Interview with Melissa Johnson

When did you first start writing?
Being a writer is what I knew I wanted to be long before I knew how much work it would take to be one. I started writing as a teen, but it would be a long time before I actually completed a full, novel length story. There was dark, teenage angst poetry and paranormal short pieces with a quirky, but still dark humor that hinted at what I liked from the start. In my twenties I wrote my first short story romance -- a sweet, contemporary story set in a bookstore. (In hindsight, it does seem like I was the most conservative twenty-something ever!) But it was the ideas I found most fun, including the idea of being a writer! My ideas of paranormal romance resurfaced and blossomed in my thirties, even if by then I already considered myself a bit of a late bloomer. It's a good thing no one told me it would take another ten years or so to write the first novel! Along the way, I discovered the details of the grand ideas were often elusive. The characters asked for more...more plot, more setting, more emotion tying all the grand ideas together. But I'm very glad I didn't give up...even if my motivation to finish a story has sometimes been to be tell myself I'm never doing this again. Thank goodness I did. I've begun and ended the story journey several more times since that first book and each time is a new batch of challenges. It's interesting to note my core instincts for the type of story I write has stayed much the same as it was in the early years. I love the characters that have evolved from the first inklings of my paranormal ideas...a fantasy world of guardian angels and wizards, time traveling to the Regency historical period, to writing characters who may be immortals and ghosts, but remain humans with a love story to tell. It's all part of continuing a journey I began a long time ago.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a rural community in Northern Minnesota where the running joke went something like, 'we live 40 miles from nowhere.' I think the isolation of my environment made me a romantic dreamer of exotic locales, even if just about anywhere seemed exotic in comparison!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Several things motivated me to become an indie author. For one thing, like many, the stress of querying for agents and publishers did not appeal. Second and third, the advance of e-readers took off and the tools became available that allowed it to be done. With little expense, and with the help of beta reader friends, often writers themselves, to offer a friendly critique and necessary proofreading, it is possible. Yes, it's still nerve-wracking to put yourself out there, but if you believe in your story, it's exciting!
What do your fans mean to you?
There's nothing like the thrill of hearing from a reader that they got enjoyment from your story or that it made them feel empathy with a character. The smallest good comment can make your whole day...or week! Writing is often a solitary endeavor, so that feedback means a lot!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The characters...definitely the characters. I love writing romance because it is so character driven. There is perhaps more "stuff" in my stories than a traditional romance with plots of intrigue and paranormal elements, but at the heart of it is the relationships.
What is your writing process?
I'm always interested in finding ways to "perfect" my writing process! All I can say for certain is my methods center around finding as many ways as possible to trick myself into writing and to feel like I've made progress! I also try to know myself and what I'll follow through with. I'm not a "so many words a day, every day, kinda writer," so I don't give myself those kind of goals. I'm a "write on the weekend and hope I remember where I left off last weekend kind of writer." Even if all I can do is jot down notes on the shopping list receipt during the week, that's doable and it's something.

Currently I use a simple writing software to add my chapters and scenes and also add some background information like setting location and character profiles. I find the non-linear method of writing in scenes a little more useful for getting around those bouts of writer's block. The main thing for me is always to give myself something to revise. So I like to break it down into stages, like outline, draft, 1st edit, 2nd edit, and final edit. That sounds good in theory, but in reality there are many more stages of revisions than can be counted. But as long as I feel like I'm bringing parts up to a next level, until finished, I feel like I'm making progress.

I also need some inspiration and deadlines, which are often one and the same for an Indie writer. For instance, picking out a new cover is always a big inspiration! Or setting up pre-order releases is another firm date that makes the commitment feel official. Lastly, it's important to have other writer friends to keep feeling "writerly." I found it helpful to submit chapters to a critique group with my first book. Now, I don't feel the need to do that, but it's a good way to make a connection with other writers.
What do you read for pleasure?
I've been an avid fan of historical and contemporary romance since my early teens. My favorites are often familiar themes, such as amnesia or classic fairy tale themes like Beauty and the Beast.
What are you working on next?
I have two upcoming releases. One is a novella called AN UNSUITABLE ENTANGLEMENT that I'm very excited about because I'm intending it to launch a continuing romantic partnership between Percy and Alison, two of the secondary characters readers will have met in the first book in the Guardian Angel Series, IF I STAY. This story is a pairing of opposites, with an all business heroine and a seemingly carefree hero. I hope readers will enjoy the continuation of the fantasy world of the time traveling Order of Guardians as the two team up in a continuing adventure to find banished Guardians.

Also coming out is WORTH THE RISK. This full length paranormal romantic suspense novel does something a little different! It matches up another pair of secondary characters, only one is from the contemporary setting of the book GHOST OF A PROMISE and the other is from the Guardian Angel series. (It's time travel...I can do that.)
Published 2015-06-20.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Worth the Risk
Pre-release—available October 10, 2018. Price: $2.99 USD. Language: English. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Time travel, Fiction » Romance » Suspense
Getting into trouble runs in the family. In the wake of a political scandal, Carrie Riley is a witness who knows too much and it's up to Nick Fallon to keep her safe. Protecting Carrie from a killer becomes a very personal mission and he will use every resource at his disposal to keep her safe. What better way to put her out of a killer's reach could there be than to remove her to another time?
An Unsuitable Entanglement
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 38,350. Language: English. Published: January 17, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Time travel, Fiction » Romance » Historical
Romance is not on the agenda for take-charge Alison Gray. She's a time-traveling Guardian on a mission to locate her unfairly banished colleagues, and the last thing she needs is assistance from Lord Percifield, a 19th century English peer who doesn't seem to have a serious bone in his admittedly splendid body. It can only be described as an entirely unsuitable entanglement!
Ghost of a Promise
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 75,850. Language: English. Published: January 25, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Paranormal, Fiction » Romance » Suspense
When journalist Ben Riley's taxi nears his house he thinks his wife must be throwing him a birthday party. But it's a strangely somber party with no one even saying hello. As soon as Beth walks right through him, he knows he's arrived in time for the after party of his own funeral. Convincing Beth he's real is the first step to unraveling the mystery of his death and protecting her future.
The Castle: Prequel to the Guardian Angel Series
Price: Free! Words: 24,630. Language: English. Published: July 3, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Paranormal, Fiction » Romance » Time travel
It is a dangerous game Heather must play to outsmart a power-hungry wizard. But with each choice more impossible than the last, and promises made that can't be kept, it seems the only choice left is to make her escape. Starting over, she fears, is asking too much while a past waits unfinished. A world of magic can't be left behind and eventually Heather must make the hardest choice of all.
If I Stay: Guardian Angel Series #1
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 94,980. Language: English. Published: May 2, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Paranormal, Fiction » Romance » Regency
When JUSTIN MONTROSE, a former captain in the British Army and the new fifth Duke of Claymore, is rescued from highwaymen by a mysterious beauty, their meeting sets in motion his search for an angel. As he will discover, the truth of ARIANA’s identity is more than most ordinary men can swallow.