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Author Interview: Dana Hammer

Author Dana Hammer is a writer, a housewife, a blood and guts enthusiast, and a lady. She hopes you enjoy her writing. When I heard her read from Rosemary’s Baby Daddy I was laughing so hard I about rolled on the floor. I’m excited to introduce this upcoming author here on No Wasted Ink.

author-dana-hammerMy name is Dana Hammer, and I’m introducing myself to you. It’s hard to know where to start with this sort of thing, because I don’t know who YOU are. Maybe you’re the kind of person who just wants the facts, ma’am, and you just want to know, like, where I live and how old I am and stuff. But maybe you’re a more curious sort, and you want to know my favorite movies and what my hobbies are. Or maybe you’re a creep and you just want to know if you can have a pair of my used panties. In order to cover my bases, I will answer all of those questions, in order.

  1. I live in Anaheim.
  2. I am 34 years old.
  3. My favorite movies are Kill Bill, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Django Unchained and I Heart Huckabees.
  4. My hobbies are: writing, enjoying art of varying quality, reading the profiles of prospective adoptive couples online and judging their suitability as parents, and birding.
  5. No, you cannot.

I hope this has been informative!

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always written little things here and there, mostly to amuse myself when I was bored. I started writing in a more serious way when I worked in finance, because I hated that job with my whole heart, and writing kept me sane.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Honestly, not until I published my first book. Though I fully subscribe to the notion that a
writer is a writer both before and after publication.

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

Sure! It’s called Rosemary’s Baby Daddy, and it’s a comedic fantasy novel about a woman
named Lori who gets impregnated with a demon’s baby. She decides to abort the baby to hide her infidelity from her husband, but then the abortion clinic gets destroyed by a freak lightning storm. From then on, all kinds of crazy events happen.

Meanwhile, the father, the demon Pazuzu, can’t stop meddling in Lori’s life. He knows he’d be a really terrible father, but he can’t help himself; he’s always wanted a baby. In addition, he has to somehow protect his baby from his ex-girlfriend, Lamashtu, who is the demoness responsible for baby death.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had a terrible, terrible pregnancy. Pretty much anything you can think of that can go wrong with a pregnancy – yeah – that happened. So I wrote this book to cheer myself up.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I like to think of myself as a concise, direct writer. If you want a lot of purple prose and
descriptions of the sky, I’m not your gal. My goal is to tell a story and to entertain you, and I hope my style helps me to achieve that.

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

Actually, I didn’t. I was having a lot of trouble with that, and a friend of mine, Rhiannon
Aarons suggested “Rosemary’s Baby Daddy”. At first I was like… my character’s name isn’t Rosemary. But then I was like, so what?

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

I don’t know that I’d call it a message, but there is a definite theme, or “moral”, if you will. Basically, this book is a metaphor for how pregnancy (and new parenthood) throws your life into total disarray. You behave in ways and associate with people you never thought you would. You’re shocked at what you’re willing to sacrifice, and what changes you’re prepared to make, in order to be a good parent. Your body becomes a strange, alien thing that you don’t even recognize. You start to care deeply about things you never gave a thought to before; like which preschools in your area have Mandarin immersion programs and which restaurants have high chairs. It’s trippy.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or something from real life?

Not really. I was pregnant when I wrote this, but Lori is nothing like me. Oh, and I’ve never had sex with a demon.

Although,there is one part that was loosely inspired by real life. One day, when I was about four months pregnant, I was sitting in my living room and I heard this really strange squawking. It was birds, but not any birds I’d ever heard around here before. So I went outside and saw a FLOCK OF PARROTS. In Anaheim! Right outside! I thought I was going insane! Then I found out that there are actual flocks of wild parrots in Orange County; mostly former pets that have escaped from homes. But this incident was sort of the inspiration for the scene in the book where birds attack Lori’s house.

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

I read a lot of Stephen King and Edgar Allen Poe during my formative years, and I still love
them both. I’m not sure if my fondness for dark subjects was something I learned from reading them, or if I read them because they spoke to my pre-existing fondness, but either way, they are both quite inspiring to me. I love any writer who isn’t afraid to embrace subjects that many people might find scary or unpleasant.

I also love Christopher Moore and Douglas Adams. Their madcap, quirky and hilarious stories make me super happy. If I could be any writer in the world, I’d be one of them. If I work really hard, maybe someday I might be worthy of fetching Christopher Moore a cup of coffee or polishing Douglas Adam’s tombstone, but I’m not there yet.

Is there a writer you would consider a mentor?

I wish! If a really great author wanted to mentor me, I would be so excited, I wouldn’t be able to contain myself. It’s all I would talk about. I would name drop endlessly, and eventually, my poor mentor would get sick of me and probably take out a restraining order against me, and that would be the end of the mentorship. But thus far, no one has reached out to me with the offer. If I could choose my mentor, no question, it would be Christopher Moore. But there are literally dozens of writers I would love to have as mentors, too.

Who designed the cover of your book?

Sheryl Sopot from Hyperchick Design did my book cover. I chose her because she’s
awesome, and we’ve been friends for years.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes. Be independently wealthy. Failing that, marry someone who will support you financially while you write. You need to have free time if you’re going to write a book; you can’t be spending all your time at an office doing spreadsheets. Also, read a lot. It makes writing a lot easier. Also, alcohol is your friend. Unless you’re an alcoholic. Then candy is your friend.

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

Thank you for reading my book! I really hope you enjoy it.

rosemarys-baby-daddy-book-coverDana Hammer
Anaheim, California

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Author Interview: Lillian Nader

How would I describe Author Lillian Nader? For one, she is a writer for fun and profit. Expect the unexpected! Please give her a warm welcome here on No Wasted Ink.

author-lillian-naderI am Lillian Nader, an author, dreamer, freelance copyeditor, retired special education teacher, and part-time tutor. My name originated with my cousin, Lillian Ann, who asked my pregnant mom to name me after her when the Ouija board said I would be a girl. Weird things have happened to me ever since. My favorite poem is “Find Your Own Voice” by Jayne Cortez. I prefer outdoor walks for exercise, especially at the beach or in beautiful parks with large shade trees and small squirrels. My favorite people are other writers, metaphysicians, and my family. I have a lot of cousins and two older siblings but no spouse or children of my own. I rely on close friendships of extended family and confidantes. I participate in dream work with a small group called Sacred Dreamers and I frequent writers’ groups all over Orange County, CA. My professional memberships include SWCA, Southern California Writers Association; PWOC/PWSD, Publishers and Writers of Orange County and San Diego; and IBPA, Independent Book Publishers Association.

When and why did you begin writing?

I grew up in Marshall, a small town in East Texas and moved to California to pursue a writing career in 1981. While I was taking a script writing class, I met a lyricist, Larry Marino, who was in search of a cowriter for his musical, Pandora. We embarked upon a successful collaboration to the completion of the script with me as the librettist. It was my love for the theater and Larry’s incredible talent that spurred me on.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I became a published author of instructional workbooks with two California publishers of educational materials for the classroom, I considered myself a writer. One workbook, Native Americans: A Proud Heritage became a best seller for the classroom several years in a row.

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

Thanks for asking about my newly released sci-fi book for young readers, Theep and Thorpe: Adventures in Space. Jonathon Curtis is the fourteen year old narrator of the story. He has the ability to manifest objects out of nowhere, but he doesn’t know how to control his gift. His emotions take over and get him into trouble, landing him on Planet Staruus. The planet houses troubled kids from an overpopulated Earth and is thought to be uninhabited, but it isn’t. Theep and Thorpe are enlightened space beings who establish telepathic communication with Jonathon, and the fun begins.

What inspired you to write this book?

My artist friend, Angelo Divino, created two colorful and friendly looking space beings, and I was inspired to write about them. Their names came to me first, based on the concept that each of us has a unique sound frequency as well as fingerprints to distinguish us from one another. It occurred to me that space beings would use their sound frequencies in place of names. The names, Theep and Thorpe, are approximate sounds to the actual frequencies, which cannot be spoken with our voices. Years later, the actual story began to take shape in the form of a novel.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I am a character driven writer, which means I start with characters that interest me, put them in weird situations, and figure out the plot from there. In Theep and Thorpe: Adventures in Space, I chose the narrative style of a troubled teen and used both internal and external dialogue to advance the story. His encounter with space beings is entirely from his point of view. I like to insert humor using a sprinkle of sarcasm and a bit of irony as part of my show, don’t tell strategy.

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

Since the book is about space beings and I am a character based author, I naturally gave their names, Theep and Thorpe, in the title to go with their images on the cover. I came up with the subtitle to give the reader more information about the story, and to distinguish it from other books in the series.

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

“Thoughts are things” is the overall theme of the story. Jonathon has the power of manifestation, and Theep and Thorpe teach him how to control his gift by choosing positive, productive thoughts.

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

Yes, I drew upon my experiences as a teacher in a juvenile court school for part of the setting although it changed drastically as soon as it became housed on the fictional Planet Staruus.

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

I was influence by J D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye for the narrative style of my book and J K Rowling’s Harry Potter for motivation. As a special education teacher working with reluctant readers when the Harry Potter books were released, I noticed my students were choosing those books of their own volition. This made a big impression on me;

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

Oh, yes. I have at least two writing mentors. One is Marjorie Miles, author of Healing Haiku: A Poetic Prescription for Surviving Cancer, who teaches a class I’ve been taking for the past four years. Dr. Miles encourages creative expression through free writing activities. The other mentor is Dr. Heather Friedman Rivera, author of the Prism Walker fantasy series for young readers along with nonfiction and fiction for adults. Heather is my weekly writer’s check-in partner. We email each other once a week with our writing goals, successes, and encouragement for one another. She is also a revered beta reader and writing coach.

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

My book cover was designed by Laura Gordon Moyer at The Book Cover Machine. She was referred to me by Heather Rivera, and I loved the design she did for Heather’s books. She worked with the original artist/creator of the space images and me for the design. Laura is responsive, cooperative, extremely talented, and reasonably priced.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Listen to your inner voice. Study the craft of writing, consult experts and peer readers and writers for their opinions, but always stay true to your inner voice. Each of us has a unique voice that only we can express. Dream big and don’t give up on your dreams. Surround yourself with positive people and energy. Participate in professional groups with other writers. Build an author’s platform to express your own voice. Have fun.

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

Thanks for choosing Theep and Thorpe: Adventures in Space for your reading pleasure. Always remember, thoughts are things! ***

custom-book-cover-lillian-new-small-fileLillian Nader
Yorba Linda, California

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Author Interview: Tabitha Lord

Author Tabitha Lord is a woman who wears many hats.   Not only is she a science fiction author, but she is also a senior editor for Book Club Babble and working on a non-fiction collection of stories connected with an awareness campaign for children with pediatric cancer.  I am honored to feature her here on No Wasted Ink.

author-tabitha-lordHi Wendy! Thank you so much for having me on No Wasted Ink! Let me take a moment to introduce myself. I currently live in Rhode Island, a few towns away from where I grew up. I’m married, have four great kids, two spoiled cats, and lovable lab mix. My degree is in Classics from College of the Holy Cross, and I taught Latin for years at the Meadowbrook Waldorf School. Yes, I’m a dinosaur! I also worked in the admissions office there for over a decade before turning my attention to full-time writing. It’s worth noting that I didn’t publish my first novel until after I turned forty, so for anyone thinking of a career change, it’s never too late!

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I loved to write stories as a child. In fact, when I was sorting through some of my grandma’s things after she passed, I came across a whole collection of poetry and stories I’d written. It was very sweet. In my professional life I’ve written some ad copy, blog posts, and done some editing for school publications, but I had very little time or energy for creative writing.

When my children got older and the dynamics of my family shifted, I began to consider changing careers. While I pondered what was next for me professionally I took on a yearlong writing project at work thinking it would give me the change of pace I needed. Turns out it was one of the most satisfying things I’d ever done in my career. Since I was in the habit of writing every day for work, I challenged myself to write creatively every day as well. Lo and behold, when the report was finished a year later, so was my first manuscript.

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

I’ve been asked to describe my book in ten words. Here’s what I came up with: Science fiction meets romance meets survival fiction meets military thriller!

What inspired you to write this book?

Thoughts for my stories come to me in different ways. Sometimes it’s a character that appears in my head, fully formed – personality, career, physical appearance, and name – ready for me to create a story around. Other times, there’s an interesting scene that builds up in my imagination over time. Or sometimes there’s a theme or idea I want to explore.

With Horizon, I had two distinct parts of a story floating in my head. The first was the opening crash sequence. It was more basic at the time of its inception – just a pilot who crash lands on a planet, and a young woman, in some kind of trouble, who saves his life.

The second part was more complex. I was playing with the idea of what would happen if one segment of an already small isolated population evolved differently, either naturally or by design, from the other. What if some had gifts that enabled them to imagine a different kind of future for themselves and their world? What if they were empathic and could sense each other’s emotions and thoughts? What if some of them could heal with their mind? How would the unchanged people feel about their neighbors? It created such an interesting premise I knew I had to find a way to make it into a story.

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

There’s a big chunk of survival fiction in the first part of Horizon. Caeli is living alone in the wilderness, fending for herself, and living off the land. I grew up in a rural neighborhood until I was twelve years old and spent most of my playtime outdoors, in the woods, exploring and climbing trees. I distinctly remember the smell of pine, the quiet in the forest after the first snow, the taste of wild blueberries. I tried to call on my own childhood memories to give Caeli’s experience authenticity. And as an adult, I’ve had a few adventures that influenced this particular aspect of the story! Over the years, I’ve accompanied students on several class trips. We’ve hiked the rain forests in Costa Rica, paddled dozens of nautical miles in the open ocean off the coast of Maine, and camped in the mountains of West Virginia. I have actually tended a cooking fire, carved utensils, found edible plants, bathed in the ocean, and slept outdoors.

I’m also a medical school dropout! But my experience in medical school, and for years as an EMT, I think gives Caeli some authority as a healer. And when I wasn’t sure about a particular treatment, I’d call my brother-in-law, who did finish medical school and is a practicing physician!

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

This is a tough one. I love genre fiction and my shelves are filled with everything from horror, to military thrillers, to historical romance. I also appreciate good literary fiction with characters I remember long after I turn the last page. I just enjoy a good story, no matter the genre or style!

Some of my all-time favorites include The Stand by Stephen King. To me this is the ultimate apocalypse story, full of disquieting horror. Harry Potter is at the top of the list. Such incredible world building and rich characters! Outlander is fabulous. Diana Gabaldon’s dialogue is beautiful, and the relationship between Jamie and Claire is so complex and lovely. Recently I read, and loved, The Goldfinch. Literary fiction at its best! The Snow Child also really stayed with me after I finished reading. As I write this, I am staring at my library shelves and thinking, how can I leave off Barbara Kingsolver or Isabel Allende! Or my favorite Steinbeck novel East of Eden! I learn something different from each of these writers, but mostly I’m just incredibly grateful for the pleasure of reading their work. If someone asks me this question next week, I’ll probably have an entirely different list.

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

The immensely talented Steven Meyer-Rassow did both the cover art and interior design for Horizon. I wanted to collaborate with someone whose style and artistry resonated with my own. Every single image of Steven’s that I could find was stunning, and when we discussed my project, I knew he really understood my vision. One of the things we talked about initially was the fact that Horizon would be a trilogy, and we’d like to “brand” the series somehow. So in addition to amazing cover artwork, Steve created a title treatment that will carry through and give all the future Horizon books a cohesive look.

Another thing we discussed was that while Horizon firmly belongs on the shelf with other sci-fi novels, it definitely crosses genres. The cover, therefore, needed to have wide appeal. It needed to be intriguing and eye-catching enough for non-sci-fi readers to pick it up, yet stylistically still fit in with its main genre.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Oh, for sure! First, finish something. A bad draft is better than no draft. Second, keep writing even when you feel stuck. Good habits will help you work through the blocks. But if I had to pick the most important thing for new writers it would be this: a first draft is nowhere near the finished product. This was shocking to me as a first-time novelist – although it shouldn’t have been! I knew edits were going to happen, but I had no idea how much work they would be. If I had to estimate, I would say that writing the first draft was only about one-third of the work. Editing and working through the business side of publishing made up the other two-thirds. What’s fun though, or at least what’s satisfying about the post-first-draft phase, is transforming the story from a rambling, exhaustive, stream of consciousness manuscript, to a work that has structure, flow, and even some artistry. I’ve learned so much about the craft of writing through editing.

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

The most important thing for me, as a writer, is to tell a good story. I write because I have to get these stories out of my head and onto the paper, but I also write for my readers and fans. I hope people fall in love with my characters and lose themselves in the plot. I hope they’re transported to different worlds. I hope they open my book and time flies away. This is what I want when I read, and I hope I can provide that experience for my fans!

horizon_cover_03_bTabitha Lord
North Kingstown, RI

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Cover Artist: Steven Meyer-Rassow
Publisher: Wise Ink

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Author Interview: David J. Pedersen

The goal of Author David J. Pedersen is escapism. He writes to entertain, and while there is often a lot going on in his stories, he works hard to make his books easy to read.  Please welcome him here on No Wasted Ink.

author-david-j-pedersenHi, I’m David J. Pedersen. I’ve been married for 23 years with a daughter in college and a son in law school. (I believe that means I’m old now.) I’m a technical consultant by trade. When I’m not working or with my family, I enjoy spending time with friends, video games, comic books, movies, all types of music, avoiding yardwork, bourbon, flirting, and going to Science Fiction/Fantasy/Comic Book Conventions. In between the cracks, I write books.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always enjoyed making people laugh, and entertaining in general. I discovered the best way to do this, and express myself, is through writing. I began writing stories in grade school and started sharing them with friends in high school. I never submitted anything for publication simply because I had a lot to learn about writing. Now that I know everything about writing, I’m a lot more confident (and I’m totally kidding. I’m more confident, but still have a lot to learn.) It took me about 40 years before I could calm my brain down enough to complete something worth sharing. Fortunately, the second book didn’t take as long.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

My first novel, Angst, was a lifetime goal that I could have easily walked away from and said, “did it!”. Finishing the second book “Buried in Angst” was reaffirming, that I had it in me to keep going. But it wasn’t until readers finished the second book and asked for more, that I felt like a writer.

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

Angst is the first in a series of five novels, and I’m close to completing book four, “Burning with Angst.” The protagonist, Angst, is 40 and going through a midlife crisis. His marriage is rocky, his friends don’t have time for him, and he hates his job filing papers since he always wanted to be a hero. Angst can also wield magic, which is mostly illegal. When it is discovered that magic is the only thing that can stop monsters that have suddenly appeared, Angst is given his chance to be a hero. It’s a “be careful what you wish for” story as he drags his reluctant friends on an adventure to discover where the monsters are coming from.

What inspired you to write this book?

A lot of books I read growing up were coming of age hero stories, and I loved them. Young people with great power and potential but no direction who meet a wise person that sends them on a path to becoming a hero. In reality, not everyone gets that life or gets to do what they want for a living. I mean, really, what about the people who wanted to be that hero but never got the chance? What if someone wanted to be a stay at home dad instead of a salesman? Or an amazing pianist that just didn’t get a break? I relate to this, but I also realize that getting what you want always comes at a price. Angst is that guy, the one who got passed up. I think it’s a fun spin on an old story, and having an older hero introduces a new set of challenges.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’ve known from the start of my first novel how each in the series would begin and end. When I begin a new novel, I also have in mind the major plot points throughout the novel, as well as an overall goal. I then write freestyle until roughly halfway through at which point I’ll outline for pacing.

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

Not only does the title reflect the sense of frustration the protagonist faces with his life, Angst is also the name of the hero.

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

It’s a little corny…okay, it’s really corny, but nothing should get in the way of your dreams. Not age or weight or height or race or social status. But, dreams rarely come true without a lot of work and sacrifice. A lot! It doesn’t always turn out the way you expect, but the hard work and sacrifice are part of what makes it worth the effort.

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

My wife claims the book series is an autobiography. I disagree since I don’t have a giant, magical sword. That said, my novels strongly reflect me. A friend from high school told me that reading the first book was like spending an evening talking to me. There are also things that happen in the books that I’ve pulled from my life. A great example is Scar, the black lab puppy in Angst. Our lab had cancer surgery and has a long scar along her ribs.

What authors have most influenced your life?

I grew up reading David Eddings and Piers Anthony, and later in life enjoyed reading a lot of Asimov and some Tom Wolfe.

What about them do you find inspiring?

Eddings and Anthony provided great escapism; the stories were fun and I loved the characters so much I missed them when I was done with the books. Asimov wrote great stories, and I’ve always been blown away by how prolific he was. Wolfe writes outside of my favorite genres, but I love his wordplay.

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

There aren’t any writers who make me say, “I want to write like that person!” I admire the sheer volume of books Asimov wrote. I love pretty much all of the characters in Rowling’s Harry Potter books, and the world she created. I would love to be as descriptive as Robin Hobb; I think she nails it. But, anytime I start comparing myself to others, I stop. All writers have their own voice, and if I have one goal, it’s to improve mine and make it stronger.

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

The cover has gone through several iterations, and this one is relatively new. For reasons, I had a different artist for each book in the series, and my favorite book cover is my third novel, “Drowning in Angst.” It kind of has a Harry Potter / Tim Burton thing going on, and I’ve had people buy the other books because of that cover. Because I like the artist’s work so much, and for consistency, he will do the cover art for as long as he can stand me. I think it’s a small miracle what he is able to accomplish based on the crappy sketches I send him.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Try to write every day, even if it’s only 300 words at a time because it all adds up. It also helps to exercise the writing part of your brain to keep it spry. When you get stuck, or frustrated, share your work. Share with people who are both supportive, but can offer constructive criticism. When you’re done with your manuscript and are sure it’s perfect, go find an editor. If it’s your first book, I highly recommend developmental editing to identify story inconsistencies, plot holes, or messy writing that you may not recognize and your alpha team of readers may forgive.

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

There are a lot of great writers, both traditionally published and indie. The best way to support them, beyond buying their books, is to tell others about their stories. My favorite authors have come from recommendations. Whether you tell a friend or post a review, it will keep the writer writing!
angst-bookcoverDavid J. Pedersen
Lee’s Summit, MO

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Cover Artist: Alessandro Brunelli

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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