Hello! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Michael Melilli
Michael attended Chapman University in Orange, California, where he earned a BFA in Film/TV Writing and Directing. He went on to work for various film and television production companies―including the Jim Henson Company―before landing at PlainJoe Studios in Corona, California. He serves as the Spatial Storytelling Studio Director and helps to tell stories within physical spaces from restaurants to dynamic office spaces to themed children’s facilities and even high profile immersive attractions.
In addition to having circumnavigated the globe and having an almost unhealthy obsession with Batman, Michael is an avid gamer and consumer of story in any form. He currently lives in Corona, California, with his wife Jaimee.
Book Sample: 3point8
Genre: Dark Fantasy
When Judd Mara learned he was going to be a father, he never could have imagined that he’d lose his entire family before even reaching his daughter’s due date.
Alone and left to face the reality of a life without his family, Judd struggles to deal with the mundane requirements of everyday life while his grief threatens to overwhelm him. It’s in this dark moment that he’s offered a shred of hope; his daughter may still be alive but taken by a supernatural force.
Has he uncovered an ancient evil? Or is he just slowly losing his mind from the loss of his wife and daughter?
As Judd’s investigation leads him down a twisted path, he’ll be forced to decide how far is he willing to go to learn the truth about his daughter and how much of his humanity he’s willing to leave behind.
Inspired by the author’s real-life loss of his newborn daughter, 3point8 is a fictional story which reveals a horrifying truth; that grief can be as destructive as any supernatural being.
Why do you write? I just need to see ideas or character in my mind come to life, to release them. The most satisfying moment of the process for me is when I can sit back, read through a chapter, and I’ve completely forgotten that these were words I put to paper. I crave that experience and love knowing that there will, hopefully, be people out there who are similarly moved or excited by what I’ve written.
When did you decide to become a writer? After college, when I realized writing gave me the most control over the stories I wanted to tell. I’ve always been a storyteller and had a passion for it, but the restrictions that come in other forms of media make it difficult to realize the vision of what I see in my head.
How long does it usually take you to complete a book? It can vary greatly depending on the book. 3point8 took about six and a half months to get to a first draft. I’ve have other novels that have taken a couple years to complete, mainly because I’ve worked on them in chunks with breaks in between.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? I was writing a short story for a creative writing class and realized it was just too big to be a short. Once I started, I fell in love with the characters so much that I knew I had to finish it to see where they ended up.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I tend to start with plot for most of my ideas; typically just a rough idea of the situation that I want to drop characters into. From there, I’ll get a loose idea of where I want to story to go, a rough ending, begin developing characters and fill in the gaps.
I look at it like building a maze. The outer walls go up first with the entrance and ending in place. A few of the interior walls go up next, a few leading from the entrance and a few leading to the exit. Then it’s all about building characters that will interact with the maze well and releasing them, filling in the rest of the maze and they go, responding to the decisions they make, and adjusting as needed. By the end, the maze may look completely different than what I start with.
Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website? Bryce Reyes was kind enough to lend me his immense talent and create the book cover for 3point8. You can see some of his other design on his website: http://www.brycereyes.com/
Any advice for aspiring authors? Read…a lot and often. It’s an absolute necessity.
What is the hardest thing about writing? The discipline of sitting down and actually grinding out the words into the keyboard. Dreaming, imagining and planning is fun, but it’s work to pull all those letters together into coherent chapters. Ironically, this is always the most rewarding part of the process.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? For me it was letting myself really delve into the pain of losing my daughter and being honest about some of the thought I’d had afterwards. It wasn’t an enjoyable place to go and it’s a bit terrifying to be so open about something that painful. I didn’t imagine that monsters were running around stealing babies like my protagonist suspected, but everything else he thinks and wonders about were very much thoughts I had myself.
Do you have any “how to write” type books/instructional you’d like to recommend? Stephen King On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft is essential reading for anyone who wants to write or get serious about any creative pursuit. I reread it every few years.
What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer? Write for yourself…don’t worry about what audiences or friends or family will think. The story needs to be one you love and have a passion to tell.