Recently I gave an interview on R.G. Dole’s blog A drip of Truth.
Here’s the full text of that interview.
1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?
Hi, my name is Melindra Hattfield Snowy, and I of course prefer to be known as MH. I’m a part-time author and full-time dreamer. You can find me at www.MHSnowy.com.
When I was eleven, I found a seachest that had been unopened since the war. It was my great-grandmother’s. I had never known her, but I had always heard stories of the great adventuress. How she was only the third person to fly alone across the Atlantic after her colleague Amelia Earhart. How she braved the darkest parts of Africa, collecting tokens and stories of the most amazing events.
In the chest was a diary – if it could be called that. For it was not the usual depictions of a day in an emotional life. There was hardly any reference to her at all. Instead there were literally hundreds of anecdotes, notes and diagrams of the most amazing things. Secrets. Conspiracies. Miracles.
Through it I’ve tried to recreate my great-grandmother’s life. But the answers I find lead only to more questions. I can’t escape the feeling she knew something, and maybe the answer to the enigma lies in the chest. You see, every so often the oddest things happen to me, events that seem related to that chest. And they are not always warm and wonderful. At times I find them quite disturbing. Maybe I’ll write about them at some point.
In any case, I determined early on that the fantastic ideas in her diary were too good to keep to myself, and so I’m attempting to share them with the world. I hope you enjoy them for my great-grandmother’s sake. Who knows – I might even learn more about her and whether she really did uncover secrets hidden from the world?
2. Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?
My partner and I take long walks – preferably through forests or mountains. I also find myself daydreaming about the contents of my great-grandmother’s seachest – ending up with far too many ideas to write about.
3. How long have you been writing? How many books have you written? They don’t have to be published.
I first toyed with the idea of writing back in school. But the results weren’t very good. I had to experience a lot of life and learn how to convey ideas before I was in any way ready for the writing journey. My journey really began about five years ago. I wrote a few novels which I’m not yet ready to share with the world. It took a long time, but I learned a lot. Now I think I’ve learned enough to start sharing my work. I’ve released some short stories (We Three Laws of Robotics Are was just released on Amazon), and my first novella sized book (In Harm’s Way) is now available for pre-order on Amazon. It’s been an interesting ride with ups and downs all along the way. The best has been the response to my stories; the worst is that, as I can only write on a part-time basis, it takes me such an awfully long time.
4. What genres do you like writing the most? And why? Is this genre the same as the one you prefer to read?
I have read science fiction, fantasy, and mystery stories for as long as I can remember. Tolkein, Asimov, Conan Doyle, CS Lewis, Chesterton. I find myself most in tune with stories of that ilk. I most enjoy humour, and settings which do not reflect the day-to-day grittiness of life. This is the basis for the stories I write.
5. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it?
I am currently writing a follow-up to We Three Laws of Robotics Are, which will eventually be a book of short stories (I say short, but each is about 8000 words), as well as a science-fiction series about the most unlikely hero who is pitted against Armageddon, not to mention being hunted by assassins from the future – the first episode of The 12 Nights of Jeremy Sunson will be released soon.
6. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?
For me, writing is an interesting process of constant detailed struggle in amongst enormous fun-filled worlds. I generally start a story with a scene, and then identify the philosophical theme that I’m actually expressing. From there it’s a matter of building up some more scenes and the characters, and setting out the whole structure of the story, before writing the scenes in detail.
For example, In Harm’s Way started as a scene about a warrior (Harm) who performed amazing deeds, but who could never remember them; nor hope to repeat them when he was able to remember.
Finishing a story takes quite amount of time as, due to my double life with a professional career as my day-job, I find the main time I have to write is when I commute. I also try to focus on one story, but I’m generally writing several at the same time.
7. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?
Writing is many things. I find myself constantly fighting with my need to make everything perfect, the entrenched formality of business-writing, and my absolute inability to take anything seriously. I consider my strengths to be humour (though, perhaps not everyone will agree with me:), as well as an ability to combine concepts and logic in ways that are unique. I don’t find myself facing writer’s block per se (I always have far more story lines than time to write), but I will struggle with how to express a particular thought or situation. As an introvert with a professional career, I also find spreading the word to be quite taxing.
8. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?
I’m just starting to release my work to the world. To do so, I spent a great deal of time seeking feedback, as I’ve found the how of description (how the events are told), for me, is much more relevant than the events themselves. Gaining quality feedback is difficult (I’ve found BookVetter to be quite useful here), though I have also sought professional critique. I’m using several strategies to market my stories. I released my first short story (The Secret Invasion of George Kranskii), which describes how road-rage is really the result of an alien invasion, for free on Smashwords. I am seeking reviews for two other stories now. The intention is to continually release work (hence my focus on shorter stories, or episodes of larger stories) to build momentum. I’ll let you know how it works.
9. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?
As a new author, I cannot yet determine whether my advice is worthy of following, but my strategy has been: Read. Seek advice. Write. Polish. Try many strategies. Return to start.
Personally, I’m seeing stories falling into two broad categories based on length: very long series of several books, and shorter episodes (akin to how stories were released by Dickens). My strategy of focussing on shorter stories that build together is based on this. Which leads to my final thought: work out where you think things are headed, and be guided by that – everyone will have an opinion, but you’ll feel most comfortable writing in a way you believe is right.