The wonderful Melanie Nilles has agreed to answer a few questions for me regarding “Starfire Angels”.
Her story revolves around Raea, who unbeknown to herself is an angel (an alien being left on earth). I loved the
idea that humans called these aliens angels because of their anatomy and ability to heal others. This is the blurb from her
They’ve been coming here for thousands of years, using Earth as a sanctuary to escape threats from their own kind. Mankind knows them as angels, and one of them left a child upon her death to be raised as a human.Now a high school senior, Raea’s life as a human is about to end. The crystal shard she bears is not a pretty pendant; it’s a collective of powerful entities who chose her as their Keeper, a protector of one of the four shards that power a machine capable of destroying whole worlds. Those who desire the Starfire’s power have sent an agent to find her, but she’s too busy evading a nosy reporter ready to exploit her secret and dating a hot new foreign student to notice. Nevermind learning what she really is.
Only one person on Earth can help her, the last person she ever expected. But he’s not from Earth. Life as a human would be so much easier.
(Oh I so want to read this one)…
Melanie, what drew you to writing? Were you always doodling down stories or is it something you developed later on?
I was always imagining, like every child. But in elementary school, I think it was my third grade teacher who asked us to write a story. I think that’s when I got my first taste and wrote here and there little things, but I never really took off with writing until college. The new Star Wars books by Timothy Zahn kick started that latent desire to write into something I couldn’t resist.
– You write Science Fiction Romance and your latest book has a very different premise to the usual “Angels”storyline. Why do you think you love to write this genre?
I never planned to write a young adult story, but I always enjoyed a little romantic tension in stories. Science fiction has always been my first love genre too. Everything just came together that way, sort of by accident.
Starfire Angels is actually a rewrite of a rewrite of a short novel I wrote in college. That one was a fantasy and the characters weren’t angels. I never did much with that but always wanted to rewrite it. About ten years later, after my husband got me into watching anime. I was watching a show called DNAngel a second time through and something about it struck me. I had my new characters, but they had to be plausible from a world where they would evolve with wings. I took another idea from anime and turned it from fantasy/unexplained into a reason for being using science. Things exploded and I ended up writing the that version in eight weeks. Just over a year later, after being trashed by the editor assigned to it, I decided to completely rewrite it, and after a few small alterations (compared to totally rewriting from scratch), I had what is now Starfire Angels.
So, while the basic idea came from a story I wrote long ago, the new premise was inspired by anime. And I suspect that’s where putting the characters in high school came from; because so much anime involves students.
Without giving too much of the story away, can you tell us why you decided to create Raea? Did she pop out of a dream?
Raea was that main character in the first story I created over twelve years ago. I recreated her into a bit of a sarcastic but level-headed senior instead of a college student on break.
Can you tell us a little of your ‘call’ story? What were you doing when the phone call came through that you were to be published?
Since it was accepted by a small publisher that did everything via email, that’s how I got the ‘call’. I actually emailed them since the time past their stated response times had passed and I had heard nothing. They wrote back saying they had accepted my submissions (the angel story was one I submitted to them). Apparently the email they sent was lost somewhere in cyberspace. That was an exciting day!
What advice would you give teens trying to get their stories out into the world?
Write and read, a lot. Keep working, but make improvement your goal, not publication; otherwise you’re in for a long road of disappointment. Finish projects you start to give yourself a sense of accomplishment. Get out and explore the world, to enrich your knowledge base and understanding.
Those are the basics. And don’t give up if you really want to get your stories out into the world. With the internet as a tool, young people have far more opportunities for sharing their work than I did starting out.
Are you a plotter or pantser? Do you plot out your stories before you write or are you more organic and just let the story flow?
Always plot first. I have to know what’s going on and who the main players are, but especially the beginning and end. Most of the stuff in between comes in spurts, but I MUST know how the story will resolve or I can’t write. I have to have that as a target. Some of the middle scenes come as I’m planning, but much of it happens a scene or two ahead of where I am in writing. I write mini-synopses for those, because they often change by the time I get to them, depending on what I wrote before that point. I write linearly, btw. I can’t write out a scene in advance and just adapt it to where I want it. I have to know what’s come first before I actually write the scene, even if it’s switching POVs.
Do you take a break between books? Or do you have more than one book going at a time, say plotting one, whilst writing another and editing a third?
I always have more than one project option open, but I have taken breaks. It’s harder to get back into writing mode when I get away from it, but sometimes you have to. I have a lot of stories in which I’ve started on a few pages or just outlining ideas and that’s as far as they’ve gone. They’re fodder for other ideas that often build on them or I may decide to go back and rework an idea. They always come while I’m writing something, and it’s hard not to let them sidetrack the current WIP. I suppose since the creativity is on full while writing, that’s why the other ideas are blossoming. Plot bunnies are nasty creatures 😉
I generally stick to writing one story all the way through, although I am often editing another project while writing something else. I hate editing, though. And if I’m editing something, it often switches on the internal editor to full and makes it difficult to write. Of course, the opposite is true to a lesser degree. But it’s easier to write without the internal editor critiquing as you go and stealing the enthusiasm for a WIP.
What types of books take your breath away? Is there one single book you cannot live without?
I like books that snap me up in a new world from the first page. I usually read SFF that takes place on another world for that reason. And I like romantic tension–not necessarily a romance–that keeps you wondering when or if. And what really takes my breath away is clean writing (as opposed to thick descriptions) and richly drawn characters. I adore the Harry Potter series for creating a pocket of a different world in our world and for the characters. The names especially say so much about their personalities. That’s genius, but it wouldn’t be right for every story.
As for one single book I can’t live without…does an encyclopedia count? (Do kids even know what that is anymore?) Seriously, I love the real world information more than anything. It’s at the heart of all world building and character development. Without that knowledge to draw upon, everything else would be flimsy and fall apart.
Thanks Melanie for answering all my questions. Starfire Angel is available through Amazon.com.