Cover Art by Aaron Anderson
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Xenia Melzer here today talking about writing, stories and her latest in the Gods of War series, Ummana. Welcome, Xenia.
- How much of yourself goes into a character?
Hmm, that’s a good one. Often, I don’t realize how much of myself I have poured into a character until it’s too late. Writing is a journey to yourself in that respect. As for my Gods of War series, I scatter character traits generously. Casto’s stubbornness has a very real model, but I’m not going to tell or she’ll kill me. Hulda is my ideal of an independent, confident woman. I want to be like her, at least a bit, and I want my daughters to follow her example. So yes, I do pour a lot of myself into a book, and sometimes into a specific character, but mostly, I try to distribute evenly. When the character becomes too much like myself, I chicken out and rewrite.
- Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write? Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your own worlds and cultures?
Weelll… I only started out as a writer last year and, so far, I have only fantasy books out, Ummana being the third. But I do have my first contemporary coming up this year. Making up your own worlds has a lot of benefits. You can decide on the rules, which makes it easier to cheat and it’s harder for people to call you on your mistakes, because, hello, it’s YOUR world. This said, I actually enjoy research as long as it doesn’t get too tedious. I realized that when I did my first contemporary novel. If I’m interested in a topic, I more or less assimilate the info with one read. Unfortunately, not every topic that comes up in a book is interesting and that’s when research becomes a chore. I’m currently working on a book where I have to research MMA. Let’s just say, the YouTube videos are fun and eye candy (mostly; before they start bleeding all over the place) and the terms for the different moves are hard to remember.
- Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?
Oh yes! As a teenager, I read everything fantasy. Eddings, Tolkien, Pratchett, Lovecraft, Holbein, you name it, I probably read it. And my first book out is a fantasy series, so I stayed in character. Sometimes, I read romance books, but I mostly found them boring or too predictable. Now that I’m older, and perhaps wiser, I see the merit in romance books and I can see my writing going in that direction. A HEA is not to be sneezed upon!
- Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it? You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?
Yes. One time simply because I got stuck and couldn’t find my way out or forward. That story is still on my laptop and I’m determined to see it through. I’m still hoping for divine intervention… The other times, it was when I was working on Gods of War. I already had the first three books more or less written down when I finally found the courage to send the manuscript out and in the three years I was working on the series, I had to stop more than once. Especially when it came to Sic. His story is hard for me to tell, because there’s so much darkness in it, but I can’t change it either. It’s how it has to go and that hurts sometimes.
I also had the opposite effect as well. Daran, for example, is a character whose story I love to tell. Most of the time it’s fun – or at least interesting – to follow him on his path.
- Who do you think is your major influence as a writer? Now and growing up?
There’s more than one. I love the works of Ottfried Preußler. He’s a German author who is probably most famous for ‘The Little Witch’, a children’s book every adult should read. The way he turns a complicated matter – being true to yourself – into a funny and heartwarming story every child can understand, has me awed every time I read the book.
Then there’s Terry Pratchett. Of course I would never compare myself to him, because in my opinion he plays/played in a different league. But his way with words, his very unique view of the world, and his ability to transfer that view into an entertaining series that still carries a deeper morale is simply awesome.
I also love the work of Neil Gaiman. I like his style and the way he can spin a plot until the reader doesn’t know right from wrong anymore. Just read American Gods. Or watch it.
- How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?
I’m torn. I have to admit, I’m one of those old-fashioned dinosaurs who need the feel of actual paper under their fingertips to be satisfied. Until my husband force-gifted me with a kindle, I was strictly opposed to ebooks. Now, not so much anymore. I still love having books in my shelf and when I really like a book, I still buy them as paperback or even hardcover. The good thing about ebooks is, they are less expensive, always available (no pesky re-prints), you can carry a small library on your device, and they give readers a chance to try out new authors. They are also a good medium for novellas. The downside is, the market is swamped. There are so many authors and publishers competing for the reader’s attention and that makes the market harder to navigate. I honestly don’t know where this is all going, but I’m sure ebooks are going to be a dominant part of the future book market.
- How do you choose your covers?
To be honest, I don’t know. I always liked it when the books of a series also had a visual connection with each other. Aaron Anderson, the graphic designer who does the covers for Gods of War, sent me various images he had created from the info I had given on a questionnaire. I had a vague idea what I wanted and he kind of looked into my head and designed the perfect cover. The burning stone with the rune is the centerpiece of each cover and the color scheme reflects either the characters in the book or the main tone. Casto was blue, because that’s Casto’s and Renaldo’s color in more than one respect. Love and the Stubborn showed more realistic flames in orange, to emphasize the heat between Casto and Renaldo. Ummana has a white flame, because the story focuses more on Sic. And I can already tell that Braving the Storm, the next in the series, has a green color scheme, because it is about Daran.
- What’s next for you as an author?
After Ummana, Braving the Storm will be out in November. And I have my first contemporary novel, A Dom and His Writer, out in October. Currently I’m working on my first paranormal story, the fifth part of the Gods of War series, and the next contemporary novel, a sequel to the A Dom – story. So I won’t be bored anytime soon.
In war, loss is the price of victory, and the cost of love is sometimes pain.
After Renaldo and Casto finally celebrate their marriage, the time has come for revenge against the followers of the Good Mother who tried to kill Casto—though this time, the Gods of War won’t use bloodshed to take Medelina.
As a member of the Confederation of the Plains, Medelina answers to Ummana, the head of the alliance… and Casto is heir to the throne of Ummana. Accompanied by their most capable mercenaries, Canubis and Renaldo travel to Ummana to make Casto king.
They’ll face the Council of Elders, Lord Aran, Casto’s father, and Princess Anesha, Casto’s sister—none of whom are happy about the king’s return. For Casto, the city is a reminder of a terrible childhood, and Renaldo can only helplessly watch his beloved fight a seemingly hopeless battle.
Through trickery and political scheming, vengeance against the Good Mother is finally within their grasp—but their success might be bittersweet. Not everyone will return to the Valley with Casto and Renaldo.
About the Author
Xenia Melzer is a mother of two who enjoys riding and running when she’s not writing stories. She doesn’t like beer but is easily tempted by a Virgin Mojito. Or chocolate. Truffles are especially cherished, even though she doesn’t discriminate. As a true chocoholic, she welcomes any kind of cocoa-based delight.
You can contact her through her website: http//www.xeniamelzer.com
Or befriend and follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/xeniamelzer/