Welcome to the second edition of Sourcerer’s Eleven! Luther Siler here; I was the beneficiary of the first installment, where our esteemed host Gene’O Gordon interviewed me about my novel The Sanctum of the Sphere. That means it’s time for me to play interviewer for the second round, and my designated victim is Melissa Barker-Simpson, author of the recently released novella The Contract, which forms part of a double-book anthology called Changing Worlds. Changing Worlds also features the novella Saunders’ Choice by Gina Briganti. The Contract is a prequel to Melissa’s forthcoming Fractured series, currently scheduled to launch in July.
Note that from here on out Luther’s questions (I swear, there are eleven of them, if you know which ones not to count) are in bold and Melissa’s responses are in regular text.
So. Melissa. Hi!
Hi, Luther. It’s great to be here. In the hotseat, as it were.
I get to ask you eleven questions for this thing, supposedly. Do you think Gene’O’s counting? Is that a question already? Wait, crap, is this three?
It doesn’t count if I don’t answer…damn it, I just answered. Let’s continue and hope nobody notices.
We’ll start with the basics, actually: What is the first thing everyone should know about The Contract?
It’s a great read. That’s always a good place to start! But now I have my high school teacher in my head, and I’m supposed to explain that point, back it up with evidence and develop it further. So, I think readers will be entertained by the fantasy element; the mythical creatures, the adventure, and the light humour. I’m sure I’ll be elaborating on that point during the rest of the interview, and I’ll try my best to throw in a few facts to back me up!
Actually, the rest of the interview is about me. I hope that’s okay. How awesome am I?
Without wanting to pull a Robert Downey Jr. and take a walk, I’m not sure that’s how this interview thing is supposed to work! But at least you didn’t start asking questions about my sordid past. I’ll give you points for that!
Hm. Now I’m tempted.
That would be an entirely different interview! Plus, my story isn’t nearly as interesting. I have zero chance of becoming a superhero. The best I can do is create one.
Which actually leads pretty nicely into my next question: Was there a specific inspiration for the setting and the magic system in The Contract? Without spoiling anything, I found it rather fascinating.
It’s no secret I have a passion for Greek mythology, so much of my inspiration comes from the gods and goddesses of Olympus. My stories are character driven and so, when Maddison introduced herself, it was fun to discover she could channel power into certain objects. She can also funnel magic through her hair. I guess Rapunzel could be classed as my inspiration for that, though I’m sure the Disney Princess would never use her locks as a weapon!
“Fun to discover” is an interesting way to phrase that. I take it that elements of the character’s creation took you by surprise? (I love it when that happens!)
Absolutely! I love it too. I distinctly remember placing Maddison in a cell, which was not entirely my fault – she has a tendency to get herself into trouble. I knew that about her at least. I had a strong sense of her environment, but I had absolutely no idea the chains which bound her were no ordinary chains. I think I was as surprised as she when Donovan appeared! Delighted, obviously. He intrigues me. It’s one of the many things I love about writing, how the world starts to develop around my characters. They take me on quite the journey!
I’m guessing you’re not the most intricate planner in the world, then. (Note that I’m not either. I wrote 100 pages after a plot revelation in one book before I figured out what was going on.) Do your stories tend to develop organically or do you try and go in with a plan? How much of the world of The Contract is thought out already?
I can relate to that experience. There are times I sit back and think, ‘Ah. Now it makes sense!’ My stories definitely develop organically. I might write a loose plan before I begin, but most of the time I plant a seed and watch it grow. As long as the foundations are in place, I can take the story apart and move things around until I’m happy with the end result (I can almost hear the architects grown at that!). The Contract was slightly different because I already had the world mapped out in my head. It even made it to paper, which is a rare thing. I still learnt a great deal as the story began to take shape, and changed certain elements which I invariably got wrong.
How much more is planned in the Fractured series? Is there a trilogy coming?
I haven’t decided on the exact number, but I’m planning at least three. The first book, The Fallen, will be released in July of this year, and I’m currently working on an off shoot of the Fractured series. I’m dipping my toes, or more accurately my pen, into the world of serialised fiction. The first season will be released next year, and is entitled The Collective.
Season? Tell me more.
I’ve always found serialised fiction fun; the thought of writing episodes similar to a television show. Some writers choose to concentrate on a different story for each episode, with an overarching theme. While for others, the serial is a story told in several parts; released as novellas until they make up the whole. The Collective will be more like the former; an extended theme, with a complete story in each episode. It will focus on the Demonic War and a team who come together to put an end to the battle. You can expect to see Warrior angels, vampires, werewolves, elves, sirens, and a guest appearance by a certain witch! I plan to release six episodes in the first season, which will be released once a month, beginning in January 2016.
That’s a fascinating idea. I know that’s not a question, but still.
I’ve been interested in serials for some time, but never took the leap. I enjoy reading them. I especially like Yesterday’s Gone by Sean Platt and David Wright. Actually, you might enjoy it. It’s a post-apocalyptic science fiction series. I’m also interested in the choose your own adventure style game books, so one day I might venture into that area. Perhaps as a blogging venture, rather than published works.
While we’re doing this, I should ask you about previous work. You have several books currently available. Want to share anything about them?
I have a few other series. I guess you could say I get attached to my characters and can’t let go! The Morgan and Fairchild series is my favourite. It follows a team of close protection officers, and is heavily influenced by my brother. He’s in the forces, so his tales of the close camaraderie in his own unit is reflected within the team. I’ll be releasing the third book (Brothers in Arms) later this year. The other main series is my first jaunt into Science Fiction and I wrote it to honour my father. I never intended the Fifth Watcher to be part of a series, but once the alternate realities began to take shape, I couldn’t resist travelling there again. The series is titled Worlds Apart. I’m hoping to publish the second novel next year.
Let’s shift gears a bit. You’re an independent author. Does your status as an indie inform how you approach your work at all? If I showed up tomorrow and offered you a traditional publishing contract, would you jump at it?
I enjoy the control it affords me. I prefer to work for myself, which is why I’m a self-employed sign language interpreter. If you offered me a traditional publishing contract, I would welcome a discussion, but I wouldn’t compromise when it comes to my characters. I suppose it would depend on the deal.
Any brilliant ideas about marketing or promotion to share? Or even stuff that you’ve tried and hasn’t worked out for you?
It’s always a tough call, especially when there are so many novels out there and you don’t want to constantly shove yours down a reader’s throat! I’ve found blog tours to be useful, meeting readers and chatting with them. That’s always a bonus. A newsletter is a good thing to have, especially if you add exclusive content and special offers. It takes the pressure off, because subscribers are actually interested. They want to help celebrate new releases and support in other ways, whether that’s through social media or word of mouth. Speaking of which, I’ve found networking to be the most beneficial. Meeting people in writing groups, or talking to interested readers. But in truth, marketing is not a skill that comes naturally to me. I often forget to promote because I’m too busy writing, or blogging. I miss quite a few opportunities that way, I think. It’s a work in progress!
You have a presence on at least two blogs between your own and Sourcerer. What other social media do you use? Do you consider yourself a big social media person?
Not at all! If I’m honest, Gene’o has taught me everything I know about social media because I’m terrible at keeping up with Facebook or Twitter, or any of the other social platforms. I like contributing for Sourcerer and at other blogs I enjoy for purely selfish reasons. I get to write in a different context, can feed my inner geek and it gives me a sense of freedom.
And, finally, the big 11th question: If you could own one (and only one) piece out-of-this world technology or magical artifact, large or small – anything from the simplest magic wand to a Death Star — what would it be?
The Mjölnir – Thor’s hammer. Though I doubt I’m worthy!
And that’s it. We made it to the end! Thanks for the interview, Luther.
Anytime! You’re up for the next interview, though– start thinking up questions now!
Melissa blogs at mbarkersimpson.wordpress.com in addition to Sourcerer. She can also be found on Twitter at @mbarkersimpson and on Facebook here.