Q&A with Melissa Buell

Hello, hello! How about something a little different today? Thanks to Caroline over at The Little Things Publishing Company, I have been privileged to not only read The Seventh Blessing (an *amazing* YA fantasy debut, review comes Monday!), but also to interview the author: Melissa Buell! It's things like this that make me love the book world even more. Just sayin'...Anywhosers, to get down to business - Melissa and I had a blast chatting, and now's the time I get to share the fun with you!

A Word's Worth: Thanks so much for agreeing to do an interview -- I absolutely *loved* reading 'The Seventh Blessing', and got really excited that I'd get to pick your brain a little.

Melissa Buell:  I'm so glad that you liked it! That means a lot to me.

AWW: I think I fell in love with Nolan, I'm not gonna lie, haha

MB: Nolan was fun to write as a bit of a heartbreaker.

AWW: He reminded me of boys I've known - endearing, but devastating to the ladies (entirely unknowing, of course!) ... but he also grew, and is so totally on my Hero list now

MB: Yay for a hero list!

AWW: 'Seventh Blessing' is the *first* in the Gymandrol novels - so I've gotta ask: Will the second book be a continuation or a companion novel? And more importantly: Will there be more Sam & Nolan?!

MB: The second book is about Emma. And YES to more Sam and Nolan!

AWW: YAY! on both counts!

MB: I wanted to write a book to continue the series because I love the characters so I thought about how I could do that without being static. I came up with continuing on where the epilogue leaves off in TSB.

AWW: Very cool - it also kinda mimics Sam's own story, so there's that connecting thread too. I'm excited already! How did you come up with the backstory present in the novel? I loved the depth it added, and the mystery - and am always fascinated when authors take the time to create a 'history' for the 'world' they create.

MB: I started WAY back in the fairy days when Sansevierra was still alive and vibrant. I wanted the continent to feel old and have that separation of humans and fairies. My first versions have so much info about the fairies and the king and queen. I had to keep cutting back because it the story was supposed to be more about Sam, not the fairies.

AWW: (Sounds like amazing material for another book! Just sayin')

MB: I still have it all! I've thought about the idea of a "prequel." We'll see... I had to come up with a reason for the humans and fairies to have the current relationship they have. Working backward from that, I came up with the Fairy Rebellion, the blessings ceremonies, etc.

AWW: It definitely added a lot to the story - I loved the fairies, and the way they interacted with each other. I also appreciate that while there's "magic" in the story, it's not the overwhelming or 'creepy' kind present in a lot of current YA novels -- kind of reminds me of more traditional-type tales.

MB: Thank you! I really didn't want the magic to be overwhelming or scary. I have a lot of young friends who like to read and I didn't want to freak them out. Add to that the fact that I didn't want to freak myself out with writing creepy stuff late at night! That's the bad part of having a good imagination. Freaking yourself out.

AWW: Sort of related topic jump: As a YA fantasy writer, do you read other YA fantasy or try to steer away from it?

MB: I read EVERYTHING! I love YA fantasy books. I'm looking at my bookshelf closest to me right now and I have Robin McKinley, the Eragon series, Gail Carson Levine, and Harry Potter on it. Plus, I go to the library weekly and check out more books. I like to know what is out there in the same genre as an author but I also love it as a reader.

AWW: If you had to name your all-time favorite YA fantasy, what would it be?

MB: Oh! Now it's time for the hard questions! I really loved Spindle's End by Robin McKinley but I think my favorite is Beauty, also by McKinley. It was the first YA fantasy book that I read in high school and it really stuck with me as a great way to retell such a classic tale.

AWW: Do you think your intro to YA fantasy was what got you hooked/led you to write YA fantasy of your own?

MB: I've always loved fairy tales so that was part of it. I remember when I first read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe I pushed on the back of my closet to get to Narnia. It was very disappointing to me to not be able to get there. Reading YA has always been something I've liked, even as an adult. I like it when character development is important, not just finding the next person to "date."

AWW: Do you think you'll always write YA fantasy, or only YA-some-other-genre, or would you venture into "Adult territory"?

MB: I'll probably stick with YA, Middle Grade, or even some books for little kids. I want to be able to write books that my kids can read and not blush. Too much.

AWW: Okay, another jump, and a hard question: 5 books that you think everyone MUST read.

MB: Oh, you're killing me! Okay, shooting from the hip: The Bible, "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen. "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo, Shakespeare's plays (does that count?).

AWW: Yeah, Shakespeare's Canon's got to count as one (so sayeth the Lit Major)

MB: Oh! "Farenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury. Farenheit is SO sad to me but it's a great cautionary tale.

AWW: Okay, to wrap things up...the Promised Easy Question! (I hope it's easy): Favorite place to read AND favorite snackage?

MB: Favorite place to read is on the couch with a blanket. Favorite snack is milk (with a cube of ice in it to keep it cold) and Milanos cookies.

I had so much fun chatting with Melissa -- we also spent a good 15 minutes talking about Anne of Green Gables and L.M. Montgomery -- kindred spirits, I tell you, kindred spirits. Many thanks again to Caroline for setting it up, and to Melissa for taking the time to have a chat.

Be sure to swing by Monday for my review of The Seventh Blessing! And if you want to know more about Melissa, mosey over and check out her blog: Have Imagination, Will Write!

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