Q & A with Melanie Fletcher

This author jumped out at me on Twitter and totally made me smile. I present the wonderful Melanie Fletcher as my third “victim” 🙂

Melanie Fletcher

What would your bio say?

Melanie Fletcher is an expatriate Chicagoan who currently lives in North Dallas with her husband the Bodacious Brit™ and their four fabulous furbags JJ, Jordan, Jessica, and Jeremy (yes, they were following a theme, moving along now). When not herding cats, she turns into SF Writer Girl, and has the SFWA membership card to prove it. Her fiction can be found in a variety of anthologies and online zines, and RANDOM REALITIES, a collection of her short fiction spanning her career, was published as an e-book earlier this year.

But wait — she doesn’t just write specfic. She also designs soft toys and jewelry, works as a web designer and graphic artist, and produces the comedy podcast Don’t Quit Your Day Job: The Podcast (www.dqydjpodcast.com) with Jerry J. Davis, Patrick Gaik and Stacy the News Girl. When she refers to herself as a Renaissance Broad, she’s not kidding.

When did you start writing and why?

My sister and father are both very articulate, witty storytellers and raconteurs. Unfortunately, I didn’t inherit their verbal facility (I think there’s a short between my speech center and the rest of my forebrain), but I did get the same drive to tell stories. When I was a kid, I discovered that I really enjoyed writing my stories down and foisting them on my long-suffering and infinitely patient family. Later, I found out that if you were good enough, you could actually get paid for writing. Apparently I was good enough; I’ve been putting “writer” on my tax forms ever since.

If you are a parent how does being a parent affect your writing and writing habits? Or does it?

I’m not a parent, but I do have four cats, so I’ve learned how to write while holding a large furry lump on my lap, mentally hold my spot while I get up to let someone in/out the back door, and split my attention between writing an action scene and petting the Cat of Little Brain, otherwise he drools on me. Because cat drool? Not fun.

Who is your favorite author and why?

I honestly don’t have a favorite — I like different authors for different reasons. Kage Baker, because she tells some of the best damn time travel stories I’ve ever read, Terry Pratchett because he can make Coke Zero come out of my nose and knock me on my ass from sheer awe (often with the same book), Robert Heinlein and Madeleine L’Engle because HAVE SPACESUIT, WILL TRAVEL and A WRINKLE IN TIME were my joint gateway drug to science fiction, Tymber Dalton because she writes erotica that can make me cry, and Mark Gatiss because his Lucifer Box novels and his work on DOCTOR WHO and SHERLOCK are funny, breathtaking, and insanely good — I want to adopt him as my slightly younger twin brother.

What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

To tell a ripping good yarn and keep people entertained. If I can make them think, so much the better. It would be lovely to say that I want to enlighten the populace and blaze an immortal trail in literature, but then I remember I’m talking about me, and laugh and grab another mojito.

Traditional or Self publishing? Why?

Depends on what you want to do. Traditional publishing is a great way to get exposure for your work, establish a reputation as a writer, and earn money. Problem is, it’s not just a matter of turning in a great manuscript and waiting for the money to roll in — to be successful these days, you have to be able to promote yourself, which means learning how to write a decent press release, developing contacts with book bloggers (ahem), bookstores, and other places where fine literature is available, and connecting with readers and potential readers on Facebook/Twitter/G+/Tumblr/et al.

Self-publishing is a great way to get something that isn’t easily marketable out where interested people can buy it. You can maintain power over the direction of your work, and have fun if, like me, you’re also a graphic artist with control issues and want to design a book right down to the imprint on the spine. That being said, it’s riskier, reputation-wise, because some people still look down on self-pubbing, and unless you’re slightly OCD or have a superb editor as a best friend/spouse you’re in danger of putting out stuff that isn’t quite as ready for prime time as it could be. But if you’ve got that editor in your corner, manage to put together an attractive package that catches the eye of impulse buyers, and can work social media like a seasoned doxy on the Tortuga wharves, you can make some serious money with self-pubbing, as well.

*pause*

I just called myself a whore, didn’t I?

Talk about your journey into the wide world of publishing

According to commonly held publishing wisdom, my first professional sale should never have occurred. Back in the olden days of the Internet, when USENET was still alive and kicking, I wrote a rather darkly erotic cyberpunk story called “Star Quality” and posted it on alt.cyberpunk.chatsubo, the newsgroup for cyberpunk fiction. Cecilia Tan, the owner of Circlet Press, saw it and emailed me with a request to turn it into a novella. After I picked my jaw off the floor, I did my best to stretch out the story, but there just wasn’t enough material to do it. I confessed this to her, and she said, “Never mind — I’ll buy it as-is for the antho SELLING VENUS.”

Et voila, I earned my first professional credit and my associate membership in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Since then, I’ve sold stories to a wide variety of markets, dealt with scam publishers (remember: money flows TO the writer), was the web designer, critic and pinch-hit editor for the Hugo-nominated specfic zine Helix, met some amazing writers, editors, readers, artists, and friends at a whole bunch of science fiction cons, and have generally had a cracking good time. Writing isn’t for everyone — you do spend a lot of time alone in a small room with the voices in your head. But if you can make it work for you, it’s glorious.

Tell us about your book (s)

Right now, the only book I have out is RANDOM REALITIES, which is a collection of ten short stories spanning my writing career. It includes my first professional sale and a selection of my SF, fantasy, horror, and humor stories, as well as two pieces (“The Quiet Sound of Bees” and “All on a Summer’s Day”) that have never been published before. I do have a novella, SABRE DANCE, that comprises half of Yard Dog Press’s Double Dog #4 (http://www.yarddogpress.com/books/DoubleDog4.html), a modern update of the old Ace Doubles. I share the book with Laura J. Underwood’s brilliant fantasy adventure THE LUNARI MASK — my novella is best described as “The Arabian Nights meet the Three Musketeers,” and hers is “Granny Weatherwax meets the Pirates of the Carribean.”

I’m currently editing my third novel (you don’t want to read the first one, and the second one needs serious overhauling). It’s an alternate history mystery titled A MOST MALICIOUS MURDER, inspired by Jeffrey Combs’ one-man play NEVERMORE. In MMM, Edgar Allan Poe, having survived an attempt on his life in 1849, is happily married to his childhood sweetheart and on a book tour in Oxford. When he gets drunk and finds himself suspected of murdering a hotel chambermaid, he must team up with a shy, stammering undergraduate named Charles Dodgson and find the real murderer before he strikes again.  Yes, it’s Edgar Allan Poe and Lewis Carroll — they fight crime! And because this one is going to be damned difficult to market, I may self-pub it under my Belaurient Press imprint.

What inspired you to write these books (or in this genre)?

I wrote MMM partially as a thank you to Messrs. Combs, Gordon and Paoli for their brilliant work on NEVERMORE, and partially as an exercise to bring two of the most unfairly slandered figures in English literature together and give them something interesting to do. Yes, Poe was a drunk who tended to shoot himself in the foot, but he didn’t take drugs, he didn’t randomly molest underage girls, and he really did have the worst luck. And Carroll was not a pedophile, no matter what pop psychologists say — I’ve read his journals, I’ve studied his life, and if people would bother to actually do their research (e.g. Carroll had nine sisters — of course he was good with little girls. He wasn’t afraid of adult women at all, as his friendships with Ellen Terry and E. Gertrude Thompson should indicate. And a number of Victorian photographers, male and female, took pictures of naked girls — it was considered to be indicative of the childrens’ innocence and the pictures were usually featured in their parents’ homes), I wouldn’t have to vent about this topic yet again in an interview that’s supposed to be about me.

As for why I write science fiction, it’s simple — on a really clear night, go find a field somewhere, out in the boonies where there’s very little light pollution. Lie down on your back, and look at the stars. When you do this, you realize that the universe is vast, and we’re just a little blue marble stuck out here on the outer arm of a minor spiral galaxy.

You also realize that somewhere up there, someone is looking back at you. Could be an alien, could be an angel, could be astronauts, you don’t know. But they’re up there, and they have a story. That’s why I write science fiction — to tell their stories.

Tell us why we should love or hate your main character?

Eddy is a weak man, yes, but he’s not a bad man, and Lord knows he’s had some of the absolute worst luck in the world. Now that he finally has the home and wife he’s always wanted, he screws up yet again when he loses his temper and falls off the wagon. But instead of giving up and diving into a bottle, he somehow digs down and finds the courage to face his own demons and take control of his life back from his “imp of the perverse.” In doing so, he finds a way to help a grief-stricken Dodgson deal with the loss of his beloved mother, and the two of them wind up battling a sadistic serial for the life of a young girl. What’s not to like?

Does your book have a soundtrack?

I listen to instrumental music constantly when I write — A MOST MALICIOUS MURDER was split pretty evenly between the soundtracks for PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN (particularly during one fight sequence — I love a good sword cane fight) and STAGE BEAUTY.

Thank you so much Melanie for spending some time making us laugh and giving an insight into your world!

You can find Melanie on Facebook and on her blog!
You can find her books;

Website & Blogsite : www.melaniefletcher.com

Links to where her book(s) are sold :

Amazon and  Barnes & Noble and Yard Dog Press

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