(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Leka was written by Leka Melo.)
The door groaned as Kelly pushed it open. The requested location to meet for this interview was a ghost house, and this was exactly that. Kelly looked at the old structure of this abandoned mansion. If this wasn’t in the safety of her imagination, this placed would scream HORROR MOVIE! Cobwebs dangled from the chandelier in the foyer, and pictures of the former owners of this house still hung on the wall.
Kelly crept forward, and the hardwood floor creaked. This was a beautiful place, but there was something unsettling about it. Something in the air.
Suddenly someone materialized right in front of her, and Kelly yelped only to place a hand on her chest. “Leka Melo?” She stepped forward and touched Leka’s arm to make sure she was solid. When she saw that she was, Kelly let out a sigh of relief. “Sorry, you scared me. Thought you were a ghost. You mentioned a ghost house, so…” Kelly motioned to their surroundings. “Here we are.” Then she looked back at Leka and smiled, relaxing a little now. “How are you?”
Leka smiled back at Kelly, beginning to wonder if choosing a ghost house had been the best idea. “Not too bad. How are you? Should we try to see if we can find a place not too dusty so we can sit?”
“Of course.” Kelly smiled, more than happy to comply, so she gestured for Leka to follow her as she lead the way through the house. She kept her senses on full alert, just waiting for something to jump out at them and spook them. However, she focused on the conversation. It was a good distraction. “Okay, so, Leka, what do you do in real life?” They found a lovely living room with a few old wingback chairs and sofas, so they made themselves comfortable.
Leka chose the sofa. She was sure she’d heard a cat somewhere in the house on their way to the living room, and hoped it might come sit next to her at some point. “I started a business with my Dad last year. We work with food, and it’s so much more hard work than I had ever expected. I’m also completely broke, because we’re investing everything we have in it” she fidgeted in her seat. “Very stressful, but I hope we’ll make it work.”
Kelly nodded her understanding. “Starting and managing a business is stressful, but I hope it is successful.” She gave Leka a warm smile, and her smile only brightened when she saw a white cat wander in. “Well, what do you know?” The cat ignored Kelly but happened onto the sofa near Leka and sniffed her. Letting the cat be friendly with her guest, Kelly focused on her next question. “So, with all that hard work of running your own business, how do you find time to write?”
“Sometimes I don’t!” Leka laughed. She felt more relaxed, knowing it really had been a cat she heard. She offered her hand for it to sniff and gave it a tentative scratch behind the ear. “But whenever I do have a break, I try to do some writing and researching. I think writer’s block is more of an issue for me than time though. I’ve started so many stories that are unfinished. It has been years since I actually finished writing something. Most of the time I get bitten by a plot bunny, start writing, and then get stuck.” She winced as the cat bit her finger. “You, sir, are NOT a bunny.”
Sitting on a dark blue wingback chair, Kelly chuckled as she watched Leka pet the cat, but thens he stiffened when she heard something that sounded like the wind. Yeah, that had to be the wind, so Kelly ignored it. “So, take me back to the beginning. When did you start writing? What inspired you to really start writing?”
Leka looked up as she heard something that sounded like furniture being moved around upstairs. She tried to pass it off as her thinking about Kelly’s question, but was sure she’d noticed it too. “I started writing when I was a kid. I can’t really remember if it was a school assignment or not but I remember writing a story about a killer. The story was lost in one of the many computer deaths, but I never stopped writing. I went into fanfiction when I was a bit older, and took what I wrote to school for my friends to read. A Harry Potter fanfiction was the last story I actually finished. Since then, it’s been a pile of beginnings but no endings.”
Furrowing her brows, Kelly leaned forward in her chair to look at Leka. “And why is that?”
“Oh, I wish I knew!” she rubbed her face, exasperated. “I even think some of my ideas are good as base for stories, but most of the time I can’t really think of a proper conflict or a way to develop them. Right now I’m trying not to give up on my most recent project: a story on Mars.”
Kelly nodded. She understood too well the struggle of Writer’s Block, so maybe she could help. “Okay, tell me about this story. What is it about?” Maybe talking it out would help Leka.
Leka sat up excitedly and startled the cat. “Well, this will sound really silly, but I actually had a dream about this one. It was on the second day of NaNoWriMo. I was going to write a story about mythical creatures for NaNo, one that I’ve been stuck on for years. And on November second I wake up having had a dream about being on Mars and this idea came to me: the first ever manned mission to Mars. Six people. They get there and their mission is to explore Valles Marineris, which is a massive canyon. Because it’s so deep, the rovers we’d sent there couldn’t explore it, so that’s what they have to do. When they get down there, they find this massive underground cave and discover a whole ecosystem, which wasn’t affected by whatever destroyed everything on the surface.”
A smile lifted Kelly’s lips. She loved it when writers got excited about their stories. “For the record, being inspired by a dream is not silly at all! And I like this idea.” She set her chin in the palm of her hand as she leaned forward to listen. “Tell me more.”
“That’s about it, really. I have a little under 4 thousand words on it and, as always, I’m stuck. I can’t seem to make progress. I might be having some trouble with my main character as well. I have the rest of the crew kind of clear in my head, but I can’t seem to see her. It’s like she’s hiding.”
“Oh, maybe I can help with that whenever I speak with whichever character you let me interview.” Kelly grinned, but she froze when se sudden wind swept through the room. Once it passed, she locked eyes with Leka. “Yeah…no ghosts here at all…” Then she shook her head and returned to the topic at hand. “Okay, so…” She rubbed her hands together. “Tell me about the characters. Who do you have?”
Leka thought about lighting the fireplace, but decided not to. They would probably freak out if the fire changed colours or something. She leaned forward on the sofa instead, with a broad smile. “Right! Captain’s an Irish woman. She looks a bit like Susan Sarandon in my head, which is probably why I named her Susan. Late thirties, ginger, loud and confident. There’s Meiling, who’s 27, but is a genius and started her astronaut training at 16. Then there’s Aleksey, a russian guy who’s the most annoying crew member. He’s racist, sexist, homophobic, and obnoxious. And he has a massive crush on Meiling. He’s thirty-five. Those are the ones I see clearly in my mind. There’s also Sam and Patrick. Patrick is in his late thirties, like Susan. He had military training and lots of scars but I don’t know how he got them yet. He’s a handsome guy, strong but gentle. I describe him as ‘a handsome man, with big, dark eyes and full lips’. And Sam is a tiny young genderqueer shy astronaut. I don’t know much about them either. They’re too shy at the moment.”
“Okay, so all these people were selected to got o Mars, which isn’t simple at all.” Kelly tapped on the chin, thinking. Then she noticed the clock on the wall and widened her eyes. “Did the house move time forward? I can’t believe it’s already been an hour!” She sighed and looked back at Leka. “We’re going to have to wrap this up soon unfortunately, but a little overtime won’t hurt us much…” Then she looked around at the living room. “At least, I don’t think it will. Anyway!” She looked back at Leka and smiled. “I want to talk with you more about this story, but we’ve got to wrap this up for the time being. However, tell me this. What’s most important to you about writing? About your stories?”
“Aww! That was quick! We didn’t even get a proper ghost. Heh.” Leka let out a nervous laugh, trying to look cool and failing.
“I write because I love writing. But mostly because I want to get better at it, so that if someday I do publish something, it’ll be the kind of book that someone can give to a non-reader and say ‘try this. I’m sure you’ll like books when you’ve finished it’.” she thought about what she just said and added. “Slightly pretentious, heh. But yeah, I want to write stories that people will LIKE to read.”
“That’s a good goal, and never lose sight of it even when you have Writer’s Block, okay? It’s a worthwhile goal, so I say, go for it.” Kelly smiled then rose to her feet. “Unfortunately, we do need to go. Stay in touch though, okay? I’d like to help you work through writer’s block.” A portal opened in the doorway, and Kelly motioned to it. “Sorry for no actual ghosts, but that will take you home.”
“Ooh, portal! I like portals!” she clapped her hands like a child. “I wonder if there is cake on the other side.” Leka said goodbye to Kelly and the cat, and walked towards the portal humming Still Alive as she went.
Kelly watched her go then watched as the entire house vanished away, and she sighed in relief–glad to be back in her Muse Shop. As lovely as the conversation was, that house was just spooky. She wasn’t sure if she’d want to do another interview in a possibly haunted house. Still, it was a good chat, and she hoped to talk with Leka in the future again soon.
Leka Melo’s story is untitled and has no release date set yet, but you can follow her on Twitter for more updates: