Monday, 19 August 2013

Featured Author: Melissa Eskue Ousley

Melissa Eskue Ousley is the author of The Solas Beir Trilogy. "Sign of the Throne," the first book of this young adult fantasy series, will be released on September 14. She is currently working on the second and third novels in the trilogy, "The Rabbit and the Raven" and "The Sower Comes."

Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family and their Kelpie, Gryphon. When she’s not writing, Melissa can be found swimming, hiking, kayaking, scuba diving, or walking along the beach, poking dead things with a stick.

Before she became a writer, she had a number of educational jobs, ranging from a summer spent scraping roadkill off a molten desert highway to years spent conducting research with an amazing team of educators at the University of Arizona.

Where can I find Melissa? 


Q: You have a background in psychology. How does that influence your writing?
A:I’m interested in both psychology and mythology—they intersect in Jung’s theories. When
you start looking at the mythology of different cultures, you see similarities, not only in
archetypes, but also in legends about mythical creatures. Certainly humans in different parts of
the world share similar fears, and it makes sense that our boogeymen resemble dark
, shadowy creatures that come in the night to steal usaway. But I’m also fascinated by tales of other creatures, like mermaids for example. There aremermaid stories from all over the world
—from the selkies of Ireland to the mermaids of Puerto Rico and Thailand. Psychology also influences my writing in the development of characters and themes, and through the inclusion of various concepts such as probability and synchronicity. I also like symbolism. Some, but not all, of my characters’ names have a symbolic meaning. For example, Tynan Tierney means “dark lord”.

Q: Where do you get your ideas for writing?
A: Ideas come from a lot of places: dreams, conversations, observing people and nature. There’ssome pretty gruesome stuff that happens in the animal kingdom. The Western Oracle, forexample, was inspired by a rather horrifying clip from Animal Planet. Life experiences play a
role. Cassandra Buchan is based on a dear friend who teaches statistics. And I do actually comefrom a Scottish heritage and am a descendent of the Buchan family. The motto inscribed on Riordan Buchan’s letter opener in Sign of the Throne is the real Buchan clan motto.

Q: What are some other things people should know about the world of Cai Terenmare?
A: Cai Terenmare culture is much different from the modern American culture of Newcastle
Beach. As an affluent community, Newcastle Beach is exclusive. Cai Terenmare is a formal
place, steeped in tradition. Some of those traditions are good, such as the idea that the solas beir should serve the people. Some of them, regarding class and gender hierarchies, stand in the way of equality. As leader of Cai Terenmare, David will have to reconcile his
privileged upbringing in the human world with that and decide whether or not to challenge the status quo. People in CaiTerenmare also speak formally and tend to avoid contractions unless, like Tynan Tierney, they’ve travelled in other worlds and picked up on the
language and customs of other cultures
Q: The Kruorumbrae are blood-thirsty monsters disguised as housecats. What’s up with that? Do you hate cats?
A: Not at all. I love cats; I love animals. There is something especially sinister though, about
evilhidden in plain sight, masquerading as something benign. When I was a kid, I thought I had an evil cat once, when it showed up in surprising good health after getting flattened in the road.
Then I realized my brothers and I had buried our neighbor’s cat. 
We gave it proper send-off though—lots of tears were shed. 
As far as I know, it’s still resting in peace

Q ;Did you always want to be a writer when you grew up?
A: Yes...and no. I wanted to be a lot of things during my childhood. A 
geologist. A marinebiologist. An astronaut. I tried on different identities. 
My father would work all day and then after the family had gone to bed, he
would stay up late and write. That may have rubbed off on me. I think 
though, that I was always telling myself stories, even if I wasn’t always 
writing the words down. I often got bored in school because I finished
 my work quickly, so I would draw to stay out of trouble. My drawings 
were more than doodles—they were entire stories, with the dialogue 
playing out in my head. And I was always a reader. I did get in trouble for 
reading in class a few times. In college I majored in English, but took 
a detour when I worked as acounselor and then, after getting my 
doctoral degree in Higher Education,  I worked with students at a 
university and conducted research. But eventually,  the stories that were
in my head came together in a cohesive way, and I had to write. 
That was when I started to write the Solas BeirTrilogy
Q:What do you like to read?
A: I enjoy the young adult genre and read a lot of books with themes 
similar to my books. I also enjoy fantasy and horror. Some of my
favorite authors are Stephen King, Christopher Moore,Terry Brooks,
and Neil Gaiman. The Talisman was my introduction to the world of 
Stephen King and is still one of my favorite books. I started reading 
his books in sixth grade and have been reading his work ever since. 
His book On Writing is one of the best books out there for
teaching people how to write.

Q: What advice doyou have for writers seeking to publish?
A: Don’t underestimate the value of an editor. It’s important to present your 
best work, and the insight from an editor in your genre is invaluable in 
helping you strengthen your manuscript. Itcan be costly, but well worth it.
Think of it as an investment in your writing.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a Terry Brooks fan as well, Melissa. I wasn't a huge fan of the last book I read of his, but I loved all the Shannara books up to that one. Great interview!