Thank you so much, Rachel. It’s great to be here!
So, tell us about your new book!
I actually started writing Heart and Home in 2006 for NaNoWriMo. It was my last semester of University, and I had a lot going on, but I really wanted to challenge myself in more ways than one. I wanted to write a novel, and I wanted to write something different than what I usually wrote, ie., fantasy. It turned out to be not so different than my usual fare, in that it contained elements of the paranormal.
It’s about a young journalist who’s brought back to her small hometown after a late night phone call about her mother. It’s been eight years since she’s set foot in Sonesville, and she has no intention of staying any longer than it takes to help her father put her mother’s affairs in order, but then a series of strange, paranormal events start happening, and she starts to feel as though her mother is trying to tell her something.
Amidst the paranormal activity, she finds herself reconnecting to the town and some of its people in ways she never expected, especially former high school football star, Troy Kepner. Like her, Troy nearly got away from Sonesville, but his father’s death put him in charge of the family farm.
Heart and Home is more than just a romance, it’s also a story of friendship and self-discovery.
The recent passing of my mother prompted me to dig out the manuscript and have another go at it, and in the end it wound up being a deeply personal story I could relate to more than anything else I’d ever written.
Your novel The Goblin Market is a fantasy with faeries, changelings, and goblins. How different was the experience of writing a romance from writing a fantasy novel?
That’s a really good question. As readers and writers, I think we have a tendency to categorize everything we read into different genres and sub-genres. Romance, fantasy, horror, comedy, mystery, etc., but the story element that drives my writing is people, the characters being subjected to the romantic, horrific, mysterious, fantastical... Whether they are thrust into something completely out of the ordinary, or something relative that happens in the “real” world, measuring those reactions is what writing is all about for me.
There are differences, of course. With fantasy, you really have to plan and understand the foreign elements of the world you’re writing in so you can make the unfamiliar feel familiar and comfortable for the reader, but for the most part I don’t like to confine myself to genres when writing.
You have a bit of an alter-ego – would you like to introduce us to Erica North?
I do have a fanfiction writing alter-ego. I’ve had several over the years in a variety of fandoms, but I started writing Elder Scrolls (Skyrim) fanfiction about eighteen months ago, and sharing the stories on EricaNorth.net. In the last eighteen months I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words, finished five full, unedited Skyrim novels and several novelettes and novellas about characters I created to play the game.
I’m a Skyrim player, too – has writing Skyrim fanfic been helpful in your other projects?
One of the things I love about writing within the Elder Scrolls universe is that while the world, its structures, theology and history are all very well established, a lot of a player experiences are left with these gaping holes that beg to be filled in. An example for those who may not be familiar with Elder Scrolls gameplay: You begin your quest as the Dragonborn with no “memory” of your past. You are a prisoner of unknown origin, so it’s up to you to decide who you will be as you play the game.
And everyone’s experiences are different, even though we all play through the same set of scenarios, because of who we decide to be when we first start playing. It really sparked my imagination, and I found myself playing through each different game as a different type of character: a rogue that steals everything she walks by and helps no one, an assassin who feels guilty about who she is and finds herself torn between the killer inside and the good person she’s always wanted to be, the heroine whose been given the overwhelming responsibility of saving the world from an evil so dark it promises to devour the world.
So much inspiration in one place… It was impossible to ignore, so I wrote about my characters.
There tends to be bad stigma associated with fanfiction. A lot of people turn their noses up when they hear the word. without realizing that there is so much to learn about writing when you begin writing in a predetermined and established world. One of my friends is a middle-school English teacher, and she’s used fanfiction in several of her classes to teach kids about writing, plotting, characterization and world-building. It’s a great exercise, and some people actually find their future in it.
Walk into any bookstore and visit the Star Wars novel section of the Science Fiction category, or pick up a Doctor Who book and have a look. It’s been said that Fifty Shades of Grey was originally a Twilight Fanfiction, and Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments books were inspired by her time writing Harry Potter fanfiction.
Personally, I’m a strong supporter of anything that gets (and keeps) people telling stories.
Who are some of your favorite writers?
I have been a Neil Gaiman fan for over twenty-five years, so he remains at the top of my list, but I also love J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Liane Moriarty and Andrzej Sapkowski.
What’s your best advice for writers?
Never give up. Writing isn’t easy, and sometimes it can be so overwhelming that you want to just walk away, but don’t. Some of the best stories are born on the verge of giving up.
Thank you so much for joining us on the Freelance and Fiction blog!
Thank you so very much for having me.
You can keep up with Jennifer Melzer on her website or follow her on Twitter and Facebook. If you're in the mood for sword-and-sorcery, check out her amazing Skyrim fanfics here.