Greetings from the Ether,
This is the second chapter in our Author Spotlight series, featuring Michelle Mellon, author of “Nailed.”
Let the interview commence!
CP: Your story “Nailed” was just published in Hinnom Magazine Issue 001. Can you go a little in-depth as to your inspiration behind “Nailed?”
MM: I actually wrote “Nailed” for the Gehenna & Hinnom Body Horror anthology. The entire story idea came to me as I was reading the submission guidelines! I like to play “what if” and take it to extremes, so I thought about a bodily habit that some people find gross—chewing your nails—and wondered where I could take it. My early writing influences were horror and science fiction, and I like to blend those genres in my work when I can. “Nailed” was a fun way to do that, and to explore writing a different type of story; normally I write psychological or supernatural horror.
CP: While speaking of inspiration, what inspired you to become a writer? And what authors helped carve your path to the darker side of fiction?
“The first time I knew I wanted to be a writer was in the fourth grade.”
MM: The first time I knew I wanted to be a writer was in the fourth grade. I had written several poems, and my teacher had me read them to the class and some school administrators. Seeing people react to what I created got me hooked.
My father is a horror and science fiction fan, and I read most of his library as I was growing up. Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, and Ramsey Campbell were big influences on my decision to pursue dark fiction.
CP: What are your goals and aspirations as a writer? What does the future hold for Michelle Mellon?
MM: I think my primary goal is the same as most writers—I want to tell good stories and share them with other people. Beyond that, I want to keep challenging myself. In addition to experimenting with the types of dark fiction I’m writing, I’d love to create works in different genres, à la Stephen King.
CP: Tell us something that not many readers know about you.
MM: Well, unless you’ve studied my website in depth, you probably don’t know that I’m an avid ultimate frisbee fan. I started playing my freshman year of college. At the time, I just thought of it as something to do to pass the time. Twenty-eight years later I’m still playing, although injuries mean I’m much slower and less competitive about it these days.
“There’s also a writing tip I’ve adopted and use faithfully: I read my writing out loud. It’s a great indicator not only of where there are issues with word choice and flow, but whether the voice and tone sound natural, and are compatible with the story I’m telling.”
CP: You have a very unique style of writing, choosing first person narration that has a second person twang—in some sections—and a casual, informal tone for “Nailed.” What factors and developmental steps took place for you to find your voice?
MM: It’s funny, when I first started writing I rarely wrote using first person. I felt like I had more power, and could give more to the reader, using a close third-person point of view. Then I began reading more short stories to study how other authors structured their narratives, and found certain stories have more impact when told in a different voice. Now when I have a story idea, I experiment with the voice I want to use. If there’s a strong character persona in my head, I go with first person. Otherwise I go with third. (I’m still experimenting with a second-person approach that’s comfortable for me.)
There’s also a writing tip I’ve adopted and use faithfully: I read my writing out loud. It’s a great indicator not only of where there are issues with word choice and flow, but whether the voice and tone sound natural, and are compatible with the story I’m telling.
CP: Do you have any other works releasing soon that our readers can look forward to? If not, are you currently working on any pieces?
MM: I have my first mystery story in the pipeline, but it’s waiting on the publisher to work out some website issues. I have a horror short story collection that’s in need of a publisher, and another collection of linked “ghost stories” that I’ll be revising this summer. In between, I’m working on magazine and anthology submissions.
CP: If you could meet and converse with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
MM: I would love to spend time with Edgar Allen Poe. He created a wealth of beautiful, enduring stories, and I think every dark fiction writer owes him a debt of gratitude. It would be fascinating to learn where he found inspiration and the strength to persevere through so many hardships.
CP: What is your favorite novel or work, and/or author? Why?
MM: My favorite novel is not dark fiction at all—it’s Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It has all the elements of an epic tale, with feminism, romance, suspense, drama, and a touch of the supernatural wrapped up in one glorious package.
CP: What is your writing process?
MM: Erratic. For years I heard the same advice about “write every day,” but that only works for me in periodic bursts. I tend to jot down several story ideas as they come to me, then frame out the main points a day or two later. When I’m particularly struck by an idea, I go into “possession” mode—I write until that story is done and ready for an editing eye. But if no one thing strikes me, I bounce around working on different story ideas until one grabs me and begs to be completed.
“There are millions of people who think they have a good story to tell. Your mission is to remind yourself that your story is better.”
CP: If you could give advice to new, young authors concerning the publishing world, what would it be? And why?
MM: Know who you are and what you want. Writing may come easily to you, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Writing is bloodletting; you’re giving your essential self to others. Some people will appreciate your gift, some won’t. It’s hard not to take rejection personally, but if you view each “no” as an opportunity to share your work with someone else till you get to “yes,” it makes it less painful. When you get feedback, study it. You might not agree with all of it, but it might give you insights to improve your story. Celebrate each success, but keep pushing yourself to do more. Study what’s out there so you can carve out your niche. There are millions of people who think they have a good story to tell. Your mission is to remind yourself that your story is better.
Visit Mellon’s website here.
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Thanks so much for stopping by. Always remember to Embrace the Unknown.