Friday, January 14, 2011

Aspiring Author Interview with Melissa Wideen

Oh, hello!  Guess what?  I'm doing an interview with Robin Scherbatsky Melissa from Through the Looking Glass today!  If you didn't already know, she's a totally awesome Canadian who is in college, excuse me, University, (or Canadians call it college or university?  Or is it Uni...) She juggles classes, a job, writing novels and going to hockey games (okay, she only wrote about hockey once, and said she didn't like it, but I'm assuming she's lying and that she really does love it because she's Canadian, eh?)  Ha, just kidding.  A little.  She probably always wears stocking hats and Canucks jerseys.  Okay, enough with the Canada jokes.  She's an awesome person and a great friend and I'm so glad I've gotten to know her.  She's currently editing her YA fantasy that is going to be totally awesome when it's published.  Trust me, I know.  And she looks like Robin Scherbatsky from How I Met Your Mother.  And I almost peed my pants when she said she was from Canada.  Seriously, look at her pic and then look at some of Robin.  Totally awesome.

Now onto the interview.  Oh wait, I have to post this:

(So Melissa's not the one in the stocking hat but dude...her friend is most likely Canadian and is wearing a stocking hat....I rest my case)
 Okay, and NOW on to the interview:

1.    Tell us the scoop on how you got into writing novels.

I have a history of getting pneumonia and at the beginning of 2008, I had my worst case yet. I had to take a nebulizer (oxygen mask that delivered medication) every 3 and a half hours so I was basically confined to a chair in my room. I was desperately ill and due to that and other personal factors of my life, I became seriously depressed. For ten months I sat in a chair.

Looking back, I feel like I lost a year of my life because I wasn't *there* during that time. A lot of times when people are really upset they call it depression - but that's not what depression is. Depression is a complete lack of all emotion. You are empty. There is nothing to feel or fight against, nothing you can do.

For nine months, I hardly had any thoughts in my head. One day these voices just started talking. I ignored them for a month but they kept getting louder, invading my dreams and saturating everything. Finally, I gave in. For a whole day I listened to them, heard their story and was introduced to their world. The next morning when my mom came downstairs to let the dog out, I started talking to her. Animated and full of excitement and energy. (Honestly I think I shocked her into absolute silence because I'd been completely unresponsive and unemotional for so long.)

I started writing my character's story.

Writing lets me sort through my emotions and feelings and balances me in a way I didn't know was possible for me. Whether I get published or not, I will never stop writing because I need to for the sake of my own emotional well -being.

2.      What genre do you write?

I write fantasy. With fantasy, the only limit is your own imagination. I can do anything I want and I don't know if I ever even want to write another genre specifically. That being said, I love layered story-telling so I hope that my fantasy has other genres intermingling with it like suspense, romance, mystery - things like that.

3.      What authors inspire you?

Lewis Carrol inspired me to love fantasy. Emily Bronte inspired me to root for all-consuming romances. Sophie Kinsella inspires me to have fun with my own work and characters. J.K. Rowling inspires me to be a better writer: make a vivid world, compelling characters, and a gripping storyline.

4.      How often do you write?

That's a little hard to define. I'll go for weeks at a time where I write feverishly - my every thought is another sentence forming. And then, when the fervor dies down I'll go for weeks (sometimes months) without writing anything (aside blog posts and stuff for school but I'm not counting that). I'm an all or nothing kind of person and that definitely applies to writing too. Besides, while I admire those who do, I don't have the discipline to write every single day.

5.      Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Ummm...neither and both? I feel really...odd saying this but, my idea for my trilogy came to me fully formed. The story, all the rules of the world, the characters, their histories - to be more specific the entire world's history (thousands of years. Yes, my head is very cluttered), and things like that. I've never built characters or crafted a plot. Which would technically make me a pantser. Except that doesn't work either because I'm not sitting down with a vague idea and just writing by the seat of my pants.

I guess the best way to describe it is my conscious mind sort of just goes with all of this stuff but my subconscious mind is a meticulous plotter. I hope that makes sense.

6.      Where do you write best, and do you listen to music while you write?

I can write pretty much anywhere, I just have to get in "the zone." Before I even start writing I make a playlist that captures the feelings, emotions and storyline of my novel.  Music really helps me get into the necessary emotional state.

7.      What is on your TBR pile?

In the month of December I got 40 new books (my family got me a lot of giftcards to the bookstore for christmas!) in anticipation of my 110 book reading challenge this year. On top of that list I have a bunch of mysteries and other books I hadn't read yet at my house waiting to be read this year too. I'm currently reading entice by Carrie Jones and I have a couple novels I need to read for my English classes this week too. I'm not sure what the next book is beyond that right now. But there's a lot to chose from.....

8.      If Stephanie Meyer and JK Rowling got in a cat fight, who would win?

Well, sparkling at someone is distracting but the colors of spells eclipses that because there's more than one color. The super speed and strength and extra abilities would be cool... if they weren't already dead from that Avada Kedavra. Since the authors obviously have the skills of their worlds. JK Rowling has ended Stephanie Meyer before I even finished writing this sentence.

9.      What is your “day” job?

I'm a full time student. Which means... I don't do anything that earns me money! (Which sucks) In the summer though I got certified as a bartender and am taking this summer off so in a couple of months I hope to be doing that.

10.  What can you not leave home without? (cell phones are off limits- NO ONE can leave home without one of those)

Well, I'm sure this isn't that interesting but I can't leave my house without my inhaler. I have really bad asthma so I need to have my inhaler on me at all times, just in case.

11.  Mac or PC?

My family is BIG on Mac's - apple products in general actually. But when I started University last year my Grandpa bought me a PC (at my request) and I love it. I love Mac's too. I just... love them both! When I have the money to afford it, I want a Mac desktop and a PC laptop.

12.  Favorite dessert?

Peanut butter chocolate passion ice cream made by M&M. (Yes, it has to be this particular brand). It sounds like it'd be really rich and heavy but it's not. I have no idea how they managed it but they somehow combined ice cream, chocolate, and peanut butter into the most scintillating combination of AWESOME ever imaginable.

13.  Favorite desert?

I'm assuming a desert that so far exists only in my book/imagination doesn't count. I guess I'll pick a real place (though I hope my desert will be real to other people some day!). My favorite desert is the Antarctica desert because it's the largest tundra/desert in the world! (And before anyone tries to say it isn't a desert I have this to say: a desert is defined by being a larger area with less than 10 inches of annual precipitation. Antarctica actually has less precipitation than the Sahara desert. Unlike other deserts though there is little evaporation so the snow that does fall stays forever and has built up over hundreds and thousands of years!)

14.  Where is your dream vacation?

Well, my dream vacation was going to Hogwarts/Hogsmeade since I was nine years old and read the first book. Since, I've already been there now (YAY Wizarding World!) my next dream vacation is going to Atlantis on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. It's a resort and looks absolutely amazing! Seriously, go here ( and cruise around the site - you will be amazed! Promise.

15.  Finally, link us to your website, blog, fb, twitter and anything else you might like to shamelessly plug for yourself

Here's a link to my blog:

Thanks Melissa, and btw, SO jealous that you went to Harry Potter world.  So I'll just post one more pic:

Quick, who is this?  Melissa or Robin??  (notice the Vancouver Canucks jersey??)


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Always need music to write!
And I can leave my house without a cell phone because I don't own one.

Angela Felsted said...

I'm not a Canadian, but reading this interview makes me love Canada!

Kelsey said...

Great interview, guys. Melissa, I feel like I'm stalking you since I now know so much about your life from these interviews :P

Meredith said...

Such a great interview! And Antarctica is totally my fave desert now. Melissa, I love that writing is so emotional for you: that's the mark of a great writer.

erica and christy said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Melissa. And I'm glad someone else can write feverishly for weeks and then stall... (and she does look a little like Robin).

Kindros said...

Melissa is great! Thanks providing the interview. Amazing job both of you. :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

Fun interview!
Wow, what a story of how her illness prompted her to start writing.
I need to find that flavor ice cream!!!

Colene Murphy said...

Awe! Melissa is so awesome. I like to pretend she likes hockey too! just can't not like it. Sorry...;)

I need to try that ice cream! NOM!! (and you are SO right! She does look like Robin!!! Holy crap!!)

Lisa said...

Awesome interview! Melissa, you are so lucky that your brain does all the plotting for you! I'll have to try talking my brain into that sometime!

Melissa said...

Abby, I'll be honest... my friend MAY be the one wearing the sock hat and scarf in this picture but I have several Canada toques, and Vancouver scarfs and toques and sweaters and gloves... Yeah, I have a lot of Canada stuff. It's just in this picture I'm reping Hogwarts (I'm wearing a Dementor shirt and my slytherin scarf!)

Just so you know - in Canada we have colleges AND University's. They are different. Colleges are easier to get into and less intensive and don't look AS good. Though they still look better than not going at all.

Also, I didn't like hockey BEFORE I watched the game. Now I really like it! And, just to comfort you, my whole family is crazy about hockey and sometimes I'd sit there and stare blankly because at every dinner during the season hockey/players/most recent games are debated for a good while.

Thank you so much for interviewing me! It was fun!

Robin and my expression match! Yay for Canadians shouting! (Though I don't know if I'd smash a chair over someone's back....It could be fun though.)

Wendy aka Quillfeather said...

Love author interviews. This one is particularly good!

Thanks Melissa. All the best :)

WritingNut said...

What an awesome interview Melissa, thank you! It was so great getting to know you better. I can seriously relate to so many of the points you made - in particular how writing has helped you, and how music inspires your storyline (although I don't listen while actually writing), and how you're neither and both plotter and pantser :)

Kimberly said...

Fantastic interview! It's always great to learn more about others.

Donea Lee said...

Wow - she does look like Robin! Another great interview, Abby. And Melissa - so nice to learn more about you. Amazing story about how you got started. :)

T C Mckee said...

Thanks for the interview. I was already following Melissa, but it's nice to now know her even more. Thanks!

alexia said...

Great interview! I love learning more about my blog friends.

Anonymous said...

This was a great interview! Thanks for introducing me to Melissa.

Also, the How I Met Your Mother references made me SO happy!

nutschell said...

Wow! What a great interview! I'm so glad I found your website through Jenn Bailey's blog (Garden full of Lily). :P Awesome work!

Michelle Merrill said...

Awesome interview. Sorry I got over here a little late for it.