Today we’re sitting down with Melissa Barker-Simpson, a British author, to hear about her work and inspiration for writing. Please enjoy this interview.
DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?
MBS: The Collective, a serialised fiction project that has its roots in dark fantasy. I write a fantasy series entitled The Fractured, and this is an offshoot – The Collective precedes the events of those novels and is divided into episodes, which make up a season.
DM: Can you summarize your book in one short sentence?
MBS: It’s a fast-paced serialised fantasy adventure.
DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
MBS: Readers of fantasy and fans of serialised fiction. The Collective is structured a little like a television show, with monthly installments. This means familiar characters, who readers will be able to spend time with on a regular basis.
DM: How did you come up with the title?
MBS: I wanted to reflect the diverse characters who came together to fight a war and were chosen because of the strengths they possess.
DM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image?
MBS: I searched for months to find an image that represented the group, and if I’m honest, I am still playing around with a few ideas. I did find artwork that spoke of the power wielded within the war, so I’m using that image as a temporary cover for the six individual episodes. At the end of the year, when I publish the full season, I hope to work with Chris Graham (The Story Reading Ape) to find the perfect cover – I just haven’t told him that yet! Chris has designed covers for me before, and though he has infinite patience, I want to at least have a design in mind before I drive him crazy!
DM: Who are your biggest writing influences?
MBS: So many authors have influenced me over the years. My favourite book is The Hobbit, so of course Tolkien is at the top of the list. His work is intimidating, though, and it took a long time to find my own comfort zone, before I felt ready to venture into the world of fantasy. I grew up reading comics, so they too had a powerful influence. Also, Mark Twain got his hooks in me at an early age, especially the way he reflects powerful emotions such as love, loyalty, strength and compassion.
DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
MBS: I usually avoid this question, because I don’t like to have favourites. It feels akin to choosing a favourite child! That said, I can tell you my favourite character to write. Orion Reece is a complex character, and I have the most fun writing his scenes. I love the contradictions to his nature, and his sharp wit. There is never a dull moment.
DM: How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
MBS: Again, I’m going to choose my least favourite to write. Although Leela is a warrior, and I love writing strong female characters, she is often uncommunicative. This makes it difficult to get a feel for her emotional state, and figure out how she might respond to a given situation. I have a writing exercise where I use dialogue only to let the characters hash it out – it doesn’t work particular well with Leela.
DM: If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?
MBS: There will always be something I can improve, because we never stop learning, but I wouldn’t change anything at this point. My answer might be different a few years down the line, but I hope not!
DM: Give me a fun fact about your series.
MBS: I have had the world in my head for almost twenty years, but it wasn’t until a character named Maddison Wood (from the Fractured) came about, that I decided to populate it. Maddy is so vivid I had no choice but to give her a place to exist!
DM: What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?
MBS: That’s a tough one. Writers are influenced by everything they read, especially in a genre they are interested in. I find it difficult to take a step back and make comparisons, because we all have our own voice. It’s an interesting one – perhaps I should allow my readers to help me out with the answer.
DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
MBS: I’m not sure if it’s unique, but I’m a qualified British Sign Language Interpreter. The role often puts me in a unique position to immerse myself in different environments and meet a diverse number of people. Having the ability to read body language, and facial expression, is also useful when it comes to observing people. It certainly influences my writing.
DM: How can we find out more about you and your books?
You could visit my website:
DM: What can we expect from you in the future?
MBS: Hopefully, a few more seasons of The Collective. I write other series, including a romantic suspense series, entitled Morgan and Fairchild, and I plan to release the fourth book at the end of 2017. I write contemporary romance under the pen name Nat Hobson, too. There are three more books planned within the Winchester Brothers series.
DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
MBS: Tell their friends, and leave a review. Get in touch and feedback, because it’s always great to hear from our readers.
DM: Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?
MBS: Never give up. Listen to your beta readers and use your editor. Also, find a supportive network of other writers, because they are invaluable.
DM: Can you give us an excerpt from your book?
The buildings pressed in from either side; empty window frames like gaping mouths seeking their prey. Glass littered the ground, shining like diamonds as they reflected Joshua’s power. He stood in the centre of the chaos, and as the structures groaned around him, perhaps in protest, he fought the urge to bow, as the buildings were, to Vome’s will.
The glass began to vibrate, the music as fragile as the splinters at Joshua’s feet. He anticipated the demon’s next move, and hugged his wings in tight. Tiny missiles shot toward him, ripping into the flesh of his exposed arms and face.
“Give it up, young warrior. Let me pass.”
Joshua had his eyes closed. He opened them now, unsurprised to discover his partner had landed directly in front of them. Nevaeh had no fear. It made her a formidable opponent.
He ignored the blood trickling down his cheek and reached to touch a hand to Nevaeh’s shoulder. The hand passed straight through her body.
There is no pain.
The scene dropped away, rebuilding itself to resemble another battle. Joshua allowed his lids to lower shut. He was dreaming. The first scene was unfamiliar, perhaps a premonition – a foretelling. The second, a memory, was pain personified. Joshua had barely escaped with his life.
His thoughts coalesced until he remembered where he was, why his dreams were so vivid. They were part of the healing process; a side effect of the chamber. As was the light. Joshua felt it now. It pressed in on him as the buildings had done.
The moment full consciousness returned Joshua felt the light recede. His cells reacted to the change, his senses returning one by one until he was alone in the dark. He did not need to see what his mind already knew. He had healed.
About Melissa Barker-Simpson
Melissa Barker-Simpson is a multigenre romance author. Her stories are about connection, friendship, and love in all its forms. So whether in a magical setting, an alternative universe, or a world where anything can happen – and often does – there is always an element of romance.
Melissa is currently residing in the North of England with her two daughters, and when not writing, is fulfilling her other role as a British Sign Language Interpreter.