Today let's give a warm welcome to author Melanie Bateman! Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Caracas, Venezuela and moved to the United States when I was nine. From an early age I was fascinated with drawing. I loved drawing, especially horses, and if anyone asked, I was going to be either an artist or a veterinarian when I grew up. It wasn’t until I learned to read in English that I was introduced into a whole different world, something that had never been instilled in me as a little girl in Venezuela.
As I grew up, I continued to feed my passion for reading and drawing, and from that came my own stories. During High School, I published a few short stories in the school magazine, and with enough encouragement from my art teachers, I began to consider the possibility of going into illustration. Years later, I graduated from Utah Valley University in Arts.
I believe I have done my best with the limitations that come with being an immigrant in the United States, and today I am happily married with two children and living the dreams that I had as a little girl. I was able to publish my first self-illustrated novel, The Time Key, through Cedar Fort, inc. and I hope to publish many more works in the future.
Congrats and good luck! What brought about the idea for this book?
I’d been writing for a long time, but it never occurred to me that I should try to write a novel until one day my husband said to me, jokingly, that if something ever happened to me and our daughter, he would become a miserable drunk! It was meant as joke, but then of course my mind began working, and soon after I had a main character and a simple plot for a new story. It’s a sad story, but I had to explore a hard situation and find a meaningful resolution, mingled with fantasy of course. That’s how The Time Key came to life.
Share a short excerpt from your novel
(From Chp1, The Time Key)
There couldn’t be a better time to begin Stanley Becker’s story than at the moment he stood on the frozen stone wall of Kingston Bridge overlooking the river Thames, breathing in the winter night and pressing the icy metal barrel of a pistol to his jaw.
I have often wondered where it would be most appropriate to begin. A few other moments come to mind, but despite the significance they play, I choose to begin Stanley Becker’s story at the approaching end of his life.
Before he found himself standing on the bridge, Stanley hadn’t contemplated what the best approach to ending his life would be, but he had assumed that a bullet to his head would be the quickest. What did he know about suicide? All he knew was that it would be rather unfortunate if he missed.
Wow what a way to start off. It really draws you in right from the get go. Have you been given any helpful advice? If so What?
Read. Writers sometimes forget that the way to get better at writing is to read other writers. Read widely. And if you are focused on a genre, read everything you can within it. This will help you see what’s been done and how, and it can help you sharpen your skills in areas where you may be struggling.
I agree, although sometimes it's hard to find time, we need to read and write. Currently, what are you working on?
Currently I’m working on a series of personal projects, but mostly building up an art portfolio. Whenever I can, I will delve into writing a continuation to my debut novel.
What has been the best compliment you have received?
When one of my dear friends, who reviewed my book, mentioned that more books should have illustrations. It made my inner kid bounce with happiness.
How do you promote your books? Any tips you can share?
My publisher helped promote my book at the beginning, but now it all really falls on me. I’m building up a following through social media, which I didn’t really have when I first got published. Overall I will sign up at any local author events in my area, and I have also had the privileged of attending Salt Lake Comic Con with a group of other Cedar Fort authors. There’s so much more to do, but I’ve learned to do what I can and not get caught up in doing everything at once. It can be quite frustrating.
It can get overwhelming. I try and do one thing everyday. Every little bit counts. Do you have people read your drafts before you publish? How do you select beta readers?
I have some friends and family members who do me the favor of reading my drafts when I have them. I didn’t know that beta readers was a thing until I got published, so in the future I hope to connect more with people that like to beta read.
Who designed the artwork for your cover? Or did you design it yourself?
My publisher designed it, but I had a lot of say in it.
Melanie, how do you handle criticism when it comes to your writing?
When I ask for criticism freely, I tend to be more welcoming of a reader’s suggestions towards my writing. After all, I asked for it. However, I tend to stay away from online reviews, specially the negative ones. It never is personal, but I try to keep myself from negativity to allow myself to be creative. Criticism helps you grow, but if you allow negativity to impact you it can be damaging. This is why I keep a “happy file” of all the good things said and written about my projects/books. It cheers me up on rainy days.
Is there something you learned from writing your first book?
I’ve learned a lot. When my book was first released, I began to doubt myself and my writing. I’m always my worst critic, but getting to know other authors and their books I suddenly felt like I didn’t belong. It’s taken me a long time to realize that a lot of authors go through the same feelings, and “impostor syndrome” is real! Whenever I start to feel this way, I remember why I write in the first place: to entertain myself.