This blog is about emerging author Melissa Wray and her journey into publication. It also includes some writing tips and useful links.
Melissa hopes there is enough time in her life to write all the stories she wants to write and read all the books she wants to read. Both lists are long!
Alana is your typical girl next door ... with a twist!
Quick Plug …
Join Alana Oakley’s hair-raising ride unravelling the mystery of High School, Life, and Boys.
Tell us a little about your writing journey.
My first literary effort was made with bright orange lipstick scrawled across my parents’ bedroom walls at age three. I think I was destined to write about crime and mystery because I promptly ate the evidence.
What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
Nothing beats watching someone laugh out loud while they’re reading your book.
What is the hardest aspect of being a writer?
Self-doubt is something which plagues me because writing can be such a lonely pursuit. You have to be self-disciplined and determined but you also need to remember that everybody reads for a different purpose. I’ve learnt not to be disheartened if not everybody likes what I’ve written. You can’t please everyone and you shouldn’t try.
Writers are sometimes influenced by things that happen in their own lives. Are you?
I’ve had to escape from a public toilet, cuddled up to a stranger because I mistook him for my dad, and been frisked at Long Bay Gaol... not all on the same day. While I have not used these specific examples in my writing, I have drawn on the overall arching question which I ask myself in these situations: How did I get into this?
Tell us about your publications?
The Alana Oakley series is light-hearted comedy with a bit of mystery thrown in. It is important to me that the books provide windows into the cultures I’ve experienced. Humour is a really great medium for bringing people together. I also like to challenge people’s ideas. What if Harry Potter had been black? Or in a wheelchair? Or had a lisp? The ‘what if’ factor helps me add interesting dimensions to my writing.
About the Books
Alana Oakley: Mystery and Mayhem (May 2015) takes you on a hair-raising ride through Alana Oakley’s first year of High School as the teen sleuth unravels the mystery of misdeeds, the mystery of life, and the even greater mystery of Boys. Alana quickly realises that having Attitude with a capital ‘A’ isn’t enough to solve the case – not when her first year at Gibson High has her duelling with the military inspired Coach Kusmuk, dodging the over-exuberant Nurse Cathy or deciphering dubious algebraic equations. If that wasn’t enough to deal with, her impulsive and accident-prone mother is one click away from Internet-dating a mass murderer! Or a magician! Or worse!
Torment and Trickery, the second book in the Alana Oakley series (July 2015) continues with another hectic adventure. There’s school newbie, Flynn, and the Teen Expert, Dr Gray, who’s dating her mum, to investigate. But as Alana starts probing she gets more than she bargains for. Is Bad-Boy Flynn the serial arsonist setting schools alight? Is Gray a modern Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? Can Alana solve both mysteries before her birthday? And will her birthday be another Epic Fail?
What is the most surprising thing about writing/publishing you have learnt?
I’m amazed at how much work goes into a book. Writing is just the beginning. Editing, mock-ups for book covers, marketing etc – you know it all happens but you don’t realise the depth to which it happens, and the amount of time and effort it takes. The end price doesn’t seem like a fair summary of how many people are involved or the sheer volume of hours it takes writing press releases or working the phones etc to drum up interest.
Other than writing what else do you love?
I’m Asian, so, of course, FOOD! But I also love photography and trawling through markets or car boot sales to find weird and wonderful stuff. In Southern France I once found an old black and white photograph of a British man going hunting on the back of an elephant! And another time I found a pair of ceramic hands. For this reason, I also enjoy looking through Instagram and being inspired by others’ creativity. There are so many amazing people out there having wild adventures.
What would your dream location for writing be?
If I was somewhere too exciting or exotic like Morocco or Egypt, for example, I would be spending all my time taking photographs and not writing. So if we’re thinking pure Utopia for writing it would involve zero housework, be a quiet place, set in natural surroundings, have home-cooked meals and Wi-fi access… I guess I’m already living in my dream location… and housework is fine as long as you lower your standards.