blessed to find a designer out of Romania, Andrei Bat, who is working with us to create a unified look for the entire series.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Gene Wolfe said to me, “If you want to be a good writer read good writing.” I often quote that advice to students and clients. The corollary is, if you want to be a great writer read great writing. In addition, I tell aspiring writers to write the story they want to read. That is not uncommon advice, but I believe it is the advice that will help fan the creative spark to full bright flame.

Remember that the universe is a creative energy and YOU are an aspect of the universe, a particle of that same creative force that brought the entire diversity of existence into being. Act like it! Create!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

In the immediate context of reading I say this, enjoy! Read what you wish and ignore the critics who are more than willing to tell you what is wrong with this or that book or author. Are you having fun with the book? Then it is a good book!

In the greater sense of life and living, here is a little story.

A hero of mine, Norman Vaughan, did what many thought was an impossible thing. He went to Antarctica at age 89 and climbed a mountain that was named after him. He had gone to Antarctica with Admiral Byrd in 1928 and Byrd named a mountain after Norman. The guy got it into his head to go back and climb this thing and everyone said, “You’re nuts, Norman.” But he did it despite all the naysayers and a great many setbacks and outright disasters. When he got to the top he said, “Dream Big and Dare to Fail.” Those words changed my life about and I give them to all my students and readers whenever possible.

Tasa's Path Book CoverJeffrey J. Michaels
Huntington Beach, California

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Cover Artist: Andrei Bar
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Author Interview: Jon Wasik

Author Jon Wasik has been telling stories since he was a little boy, but didn’t put pen to paper until fifth grade, when he had grand dreams of becoming the next big sci-fi/fantasy writer. Since then he has written hundreds of short stories and multiple novels, many of which can be found posted on the web. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author Jon WasikMy name is Jon Wasik, I’m an IT tech by day, a fearless writer by night! Okay perhaps not fearless, but hey, I can dream. I live in Colorado right now, a state which seems to have an identity crises when it comes to seasons, but at least it keeps it interesting! I love all things geek, including reading, video games, and sci-fi/fantasy conventions!

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, so one day when I was bored in 5th grade, I just picked up a pencil because I wanted to write my own Star Trek story. Everyone in my class read it, and most enjoyed it, so from that day forward I was hooked. I knew that I could inspire readers the same way books had inspired me all of my life.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

That first fateful day in 5th grade was definitely day one, but it wasn’t until I created a website to post my first fanfic in 1999 that I truly felt like a writer. It was then that more than just friends and family could read my stories, and it was then that I received my first feedback, both positive and negative, from complete strangers.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

At the time that I write this, The Sword of Dragons has been published for nearly a year. Forged 3000 years ago, The Sword was designed to end the civil war between the Star Dragons and their twisted kin, the Dark Dragons. Now, a rogue Mage has discovered the Sword and has used it to incite war. Only the outcast Warrior Cardin Kataar and the fledgling Wizard Dalin stand in her way. Together, they must unite the four kingdoms against her, or watch everything they know fall to darkness.

What inspired you to write this book?

The Sword of Dragons has a very, very long history. When I first started writing, I was completely obsessed with writing sci-fi, and so this novel started as a sci-fi with fantasy elements. I wanted to tell my own epic space opera like Star Wars or Star Trek (sensing a theme?) One day I realized this would work so much better as a high fantasy. So the inspiration for this story has varied sources. Sci-fi for sure, in fact, the main trio, Cardin, Sira, and Reis, I had long ago modeled after Kirk, McCoy, and Spock (though that has drastically changed since then…) Some Arthurian legends played a role too, such as the powerful sword central to the plot, but that too evolved into something very different.

Ultimately, my inspiration came from a desire to create a new universe, complete and imaginative, that readers could delve into for years to come.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My favorite novels have always been in third person limited, so I find myself always drawn to that medium. To me it is the best of both worlds: you get to focus on seeing the world from the specific character or characters you focus on, and so learn so much about them, but also the beauty of a wider picture from being able to see events from multiple perspectives. In The Sword of Dragons, I specifically keep each chapter centered around a single character’s PoV.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Originally it was called Sword of the Dragon, simply because it was a Sword crafted by the Star Dragons. However, when I finally finished the final draft, many many years after I had started the original story, I did a search in Amazon, and found that another novel had been published with that name. At first, I was saddened, how in the world could I come up with a better title for this novel? But then a friend suggested that “The Sword of Dragons” would be a more apt description anyway, so I ran with it, and I find that it does in fact fit the history of the titular weapon better.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There are many, but I love leaving most of those to the readers to discover on their own. However, the two that I think are most obvious are that 1: no weapon or object in existence is inherently good or evil, it all depends on who wields it; and 2: the universe runs on action, not inaction, and if you wish to make a difference, you must act.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Being a high fantasy, most of the novel is imagination. But like any good writer, I drew as much on real life as I could. For instance, the character of Reis, always grinning and in good cheer, but able to be serious when the need arose, was based loosely on one of my closest friends. I’ve had limited experience with sword fighting, but had to adapt that knowledge to a fantasy adventure setting.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Certainly Tolkein, not in writing style but in story quality and world-building. J. K. Rowling has most definitely been a huge inspiration, and her writing style is incredible! But honestly, I grew up reading a lot of the Star Wars novels, and I loved the styles of Timothy Zahn and Michael Stackpole. Their ability to tell adventure stories with just enough detail to satisfy, but not too much so as to slow down the action, has been a big influence on me.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I’ve never had another writer take me under their wing. The only reason my writing has progressed so much over the years is because of friends who have not been shy about giving honest feedback on my writing.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Christian Michael was the artist for book 1. I chose him because I knew him in person and so could work with him in real-time, but also because I loved the work he had done for his own book covers.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write with passion! I cannot overstate that, your passion is your greatest strength, and believe me, readers can feel when it’s there, and when it’s not. So write what you love, and love what you write.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

You all are why I write! To inspire and bring excitement and joy to all of you. And I absolutely love hearing from you, so please never hesitate to reach out to me:)

Sword of Dragons Book Cover
Jon Wasik
Denver, CO

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Cover Artist: Christian Michael

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Author Interview: Megan Haskell

Author Megan Haskell is a YA fantasy author in the Southern California area.  We often bump into each other at local writing events.  It is my pleasure to feature her here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Megan HaskellMy name is Megan Haskell. I was born in Texas and raised in the greater Seattle area.

When I was a kid, my mom was forced to ground me from reading in order to get me to do my chores. No joke. Sometime during my elementary years, my dad introduced me to The Hobbit, and from that point forward I was pretty much addicted to fantasy. I love escaping to worlds where magic and monsters are real, especially stories with kick-butt heroines and dangerously attractive heroes.

I came to Southern California for college (Fight On!), where I met my husband. We stuck around, and now I’m a stay-at-home-mom who still prefers a good story over doing the dishes.

When and why did you begin writing?

While I’ve always enjoyed literature, and excelled in English classes in high school and college, I didn’t start creative writing until I was working as a number cruncher in a big accounting firm. With an hour plus commute by train every day, and a demanding left-brain occupation, I needed a mobile creative outlet. A pen and paper are about as mobile as it gets! As the pages began to fill, I quickly moved onto a tiny laptop, and a writer was born.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

For me it was when I began to make a real habit of writing. I wrote on the train almost every day, and finished my first (terrible) novel a couple of years later. At that point, there was no denying that I wanted to make a career writing fiction and being my own boss.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

SANYARE: THE LAST DESCENDANT is a dark fantasy coming-of-age adventure about a woman raised by elves in a realm where humans are treated like slaves. After decades of hard work and intense training, Rie has finally earned a meager post in the High Court messenger service. Still scorned by the high elves who rely on her loyalty, Rie’s closest allies are the fierce carnivorous pixies who travel by her side.
When she’s attacked on a routine delivery by assassins from the enemy Shadow Realm, Rie’s combat training keeps her alive…and frames her as a traitor. Knowing her king will execute her for even the appearance of treason, Rie is forced to forsake her oaths and flee into enemy lands to prove her innocence. With surprising help from a bastard prince and an ambitious blood sidhe, Rie searches for the truth behind the attack. The secrets she uncovers may threaten more than her honor or even her life…for war is looming in the nine faerie realms.

What inspired you to write this book?

My stories all start with the characters. Rie sort of appeared in my brain in the summer of 2012, and I knew I had to write a story about this changeling human woman who has been oppressed by high elf society. She’s so much more than she seems, she just needs a chance to prove it. And prove that humans can be equal to the elves.

From there, I started to think about this world. Who lives there? What’s the history? How do the different cultures interact, and how were they developed in the first place? Those questions and thousands more like them built the nine faerie realms in my head, and ultimately gave me the idea for Rie’s journey.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I would say that I write fast-paced action adventure with a fantasy setting. I also write in very close third person past tense, so the reader only knows what Rie knows. I don’t write long descriptive passages, and I don’t use flowery language, except perhaps in the dialogue, depending the background of the character. In fact, I think my writing is pretty tight and concise.

My stories tend to be rather violent (my mom had trouble reading past the first chapter) but there’s also a light-hearted flair. This is especially apparent in the pixies, who are simultaneously deadly predators and comic relief!

Overall, I write to entertain. I want the reader to be so absorbed in the story that they no longer see the words on the page. I want them to feel like they’re right there, in the action, fighting alongside Rie as she travels the realms and uncovers the truth.
How did you come up with the title of this book?

Sanyare is a job title, like queen or president or CEO. It means truthseeker in elvish, and the truthseeker is the mediator of the nine realms, a position of great power and respect. I loved the word, and I really wanted to use it in the book title, but I also knew that since most people (including me) don’t speak elvish, it wouldn’t mean anything out of context of the book.

So I started coming up with alternative book titles. I made this huge long list, and then I started asking people what they thought. At some point, someone suggested combining Sanyare with one of the other titles. It was an “ah-ha” moment. So now I have SANYARE: THE LAST DESCENDANT, and the sequel will be titled SANYARE: THE HEIR APPARENT!

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Not really. While there are multiple themes in the book, including class hierarchy and equality, following head versus heart, and believing in yourself, I don’t ever want the “message” to overwhelm the story. I write to entertain, and I firmly believe that it’s the reader’s right to interpret the words on the page however they like. If they just want fun action with magic and swords, they get that. If they want to think more about how one species treats another or the cultural differences between realms, they can do that, too.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No, not at all. This is Rie’s story. I’m sure there are elements that are pulled from my subconscious, but there is no direct translation of one experience to another.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

There’s a whole list of authors who have influenced my writing. To start with, Tolkien was my introduction to epic fantasy, and THE HOBBIT launched a life-long fascination with the genre. Then I tore through nearly all of Anne McCaffrey’s books in middle school. Her books featured strong female leads and unique sci-fi fantasy landscapes. In high school I found Laurell K Hamilton, who wrote the Anita Blake series. Those books sent me down into the darker realms of fantasy and introduced me to the concept of greater and lesser fae. And in more recent years, I’ve found authors that influence specific aspects of my writing. For example, Faith Hunter writes fantastic fight scenes, and I adore her Jane Yellowrock series. Nalini Singh has some of the best world-building I’ve ever read, and she does it in a way that doesn’t intrude on the readers’ experience of the story. And Nathan Lowell’s Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series surprised me by demonstrating that even some of the mundane details of life — like making coffee — can be fascinating if told in the right way.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Again, I have a lot of writing mentors, though they may not know it. Whenever I read a book, I try to pick out the things that I think the author does well and incorporate those lessons into my own writing. So Faith Hunter, Nalini Singh, Nathan Lowell, Anne McCaffrey…they all count as mentors as far as I’m concerned.

In addition, I’ve joined Monica Leonelle’s VIP Igniters group. It’s a masterclass, where Monica provides monthly courses in writing and marketing, and there’s a discussion group for all of the writers involved. Monica’s books and the group have really improved my writing productivity and provided a lot of resources for both publishing and the craft of writing.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Nicole at Cover Shot Creations designed my cover. I did a lot of research into the covers I liked and why, and then I found about five different designers that I thought could produce the kind of cover I wanted. Of them all, I felt like Nicole was the best fit, both for design aesthetic, and price.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Play the long game. Writing isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time to become even decent at it, so don’t get discouraged, and don’t rush it.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I know it’s been a long wait, but SANYARE: THE HEIR APPARENT is coming! If all goes well, the book should be published in late September or early October. But, if you can’t wait that long, sign up for my newsletter and you’ll get sneak peaks and free excerpts in each month’s edition. Plus, newsletter subscribers will have first chance to be included in the Advanced Reader group and receive a free digital copy of the book before it’s released! Check it out, and read more about my books on my website at www.meganhaskell.com.

Sanyare Book CoverMegan Haskell
Lake Forest, CA

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Cover Artist: Nicole at CoverShotCreations
Publisher: Trabuco Ridge Press

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Author Interview: Melissa Dickerson

Melissa Dickerson is a young adult science fiction writer who is occasionally funny but mostly just tries really, really hard.  Please welcome her here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Melissa DicersonI’m Melissa, and I love books. I adore them so much that I write them as well as read them. I love libraries and book fairs. My favorite books are ones that take place in our reality, but with a twist (Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files), anything post-apocalyptic (Divergent, Hunger Games), or anything YA. YA is my guilty pleasure.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I’ve just always had the urge. I was always that weird kid in school, scribbling in a notebook when everyone else was doing classwork or playing games. My prized possession is a writing assignment from second grade. It has one of those writing prompts at the top that says, “As the clock struck twelve on Christmas Eve, the lights went out!” Then I had to write a story that complimented the prompt. I’m sure that I was intended to write something about Santa, or my parents… My story has a burglar, dodging bullets, and a fight scene. I’m sure my teacher thought I was deranged. I’m not certain she was wrong!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I have a horrible case of impostor’s syndrome, so I didn’t consider myself a “Writer” (capital letter emphasized) until I finished my first book. Then I couldn’t deny it anymore! I’m still working up the confidence to introduce myself as a writer instead of saying “I work in IT”.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I’m working on the sequel to Cured, which is tentatively titled Controlled. In it, Emma discovers that there is still a good bit of the government intact and it is not friendly to post-zombies. It’s Cured, but with the volume turned up. More fight scenes, more intrigue, and more snark. I can’t wait to finish it and share it with you! I think you’re going to love it.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had this image in my head of a girl in a hospital gown, covered in blood, looking helpless, only everyone is terrified of her. I had to explore it, and that turned into Cured. Then I discovered that there was a second book in there, too. My mental image of Controlled is of Emma standing before a bunch of armed humans, showing she’s unarmed – only they’re still terrified.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I write what I like to read, and I like to read books that draw me in with great drama and characterization, and then make me laugh out loud. So serious subjects, but with a narrator who has an irreverent outlook on life. That’s what I aimed for, anyway!

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Cured was easy – it named itself, since it’s all about what happens if you cure a zombie. Controlled was harder. I went around in circles for a while, then ended up having to brainstorm with my writing group.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There are plenty of overarching themes and ideas, but the one I really want to drive home is that women are awesome! I am a huge believer in gender equality and want young women to have a good role model in Emma. I think her belief in herself is inspiring and her impetuousness is relatable for young women.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The story of Emma’s mother sticking up for her in Cured is loosely based on real events. Emma’s mom and mine share a lot of similarities. Livvy is a combination of two really good friends who have always supported me, no matter what crazy shenanigans I get up to.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Stephen King, definitely. I was reading him in middle school, and his stories were terrifying and delightful. His writing taught me that it’s okay to have dark and twisty parts of yourself (which I definitely do), and more than that, it taught me that it’s okay to occasionally let them out to see the light of day.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Someone told me that I write like Jim Butcher, and so now I can die a happy girl. I actually met him at San Diego Comic-Con one year, and he was the nicest guy ever even though I was a total fangirl lunatic. I love his writing style and that he considered himself a “long shot” as an author in the beginning. I feel the same way about myself, so I feel like maybe, just maybe it’s possible for me to be successful too.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Believe it or not, it’s a stock photo. I ran across it while looking for ideas for the cover and couldn’t get it out of my head. Once I saw it, I fell in love, and there was no other option considered.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing. Stick with it, and keep going. Finishing what you start is the hardest part of writing. The second hardest part is believing in yourself. If you just keep writing, you’ll get better and better at it.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you, from the very bottom of my heart, for reading. I’m so glad you gave me a try.

CuredMelissa Dickerson
Costa Mesa, CA

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Cured

Cover Artist: Peter Juhasz
Publisher: Infinitely Improbable Press

AMAZON
BARNES & NOBLE