Interview with Melissa Bond

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Well, if we are talking about the first story to have an impact, Charlotte’s Web disturbed my sleep more times than I care to remember. However, children’s books aside, the first significant piece of literature to actually have an impact on me was Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Nothing beats a dark complicated love story, but mix in conflict with identity & twisted revenge; you have a classic that never gets too old. While many turn to sweet romance novels, I tend to like romantic tragedies.
How do you approach cover design?
I always wondered how my training in art would come into play with my writing. I am one of the few fortunate independent authors who are able to create their own original book covers without the need of hiring an artist, which too often results in the purchase of stock imagery. In that case, it is guaranteed there is another book out there that looks like yours. I approach them the same way I approach any painting, the purpose to tell a story. Sweet Lucidity is not just a love story, but it is about a child born into a love that has many consequences. The death of a child is the ultimate sacrifice, and the birth of one is the ultimate joy. Sacrifice and joy embodies the theme of Sweet Lucidity. As for Dragonfly, amid the darkness that surrounds the Grayson family, there is a light that cannot be blackened. The cover simply made itself after several hours of keeping this in mind. With the third book, In Silent Requiem, the Grayson family has a bond that cannot be broken, but it can be fractured much like concrete. The blood spilled in its cracks was the image I had in mind when creating the cover.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Five? Such an unfair question with an answer that often changes. So let’s see –

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
Beloved by Toni Morrison

I’m going to leave the fifth option open for all the others I love to take its place in time.
What do you read for pleasure?
My preferences range from horror to art history, and nearly everything in between with the exception to romance and erotica. Just not my cup of tea.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
It is a heated competition between the Nook and the Kindle.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Like many new authors, I honestly expected the Sweet Lucidity series to be signed, and I still expect it to. I had to learn very quickly how to market the series to the appropriate audience in order to gain support to see the series put into print. While most authors befriend other authors, I tend to go a different direction in creating relationships with my readers. I immediately created a page on Facebook to raise awareness on the series that has become a personal place online to interact with readers. That fan page has grown to over 5000 fans in a short amount of time. On Twitter, I choose to follow fans and potential readers, not only to spread the word about the series, but also to see what readers are wanting to read and what they express is lacking in vampire fiction. On YouTube, I post trailers and teasers often, but there is a much larger opportunity to spread awareness of the series that I have yet to explore. I answer every correspondence sent to me by fans and potential readers, as well as explore business relationships that help gain a larger audience. That openness has allowed a bath product line to be created for fans of the series, as well as collaborations with musicians and artists in bringing the story to life for readers. Taking advantage of bloggers who seek books to review is important, but you must be willing to have thick skin if you receive a review you did not expect. Creating relationships with those who support independent authors is important as that very support can create awareness that money cannot buy. As for money, I highly advise against spending anything on marketing. Never pay for promotions, reviews or premium advertising, those putting a price on promoting your work are only in it to make a profit off you.
Describe your desk
It is a brand new desk that will become an heirloom I will pass down through my family. It is a rustic deeply burnished brown wood desk with large decorative bun feet. It has two drawers on one side, and a file drawer on the other that holds within it many manuscripts. On top is my desktop with a flat widescreen monitor (which needs to be replaced) flanked by a printer-fax on one side and a beautiful bronze lamp on the other. Scattered across the surface on any given day is my coffee mug, my drawing tablet, Hacker’s Writer’s Reference, a treat jar for my spoiled Chipoo, my planner, Post It’s of new words in Norwegian I must learn, and mail I usually take a day (or two) to open.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas, raising my son just outside of it in the family home on the farm I spent much of my childhood. As with any author who writes from the heart, those very surroundings and the people I have had in my life build a strong influence over the stories I write. I had the benefit to travel the world with my family, so more than just my surroundings impart the words I put to paper. I find real life can be just as romantic and create more nightmares than any author’s imagination can. It’s that hint of real life in any story that makes it unforgettable.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book, In Silent Requiem, is a continuation of the Sweet Lucidity Vampire Suite. Writing of vampires can easily get misplaced in pure fantasy, where the most intriguing aspect of them is lost. The idea of immortality is something nearly every human being covets, as well as how our demise will come. In Silent Requiem pursues exploring life and death and the idea of having complete control over our own. Readers will continue the journey of following the lives of the Grayson family, celebrating their triumphs of surviving an apocalypse, and feeling every loss along the way until immortality will risk its own finality.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
There are two kinds of independent authors, those who had no choice and admit it, and those who had no choice and don’t. I jumped the obstacles of finding representation for the series, only to face rejection the moment the word vampire was realized. I wrote Sweet Lucidity initially as an answer to a dare, to immortalize a dear friend, and to tell a story I would rather read than what was offered on bookshelves. It wasn’t until I realized I wrote something people loved, and many more wanted to read, that I started the journey of getting one little big book into print. The only wall I faced was the wave vampire fiction had created had been swept back to sea. I have had many offers along the way, but they just did not meet the needs for the series. Even though it has caught the interest of those who can make the series reaching bookshelves a reality, it comes with a challenge that will take an army. Being an independent author is an incorrect term for me. I am dependent on readers and fans of my work to make my goal of becoming a published author a reality.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy I get out of writing has to be the release it gives me. My reality faces a formidable challenge in living with multiple sclerosis. At times it is a progressive enemy and others a generous muse. After all, I must have some way to release the pain and anxiety that comes with battling a disease. As with anyone who faces their mortality, the price is an overactive imagination.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything.
What are you working on next?
Currently, I am finishing up the third book in the Sweet Lucidity series, In Silent Requiem, as well as a crime thriller, Don't Touch the Butterflies. After these are finished, I have the fourth book in the series to get started on, as well as a dark fantasy that involves mermaids. Readers of my work know not to expect a creature that sweetly sings of love with a handsome prince.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
My hobbies include being a complete book nerd, film geek, genealogy buff, world traveler, second language acquisition conqueror and wannabe bakery owner.
What is your writing process?
I first make sure I have a Diet Coke and a hot cup of coffee on one side, and on the other all research I have collected to assist in telling a story. After setting the mood I want to be in with the appropriate music, I first write an outline for a manuscript followed by a first draft. For the second draft, I add in color and tone to the words I wrote, inspired by art, music and whatever my imagination offers. The third draft is purely technical, allowing the words to flow by correcting spelling and grammar. The manuscript further changes after it is read by others, their opinions considered before it is handed over to my editor for the final touches. Only when I can say to myself the manuscript is the best it can be does it turn into a novel.
Published 2013-11-30.
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