June 16, 2010

Author Interview with Melanie Nowak & our WINNER!

Hey everyone!

We want to thank everyone who entered our giveaway and submitted their question for Melanie Nowak. Thank you to Melanie for taking the time to answer as many questions as she could and for doing this awesome giveaway. :-) And now over to Melanie -

Good Choice Reading – Author Interview with Melanie Nowak

Thanks for all of the great inquiries everyone! If a question was already asked by someone else, the repeat was not posted, but I’ve answered everything I received. I’ve grouped similar questions together. Thanks so much for all the thought provoking questions, and for being a part of the contest!

~ Melanie

1. What made you want to become a writer? From Aleya Smith

Believe it or not, I never did want to become a writer, LOL. I have always been an avid reader of sci/fi, fantasy & horror, but although I did very well writing papers for school, I had never used writing as a creative outlet before I began this series. I loved to pretend as a child and make up stories, but I wanted to live the stories, not write them! I didn’t have aspirations of being a published author with a book in the book store when I began this series – that wasn’t my initial goal. I began writing only because I wanted to tell this story.

2. Hi Melanie, what do you do when you're not writing? From Aik
3. Hey Melanie, What Are One Or Two Things We Wouldn’t Normally Know About You? And What Inspired You To Write Your Almost Human Trilogy Or Did You See Something That Inspired You To Write It? Raquel Vega-Grieder

Musical theater is something I always aspired to be a part of, although my path never actually took me there. I love to act, and was in drama classes throughout high school & college. I was also very active in my church choir for a few years, often leading worship service, singing many solos and having lead roles in the Christmas Cantatas.

Now my creative passions are invested in writing, but I still love to sing. Some of my favorite songs are by Sheryl Crow, Gwen Stefani, P!NK, Evanescence, Avril Lavigne, & Joan Jett. Beware any who accompany me to a karaoke night – I will take the stage as often as allowed, and I will not leave until they pack up the microphone and kick me out!

I still get to use my acting abilities – by acting every character that I write. I speak every line aloud, looking for the cadence of voice that best captures the character’s personality, as well as the meaning of the line, and then try to translate that to the dialogue on the page. (I’d love to record AH audio books – I’m looking into it)

A few other little known things about me: I used to belly-dance, and performed with Sasha’s BellyDancing of Centereach NY. I breed tropical freshwater fish and blue crayfish to sell to pet stores, (I love all animals – I’d own a zoo if I could!), I make beaded jewelry to sell at craft fairs, and I love walks in the forest. I’m also a recovering video game addict (I could disappear into a game for days if life allowed.)

I have my teaching degree and my Master’s in Library Science to be a school librarian, but I’m not working in a school right now. I’m happily married, and have 2 boys who play soccer – but I don’t think that I’m your average ‘soccer mom’!

I’ll answer the 2nd part of the question along with question #4…

4. How did you come up with such an amazing concept? From Bianca Perez

A few things came together to bring ALMOST HUMAN to life. In the late 80’s, I discovered Anne Rice’s vampire chronicles and absolutely loved them. That was the first time I read something from the vampire’s point of view. The way that she captured emotions and described surroundings were mesmerizing to me, and I really connected with her story.

I’ve always been interested in snakes and bats. Vampire bats have a anticoagulant in their saliva called “draculin” (named after Count Dracula!) that keeps blood from clotting. I had the idea that such a thing would be useful for vampires as well. It would also be useful if they had something to keep the victim calm, like a drug.

Quick side note - As a reader, I love fantasy and magic. I have no problem suspending disbelief in books – however, the author has to be consistent, and make the magic in their story follow whatever rules they set for their ‘universe’. I HATE when an author uses magic as an easy way out. If you lay the groundwork that magic works a certain way, that’s fine – but don’t do something completely unexplained to solve a problem in the story, and just say “it was magic!”

On that note – I always wondered about a vampire’s ability to put victims in thrall. In old movies, vampires are always able to hypnotize people, sometimes without even drinking from them. Even if they drank first, it’s never really explained. People are just ‘under their power’. I always wondered – why? How does it work? I put those questions together with the anticoagulant/drug idea, and took it further. What if vampires could inject their victims with venom – like a snake? Only the venom would not be deadly poison, but a combination of drugs that kept blood from clotting, kept the victim calm and even willing, and also could mark territory for the vampire – leaving a mark that other vampires could see. The vampire could then use the existence of this ‘drug’ in their victim’s system, to put them in thrall as well.

The idea of venomous vampires seemed so logical to me, that I assumed for sure that someone else had done it already. I began searching my library for a book like that, so I could read it! This was probably in the early 90’s and there weren’t very many vampire books around at that time. I never found what I was looking for, and I filed the idea away. It never occurred to me to write it myself, LOL.

I’m also a huge fan of the T.V. series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. Joss Whedon is a genius! That said - towards the end of the show, I started disliking some decisions the writers made. I understood their vision, but I also saw a lot of missed opportunities – I would have done things differently. What burned me the most was the Buffy/Spike storyline. Spike (James Marsters) is a breathtaking display of character development over the course of the series. From his first appearance on the show to his last, that one character went through a range of emotions, motivations and growth like I have never seen anywhere else – ever. The fact that Buffy never really loved him made me so angry, LOL. I understand it for her character – but it could have been done differently, and was unrewarding for me as a viewer.

Okay – sorry for the rant! Point is, I began wondering how different things would be, if I were writing the scripts. That started me thinking of my own storylines, my own characters, and I completely left the “Buffyverse” to think up my own stuff. None of this was written down, just daydreamed during housework. Then one day I realized that a lot of the ideas I had were really good, and it depressed me to think that it would all just be forgotten. So, I sat down one night at the computer, to write out a few things so I wouldn’t forget, and could look back at them one day. The scenes just came pouring out and before I knew it, I’d been up writing almost the whole night! That’s when I realized that I had a real story to tell, and wanted to write it all out from beginning to end. I decided that if I was going to write a story, I should incorporate my venomous vampire idea too! That is how my ALMOST HUMAN vampires were born.

My original writing was in more of a screen play format, because that’s what I’m used to in acting, and I think of stories in terms of ‘scenes’ and ‘acts’. Soon I was adding so many notes about the character’s inner feelings and thoughts that I decided to write it as a book. Most good theater and television is adapted from books anyway – not that I was thinking of doing anything public with the story at that point.

My writing is composed of my own creative ideas, combined with my love of Anne Rice’s thorough descriptions, and my love for the wonderful ‘ensemble’ energy you get from the characters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

5. Do you write the story as it comes to you, or do you make notes of ideas and then later formulate them into a story? From Brenda (Sugar) Stangler
6. Did you begin your writing already knowing that you were going to write a trilogy? Or did it just develop that way? From Maria Perez Martinez

I spent a long time thinking about my story before I began to write it, so I already knew the complete ‘arc’ of the first trilogy. I knew a basic outline of where the story would begin, a few major things that would happen along the way, and how the entire trilogy would end. When I actually started writing, first I wrote all of the major scenes that I had already made up. At that time, I didn’t think of it as a trilogy – it was one long story. I think of it as an entire T.V. season of a show, with episodes written to fit within that season long arc.

I didn’t write the books in chronological order. Knowing the entire outline of the trilogy, gave me the freedom to skip around within it. I could think about whatever part of the story interested me at that time, and write a scene that could then be put into the story where it was needed. If I was aggravated, it was a good time to write an argument that I knew two characters would need to have. If I felt depressed, I would write an upsetting emotional scene. Once I had many of these little ‘snippets’ of story, I put them in order. Then I went back to the beginning, re-read, and wrote whatever was missing to connect all of those snippets together and really tell the story.

Once I was done, I reluctantly allowed a few friends and my mom (all avid readers) to read what I had written. They insisted that it was better than many books they had read, and that it should be published. I decided to try. I spent a long time learning all that I could about the publishing process and who I could submit my manuscript to. I began shopping the story around to publishers and agents, but they would not even look at it, because it was too long. Most paranormal romance & fantasy novels are around 100,000 – 130,000 words. My story ALMOST HUMAN was about 400,000 words!

I re-read the story again, and found that it easily lent itself to being broken into three parts. Each section of the story had its own ‘flavor’. The first was the introduction to the characters and world, with some action and the beginnings of romance, the 2nd part began the true romance and included the historical story of Cain’s past, and the 3rd part was more intense in terms of the romance & action, and of course, the ending. I decided what felt were ‘natural’ breaking points, and broke the larger story into 3 books. I then added a few things to make the books each stand better on their own, as a volume within a series. Some readers seem to feel that I did not separate the books enough, that they each should have been more self contained. I understand what they mean, but I really did not want to change the story, and felt that they stood alright as an installment in a series. I’ve read many books that are very dependent on the book before and after it in the series – it’s really just a matter of style preference. Thus, ALMOST HUMAN became a trilogy.

7. Have you already started on Volume 2 of the second series? From Pollyanna M Stewart
8. How long of a break do you plan to have between the two books left in the second trilogy? From Brandy Nicole English

I began writing the 2nd trilogy in the same way that I wrote the 1st, right after I finished the last line of “Evolving Ecstasy” (“‘Liss, the bacon’s burning.”) I know the entire outline for the 2nd trilogy, and this time I actually wrote it down, LOL. During the years that I was working on getting the 1st trilogy published, I was also writing various snippets for scenes within the next 3 books for the 2nd trilogy. There were many times when I had to completely put writing aside to focus on publishing stuff, but I’m always thinking of my story and what happens next.

Unlike when I wrote the 1st trilogy, people were actually waiting for “Born to Blood”, so I had to stop thinking in ‘trilogy’ terms, and write only for that book. I also decided to try to make each volume a little more self contained. There is one large story arc for the 3 books, and you need all 3 to tell that story, but hopefully each volume is also somewhat satisfying on its own, having resolution to some of the plotlines by the end of that book.

Volume 2 for the 2nd trilogy is titled “Descendant of Darkness” and I can’t say when it will be finished. I know the main outline for the story, and most of what will happen along the way. I have about 8000 words written for it so far, but it isn’t just a matter of writing down the story – even when I know what will happen. I do a lot of research while writing. Most of it is on things that readers might not even notice, but details and accuracy are very important to me.

When I create a character, I learn all about them. Readers might not get that information until it comes out in pieces along the way, and some of it may not show at all, but for me, character development is paramount. Where a character comes from, and what they have experienced, greatly affects who they are now, and how they react to things.

For example: Elric was briefly introduced in “Evolving Ecstasy” as a minor character. I had given his age and appearance, but readers didn’t know much about him. For “Born to Blood” he needed to be fleshed out as a full character, because he plays a larger role in this storyline. Based on his age, his name, and that he was a black man – the only real info. readers had already been given, I found that he was born in 1882, and turned into a vampire in 1906. His name is of German origin, and I decided that if he was German, it would be very interesting to look into the fact that he probably would have still been in Germany when Hitler came to power. How would that have affected him? I did lots of research on the small black population that lived in Germany at that time, and it helped me to understand Elric’s perspective, and how it would color his view of the current situation he was in.

I did almost the same amount of research for every character. Some was easier than others, due to personal experience. I can better relate to Felicity, Allie and Sindy, because they are young American women, like myself. However, their past and upbringing are things I fully developed and took into consideration, even if readers don’t know all of it yet. (for example, learning about how different people deal with sexual abuse, for Sindy’s character) For the 1st trilogy I also did extensive research into England and Colonial America in the late 1600’s for Cain, much of which I’m sure shows in “Lost Reflections”.

For this trilogy, I’ve expanded upon research I’d already done for Arif as a 268 year old Turkish man. I’ve also been learning about Khalon’s people – the Maasai, nomads of south eastern Africa. This is where the luxury of being Independently published is a blessing. Many authors do not have the time (or perhaps the interest) in developing their characters so fully. While there is probably information on characters that will not be obviously used, it all goes into creating who they are, and to me, that is important. I also do research on anything that will be in the story that I don’t know enough about, from wolf pack behavior to law school requirements; so it can take some time.

When I’m finished writing the story, a luxury I do not have, is that of being able to hand it off to a publishing team. I have to handle every single aspect of that myself. Plus, I have to keep on top of negotiations for publishing, marketing and distribution for the existing books at the same time. All of that, combined with the time and care I put into crafting the story itself, means that I cannot pump out a book every few months, like some authors do. Once a book is written, it is there forever, and I do not want to compromise the story for the sake of speed. I hate to keep people waiting, and I hope it does not take very long, but readers will have to try and be somewhat patient for the next book. I want to be sure that I do my story and characters the justice they deserve.

9. What inspires you to keep going when it gets really tough -- for instance, when you're past the excitement of beginning a new book, but not yet experiencing the thrill of reaching the finish line. Those long times between can take writers to the breaking point. How do you make it? From JHSiess
10. How do you handle writers block? From Stacey - Strawbrryblnd2u

Because of my unique writing style, I have never had a problem with writer’s block, or losing interest and excitement in writing my story. (Knock on wood, LOL) I start out by outlining the series. That is fun because there is no real ‘work’ involved – it is pure creative energy. You don’t have to worry about the logistics so much as what will be exciting to see unfold. What if this happened, and then this, and then that? Then I go back and see if I can make it logically possible – can I make sure it follows a believable chain of events that carry through to where I want the story to end?

Once I have that basic outline, I look for what little scenes or events, fitting within that outline, would be exciting to develop. I’m not writing what I think has to come next, I’m writing what I feel passionate about at that moment. If I’m writing a scene and I start losing the flow – I’m not feeling it, I put it away and work on something else. I think that is why people tell me that my story has such strong emotional connections for them. I am passionate about almost everything that I write, and I somehow manage to transcribe that intensity and conviction onto the page.

After all of the really intense stuff has been written, there is a certain amount of writing that is crafted to connect one scene to another. I don’t have a hard time with that though, because it’s a nice change of pace, and it’s an opportunity to have characters explain their logic and perspectives through inner dialogue, to make sure that the reader understands the plot. It is also a good opportunity to read things through in order, to check continuity, and to see if something in an earlier part might have changed the way something should happen later on, and make adjustments if necessary.

10. Do you plan to write a spin off series from Almost Human someday? From Gina
11. What other genre would you be most interested in writing and which one would you never write in? From Viki Sloboda
12. Are you planning on writing about a different kind of creature in the future (shapeshifters, faeries, wizards/witches, etc.)? From Stella Balogh

If I were going to write something else, it would involve witches, fairies, shape-shifters, or some other fantasy elements along that line. I am completely invested in telling the story of my ALMOST HUMAN vampires right now, and will not start another series until that is finished, but some of those things will eventually be incorporated into ALMOST HUMAN.

Something I could never see myself writing, would be short story romance. I never cared for it as a reader, and as a writer, I only write physical romance, because it is a continuation of strong emotional connections my characters that have had time to develop. I have no interest in writing a short, ‘Harlequin’ type romance or erotica. I like to fully develop my characters, and in a shorter story, I don’t feel I know the characters well enough, to care about erotic scenes between them.

I’ve already planned a lose outline for the next 3 trilogies of ALMOST HUMAN, ending with 12 books in all, and then I have notes for a spin off series after that! I think faster than I write, LOL. I’ve researched many old legends and myths regarding vampires, and while I wanted my vampires from the 1st trilogy to be almost human, I had always planned to build on and develop a broader set of vampire powers taken from classic legends, as the series progressed. As readers will see in “Born to Blood” - Volume 1 of the 2nd trilogy, more psychic powers are being revealed, as well as physical powers such as flight, and shape-shifting, among other things.

13. I'd love to know how you came to the decision to jump into self-publishing? And where on earth do you find the time to do the promotion of the series with a busy family life? From Sherry Rickmeier
14. how did you start your own printing company? From Stacey A Smith

I spent over 2 years trying to get published by traditional methods. I researched the whole process and jumped through every hoop – from writing query letters and a synopsis of each book, to submitting specifically formatted sample pages (every agent and publisher wants something different). I got over 200 rejections without anyone ever reading my books.

I’d stopped trying to publish, and was earning my Masters degree to be a school librarian, when a prof. mentioned Amazon's new e-book device. I looked into it, and learned that Amazon was accepting unpublished books for Kindle. I knew that once you self-publish, most traditional publishers will not consider your work – but no one was considering my work anyway! I decided to publish on Kindle because then at least my books would be available to the public, and I could have closure, feeling like I'd done something with them, and move on. I wanted to focus on the 2nd trilogy for the series.

The books went live on Kindle 7-3-08. After about 6 months, they started growing a fan base. I began getting e-mails asking when the series would be out in print. I shopped around again for agents & publishers in January ‘09, and this time I had verifiable sales #'s to show them - I was selling 30 books a day for a month straight! They didn't care. There is still a stigma against ‘self-published authors’ (although I believe that is slowly changing) and I believe they didn’t like that my books were already out in eBook format, even though they had never been printed. Again I was constantly rejected without even being read. I finally decided to publish in print independently, because I was more interested in sharing the stories with readers, than waiting for a big-name publishing house to back me. As I said, I never dreamed of being on a bookstore shelf – I just wanted to tell my story.

I handled every aspect from editing & formatting, to cover photos (that's me on book 1, LOL) It took a lot of research, learning what needed to be done, and finding the most cost effective way to carry it out. There are companies who will “self-publish” books for you, but most of them will not let you set your own price. It was very important to me that my books be priced as affordably as possible. Self-published books are expensive, because they are POD (Print On Demand). Each book gets printed when ordered. It’s much cheaper to print 1000 books at a time, but then you need to pay for them in advance, and have a storage warehouse. I can’t afford to lay out that kind of money.

Many ‘self-publishing’ companies will handle most of the aspects of printing, publishing and distribution for you, but they charge a fee and then they set the retail price of the book – often at $25 for a paperback of 300 pages. I refused to accept that retail price. I found that Amazon has a subsidiary company called ‘CreateSpace’. They are more of a printer than a self publisher. You can pay them for publishing services, but you don’t have to. The best part – they let you completely set your own price. They tell you how much it costs to print your book (it’s priced per page), and how much you have to pay Amazon for their %, and then you choose the royalty as the author. As long as you cover the costs, you can choose to make $1/book or $10/book – it’s up to you.

I felt that making $2/book as royalty was a fair price to help cover my costs, and pay me for my work, while still keeping the books affordable. I chose the complete ‘do-it-yourself’ route. I bought my own ISBN #’s for the books, registered them with Bowker, and took the time to learn what paperwork and fees were involved in listing them in various places. I became Independently published in print, in April of 2009.

Self-published authors have no promotion except what they do for themselves. I have $0 budget, and have had to find creative ways to get the word out for free. Of course the most effective and wonderful way to get your books noticed is by word-of-mouth through readers. I have been very blessed to have found readers who are as excited about my story as I am, and they have posted favorable reviews on Amazon, and recommended my books to their friends. I am very grateful for the support of my readers, I thank them in my author’s notes, and I feel very lucky in this age of internet that I get to talk to them and thank them personally.

As far as self-promotion, I’ve been creative ($0 budget forces you to do that, LOL). Amazon has a chat forum in which readers talk about books and ask for suggestions. I try not to be over-zealous, but if someone asks “What’s a new vampire book?”, I humbly recommend mine. I’ve found a wonderful and supportive community of readers and authors at Amazon, particularly in the Paranormal Romance forum. In fact, some of us have banded together to form www.ParanormalRomanceGuild.com – come check it out!

I’ve also made pages for my series on every social networking site and book site I can find: MySpace, facebook, Twitter, Shelfari & goodreads are a few that come to mind. I have then used the search engines of those sites to look for people who had words like “vampire” in their profile. I then spent many hours, going down those lists and sending friend requests that read something like “Hi - I’m Melanie, author of a new vampire series called ALMOST HUMAN, I hope you’ll check it out. You can read free chapters on my website at: www.MelanieNowak.com” Even if I only got 1 reader for every 500 people I contacted, it’s still 1 reader I didn’t have before. I also printed up bookmarks for the series and I give them out and leave them in every public place that I go.

When the books first came out, I was going to night school, and student teaching during the day, (and I have a husband and 2 kids who actually like to see me once in awhile) so time was very limited and I could only promote a little here and there. I graduated last year and was supposed to take a school librarian job. Due to a serious illness, I was unable to take that position, and had to stay home on bed rest. I was disappointed and had no idea how we’d pay the bills, but I do believe that everything happens for a reason. God works in mysterious ways.

I’ve recovered from my illness, the book sales have begun bringing in enough to pay bills for now, and I’ve had the time to write, publish, promote where I can, and still be there for my family. It’s a juggling act, and I am lucky to have a very loving and tolerant husband (my house is a mess, LOL) but I believe in this story, and readers have shown me that they believe in it too. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to afford to stay home, but while I am home, I’m going to do all that I can to get the books noticed by people who might enjoy them.

15. What were the pros and cons of publishing your books independently? From Melanie L.

Pro’s of self-publishing:
• Complete control – over the story and the price.
• I have the satisfaction of knowing that I did it all by myself.
• I don’t have to wait endless months for approval of things.
• I don’t have deadlines to meet that can jeopardize the quality of my story.
• Also (BIG PRO) having learned everything myself, I now have a better understanding of the publishing process as a whole. I don’t know everything, but now when publishing companies come to me with an offer – I know enough to understand just what they are offering and whether it is worth it for me. So far I have received a few offers from small presses, but they won’t be doing anything for me that I haven’t been able to handle myself, and then they’ll take a % of my already small profits.

Con’s of self-publishing:
• Having complete control means complete responsibility. If there is criticism for the book covers, the story, or the editing – I take the blame. This series is my baby, and I handled every decision. I’m still new at this, still learning, and far from perfect. I try to learn from criticism and improve as I go. Hopefully, I’m doing a pretty good job, LOL.
• Having to handle everything takes away from writing time. Some of it is hard, and frustrating.
• No big bonus check for me 

*However, I’ve learned that many times when a publisher offers a big check to an author for signing on with them, it is just an advance on royalties they will be getting anyway. I am earning almost 20% off each book I sell right now. A publisher made an offer for a $15,000 contract signing advance – but they will only be giving me 8% royalties. Why should I give up 12% (and some of my rights) just so I can get it all at once rather than one book at a time? That’s when I have to look closely at what else they can do for my series and whether it is worth it. My 20% is very hard earned, and some of the work is frustrating – but I’ll keep it for now.

Most of what a publisher can do for me now, is lay out the money for a mass market printing. That will make the cost of printing books go down. Hopefully the costs will go down enough so that I can lower the retail price (rather than having to give the entire savings to the publisher as their fee). A publisher also has the connections to get my books into more stores, more quickly. And, a publisher can put some money into a promotional campaign to create public awareness of the books, to help them sell.

I may not have gotten a contract with a big bonus or advance check yet, and I am not getting rich (by a long shot - hahaha) but I have kept complete creative control of my story (very important to me), and every time a reader tells me that my characters resonate with them, and my stories touched their lives, it is more rewarding than I ever would have imagined!

16. how is the high school in this series like and different from your high school experience? From Meaghan Koci

ALMOST HUMAN actually takes place at a college rather than a high school. Having attended 3 different colleges (Suffolk Community College, Dowling College, and CW POST-LIU) I think I’ve shown a pretty accurate portrayal of what college life is like – considering the fact that college is not a main aspect of the story – just the setting. I never actually lived in the dorms at the colleges that I attended, but I had friends who did, and I hung out there enough to know what it was like. The main difference between my fictional un-named college in ALMOST HUMAN, and the real colleges that I attended, was that as far as I know, my schools were never visited by vampires 

17. If you could be a Cullen, who would you choose? From Nancy Taylor

When I began writing my series in late 2003, I stopped reading because writing was fulfilling all of my fantasy needs. When the series progressed into something that I was going to try and publish, I made the active decision to purposely not read any others books of my genre, because I felt I had a unique vision and writing style, and I did not want to become influenced by the work of others. I have never read a modern vampire book, so I’ve never met the Cullens, although they seem nice 

19. If I remember correctly, not sure which book--sorry, Cain says after he purchased blood that he doesn't buy from the same butcher because he doesn't want to make him rich. If the vampire goes to the same butcher in a small town to purchase blood, doesn't the butcher get suspicious if the same vampire comes in to buy blood often? I was curious about this. Thank you Melanie. I loved your first trilogy! From Rose

In Evolving Ecstasy – chapter 13, Cain says “I’m making the local butcher’s quite rich, and I’ve been buying the stuff almost faster than they can get it.” And somewhere else he does mention that he alternates butcher’s, so as not to raise suspicions. Normally, Cain travels a lot, so it isn’t a problem. When he stays in a town for any long period of time, he does try to buy large amounts, and then not return to the same butcher too often, so as not to raise questions. Blood is used in some forms of ethnic cooking though, and is not as unusual a purchase as you might think. Unfortunately they recently passed a law (in NY if not everywhere) that local butchers cannot sell blood, due to worry over disease. You have to get it from an actual slaughterhouse (shhh – don’t tell my vampires!) As readers will see in “Born to Blood”, Cain has other methods of getting blood when he is at home.

20. Do you enjoy reading your own books? From Irma

I really do enjoy reading my own books (does that make me a geek?) Books have been such an inspiration to me throughout my life. I re-read favorites over and over. To me, a good book is like an old friend! "Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers." Charles W. Eliot (1834 - 1926) To me, re-reading my own books is like visiting friends, re-watching a favorite movie, or acting a familiar play.

21. Which character is most like you? From GCR Dee

Honestly, I really am all of the characters in this book! It may sound strange because my characters are pretty diverse, but it’s true. Each of these characters has been taken from the seed of something within myself. I have been lucky enough in my life never to have been sexually abused or addicted to drugs - but everything that goes into making up the personalities for my characters, how they feel and react to things, has come from some little grain of dealing with something in my own life - magnified. At some point in my life I have totally identified with and "been" these people. Even if it didn't outwardly show - this is how I felt and wanted to react.

Outwardly I’m sure my friends and family would say I am most like Felicity. Physically, I have modeled her after myself; intellectually and emotionally she is very much the girl that I was at that age. I was usually pretty quiet and shy, constantly reading my fantasies rather than trying to live them out.

22. If your characters were real and you were stuck on an island with one of them who would it be? GCR Wanda

It would definitely be Cain, no question ;-)

23. If you could actually walk into the pages of your story and be there for a full day and night, who would you like to hang out with and which places would you like to hang out? I know that I would love to hang out with Cain! :-)
Please keep writing! Your stories are spectacular!! From Julia

Thanks Julia 
I would spend the afternoon having lunch at the college with Ben, Felicity and Allie, maybe go hang out with everyone at the DownTime CafĂ© in the early evening, and then spend the night with Cain. We could begin the evening at Tommy’s, maybe pop into Venus to see Sindy, but then have a private late night picnic in the park, alone together until dawn.

24. Hi Melanie, As I haven't read your series yet, I don't have any questions. I'd love, of course, to win the set of the 1st trilogy! From Lea Ellen

25. Don't really have a question. I would like to say that these books look awesome and I'd really love to read them. From Martha Lawson

26. No question....I just love your work! From Eileen Smith

Hello and thanks so much for stopping by! Thank you everyone for the compliments and the great questions. I hope my current readers continue to enjoy the series, and I hope that new friends will check out the books and give my venomous vampires a chance to addict you ;-)

Damaris – thanks for the opportunity to connect with everyone! Good luck to all in the contest!

~ Melanie

And now the winner of our Almost Human contest is:

An e-mail has been sent to you. Please reply within 48 hours. :-) 

Thank you everyone again and special thanks to Melanie! Make sure to check back for more giveaways and interviews! 

We will be having a live Chat July 12th at 8pm with author Meagan Hatfield and on July 23-24th a huge giveaway along with GotBooks? So much fun!

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