Today’s Spotlight is on Melanie Miller Fletcher. Melanie is the author of the Yard Dog Press novel Saber Dance (a.k.a Double Dog # 4). Her short story “A Touch of Ginger” is forthcoming in the Harp Haven anthology The Ladies of Trade Town. Melanie is also an accomplished artist who created the cover art for Trade Town. In her spare time, Melanie is a fencer, and a creator of miniature dioramas and plushies that resemble Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (You’ll actually have to check out her blog at http://www.melaniefletcher.com/crafts/index.html for more information on that, since it’s a project that she started after we conducted this interview). I caught up to Melanie recently to discuss her various projects.
Where can we find you on the web? Do you have a website, twitter, facebook fan page, etc? What are your public links?
What are you working on right now (fiction-wise, not craft-wise)?
My latest sale is “A Touch of Ginger,” which will be coming out in the anthology The Ladies of Trade Town (HarpHaven Publishing, edited by Lee Martindale). I’m especially pleased with this story because 1) it’s my first sale of a story set in my Paratime Criminal Investigation Division universe (I’m currently working on a novel in the PCID universe with the working title Murder At The Sands of Time, and 2) it’s my first mystery sale (with heavy SF overtones due to the time travel element, granted, but the heart of the story is a murder mystery). Somewhere, my dad the cop is highly amused by his daughter the SF writer being seduced by the mystery field. One other personally nifty thing about Ladies is that I also did the cover art for it — if any publishers like it, I’m available for commissions!
Any upcoming appearances that you want to tell your fans about?
I will be at A-Kon, where Lee Martindale is having a book launch party. I’ll also be at Armadillocon, Apollocon and Fencon this year.
What genre do you like to write in?
I started out primarily as an SF writer, with occasional forays into urban fantasy. Over the last two years, I’ve become more and more interested in mystery writing, and I’m about to submit my first mystery novel A Most Malicious Murder, an AH mystery starring Edgar Allan Poe and Lewis Carroll (needless to say, hijinks ensue), to publishers.
You’ve got a lot of hobbies. Can you tell me a little about them?
My life seems to be centered around travel, I dunno why. As well as being an expatriate Chicagoan who now lives in the clavicle of Texas, I’ve also spent the last 18 years married to a bodacious Brit, during which time I’ve lived in England, Canada, Holland and Sweden. As a result, I speak French, Dutch and Swedish very poorly.
When I’m not writing fiction, I work as a technical writer and web designer; when I’m not doing that, I’m usually elbow-deep in some sort of art or craft. If you want to tally up all the things I can do, I can write, paint, sing, dance, act, fence, play a number of instruments, build dollhouses, knit, crochet, quilt, do needlepoint, cross stitch and crewelwork, moderate panels, fix cars, do simple plumbing and electrical work, do somewhat more complex carpentry, make a damn good deep dish pizza from scratch, and marry people. What can I say — I don’t like being bored.
Do you have any pets? Have they ever found their way into your work?
I have two cats, JJ and Jordan. JJ is a cat who thinks he’s a dog, and Jordan is a cat who thinks he’s Anna Nicole Smith. My sister refers to JJ as The Dark Lord (just because he bitchslapped her a couple of times — I ask you) and Jordan’s favorite thing in the world is throwing his body against the bedroom door at 5:00 AM until I wake up because the big ball of fire is in the sky and it means I can pet him now. I haven’t used either of them in my work yet, but it’s just a matter of time.
What do you do to spark your creativity?
I start working on a craft project — there’s something about handwork that sets the back of my brain whirring away on storylines. For example, A Most Malicious Murder was plotted out in late 2009 while I worked on a shadowbox of the stage set for Jeffrey Combs’s one-man play Nevermore, a fictionalized recreation of one of Edgar Allan Poe’s lectures (I also got to meet Jeff on Halloween and present him with the shadowbox — talk about a fringe benefit).
Any advice out there for people who want to get started writing?
Don’t quit your day job, get used to rejection, and write what you want to read. If you try to write what’s currently popular, you’re going to be at least one year behind the publishing calendar — write stories that interest you, and with any luck you may be the one who starts the next big publishing trend.
What are your favorite books to read? What are you currently reading?
I love anything by Terry Pratchett and Kage Baker, and I’m currently reading the Sherlock Holmes canon (and enjoying the heck out of it) — I’ve been focused on SF for so long, I really need to catch up on my classic mysteries.
Did any writers inspire you to become an author? If not, what sparked that desire in you?
Robert Heinlein and Madeleine L’Engle were definitely seminal forces in my early addiction to SF, and Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-5 sparked my love of time travel stories (in 2nd grade, which prompted a parent-teacher conference when the teacher found me reading it during lunch. Ah, those were the days). The driving force to write, however, came from my dad and sister, both of whom were incredibly articulate and hilarious raconteurs. I didn’t inherit that verbal facility (when I get excited I tend to speak faster and my pitch goes up until I sound like Mickey Mouse on crack), but I did inherit the same love of storytelling, so I had to find another route to get all the words out of my head. Et voila, 35 years later, I now put down “writer” on my IRS tax forms.