I am so glad to have author Melanie Cellier with me here today for an interview. I adore her books and have read almost every one. She is one of the authors that I will purchase a book from when it comes out without even reading what it is about.
Melanie, thank you so much for being here today.
What is your favorite hot drink and dessert?
Ooh, that’s an interesting question! Generally I drink rooibos tea, but my absolute favourite is probably white choc chai which I discovered at a local chocolate shop. So delicious! As for dessert, that seems far too difficult, haha. I have so many favorites 😀 Pumpkin pie, caramel slice, lemon meringue pie, cheesecake, and all sorts of delicious combinations of mint and chocolate would all be on the list. In terms of the fanciest (and most amazing) dessert I’ve ever made myself, it would probably be an incredible raspberry cheesecake brownie I once made. And now I’m thinking I need to make it again…
Those brownies sound amazing!
What is your all-time favorite fairy tale and why?
I actually don’t have a favourite fairy tale. But as a kid I absolutely loved a real-life movie version of The Twelve Dancing Princesses that my mum would borrow from the library. My sister and I would watch it every day until it was due back!
Wow, I didn’t even realize there was a real-life movie version of that. I’ll have to see if we can find it.
When you write your stories, is there generally a specific version of the fairly tale you select to use as your guideline? If so, which one?
I don’t use a specific version of the fairy tale. Instead I start with the central elements that are found in all (or most versions). Then I try to add in smaller elements, often from multiple different versions. An example is in A Tale of Beauty and Beast where Sophie’s ball dress is described as being made with gold and silver thread and looking like sunshine and moonbeams. This is a nod to a more obscure Brothers Grimm version of Beauty and the Beast, called The Singing, Springing Lark, where Beauty has to go on a quest to save the beast. She’s helped in her quest by the sun and the moon, with the sun giving her a dress that’s described as being “as brilliant as the sun itself”.
I knew this was going to be a fun interview! I bet you have fun finding all these stories.
How do you research for your books?
Since I write fantasy, I don’t have to do as much research as some other genres. However, I still do some research, usually around words/phrases (checking when they came into common usage to ensure they’re not too modern—and sometimes I’m really surprised by the results!) and specific, more technical, story elements. I generally do this research as I go, and the internet is my first stop. Sometimes it’s hard to find the info I need, though, in which case I turn to experts where possible. (Eg a doctor for a medical issue.) Often the issue is that I’m researching how something would go wrong, and all the information is about how to prevent the problem happening. (Probably a good thing really, haha.) An example of this is when I was researching a particular type of boat sinking, and all the articles were about how to prevent your boat sinking. Or I was researching a horse spooking, and all the articles were on how to train your horse not to spook.
Somehow I’m not surprised that you do so much research. It really shows.
Do you base your fantasy worlds on “real” places?
I don’t purposely set out to base my worlds on any specific place, but my kingdoms definitely have a more European flavor. This is largely a case of writing what you know since I’m more familiar with European/western culture and history.
And are your characters based on people you know?
I’ve never based a character on a specific person, although my first heroine, Alyssa, has several elements of myself. (Mainly that I’m also super sensitive and could never convince my brothers that it really did hurt me when they poked and prodded me, haha.)
I imagine most authors end up having their characters resemble themselves at least a little.
Do you have an outline in your head for the entire series so you know where each fairy tale is going to fit in, or is the overall story developed book by book?
Generally speaking I’m a “pantser” rather than an outliner (meaning I write by the seat of my pants, letting the story develop as I go). For my first series, I wrote the first book and only then decided to turn it into a series. (Too many of the secondary characters needed their own stories!) However, doing it that way did limit the fairy tales I could adapt for future stories, since I had already established elements like appearance, family backgrounds, etc, for the other heroines. So, for my second series, I did take the time from the beginning to plan out the royal families of each of the kingdoms and how they would fit into the fairy tales I wanted to retell.
I would have been shocked to find out you didn’t do at least that much planning. The world you have created is so intricate and detailed!
What is your ideal place to work (location, environment, ambiance)?
I love the idea of working at a library or cafe, but unfortunately the reality of long hours at a keyboard is that you need an ergonomic set up.
I’ve written some of my books in less than ideal places (e.g. on a laptop on the sofa) and my body definitely made some protests about it! So, these days, my ideal work environment is my sit-stand desk at home with my ergonomic keyboard and mouse. And hopefully left in quiet and peace to get into the flow without disruption! Of course, life doesn’t always cooperate, but that’s how I try to work. (And typing all that I now feel far too old and sensible, haha.)
Thank you so much for being here with us today.