There Once Were Stars
by Melanie McFarlane
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Peace. Love. Order. Dome. That’s the motto that the Order has given the residents of Dome 1618 to live by. Natalia Greyes is a resident of Dome 1618, a covered city protected from the deadly radiation that has poisoned the world outside for four generations. Nat never questioned the Order, until one day she sees a stranger on the outside of the dome. Now Nat wants answers. Is there life outside the dome and if so, what has the Order been hiding from everyone?
Whether it’s uncovering the corruption of the future, or traveling to other worlds to save the universe, Melanie McFarlane jumps in with both hands on her keyboard. Though she can be found obsessing over zombies and orcs from time to time, Melanie has focused her powers on her upcoming YA trilogy: THERE ONCE WERE STARS and her YA urban fantasy series: SUMMONER RISING.
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
In high school I desperately wanted to be a writer, but we couldn’t afford any extra workshops or classes. Even when I applied for university, my parents were worried about what I would do for money. Though financial aid fell through my first year, I was able to get into a local business program. But I was constantly changing my mind, never settling on one major. Deep inside I must have known I was on the wrong path, and it wasn’t until the last two years when I decided to start writing again that I truly feel like I’ve found myself.
2. How long does it take you to write a book?
It varies. I still take classes while working full-time. So depending on the story and my work/school schedule, a novel can take upwards a year. But I won’t lie – I wrote the first draft of There Once Were Stars in 3 months…I had very little sleep and was a walking zombie. I wrote every day, sometimes until 3am, then turned around and got up at 6:30am to get ready for work. Do not try this at home.
3. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I do most of my writing after my children go to sleep, so between 8pm and midnight. Then I get up at 6am for work, am home by 5pm, and start it all over again.
4. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I need to “experience” the scenes when I write them. When I need to write a sad scene I turn on Harry Potter and watch Dumbledore die…it gets me every time.
5. How do books get published?
Through a long, long process of writing, editing, revising, proofing, formatting…and then off to the printer!
6. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Life, movies, other books, you name it. I remember things from childhood, and put them into scenes. I use how other people interact with me and use them as side characters. Weird weather – I might write about it. Once you start looking everything has potential.
7. When did you write your first book and how old were you?
My first completed novel was in 2014…I was 35…now you know my current age!!
8. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I’m always writing. If not, I’m looking for writing material, playing video games, watching scary movies, and sometimes getting outdoors. But seriously…always writing.
9. What does your family think of your writing?
My mother is my biggest fan, whose isn’t! I try to turn everyone into a critic, but it’s hard when they just want to read for fun. I enjoy hearing what they like and don’t during the beta phase, though!
10. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Patience. I am a terribly impatient person. Guess what. Publishing takes a long time. I received an offer for There Once Were Stars in May 2014 and it is being published April 2016. I forced myself to learn to be calm and focus on the next book and becoming a better writer. Patience is golden in publishing.
11. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
That’s like asking who your favorite child is! I won’t lie, There Once Were Stars will always hold a special place in my heart as the first book I received a publishing contract.
12. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Keep writing. Keep reading. Keep learning. I know, we hear these things all the time as new writers. It wasn’t until I took those seriously, and took a Creative Writing certificate at a local university, and then started giving myself Goodreads reading challenges, and daily writing goals that I really understood the work it took to be a better writer. Don’t stop trying. Ever. Writing is hard work, but it can be learned.
13. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
So far I’ve been lucky with great reviews. They find There Once Were Stars refreshing and a page-turner. All I want is for people to enjoy it, and then want book two!
14. Do you like to create books for adults?
I write young adult, that is sometimes borderline new adult. It’s just my favorite age to write for. Maybe it’s because that’s when I really fell in love with writing, while I was a teen, and I want to do the same for others. I still read almost all YA!
15. What do you think makes a good story?
A good story keeps me reading, plain and simple. Because I read late at night, something has to happen in every chapter, because it’s at the end of a chapter where I’ll put a book down to try to get some sleep. But those books that keep me asking questions are the ones that keep me up until 2-3am.
16. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to write, but had no focus. I knew I had a passion for it, I just needed direction. That came to me later in life.
17. What Would you like my readers to know?
No matter how old you are, it is never too late to write. I don’t regret where I am now, I believe my life took me where I need to be to write the many stories I now have waiting to be finished on my laptop. You will never be disappointed you tried.