I met with FANTASY author, Melissa E. Beckwith, today and had a lovely chat with her. I got to know a bit about the author behind ‘The Empress of Ventra: The Sword of Rhiannon: Book One’. It’s always nice pull back the veil and understand the mind behind the book. As in every interview, ‘Kelly’ was written by me, Kelly Blanchard, and ‘Melissa’ was written by Melissa E. Beckwith. Enjoy the interview!
The door chimed when Kelly opened it and stepped into the coffee shop. She looked around and saw a young woman sitting at a table with a laptop in front of her. Kelly smiled but didn’t go to her right away. Instead, she went to the counter and ordered some hot chocolate.
Once she received it, she turned to the table and went to it. “Melissa Beckwith?” Kelly raised her brows then held out her hand to shake. “I’m Kelly. Thanks for meeting with me.” She saw down at the table across from Melissa. “How are you doing today?”
Melissa took a slow sip from her strong coffee. “I write full-time now that the kids are out of the house. I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful husband who pays the bills and let’s me just worry about my writing.” Melissa’s lips curved into a huge smile at the thought of her husband of almost thirty years.
“That is fantastic! You are truly blessed.” Kelly grinned at her and wrapped her hands around her mug. “So, when did you first become interested in writing?”
Melissa cocked her head to one side, her long, brown hair falling over her shoulder. With a nostalgic look on her face, she answered, “I started telling stores as far back as I can remember. Even before I learned how to read, I “wrote” stories in the form of picture books.” Melissa chuckled softly, “I went through a lot of crayons.”
Kelly’s grin grew. “I was like that too! Did pictures because I didn’t know how to write, but had so many stories in my head!” She shook her head, still smiling, remembering those memories, but then she focused on Melissa once more. “Now a lot of writers have had a love for writing since they were children, but it wasn’t until years later that they actually became serious about writing. Was that the case for you? Was there a specific time when you suddenly just woke up and decided, ‘I am going to be a writer!’ Or did you know since you were a child that you were going to be a writer?” Kelly tilted her head to a side as she watched Melissa.
Melissa looked over Kelly’s shoulder with an unfocused look in her blue eyes. She finally spoke. “I always wanted to be a writer. When I was young I told everyone that I was going to be an author when I grew up. But some how when children start to grow up they lose that abandon and start getting self conscience.” Melissa looked at Kelly, a serious expression on her face. “I was not encouraged as a child to write, in fact I was discouraged. In my family, people didn’t do that sort of thing seriously. So I grew up, got married right out of high school and had three kids right away. I just got busy raising kids and didn’t write much.”
Melissa took another sip of her coffee and looked down at the floor as if she were wrestling with a decision. Finally she took a deep breath, apparently making a choice and started to speak to Kelly again. “I have bi-polar, and it has haunted my life for a very long time. So much of my life was spend in deep despair.” Melissa peered deeper into Kelly’s eyes, wanting to say the right words. “Last summer was one of those times. However, I just finally made the decision that I would get serious about my writing once and for all. I had these two finished novels waiting to be edited and published, and darn it, that was what I was going to do. I pushed aside my crippling self-doubt and just went for it!”
Kelly nodded as she listened to Melissa, and she leaned forward, locking eyes with her. “I am really sorry your family wasn’t supportive of your dreams, but I am glad you circled back round to it, and have managed to write and publish a book.” She smiled at her then sat back once more. “So, tell me about your book. What is it about?”
Melissa leaned back in her chair and took another drink of her hot coffee, her smile returning to her face. “The Empress of Ventra is really about self discovery and overcoming self-doubt….with a little thread of romance thrown in, just to keep things interesting.” Melissa laughed and looked out the window. The sun had hesitantly come out and started to melt the light snow that was clinging to the ground. She looked back over to Kelly. “Rhiannon Kossi had questions about her past. The answers she received took her to another world and changed her life forever. Suffering from vivid nightmares, she is sure that she’s been lied to about her childhood. Seeking the answers to long forgotten questions, she is mysteriously taken from her quiet, simple life on a Montana cattle ranch and thrust into a new, violent world where she is forced to either fight or die. In her quest for answers to her past Rhiannon must accept hard truths that will forever change the course of her life…that is, if she can stay alive.”
Kelly stared for a long moment. “Wow. That sounds…rather complex.” Then she smiled. “But interesting all the same. I want to ask more about the story and the characters, but I’m afraid if I do, it’d probably spoil it for the readers.” Kelly frowned. That was the part of her job she hated, but then she smiled again. “So, Melissa, how did you come up with the idea for this book? What inspired it?”
Melissa threw her head back and laughed, a couple people near the two looked over for a second but then went back to their conversations. “I had a dream!” Melissa smiled and nodded her head. “It was a very long time ago, about 1999 or maybe 2000. I had a dream of a woman who gets sucked into another world and has to to all sort of things to stay a live. Of course over about 16 years I finally polished up the story and wrote it down.”
Kelly grinned when she heard this. “Don’t you just love it when stories come to you in dreams? It’s crazy! You said this was over 16 or so years ago? And you stuck with it all this time? Good for you! Now, there are a lot of other writers who have become discouraged because it is taking them years, maybe decades to write their story. Since you have experience with that, what advice would you give them to persevere?” Kelly remembered her hot chocolate and drank so more. She was so drawn into the conversation, she had forgotten about it.
Melissa scratched an itch on her nose and cocked her head to the side again while she thought. “Well, I spend most of that time learning about the craft of writing,” she said slowly. “It’s not as easy as it seems to produce a quality, marketable story. So I would tell new writers to educate themselves as much as they can on the craft of writing well. Also, read A LOT in the genres you want to write in. Study the tropes and what readers want.” Melissa stopped and took a sip of her coffee, then started up again. “And don’t give up. It takes a long time to learn all this stuff and become good at it. I would advise all writers to just keep writing everyday. Give yourself little goals, like 100 words a day, then when you easily meet that goal everyday your self-confidence will grow. Also, network, talk to other writers. Writing can be a lonely job, but when you find others who share you passion it’s not so bad, then. You can learn a lot from your fellow writers. Just don’t give up. Never give up. It’s never too late. Finish that manuscript, even if you think it’s garbage, do it anyway. Always finish. That is another way to build self-confidence.”
Kelly nodded, grateful for her words. “Very true. Thank you.” However, she glimpsed at the clock on the wall and saw the time. She looked back at Melissa. “Our time’s almost up. Have about ten minutes left, so a few more questions. What was your favorite thing about your story as you wrote it?”
Melissa fidgeted a little in her seat trying to get comfortable. “Well, it was very refreshing to write about a strong woman. I have never considered myself anything resembling strong of independent, so it’s been fun writing Rhiannon.” Melissa laughed. “I guess she’s like my alter ego. Also, it gets more into it in the second book, The War of the Gypsy, but it was quiet refreshing to create a kingdom in which women ruled and men had to follow.”
Kelly smiled. “That is refreshing to see. I’m glad you’ve completed it and published it. That wasn’t easy, and you have done well. Unfortunately though, our time has come to an end, and I have elsewhere to be.” She rose to her feet and reached her hand out to shake Melissa. “However, it was wonderful to meet you and to hear about your story. Keep writing, okay? And keep publishing. You’ve got this.” She smiled warmly at her.
“Thank you, Kelly for spending time with me this morning.” Melissa grabbed Kelly’s warm hand and shook it. She smiled up at the woman. “Be careful out there, there are some crazy drivers in Indiana!” Melissa laughed.
Kelly chuckled. “Ah, my dad grew up in Indiana, so I’m a bit familiar with it. You have a good day, Melissa! Take care!” With a wave and a smile, Kelly headed out.
Melissa waved and had a content, happy look on her face.
Melissa E. Beckwith’s novel, ‘The Empress of Ventra: The Sword of Rhiannon: Book One’ can be found on Amazon here:
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