Describe your desk / writing space.
My desktop computer is still where I write, despite having a laptop. The permanence of it lends me a sense of security, I think, and helps me get back into the flow more quickly. I have noise-canceling headphones, my cell phone to control my Spotify, a cup of coffee or water, and my stack of reference books. Strewn all around are notecards scribbled with plot pieces and ideas that came to me in the shower, though most of them eventually make their way into my digital outline.
Do you have a writing routine or do you write when inspired?
A little of both. Authors today have to do so much more of the business side of things than they used to. Indies have to do it all. I try to write every day but there are days when the words just won’t come, so I use those to do ads, bookkeeping, and other tedious necessities. I’ve also learned that I can’t force the words. Sometimes, a scene or a section just isn’t working and I can’t for the life of me figure out the solution. After trying for years to force the issue, I’ve come to terms with the fact that sometimes I just have to step away and let the problem percolate. Sometimes it’s hours, sometimes it’s weeks, but my brain will supply the right answer when it’s ready.
What was the hardest scene for you to write? Which scene was your favorite to write?
‘Hardest’ is easy. There’s a scene toward the end of Traitor where Elivya buries someone she loves in an unmarked grave. I won’t spoil it with more detail than that, but I will admit that I cried as I wrote it. It’s such a horrible, beautiful, heartbreaking scene.
It’s harder to pick a favorite, as I have a lot of favorite moments throughout the series, but there is one in Lazerin that comes to mind. When her people are facing starvation, Elivya is forced to make a terrible choice, one that flies in the face of her sacred lineage. How that night changes her, and how it changes her relationships with some of the other characters, has repercussions that echo through the rest of the series.
What are you working on next?
I’m currently working on book #3 in my Crown of Lilies series, though I’m outlining a few side projects including some standalones about key secondary characters in the main series.
What authors or books have influenced your writing?
Jacqueline Carey remains one of my favorite authors. Her lush worldbuilding is something to aspire to. I love Leigh Bardugo’s characters. She is an absolute master of writing a large cast and keeping each player unique and memorable. I learned a lot about craft from reading Scott Lynch’s work, as well, mostly about getting out of my own way.
How do you come up with the title to your books?
In my current series, the titles reflect the labels that burden the main characters. One of the big themes in this series is overcoming what the world says you are and moving forward. The characters make mistakes, sometimes big ones with devastating consequences, and have to find the courage to try again despite their failures.
What inspired your book/series?
It started with bits and pieces from dreams, but mostly I had a desire to write a story about being human. I wanted a protagonist who made catastrophic mistakes and still found a way to ‘save the world’. The struggle to recognize those mistakes, the courage to move on, to try and do better, is to me the core of all that it is to be human. I wanted a story that championed that struggle.
Who is your favorite character from your book and would you get along?
I love Aubrey. He’s sharp and sensitive, clever and kind. He has an unwavering sense of justice and is fearless in the defense of others. Between that and his love of wine, adventure, and romance, I like to think we’d get along swimmingly.
If you could live anywhere, in this world or fantasy, where would you live?
I grew up on the Harry Potter books, so the child in me still wants to live in the wizarding world where I can learn magic and have a cool wand. The adult in me is more excited about the idea of a house that cleans itself.
What is your favorite meal?
Not sure I really have a favorite meal, but I do have a favorite dessert: espresso/coffee ice cream!
Coffee or tea? Wine or beer?
I love coffee, though I will occasionally opt for tea if I want something warm in the afternoon or evening. I can’t stand beer. I’ll drink wine on occasion, but my go-to is hard cider. I was spoiled in Austin with the Austin Eastciders taproom right down the street from my work. Now that I’ve moved back to the midwest, I can’t seem to find a good cider anywhere, so I’m not drinking as much (which is probably better for me anyway).
Describe yourself in three words.
Driven. Adventurous. Pragmatic.
About the Author
A voracious reader from her youth, Melissa Ragland has spent her life devouring stories. In libraries and bookstores, she devoted three decades to the study of fiction, dissecting the weave and weft of storytelling. Now, after a long stint in the much-beloved heat of Austin, Texas, Ragland has returned to the Midwest woodlands of her youth to pursue her lifelong passion for writing. Her lush and unapologetic debut fantasy series has earned accolades from readers and fellow authors alike, with book one (‘Traitor’) being selected as a Page Turner Awards finalist and earning a Reedsy Discovery five-star review.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B07SNHKGY7
Swordplay. Spycraft. These are the skills Elivya has studied all her life – skills she must keep secret at all costs.
As the sole heir to one of the kingdom’s Great Houses, the time has come for her debut at court. One whisper of her unorthodox training could ruin her prospects and spell the end of her ancient bloodline. Under the watchful eye of her father’s deadliest – and most irritating – guard, Elivya joins the nobility’s vicious game of gossip, seduction, and ambition to secure her family’s future.
But the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined.
A shadow grows in the East, a ruthless empire bent on conquest. When a foreign agent infiltrates the royal court, whispering in the king’s ear and sowing the seeds of war, Elivya knows that exposing him will take every one of her carefully-hidden skills. A single misstep could destroy her House – or doom her nation.