In this past year, I discovered fairy-tale author, Melanie Cellier, and OH, do I ever love her books! They are full of such beauty, charm, romance, and excitement! And she has so many more books coming out! So without further ado, may I introduce her and her series.
Hello, Melanie! Thank you so much for coming by my blog! Tell us a bit about yourself and your fairy-tale series, The Four Kingdoms!
Hi! I’m an Australian author, and I live in Adelaide. I think Adelaide’s a pretty typical Australian city in that we have hot, dry weather and a lot of beaches. We also have koalas in the trees, and they’ll sometimes decide to stroll down for a visit in the backyard. I’ve been obsessed with books for about as long as I can remember, although sadly I don’t have as much time for reading now that I’m an author and also a mum. I still squeeze it in when I can, though! In terms of authoring, I write YA. At the moment I write fairy tale retellings, but I’m also planning a general fantasy series for later this year. My two current series are The Four Kingdoms and the follow-on Beyond the Four Kingdoms which is only partially completed. These stories take place in two separate groups of kingdoms, and each book is a stand-alone with a different hero and heroine. They are all interconnected, however, so you will see characters pop up in each other’s stories. The books have a strong central romance, but also include adventure and intrigue with some sort of kingdom-level threat that must be defeated.
What was the journey that led you to writing these books?
I got started writing fairy tale retellings because I think it’s so fun to read a new story but to also find all the connections to the original tale. And when I'm reading the old fairy tales, I’m often left in confusion as I try to understand why the characters do such odd things! So there’s a lot of scope for coming up with characterizations and motivations and twists and turns that can explain the bizarre events.
My first book was a retelling of The Princess and the Pea and it began when I wondered why the queen was so obsessed with her son marrying a true princess—and who in the world would think putting a pea under a giant pile of mattresses to be a good test of princesshood! Once I came up with a motivation for the queen and added a godmother and a magic pea, the story grew from there.
Plus, I think we can all do with some more happy endings in our lives and there’s nothing like a fairy tale for a good happy ending!
You used to have different covers for your books (which were also beautiful), so what inspired the change and how did you find your new cover designer (who is utterly fantastic)?
Yes, I love my cover designer, Karri—she really is fantastic! I found her when I was wanting covers for my second series, Beyond the Four Kingdoms. I spent a long time scouring the web looking at cover design websites and checking forums for recommendations from other authors. Somehow I came across Karri and since I loved her portfolio, I decided to book in an initial two slots with her for my first two covers. From there, I booked her to do the rest of the series, and then to go back and re-do the covers for my first series. My main motivation for re-doing the already published books was to create stronger series branding—both within each series and between the two series.
Whose romance is your favorite thus far? And who is your favorite character?
That is a tricky question! I don’t know that I’ve ever thought about it before. I have a warm spot for the twins (Lily and Sophie) since they started as children in my first book, and also for Celine since she’s been great fun to write. But I would probably have to say that I’ll always have a special spot in my heart for Alyssa and Max. I think that’s because The Princess Companion was the first book I ever wrote, and I probably put the most of myself into Alyssa out of all my heroines. (I’m also super sensitive and used to get mercilessly poked by my brothers, haha, although, of course, there are lots of ways Alyssa is different to me as well.) And then, since it was my first book, I also put a lot of my all-time favorite elements of a romance into that book.
What were some of the biggest surprises that came from being an author? Were there challenges you had to overcome?
I think one of the biggest surprises of being an author for me was that it turns out I have to start writing a book for the rest of the story to come. For years I put off starting at all because I didn’t have the full idea for a whole story. But then one day I decided to just try anyway, and it turns out that I’m not an outliner by nature. I have to start the story and have the characters come to life before the ending develops.
After that first book, the biggest challenge has been discipline. It’s easy to think that if you have a whole day free to work, you’ll get so much done. But it’s amazingly easy for the time to just disappear without any words being written! I’m still working on that one, along with balancing the business and admin tasks of being an independent author against finding the time (and discipline!) to just sit down and write new words.
What environment do you tend to write in? And what is your dream environment?
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.) I would add that a nice view, something appropriately atmospheric for whatever I’m writing, would be part of a dream environment.
How you do like to relax and recharge?
I like to read (of course), but I have to admit I often choose to watch Netflix. (I love a good binge-watching session, although I rarely have time for it these days.) I like to be active with my hands, as well, so I’ll often crochet while I watch. It stops me from snacking which is what I do far too often when I’m reading! If I’m feeling really tired or drained, I’ll often go back and re-read/re-watch an old favorite. And I always enjoy a good catch-up with a friend. I’d talk all day if given the opportunity :D
What are some of your favorite things? (Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, etc.) Where do you draw inspiration?
I think my inspiration comes from everything around me, as well as a lifetime of reading books. I studied history and politics which probably helped as well, particularly when combined with so many years of reading fantasy. And since I always loved reading happily ever afters and stories that included a strong romance element, I think writing fairy tales has come pretty naturally.
Some of my favorite things include: peach colored roses listening to the rain when I’m warm and snug inside feeling those super, super soft baby blankets/toys curling up somewhere comfy with something sweet to eat, a favorite to read, and lots of time in front of me seeing an old friend after a long time apart and then talking all night.
Can you share some plans and hints for the future?
I still have four more books to go in the Beyond the Four Kingdoms series (The Snow Queen, Snow White, The Swan Princess, and The Little Mermaid). I’m also planning to start a YA general fantasy series. It’s going to be a four book series following the same girl as she attends a school where she doesn’t belong and learns how to use and control her magic. I decided to write it when I remembered how much I always enjoyed reading school stories set fully in a fantasy world. (I read all of Tamora Pierce as a teenager, for example.) And if you throw in a handsome, arrogant prince, all the better ;D
I expect this new series, along with finishing Beyond the Four Kingdoms, will take me all of 2018 and 2019.
Thank you so much for coming by my site, Melanie!!! Now, dear readers, please do go and check out her novels!
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