Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Interview w/ Melissa Barker-Simpson


What inspired you to become a writer?

I used to write plays and perform them for my family when I was a child, usually roping my sister in and a group of friends. As soon as I could write I would get lost in a story or, in this case, script. My mum likes to say I started talking when I was ten months old and I haven’t stopped since!

I don’t know when I began to think of myself as a writer, but I do remember the numerous short stories I wrote growing up. I would read them to my friends (a slow form of torture) and then move onto the next adventure. I wrote my first novel when I was a teenager but nobody would ever want to read it!

I had a few really inspiring English teachers, who took my passion and encouraged me to run with it. But I think I was born to write. I haven’t always been very good at it, but I’ve always put my heart and soul into it. I was certainly born with stories in my head and when I wasn’t jabbering about them, I was writing them!


You have shared with your readers that you have written stories since you were very young. Can you tell us what you felt when you finished your first writing project?

I felt pride and great affection for my characters (despite the fact I’d put them through every disaster known to man). I wanted to share it, to introduce those characters to others. I also felt a little surprised, because although I could see them vividly in my head, sometimes (especially back then), I didn’t know where they would take me. 

You have been writing online for some time with several different projects. The concept behind Writing Room 101 and Featured Fiction, for example, is wonderful! Can you tell us a bit about the websites and what prompted you to create these sites?

I created both of those sites because I enjoy collaborating with others. I love being part of a writing community and I wanted to give back in some way. Personally when I’m struggling to focus or just need a quick fix, I turn to writing prompts. There are so many characters in my head it can get a little busy and since I can’t give them all my attention, I allow them to come out and play for a while!

Really, I wanted to create a safe environment, one where writers could come together, learn from each other and experiment a little. It’s a win win, because readers can access a mixed variety of stories, but also learn more about their favourite writers and how the process works for them.

Could you entertain us momentarily by telling us about the clever character blog of Lance Legion?    

Lance has been in my head for a long time. I could see him, see all his personalities; his alter egos, and I thought – he’s a legion of ‘one’! That’s where his name came from. I wanted to devote some time to him, but I have so many projects on the go, or waiting to happen, I knew it would be quite some time. That’s why I decided to give him his own site. It means I can develop him over time, let him journey wherever he decides and share him with others. I mean, who doesn’t love a good superhero; regardless of his flaws!

As a full-time employee and mother, I imagine you discover new ideas for stories each day-your books definitely have captivating storylines. Can you tell us about what inspires your stories? 

Inspiration can strike at any time, sometimes at the worse possible moments! I might be working and something pops into my head and it won’t go away until I’ve got it down on paper. Whether it’s something I see, overhear, or a feeling I get, the next thing I know there’s a strong character in my head! It can be fun when the unconscious part of my mind makes associations and the details come out in a story.

I work in a variety of environments, meet so many rich and interesting people that I can’t help but dream up new adventures in my head. Sometimes when I get a look of extreme concentration on my face, it’s not that I’m working hard to process between two different languages (I’m a sign language interpreter), it’s the characters vying for attention!

You have written both action (mystery/suspense) and romance novels. Which genre do you prefer to write and why?   

I’m a romantic at heart so I really enjoy writing in that genre. But there’s something special about starting a good mystery; taking people on a journey and using my characters to tie up all those loose ends. Suspense gets the blood pumping and the heart racing and it’s so easy to get caught up in it all. 

I loved the way in the “Hands of Evil” you blended a heated romance into a mystery/thriller. Can you tell us some of the writing techniques you used in blending the two?    

If I’m completely honest it was more of a mystery/thriller first. There was an attraction between JJ and Grace but, at least for the first draft, I wanted to allow my characters to explore the situation they were in. I then took them through each scene again and let them react to it in their own individual way – the attraction built from there and the romance blossomed. 

Since your first book was published in 2008, how have you evolved creatively in your writing style?    

I think the experience of being exposed to so many other writers, and exploring my strengths and weaknesses in a safe and productive way, has been invaluable in terms of my evolution. The actual process of writing a novel can be an isolating experience, but gaining support from my peers, especially the advice and encouragement, has meant that I am never truly alone.

It is commendable that you have pursued learning new tools of the trade through your writing career. Are there any tidbits that you would share with upcoming writers?

I would say that however you write, whether you’re a planner, or not, you should explore different techniques and push your boundaries. Having a strong community, one you can share and collaborate with, is vital. It seems obvious, but it’s also important to write as often as possible, even if you would never show what you’ve written to another living soul! Everything we write is valuable in some way, and we learn and grow because of it. 

Where did you get the idea for your Morgan and Fairchild Series?  

My brother inspired the Morgan and Fairchild Series. He’s a soldier and always has a funny tale to tell. The camaraderie he speaks of, and humour in those stories influences the team I created.    

Your latest book, Hands of Evil, is the second book in the Morgan and Fairchild Series. Should we expect a third installment? If so, what is the time frame you are expecting before release?

Absolutely, I love the team and I can’t wait to spend more time with them. I’ll be publishing the first in a new series in November, entitled Worlds Apart. I’m also currently writing a story that will form part of an anthology, but I have set aside time for the next Morgan and Fairchild novel. I aim to publish book three in the summer of 2015. 

How many books do you have planned for the Morgan and Fairchild Series?    

I have three more planned, but I’m sure that’s just the beginning! I know people are anxious to read Justin’s story and I’ll certainly give him his own adventure. The next book though, will be about Andrew Butcher. 

The cover of, Hands of Evil, is engaging and somewhat telling of the suspense of the story to come. Please share who designed the cover and how you developed the design.   

I designed the cover. Initially, I got advice from colleagues and then began to research images that matched the theme of the novel. Unfortunately none of the images fit with the idea I had in my head so, as I didn’t have the budget to employ a designer, I decided to sketch out a few ideas. I knew I wanted hands to play a part, and as Grace is an integral part of the book I wanted a representation of her too. So I grabbed my camera and persuaded my sister to strike a pose! I experimented with photo editing programs and developed it from there.   

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

They can visit my website, where I have details of my novels, and a blog. I also post short-stories and have a link to the other sites already mentioned. My website can be found at http://www.mbarkersimpson.co.uk and my blog can be found at http://www.mbarkersimpson.wordpress.com. I’m also on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and Tumblr. All links to my social media accounts can be found on my blog.

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY
With being a full-time employee, mother and now an author. Do you ever find time to relax? What do you do to let off the steam? How do you manage to balance it all?

I’d like to say I’ve found a good balance, but I spend far too much time on my computer. My daughters are teenagers now so they ignore me most of the time! We do manage to fit in our ‘girly nights’ though, and enjoy the cinema when there’s a movie we can agree on. I also spend a lot of time with my family, and they keep me grounded.

Interview provided by: Joshua Robertson & Debra Mauldin


Synopsis:

Jonathan Jukes is accustomed to working alongside the police within his role as close protection officer at Morgan and Fairchild. But when Detective Sergeant Charles Macavoy requests the team’s help, JJ finds it’s his toughest case yet.

A serial killer, whose calling card is to remove the hands of his victims, is targeting interpreters. When lines begin to blur and JJ's past comes back to haunt him, he soon discovers the biggest threat comes from a woman who stands at the centre of it all.

Available at AmazonKindle and BN

About the Author:


Melissa Barker-Simpson

I've been writing since, well...since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.  I often look back on those earlier stories, and apart from laughing at the heavy-handed drama, or cringing at my inexperience, I am reminded that I have always lived in other worlds.

My first novel was published in 2008, and I love nothing more than working on a new project. The voices inside my head invariably pull me in different directions, so although I try to work on one thing at a time, those who know me would tell you it doesn't always work!

I have a full-time job which, though does not involve writing per se, incorporates my love of language. As a British Sign Language Interpreter, I get to translate information between two languages which is (mostly) fun.

I have two beautiful daughters who bring me great joy. They also keep me grounded, because otherwise I would have my head in the clouds permanently!

How to Connect!

Check Melissa out at her: BlogWebsiteFacebookTwitter and Goodreads

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