Because Melissa wrote such an amazing Q&A, I feel like this deserves a separate post of its own. Seriously, read her answers below! I was amazed myself!
How does it feel like having your debut work finally published?
Surreal. I daydreamed about it for so long and never thought it could happen!
If you come across a reader asking you to 'sell' Crave to them, how will you pitch your book?
I'm terrible at selling myself. I'd show them the book then walk away and let them read the back cover copy and flip through the pages to help them decide for themselves. Choosing a book to read is such a personal and individualized experience. Everyone's preferences are so widely varied, and no one should feel like they're being scrutinized or judged while they consider whether to read a book or not.
The most difficult part in writing Crave?
The revisions. But I'm learning to enjoy it now as well, because it's really where all the "magic" happens, where all those final and crucial changes are made that mean the difference between an "okay" book and a good one.
One thing we don't know about Crave? (It can be a random fact about the book, etc.)
While Crave is my first YA novel, it is actually my eighth novel. Before it, I wrote seven adult romances, five of which were published under a pseudonym, and two which I deemed in need of revisions before they'll ever be ready to see the light of day.
The character that is the most challenging to write?
Tristan, I suppose. But he's also the most fun because of it. As a teenaged male, he's the least self aware and the most in self denial in the beginning. He's also definitely the one in need of the most growth, seeing as how he's a become a bit spoiled by his family's social standing and his own good looks.
The character you loved writing about?
The same answer as before: Tristan! His confidence makes him believe he can fix any situation, including the one where he realizes he misses his childhood friend and possibly even falling in love with her. That confidence gets them all into more than a little trouble. But his reasoning behind it all is both a challenge and a thrill to try to figure out and write!
The character you hated?
Dylan and the Brat Twins equally. They're based on real people who bullied me in high school. But the challenge of writing fictional versions of them also helped me to try and see their perspectives, to at least find some small understanding about their actions. This allowed me to change lingering feelings of resentment towards them into a feeling of sympathy. While I'm not excusing their past behavior towards me, I have forgiven them, and people like them can't be written off as simply evil or mean. I have no idea what the real people who inspired these characters were going through as teens nor what drove them to take out their private misery on me. And there is the reassurance that all people can change. The real versions of Dylan and the Brat Twins did. Since our graduation in 1998 from Jacksonville High School, these three people have all gone on to get married, have families, and become humble and generally nice people.
Was there any one of the character you plan to kill/write off from the story?
Definitely! Several characters die in The Clann Series Book #2: Covet, and a few more die in Book #3 Consume.
What can we expect in the sequel, Covet? (Any teasers? :D)
While I don't want to give too much away, I can reiterate that several characters die, friendships will be challenged, rules will be broken (and worse, followed!), and many characters' futures will be forever changed by the end of Covet!
Any advice you can give to aspiring writers?
The cliche "keep reading" is true for a reason. Not only does it show you what's been done, but it helps inspire you to be creative and try something new. Reading stories by lots of different writers in different genres is also important because it helps you learn what works and what doesn't. Genres can quickly get oversaturated, so staying flexible as a writer is a necessity...consider writing in lots of different genres or even combining multiple genres within one story if you want to have a lasting career as an author. And also try to read lots of nonfiction books about writing, because they will teach you so many wonderful techniques that will more rapidly improve your writing and storytelling skills. Some of my favourites are From First Draft to Finished Novel by Karen S. Wiesner, Novel Shortcuts by Laura Whitcomb, Write Good or Die by Scott Nicholson, The Breakout Novelist by Donald Maass, and literally every article and ebook by either Vicki Hinze or Holly Lisle. Most of all, aspiring authors should definitely learn to love the revision process, because it's where the "okay" stories become great! That's the beauty of being a writer...you don't have to be perfect the first time you write something! Give yourself permission to write terribly in the rough draft so you have something to work with. And if an editor ever turns down your story but gives you revision suggestions and invites you to resubmit, DO IT! Crave was turned down by Harlequin Teen editor Natashya Wilson at first, but she took the time to tell me what changes it needed and encouraged me to resubmit it. It took me months to make those changes and resubmit, and another 6 month wait to hear back, but it resulted in a 3 book deal. Editors have so little time available in their schedules, so if they take the time to offer you advice, that's a huge compliment that you should strongly consider following.
Both aspiring writers and readers alike should please feel free to visit my websites www.TheClannSeries.com or www.MelissaDarnell.com to contact me. I love hearing from readers, and there is nothing I love to discuss more than writing with a fellow writer!
Crave (The Clann #1) by Melissa Darnell
Bloodlust. Magic. Forbidden secrets.
When Savannah Colbert returns to school after a mystery illness, the fact that she has changed is clear to everyone. None more so than every school girls golden boy Tristan Coleman. Ever since their first kiss in fourth grade, Savannah and Tristan have been cruelly and inexplicably banned from associating with each other. Now, as the pair navigate the tricky social life of high school, the truth is about to be revealed.
As Savannah learns of their paranormal ancestry and Tristan deals with the repercussions of her new powers, the relationship they have been denied for so long becomes utterly irresistible and all consuming. Like Romeo and Juliet centuries before them, Savannah and Tristan’s love is destined to fail; and Tristan’s powerful magical family, the Clann, are watching.
Crave is published by MIRA Ink in the UK and came out April 6th.