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2 February 2012

Melissa Douthit with an interview and giveway


Yesterday I posted my review of Melissa Douthit's wonderful Y A Fantasy Novel, The Firelight of Maalda, the second in her trilogy.  Today it is my great pleasure to here here in person.

Good morning Melissa, please make yourself comfortable and feel free to ask the dispenser-bot to serve you with your favourite snack and  beverage.

The first question I have for you is one I'm sure a lot of readers are curious about, and that is:

What is the earliest story you can remember writing?

I remember writing a story for my 6th grade class about my friend, Jenny, and me when we went for a trail ride on our ranch.  This was back in the day when my family bought and sold horses.  I rode my horse and Jenny rode our pony, Sammy.  Sammy was infamous for throwing off every rider who ever attempted to ride him but Jenny insisted that she knew what she was doing and that it wouldn’t happen to her.  Well ... guess what.  It did.  The story was so hilarious, I wrote it down for my whole class to hear that day my teacher asked me to read it out loud.  Even Jenny laughed during the reading.  I still remember it to this day.

LOL, I seem to remember having a few friends like that myself.  One shouldn't really laugh I suppose, but it's quite funny when someone who thnks they can 'ride anything' ends up biting the dust - as long as it's only their pride that's hurt anyway.  So, getting back to 'The Firelight of Maalda', where did the idea for this book come from?

 A  short prequel to The RaieChaelia
The background theme of the book came from my professional experience, first working at Lawrence Livermore National Lab, which is a nuclear weapons lab, and then working at the Naval Postgraduate School, where I worked down in the basement in a vault, sifting through and analyzing secret data.  It had HUGE influence on this trilogy.

The story of Chalice and Jeremiah - part of it came from the experience of my own life and my own relationships and part of the story, the plot itself, just came really out of nowhere.  I knew I wanted to write about a strong heroine and I also wanted to write a trilogy, so one day, I sat down and started writing notes of different ideas.  The notes eventually became an outline and then the outline eventually became book one, and so on. 

Wow, what a fascinating work history you have, and having read 'Firelight'  I see what you mean about it being an influence on your trilogy. How long did it take to write?

The first book took a few months once I started really writing it.  I wrote a couple chapters in 2007 and then stopped and didn’t start up again until 2010.  The time in between was a time in my life that was too busy for writing.  The second book took about six months.  Much of the time was taken up with “pre-writing.”  Pre-writing is when an author blankly stares out into space, thinking of possible ideas and scenes that will go into the book.  This happens to me all the time, which is why I either keep my computer with me or a pen and pad of paper.
Short prequel #2

*Grin*, yes I know what you mean about 'pre-writing'! 
Did you always intend for the story that started with The Raie Chaelia to become a series?

Yes, I knew from the beginning that this was going to be a trilogy.  It will become very obvious when the third book is written and the readers see how everything in book one and book two is tied together with book three.  I would have made the whole trilogy into one book if I could, but I am not like Brandon Sanderson and I can’t get away with writing a thousand page book.  =o)

LOL, and there are two prequels as well, although admittedly they're quite short.  So did you plan the book out, if so did you get led to other locations while writing, different characters coming along, different slants to the story etc.?

Definitely!  As Dave Farland says: “The story grows in the telling.”  I had a rough outline of the story but the details still needed to be worked out.  Magda was a character that just popped into my head at the last moment.  So was Thaene.

And they're both great characters,  and fit into the plot perfectly. How long, on average, did it take to write this book compared with the others in the series?

I felt like this one was faster.  I knew exactly what I wanted to write, it was just a matter of finding time to do it with a full time job, a house, a dog, and kids to take care of at home.  =o)

Gosh, yes, you certainly do have your hands full. Do you have a favorite character from your books? And if so, why do you like them above all the others?

Bunejab is my favorite character.  He is the Chinuk, which is a small furry creature that befriends the main characters in the story.  I love Buney for so many reasons but the most important is his loyalty to his friends and to his mission that was passed down to him by his father from his grandfather and great-grandfather.

Oh yes, he's a cutie isn't he, and I love that he's such a clever little fellow as well.  Looking at the ships chronograph, I see we're nearly at the end of this interview, can't believe how quickly time flies.  One thing I always ask my guests though is - do you have any advice for new writers?

Don’t try to write to the market.  Write what you love and you will be much happier ... and it will show in your writing.  Also, when you decide to publish, know that there are many choices out there now for writers.  You can try to break into the traditional publishing world (large press or small press), which right now is very hard.  Or you can go indie - publishing on your own.  Research both avenues and decide which is best for you.

The first book in the trilogy
Very sound advice, Melissa, you're so right about the choices available to writes today, and I do agree about writing what you love.  The great SF writer Anne McCaffrey said just that when I contacted  her and told her I wanted to write, myself.

One last question, just for fun. If you could be any of the animals featured in your book, which one would it be?

I would be a Naezzi.  I would love to be able to breathe fire and fly through the skies with ease.  Yes!  Definitely a Naezzi!  =o)

Oh yes, wouldn't that be incredible - and riding one would be almost as good.  Well, that's the end of the interview, thanks so much for being my guest today and for sharing your books with us. Let's finish with a short excerpt from 'The Firelight of Maalda'.

The Second book in the trilogy
   The statue began to move.  Radiating a myriad of colors, its outer shell rippled like the surface of a dark pond disturbed by a strong wind.  It was slow at first and then faster and faster until the statue was no longer a statue but a living, fire-breathing creature that rose slowly from the ground and towered over her menacingly.  Its fiery eyes threatened her and it’s breath created a fierce, blistering gale as flames shot from its snout.  It stood almost as high as the outer wall of the fortress and gleamed in its own firelight, it’s dark, smooth, obsidian skin reflecting a pale cast over everything near it.  It had a long neck and body with strong, bulging legs and arms ending in black, razor-sharp claws that could cut through anything.  Sharply pointed horns protruded from its forehead, snout, and tail as well as decorating the ridge line of its back.  It had two sets of wings that stretched so far out that its wingspan blocked much of the night sky above her.  Opening its mouth in a savage snarl, it positioned itself to strike.

And don't forget to answer Melissa's question at the end of this post,  for a chance to win her fantastic prize!
Check out the blog tour schedule and find more reviews, interviews HERE

Melissa Douthit grew up in North County of San Diego, California. After graduating with a Computer Science degree in Southern California, and working for a summer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in New Mexico, she moved to the Bay Area to work at NASA Ames Research Center for a year and then at Lawrence Livermore National Lab for another four years. From there, she moved to Monterey, California, to work at the Naval Postgraduate School on a government project for two years. She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, working with the Army Corps of Engineers on another government project. Since high school, she has been a voracious reader of books of all genres, with an emphasis in fantasy and science fiction. Her literary work is strongly influenced by her professional experience and includes many elements of her scientific background. 


Leave a comment to be entered in the draw to win a free download of Melissa's book - Contest ends 8th February,2012 

Enter a drawing and win a free-E-reader of your choice or a $100 gift certificate to your favorite store by answering the following question:

What animal in The Firelight of Maalda would Melissa like to be?
To answer the question go to this link and fill in the information (place answer in Message field):
Contest ends March 10, 2012.  Winner will be announced March 11th on Melissa Douthit's Blog.

*Please contact Melissa if you have further questions on her giveaway*