I would like to introduce Melanie Rose Huff, the winner of the BRAG Medallion for her book, Ashford.
Thank you Melanie for the pleasure of this interview. I would like to ask you questions about your interests in reading. What was the last truly great book you have read? I would have to say The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery. Beautifully written and meaningful.
What were your favorite books as a child? Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, The Jolly Postman, The Phantom Tollbooth… I also loved fairy tales and pretty much anything with Arthur Rackham illustrations.
What is on your night stand? Lamp, Kleenex box, clock, lip balm, several books, tonic water, a sweatshirt, and, of course, a notebook and pen. It’s kind of a mess.
What do you plan to read next? I just ordered my copy of Victoria Dunn’s Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies. Zombie books are generally pretty low on my reading list, but I’ve been following Victoria’s blog, Handmade by Mother, for over a year now, and I’m a huge fan of her writing style and snarky sense of humor.
What’s your favorite literary genre and why? I like a little bit of everything, but historical fiction probably wins. Most of all I like writing that reads like music, in any genre. It can be Mozart or The Beatles (I prefer it if it’s not Justin Bieber) but it should have a rhythm, a melody.
Melanie, please tell us about your book, “Ashford.” Well, it was kind of a happy accident. I was between writing projects, and I wrote the opening scene…then I liked the characters so much that I had to see where the story went.
Did you do any research for your story? If so, were there any challenges? I did a lot of research. I had a stack of books on WWII, and timelines all over the place, but I really wanted it to be a story about ordinary people, the people at home trying to carry on with their normal lives through the chaos, and my best help with that came from the BBC. They’ve compiled an amazing online collection of firsthand accounts of the war years. You can type in pretty much anything you want to know and there will be a long list of stories, written by the people who experienced it. It’s amazing. There’s so much color and personality to them, and reading them is such a perfect way to find those little details…smells and sounds and emotions. For a writer, or really any sort of storyteller, it’s like opening a treasure box. I used them again for my new novella, Violet Shadows, which just came out.
Was there any scenes you found difficult to write? Many. I always procrastinate over writing intense scenes, like the scene with the young man in the wheelchair, or the Christmas scene in the hospital. It’s not even that I find them difficult to write, per se, but that they take me over. They’re very fulfilling scenes to write, but they’re also very scary and exhausting. You’re channelling the actions and emotions of everyone in the scene: anger and fear and love and hate and God knows what else. When you’re done you’re bound be exhausted. That’s how you feel sometimes: triumphant and bone-weary.
Is there a character in your story you feel most connected to? Definitely Anna. I think it would be very difficult to take three years writing a novel in first person and not feel connected to your protagonist. I also feel very connected to Violet, which is part of what led me to continue her story in Violet Shadows. Neither of them is me, but there are parts of me in both of them. I think as writers we all pull from our own experiences, and then inject those experiences into the context of another life. I never lived through war, but I survived cancer ten years ago. It’s all there: fear, threat to life, the finding of strength and serenity inside yourself. It doesn’t matter where you got the emotions. They’re yours, and you can use them to express the feelings of others whose lives are outside your experience.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author? Don’t be afraid of rejection or criticism. Use it, but also trust yourself, because only you can write your book.
How did you discover indieBRAG? A fellow author in an Indie Author group I’m part of mentioned that his book had been chosen for the B.R.A.G. Medallion. It sounded interesting, so I looked it up.
What is your favorite quote? “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” -Martha Graham
Melanie Rose has been writing since childhood. She currently resides in Chewelah, Washington, with her husband, singer/songwriter Aaron Gabriel, their dog Leo, and a hedgehog named Ferdinand. She loves to dance and travel. Her debut novel, Ashford, was awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion in 2012. Her most recent book, a novella titled Violet Shadows, was released in July of 2012.
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Melanie Rose Huff who is the author of Ashford, one of our medallion honorees at http://www.bragmedallion.com. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as Ashford merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.