Thursday, February 2, 2012

Another Friendly Conversation: Melanie Fowler

Today I have Melanie Fowler here. She actually agreed to this interview last week, but she came down with the stomach flu. So, we rescheduled for this week!

How did you get started as a writer?

The honest truth? I was bored. Living in the mountains, no electricity and no transportation. Only trees surrounded my thoughts. So I started writing.

Actually sounds kind of nice! I grew up in Colorado and we were always going camping or hiking or something. What I want to know is why you were living up there (that sounds like a long-term deal).

What was your first complete story?

It was called The Four Seasons.

Ooh, sounds mythological!

What made you decide to write it?

At the time, it was the only thing that I thought anyone would want to read. It is a childhood game that my sisters and I used to play, and I knew they would enjoy the interpretation of it.

Ha! A lot of times, those turn out to be the best stories!

Do you free-write or outline?

Both. This time around I’ve outlined like crazy.

This time around? Is that for The Four Seasons?

If you outline, do you plot the entire story first, or bits at a time as you write?

I have the whole story plotted out.

Well done! I'm interested to know just how you did it.

What do you do to counteract writer’s block?

Reading other books seems to help the most. It cultivates other ideas.

Truer words were never spoken! I honestly can't say which I enjoy more, reading or writing.

How do you keep your characters original? (i.e. what do you do to make sure your characters don’t turn out the same in every story?)

I try to find quirks that makes them believable. Some are from me, and other quirks I have picked up from friends and family.

I love quirks! They make people so interesting.

What exercises to you use to develop your characters?

I know their back story: how they were raised, what they believe, what they would do if there was a pie thrown in their face.

Pie in the face! That's awesome! I never thought of asking myself how my characters would react to something like that.

How do you build a believable world within your stories?

I feel that the best way to build a world is to create one that is most like our own. It’s the world that we all live in and if we create it similar to what we know, (but with the unexpected) it feels real. Like Harry Potter. He lives in our world, but it is an extraordinary world that muggles can’t see.

Here here!

What do you do to make your whole story interesting? How do you avoid “slow stretches”?

I often write the slow stretch, and get to a fun part. Then I cut the slow stretch to a few paragraphs instead of a few pages.

A delicate art if ever there was one! To get all the same information in fewer words is a lot, lot, LOT harder than it most of you probably know.

Have you ever attended a writing convention or conference; if so, which one(s)?

WriteOnCon, which is a free online writers conference. And the upcoming LUTE at UVU in Utah

Ooh! I've heard LTUE is awesome! I hope I can make it this year, at least for part of it.

What did you learn from it?

From WriteOnCon, lots about publishing, and about plotting and developing characters.

I'd like to find a conference that has a session about the actual writing part. I want to learn to make my writing (grammar, syntax, diction, etc.) more refined and mellifluous. 

Who is your favorite author?

There are just too many to name!

Seriously! Although every now and then you find one who is a cut above the rest. Any come to mind?

Favorite book?

The book that captured my love for reading and writing was Dealing with Dragons, by Patricia C. Wrede.

I remember my sister reading that when I was a kid. I've always been kind of curious about it.

Favorite genre to read?

I think that Fantasy takes the cake. I’ve read Sci-fi, and lots of adventures. Mainly YA I love.

I go back and forth between sci-fi and fantasy, but I'm trying to branch out a bit.

Favorite genre to write?


I've realized that I need to wait and gain a lot more experience before I can tackle the fantasy story I really want to write (Dathan the Sorcerer). I know I'm not good enough right now and I refuse to sell it short. So, on to other things for the time being!

When you’re not writing, what do you do in your spare time?

I play the piano, or do other music related things. I crochet, watch movies, read, camp, hike and most importantly take care of my family.

Wow, you should meet my wife. She's into all of those things (except crochet...I don't think she's ever tried that). You could be great friends!

What are three interesting facts about you?

I’m ambidextrous, I’m half Chilean, and I LOVE Disneyland.

Hey! My niece is half Chilean! My sister-in-law came to the U.S. for college...and ended up meeting my brother :D

Well, I hope you have enjoyed getting to know Melanie. I sure have! It's always fun when you find out you have something in common with someone else! 

Oh, and FYI, if there's anyone you would like to get to know better, I'm open to requests/suggestions for these interviews!