Interview: with Melanie Harding-Shaw

Melanie Harding-Shaw is a public policy writer by day and creative writer by night. She writes science fiction and fantasy. Her work has been published in Wild Musette Journal and New Orbit Magazine. You can follow her at Facebook and Twitter

Do you have any particular writing rituals you are comfortable sharing?

I’m a mother-of-three so I pretty much just write wherever and whenever I can. I am a major spreadsheet addict though, so I always finish by updating story word counts. I need to be able to look back and see what I’ve achieved.

I also love taking part in the NZ Book Council’s #RāmereShorts Twitter fiction game on a Friday. I combine it with the #vss365 daily prompt so I’m fitting seven words into a 140 character story. Great fun!

Are there any horror/fantasy/sci-fi tropes or sub genres which you feel are played out? And vice versa, what tropes would you like to see more of?

Tropes persist for a reason. I don’t go out of my way to avoid them or seek them out in my reading or writing. I do have pet peeves though. I am trying to watch season 3 of Daredevil and struggling to get past my annoyance at making a protagonist hallucinate that they are talking to their nemesis so we can hear their thoughts. It’s hard to do well and it can easily just feel like lazy exposition.

What books are beside your bed right now?

I’ve actually just cleared all the books from beside my bed and replaced them with my laptop for NaNoWriMo. I’ve recently finished The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin, In the Dark Spaces by Cally Black, The Traitor and the Thief by Gareth Ward, and Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017 anthology. When I give up on writing every spare moment this month (which I expect will be soon), I’ll be reading The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin, Binti by Nnedi Okorafor and The Chimes by Anna Smaill. I guess I’d better start on a 2018 anthology too before I get behind.

Published or unpublished, what's the hardest scene you've written?

I’m cheating a little at NaNoWriMo because I started chipping away at the novel I’m working on at the beginning of October. The entire concept came to me all at once when I was flying to Christchurch for work earlier in the year. I have an outline drafted up to work from, but for some reason writing it has been painfully slow. I’ve been lucky to write 400 words at a time through October for the entire first two chapters. I’m not sure why it’s been so hard. Hopefully the progress graphs in NaNoWriMo will be the motivation I need to push through.

How important is social media to you as an indie author?

I’m a long-time Facebook addict, but I only joined Twitter in August this year and it has been both a fantastic resource and dangerous time sink. I’ve just started querying agents with my first novel, a Young Adult Fantasy, and it has been invaluable to be able to follow potential agents, see what they’re really about, and even get some advice from them through #askagent sessions. There’s lots of great information there from publishers and other writers too. Social Media seems to be the quickest and easiest way to get yourself showing up in a Google search so people can find you. So, it’s essential unless I’m spending as much time on Twitter as I am writing!

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