Today I'm interviewing debut author, Melanie Card. Her book, Ward Against Death was released in August in both print and e-book format. I really enjoyed this book - it's unique and action packed with characters that I cared about.
Now a confession. I met Melanie while attending Seton Hill University as a student. It was my very first residency, I didn't know a soul, and I wasn't sure what to expect. The very first class I attended was a book discussion. We all read the same novel and then discuss it that first morning. Melanie was in my class - she was doing her last residency and graduating. When the instructor asked our opinion of the novel, Melanie was the first to speak. She proclaimed that the book was awful and proceeded to explain why with concise, logical reasons. I was struck by her confidence, her ability to spot weak writing, and her no nonsense approach. Curious, I attended her thesis reading and really enjoyed her thesis novel. So it's no surprise that she didn't give up and now has a published novel.
Melanie's publisher is offering one lucky commenter a free e-book of Ward Against Death! Leave a comment here by midnight on Sunday, September 18, and I will pick a name using random.org :) Please include your email addy so I can contact you if you win!
Twenty-year-old Ward de Ath expected this to be a simple job bring a nobleman s daughter back from the dead for fifteen minutes, let her family say good-bye, and launch his fledgling career as a necromancer. Goddess knows he can t be a surgeon the Quayestri already branded him a criminal for trying so bringing people back from the dead it is.
But when Ward wakes the beautiful Celia Carlyle, he gets more than he bargained for. Insistent that she s been murdered, Celia begs Ward to keep her alive and help her find justice. By the time she drags him out her bedroom window and into the sewers, Ward can t bring himself to break his damned physician s Oath and desert her.
However, nothing is as it seems including Celia. One second, she s treating Ward like sewage, the next she s kissing him. And for a nobleman s daughter, she sure has a lot of enemies. If he could just convince his heart to give up on the infuriating beauty, he might get out of this alive...
Take 10 with Melanie Card:
1.) Why this book? What made you want to write this story and series?
What drew me to the story was my hero, Ward. I was pondering the question: in what situation could a necromancer be good instead of evil?—because sometimes I like to play around with expectations—and Ward started to develop. He was quirky, and kind, and determined. I couldn’t resist writing his story.
2.) Which authors inspire you? Has that changed over time?
So many authors have inspired me. When I was in public school I was reading books like the Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, Birth of the Firebringer by Meredith Ann Pierce, Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce, and Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey. These books got me hooked on fantasy. As I grew older I found writers like David Eddings, and Raymond E. Feist, who turned me onto epic fantasy. And then I discovered books by Guy Gavriel Kay, and Patricia A. McKillip who inspired me with their use of language, that it could flow and have a rhythm. And in Ms. KcKillip’s case, that language itself could create a sense of ethereal magic.
3.) Why fantasy? Is there something special about fantasy that draws you to write in the field?
I’m not sure why fantasy calls to me, but it does. I grew up in a home where my father and brother read science fiction and my mother read mysteries. And save for the collection of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and a copy of Alice in Wonderland, there wasn’t a lot of fantasy in the house. The adventure in fantasy, the time periods and the magic that can do or become anything appeals to me. There’s a feeling of romance with fantasy, and I get to live that romance by being able to read and write about people who can do wondrous things. I think that drew me in as a child and has held me captive ever since.
4.) What do you find most interesting about Celia and Ward?
The two of them together. I love seeing what they’ll come up with next and how each of them will react when things get difficult. Both of them are constantly surprising me by their choices (I know, I’m the writer, I’m supposed to know what my characters are thinking), but they’re both in a stage of growth and while I know how I want them to end up, they seem to have their own ideas about how they’re going to get there.
5.) What else do you enjoy doing besides writing? Interests? Hobbies?
I confess, I’m an amateur theatre geek. Comedy, drama, musical, you name it; I love to act in it. Even if I’m rehearsing the darkest drama, the cast and crew always laugh during rehearsals and we have a great time. I always end up with crazy stories about the antics that happen backstage while the show is on (not that the cast or crew purposefully do crazy things, but lines get missed sometimes, people forget to bring on important props, accidents happen). I’ve made some great friends doing theater… even met my best friend, my husband, on a show.
6.) Did you have to do any special research for this book? What did you learn that you didn't know before?
I was a little crazy about research for Ward Against Death. I live in a town where there are two universities, with two large libraries and I spent hours combing the shelves looking for books on medieval surgery (some of which were written in Middle English). What fascinated me was how advanced medicine was in the Middle East during the end of the 10th century. A man named Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi wrote extensively about his medical practice and procedures and developed his own surgical instruments. The surgical procedure in the book is based off the writing of Guy de Chauliac (a 12th century French surgeon) who studied al-Zahrawi’s works.
7.) How did you become a writer? Is this what you saw yourself growing up to be? Or did it take you by surprise?
I should have known from the beginning that I was going to become a writer. I was writing stories in public school and turned “journal writing class” into “novel writing class” (because I loved story telling and disliked journaling.) I lost my way a bit in a high school and in university, tried different things, left writing, came back to writing, and left writing again. It wasn’t until I was about to go into the third year of my Bachelor of Arts (in psychology) that two things happened. The first: I started writing again on a regular basis. And the second: I found a Master of Arts program in Writing Popular Fiction and all the classes required for the degree sounded like heaven. I wanted to take all of them and all of the elective courses, too. I certainly didn’t want to take the third year statistics class required for my BA. I played it safe for two more years, testing out if I really wanted to write by taking a college class (and finishing my BA), but in a way becoming a writer was inevitable. I had always been writing. I might take a break from writing for a year or so, but I always came back to writing. I applied for the MA program, was accepted and haven’t looked back.
8.) Do you have a writing routine? Talk process for a moment, how do the words get on the page?
I try to get words on the page anyway I can. At the moment, I’ve been keeping a regular schedule of writing in the morning. I leave the house with my laptop, go some place that doesn’t have internet (because I could spend all day on the internet), and write. When I was writing Ward Against Death I was working at a coffee shop. I would go into work early and write for an hour. Then I’d write on my breaks and sometimes for a hour or so after work.
9.) Office? Closet? Corner of the living room? Do you have a set place to write? A favorite?
I do have an office (my spare bedroom has now become my office), which is where I do most of my editing. But I need to get out of the house to write fresh pages, so I head to the local coffee shop or mall food court or wherever I can get to. Often it’s the walk or drive to the new location that helps clear away the mental cobwebs and helps me get the ideas flowing.
10.) What are you writing now? What's coming out next?
The second book in the Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer series. The adventures of Ward and Celia continue with more undead creatures and evil necromancers.
Thanks so much for inviting me to share with your readers today!
You're welcome Melanie! Good luck with your series.
Connect with Melanie:
Twitter: Twitter @melaniecard
Links to buy:
Books on Board (e-book): http://www.booksonboard.com/index.php?BODY=viewbook&BOOK=1063617
Diesel (e-book): http://www.diesel-ebooks.com/item/9781937044084/Card-Melanie-Ward-Against-Death-Chronicles-of-a-Reluctant-Necromancer-1/1.html