Thursday, June 25, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: E. J. Mellow, Author

E. J. Mellow, Author
Welcome E. J. Mellow who brings us her first book in her Dreamland Series, THE DREAMER, which she places in the new adult contemporary fantasy genre. Reviewers love the “unique” plot and claim her “world-building skills are breathtaking” and “character development was perfection!” She claims she has “always been fascinated with dreams.”

Mellow is close to finishing the second book in the series, which she plans to release this fall. A doodler, who reads and plays video games, she is a member of Romance Writers of America and their Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

E. J. Mellow: Before we jump into the Q&A, I just wanted to give a big hug of thanks to Joyce and Strands Simply Tips for having me here today. Really excited to dive into these questions!

Q: You describe the first book THE DREAMER of your Dreamland Series books as new adult contemporary fantasy. What are the characteristics of this genre? How is it different from other types of fantasy books? Who are the targeted readers?

E. J. Mellow: I mainly specified new adult to let people know that the Dreamland Series has some mature language and sexual content. It’s not explicit, but it does have the “nookie,” as I’m sure no one calls it.

The characteristics of NA contemporary fantasy, I think, are that it takes place in present day, has elements of magic or sci-fi, and is targeted for a slightly older audience than teens. Though my book’s age range is anywhere between 19 and 104. If you’re 105, sorry, it’s just not for you.

Q: How did you imagine THE DREAMER? What sparked (no pun intended, as I believe there was lightning involved) the plot?

E. J. Mellow: I’ve always been fascinated by dreams. The fact that we—on average—spend twenty-five years of our lives asleep is crazy. So the notion that we might, unknowingly, be living a completely other life during that time doesn’t seem that farfetched or out of the realm of possibility. For me, at least. ;)

But what really jump-started me writing THE DREAMER was actually a dream I had. One that lasted a whole week. Yes, a week! Each night it was like starting a movie right where I left off the night before, with the same characters and plot continuing. It was so insane! There also just so happened to be a guy…and yes, he was very good looking *hides behind hands*. Eventually these dreams stopped, but the idea of them stayed with me for a while. I ended up telling a friend about them, and from that conversation is where my idea for the series came about.

Q: One of your reviewers appreciates how “well developed and plausible” the book is. How important is “plausibility” to engaging your readers and telling your story?

E. J. Mellow: I think it’s important only to the effect that the readers shouldn’t be distracted from your story because they are wondering if the plot’s possible. That’s not why they are reading a fiction book. They are there to be entertained, swept away, and taken on a journey.

I also believe anything can be plausible if well written and told right. Warrior penguins that battle robotic mutant seals can be a conceivable story so long as the author can paint the world as such. Actually, Neil Gaiman gave great advice that relates to this. He said something to the effect of, treat the unreal things the same way you’d treat the real things. I think this is an awesome litmus test to writing a story with fantastical elements

Q: “I loved the characters, especially Molly and Dev—their relationship flew right off the page.” How did you create characters that involved your readers? How helpful was humor in developing your characters?

E. J. Mellow: It helps that my characters tend to feel no different to me than my friends in real life. I can easily imagine what they would be like accompanying me to certain social events. How Dev would charm the room and Molly would spill red wine on the sofa, covering it up with a pillow before anyone saw. Little quirks about them seem to always be swimming in my mind. But I believe the most helpful tip in building rich characters is to create profiles for them. List out their favorite foods, movies, books, pet peeves, and embarrassing moments. What they desire the most in their worlds and what they fear. I find this helps with staying true to who they are as a character. Also, give them a secret that no one but you and they will ever know. 

As far as humor in developing characters, I think it’s definitely helpful, even if it’s subtle or small.

Q: How relevant was the concept of heroes vs villains to telling your story?

E. J. Mellow: Very, but not specifically heroes vs. villains, but rather positive thoughts versus negative and the outward effects they can have on a person.

Q: Many of your reviewers tout the page-turning momentum of the suspense you create. Can you tell us how you pulled your readers into the story?

E. J. Mellow: First, that’s super flattering to hear. So thank you to those reviewers! It’s something I set out hoping to achieve, and it’s nice to know some feel that I did.

I’m not 100 hundred percent certain there’s an exact method or by-the-book way to achieve good pacing, but something I learned in writing classes and reading other books is it helps when chapters end on a…kind of moment. You never want to sum up the chapter by solving all of its problems.

Q: Did you write THE DREAMER only to entertain readers, or did you want to deliver a message, create awareness, and/or educate?

E. J. Mellow: I never set out with the intentions of delivering one specific message with THE DREAMER, but I think the idea of dreaming big and not letting yourself fall into the cogs of life is a theme I wanted to get across. I think we all have greatness in us—we just need to wake it from sleep.

Q: How difficult was it to write a book from two different viewpoints? What did you do to minimize confusion?

E. J. Mellow: THE DREAMER is actually told only from Molly’s POV, but it does have aspects of two different viewpoints in the sense that her mind and attitude awake is very different then when she’s asleep. My writing style also switches slightly when Molly is in her dreams.

Q: What’s next?

E. J. Mellow:  Currently, I’m finishing up the first draft of book two. And by finishing up, I mean there’s only a chapter left to write! I’m really excited about this one, for it’s a lot more action packed, and Molly and her powers get tested in ways no one is prepared for. There also were a lot of scenes that were tough for me to write, emotionally, which was an interesting challenge.

The second book is scheduled to come out late September/early October of this year, 2015. Hoping to have an official release date soon!

Q: Tell us about E. J. Mellow. What do you like to do when you’re not writing or dreaming?

E. J. Mellow: Playing video games, reading (lots of reading), and doodling in my sketchbook. I also live near a park and love to go for runs and hang with friends there. 

About E. J. Mellow

E.J. Mellow is the author behind the NA Contemporary Fantasy trilogy The Dreamland Series. When she's not busy moonlighting in the realm of make-believe, she can be found doodling, buried in a book (usually this one), or playing video games.

Residing in Brooklyn, NY she is a member of Romance Writers of America and their Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter.

It’s night. Always night. Dreams guard against the evil forged by nightmares. Infinite shooting stars illuminate a moonless sky. A city stands alone, surrounded by a darkened field. On its fringes, a man watches one star separate from the masses and fall. What survives the crash will unveil a secret centuries long hidden.

Molly hasn’t slept well since the night of her twenty-fourth birthday. Being struck by lightning might have something to do with it, but then again, her chicken did look a little undercooked at dinner. Whatever the culprit, her life quickly catapults from mundane to insane as, night after night, Molly is transported through her once dreamless sleep to a mysterious land illuminated by shooting stars.

There she meets the captivating but frustrating Dev, and together they discover Molly possesses a power coveted by his people—the ability to conjure almost anything she desires into existence. Seduced by the possibilities of this gift, Molly shifts her attention from waking life toward the man, the magic, and the world found in her dreams.

But Molly must ask herself—does something truly exist if you only see it when you close your eyes?

Faced with the threat of losing everything—her job, best friend, boyfriend, and most importantly, that little thing called her sanity—Molly will learn just how far she’ll go to uncover what is real and what is merely a figment of her imagination.

The first in a spellbinding contemporary fantasy trilogy, The Dreamer opens doors into the subconscious and follows the journey of a young woman torn between two worlds as she questions the power of the mind and battles between fate and freewill.
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