melissajm: Cover for Between Worlds, by Melissa Mead, from Double Dragon Publishing (Default)
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1. How long does it take you to finish a book?

That depends on the book. Goblin Quest took 6 weeks from the time I started writing to the day I started submitting the rewritten, polished version to a few publishers. Of course, I had just moved back to Michigan at the time, was unemployed and had no social life, and did very little but send out resumes and work on the book. These days, it takes me about 7-10 months to write, rewrite, polish, and turn in a finished book. Goblin War, the third book in the goblin series, seems determined to bump that up to a year. But few books are quite as obnoxious as War has been.

2. Why did you choose the name "Jig" for your hero?

You know, I honestly don't know where Jig's name came from, but it was always there. Most of my characters have gone through several names. Riana the elf was originally Rana. Straum the dragon started out as Fraum. Golaka the chef was Golara. But Jig was always Jig. It was the perfect name. Short, with a sense of fun, just like the books.

3. What's the best part of writing these books?

I got a note from a reader a day or two back, telling me how her eleven-year-old son was reading the book, and said, "This is really good. It's FUNNY!"

I love that. I love that people are enjoying the story, that they're getting emotionally involved with poor Jig and his pet spider. I love that they laugh at the jokes, and they cheer when Jig finds his own creative way to triumph. It's not a YA book, but both adults and kids seem to love it. Hearing that kind of feedback makes me grin even wider than I did when my agent called to tell me DAW wanted to buy the book. (Though to be honest, that was a very close second ;-)

4. What's the worst part?

Struggling to keep things from getting repetitive or stale. There's only so many times Jig can use his poor fire-spider Smudge to set a foe on fire. It's funny and interesting the first time. Now, as I'm writing book three, I worry that I've used up most of the good goblin jokes and stories. I refuse to become that writer who churns out the same formula over and over again, until every last bit of life and spontaneity have been squeezed out of it.

On the bright side, the ending I have planned for Goblin War should leave Jig's world very different from what he's used to, which means I could eventually come back and write a few more books. And some of the secondary characters might one day get a book or two for themselves as well.

As I finished writing that last paragraph, a competing "worst part" popped into my head. For book two: what if it's not as good as the first one? For book three: what if this doesn't live up to the first two books, and my editor sneers and tells me to never darken her e-mail again? Writing a standalone is hard, but when you write a follow-up or a series, suddenly there's an extra source of pressure. Not fun.

5. What was the most unexpected story-related thing that happened while you were writing these books?

Honestly, the most unexpected thing has been the great responses I've been getting. Three different editors have offered to buy the books, not counting all of the foreign sales. Folks like Wil Wheaton, Ed Greenwood, and Julie Czerneda have all talked about how much they love Jig and his adventures. Dreamworks was talking about doing a movie at one point, though they decided it was too much like Shrek. (Curse that ogre ... there's a reason I'm so cruel to ogres in book two, you know. Anyway.) I never expected Goblin Quest to be my breakout novel. It was humorous sword & sorcery, with gaming jokes, and everyone kept telling me this was a genre that didn't sell. I had fun writing it, but I thought the small Five Star release was the best Jig would ever do. Rarely have I been so thrilled to be proven so wrong.

Thanks so much for the questions, Melissa! It's been fun!

July 2016

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