#SPFBO7 Interview – Melissa Stone

Melissa, welcome to Lavender Lass Books. Thank you for agreeing to this interview and best of luck in the competition!

Children of the Dragon is the first book in the Children of An’katerr series. Here’s the blurb:

Orphaned at a young age and taken in by Telvan’s most notorious bandit gang, Kinrou had no real expectations in life. He knew nothing of his past, nor did he care to. Then, one day, with the death of a Dragon Warrior, everything changed.

After a trip to Karath, the capital city of Telvan, he was told about a threat to the peace and that he had been hand picked by the Sky Lords themselves to stop it if only he could discover what this threat was in time.

And now to the interview:

1. Is this your first time entering #SPFBO? Why did you decide to enter this book?
Yes, this is my first time. I didn’t know it existed until a couple months ago. I stumbled on a youtube video that talked about it and while I was sad that I missed out on SPFBO6 (it was almost over at that point), I’m stoked to be able to enter this year. 

Children of the Dragon is the first novel I self-published and is one of two I have that fits the criteria.

2. Why do you write in the fantasy genre? What make this genre particularly appealing to you?
I write fantasy because I enjoy world building, thinking about places that aren’t here. Plus, fantasy has dragons. I love dragons. Fantasy relaxes me. It was my escape growing up, and that hasn’t changed.

There are so many possibilities with this genre and I can go anywhere, write anything.

The first fantasy books I remember reading when I was young (and still have some of my copies) are The Secret of the Unicorn Queen series. When I got older, I discovered the Dragonriders of Pern books. It was the first time I’d seen dragons as anything other than a monster to be defeated. It was revolutionary to me. If a monster could be a hero, what else could happen? That was when I started to take writing seriously.

3. Why did you decide to self-publish?
Honestly? I tried traditional publishing. I wasn’t getting anywhere, so I essentially went ‘to hell with it’ and took a flying leap. I didn’t regret it and I doubt I ever will.

4. Are there advantages to self-publishing? What about the challenges?
The first time I put a book up, it was the most nerve-wracking experience. As someone prone to panic attacks, it wasn’t good for me, mentally. Seeing my book up for sale was incredible.

So, it’s great to have this much control over everything you do with your book. On the down side, you have to deal with everything that goes into your book. That’s not saying that traditional authors don’t, but they deal with less of the process.

It’s weird, you know. Some parts of the process are super finicky, while others are easier. I’ve found this changes from one book to the next. Sometimes the cover art is easy, sometimes the formatting is a pain. The editing process either flows smoothly or makes me want to rip my hair out in frustration. Sure, you can pay people to do these things for you.

5. As a reader, and now author, how has the fantasy genre changed over the last several years? How has it stayed the same?
It could also just be in the books I’ve read, but authors don’t include maps as often as I’m used to seeing. When maps are included, they lack details. Sure, they’re nice to look at, but if you mention a location in your story, you bet I’m going to check the map to see if it’s there. I’m often disappointed in this. It’s one thing if you’re mentioning a faraway location that’s only named in passing, but if it’s a city or place the characters are in, yeah, it should be there.

Another thing I’ve noticed is a trend towards darker fantasy. Why does everything have to be so grim or dark?

It’s refreshing to see books with settings that aren’t carbon copies of medieval Europe.

6. Do you write (or plan to write) in any other genres?
In addition to my fantasy works, I have a series of urban fantasy YA novels. I label it as urban fantasy, but it’s an homage to the magical girl anime/manga genre. There isn’t a category for that on Amazon, so I’m stuck with UF.

I’m also working on a sci-fantasy series.

7. What do you look for in a story? Especially in the fantasy genre? (Original ideas, plot lines, character development, world building, etc.?)
I have a preference for character driven stories. I like complex worlds that feel like real places (without cramming the world building down my throat). Magic is a plus, but not strictly necessary.

If it has dragons, odds are good I’ll give it a shot. That said, I’ve read more things lately without dragons than with. Not because I don’t want to, but because I haven’t found anything interesting with dragons/dragon characters in them.

8. Are you working on a new book? Can you share any details?
I always have a project or three on the go. I don’t know if it counts as ‘new’, but right now, I’m focused on a severe reworking of Path of the Warrior, a book I’d thought was finished, but had too many issues to work properly. My good friend Chey is helping me through this process and I’m pleased with the results so far.

PotW is a sci-fantasy about a team of bounty hunters trying to apprehend the members of an illegal cult. In the process, they wind up on a world called Keverynn. They have to deal with a lack of technology while trying to figure out how to get back home again. They get caught up in a global war.

9. Do you have any advice you would offer to writers who plan to self-publish in the fantasy genre?
Save up for an editor and a cover artist.

A professionally done map is an amazing thing.

Don’t write in a bubble. That was my biggest mistake.

When your book is ‘done’, get beta readers. Get a lot of them. Preferably people who don’t know you and aren’t related to you. You’ll get better feedback. Honest.

Social media is your friend. It won’t bite. Much.

You don’t need the most expensive tools all the other writers talk about. There are less expensive alternatives that do the same thing.

You can find Melissa Stone’s book on Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/Children-Dragon-Ankaterr-Melissa-Stone-ebook/dp/B0095XJY0K