Today I'm welcoming author E J Mellow to the blog, to tell us about her book, The Dreamer, and exactly how it came to be.
Welcome to the blog. Tell us a bit about The Dreamer. What inspired you to write it?
The kind of crazy thing is that idea for The Dreamer actually started as a dream. I’ve always had very vivid ones and have been fascinated with the things our minds can create when we’re supposedly resting. I even keep a dream diary, though my notes come out mostly illegible from my brain still being half asleep when I jot them down. But yes, I had a dream that lasted a whole week. With the same characters and the same plot continuing on each night. It was crazy! It felt like I was going to sleep and clicking on a TV show. There also just so happened to be this guy…who might have been very good looking…Okay, okay he was extremely good looking. ;)
Anyway, a couple days into the dreams, I found myself waking up and actually feeling sad that I wasn’t still there (you’ve read The Dreamer, you can probably see a connection here). The dreams eventually stopped, but the idea of them stayed with me for a while, and I ended up telling a friend. During that conversation is where the genesis for my series came about. Also, the more I researched about sleeping and dreams, the more I became semi-obsessed with the idea that this other side of ourselves, which spends almost half of our lives asleep, has to be living some form of life as well—we’re conscious of it or not.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Having a full-time job while writing my first book was a pretty big obstacle. Trying to find the motivation and inspiration to write after hours, usually long into the night and on the weekends, was an interesting learning curve. But it made me realize just how passionate I was about my story and seeing it through. There’s also a quote from author Julie Kagawa that I came across during this process that really helped me, and I still cling to it whenever I feel the defeat monster creeping over my shoulder. She wrote this in one of her acknowledgment sections—“The ones who made it are the ones who never gave up.” It’s beautiful and very true.
What’s your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m definitely a plotter, though my book outlines are nothing any editors would ever want to lay their eyes on (I try and shield mine from this). They are a complete mess! Ha-ha. Very curt sentences and one-word descriptors to explain a scene moving forward. But even with creating detailed chapter outlines, I do tend to deviate, my characters wanting to go where I didn’t originally plan. But I tend to think that’s the fun part of writing fiction, when your story takes on a life of its own.
Give us an insight into your main character.
This might seem like the opposite of what a protagonist is supposed to be, but I really wanted to start off writing a main character that was a bit…normal. Normal in the sense that she wasn’t already a kick-*ss heroine. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE me some tough chicas, but I wanted to tap into a person that feels very human and unassuming, at least in the beginning. Someone who won’t only ask herself how in the double-H-hockey-sticks she’ll be able to rise to this challenge, but so will the reader. Molly is someone who will grow tremendously in this trilogy, ending far from where she started out as a character, and my hope is that readers will take a similar journey with her. As for what she does, that is so special, there is definitely something, but you will just have to read to find out! ;-)
What are you working on now?
I’m finishing up writing the second book in my NA contemporary fantasy The Dreamland Series, which is set to come out later this fall.
What book are you reading now?
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. They are actually affecting me getting any personal writing done at the moment. So I better hurry up and finish them all so I can get back to work.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I’m sure other guest authors have said this many, many time before, but since it’s something I really believe in and find invaluable, I’ll say it again—read everything! Read your genre, read books you never thought you would, read comics and articles. Read, read, read. And when you’re taking a break from that, write. And finish what you write. I was told these two things countless times from all sorts of wonderful authors, but not until I actually listened did I understand why they kept preaching. I get inspiration from and learn so much from a variety of genres, plot elements, or character attributes that I would never have thought of exploring before.
The last piece of advice I’ll give is to try and surround yourself with other supportive writers. I truly have no idea how I’d stay sane without my fellow peers to commiserate with and be inspired by.
Do you ever experience writer's block?
Oh man, I’d love to meet the writer who doesn’t have this issue. I’d be tempted to Hannibal Lecter his or her brain in the hopes of retaining some of that magic!
My writer’s block isn’t so much that I don’t know what to write (since I outline my stories), but more that it will take me hours to get into the mood. When this happens, I often reread a lot of what I’ve already written to try and jump-start my gears again. Thankfully, after three or four (twelve) times, it usually works. ;-)
What is the hardest thing about writing?
My answer to this could go in a lot of different directions, but I think one difficultly about writing, specifically novels, is how solitary it is. You spend so much time in your own head and with your characters that when you step back, it’s hard to sometimes gauge the work. It’s also almost impossible to get anyone’s “quick” opinion on a book. That’s why in the early stages of developing new ideas, it’s really important to have the right team and trusted people around to bounce thoughts off of.
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
As someone who has her degree in advertising and design, I’ll have to say absolutely. I know none of us want to admit that we have superficial sides, but there’s a reason why focus groups test different product designs, because we have opinions and reactions to the way things look. Shapes, colors, fonts—these are all elements that can be used to evoke different moods and styles. It’s the same with how we dress appropriately for job interviews—we’re trying to sell an idea, a persona. All of these ideas, 100 percent, apply to book covers and what gets picked up and what doesn’t. It’s super important and possibly as hard to get right as writing the book. Okay, maybe not as hard as that, but you get what I’m saying :)
Thanks for stopping by. I've loved hearing about your writing process, and I'm really looking forward to reading The Dreamer.
Thank you so much for having me here today, Karen! It’s been a real honor and so much fun answering these questions!
E.J. Mellow is the author behind the NA Contemporary Fantasy trilogy The Dreamland Series. When she's not busy moonlighting in the realm of make-believe, she can be found doodling, buried in a book, or playing video games.
Residing in Brooklyn, NY she is a member of Romance Writers of America and their Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Chapter.
Keep in touch with E J Mellow over at her website, EJMellow.com, or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or Instagram.
Buy the book on Amazon, iBooks, Nook or Kobo.
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