Sunday, 5 February 2012

Author Interview - Melissa Douthit

Author Melissa Douthit stopped by our blog for a visit.  Melissa was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to share a little bit about herself. 

In addition, Melissa is giving away copies of her latest book The Firelight of Maalda, book 2 in the Raie'Chaelia trilogy.  Book 1, The Raie'Chaelia, and the prequels, can be downloaded for FREE at SmashwordsSee below for details.

When Chalice sets off for Branbury in the middle of the night with her grandfather's instructions, she has no idea of the dangers that await her. The King's men have destroyed her home village of Canton and she is suddenly thrown into a Terravailian world that she does not know. Lost and alone, she is hard pressed to evade the iron grasp of the madman who rules the land. With the help of a friendly Chinuk, an old man, and a book that she discovers along the way, not only does she find true friends and true love, but she also finds her true self and what it means to be the Raie'Chaelia.

The Firelight of Maalda: A story that unites the real with the fantastical and turns science into magic …

Chalice and her group leave Barenthren to travel to Portalis. There she and her friends discover the beautiful city, its people, its history, and its secret that has been kept hidden for thousands of years. During their stay, they learn that Dar’Maalda has the Firestone and that he plans to use it.

What is the Firestone and what does Dar’Maalda plan to do with it? What are the Naezzi? What does the title, The Firelight of Maalda, really mean? And … what is the secret of Portalis, the secret that has been guarded so jealously for so long – so jealously, that many have given their lives to protect it?

In The Firelight of Maalda, the second novel of the trilogy, The Legend of the Raie’Chaelia, you find out. It is a tale of intrigue and wonder where two opposite worlds collide in an explosive journey that leads Chalice and her friends to the dark islands lurking just beyond the horizon of Ielieria, where the Firelight of Maalda sits … and waits.

 Thank you for stopping by Melissa! When and why did you begin writing? What inspired you?
I began writing notes for this trilogy back in 2005 but never really got around to writing the first novel until 2007. It was when one of my favorite authors died. I wrote about it in the preface of
The Raie’Chaelia:
On the morning of 21st of September, 2007, I sat down at my computer with a cup of coffee and clicked a familiar bookmark on my internet browser. The link took me to a website that I knew well. In doing so, I learned that one of my favorite authors had passed away. His name was James Oliver Rigney, Jr., also known as Robert Jordan. The website was

Ever since I was seventeen, I have been reading his epic fantasy series, The Wheel of Time. I remember buying the first book, The Eye of the World, from a local bookstore and rushing home to read it. I remember it like it was yesterday. To this day, after twenty-one years, I am still reading his series as it quickly draws to a conclusion in its final completion by Brandon Sanderson.

I never thought I could be a writer given that my talents lie in other areas, mostly in mathematics and science, but when I learned of Jordan’s passing, I decided to start writing a story that I had been tossing around in my head for a while. The ideas were there but the realization of those ideas into a book was a problem. I didn’t believe that I could do it. So, that morning, inspired by Jordan’s life story, I sat down and started typing. 

Were the characters in your book created around people in your life? How did you decide on the character names?
A few are inspired by people that I know, a couple being combinations of certain people. I didn’t really realize who they were until I sat back and read what I had wrote. Then I recognized them. Chalice is mostly my sister, who is a petite, blond woman with a major attitude. Jeremiah is a combination of two men that I know and me. Jeremiah has many characteristics that I have. Kiran and Tycho are loosely based on two of my best friends and Ben on my late grandfather. Bunejab isn’t really based on anyone. He just kind of popped into my head.
Character names - Chalice’ name is purposeful but the reader won’t know that purpose until the end of the trilogy (don’t want to give it away.) Jeremiah - this is a name I’ve always loved for some reason, so I chose it to be the hero’s name. All the other names just kind of popped into my head.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I work a full-time job on a government project, Monday through Friday, so I cram in writing whenever I can. I always keep my laptop with me in case I get a flash of inspiration, which comes from time to time, and I have to write down what I’m seeing in my head before I forget. Sometimes I even get up in the middle of the night to jot down ideas. It drives me crazy.

It sounds like you keep busy! Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
What I find challenging is editing. Yuk! I hate editing.

I hear that from a lot of authors! How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
My work experience definitely comes out in my writing. It’s particularly obvious in book two, The Firelight of Maalda. I’ve worked at a lot of places where I dealt with secret classified data. One job was at a nuclear weapons lab in Livermore, CA, and the other, I worked downstairs in a basement vault on secret military stuff in Monterey, CA.

I grew up in a matriarchal family and I think that also comes out in my writing. In the story, The Legend of the Raie’Chaelia, there are a lot of strong female characters who are leaders and who take crap from no one.

How would you describe Raie'Chaelia to someone who has never heard of it?
The Raie’Chaelia is a coming-of-age story about a young girl who is thrown into a world that is strange to her after a young life of being sheltered and hidden. Along her journey, she discovers information not just about this world in which she lives but also about herself, and she meets some interesting characters along the way. She also comes across a true love that she has forgotten she had.

How did you come up with the ideas behind your books?
I’m not sure. I’ve always wanted to write a fantasy trilogy and I wanted to write about a strong heroine, too. The idea behind the world in which Chalice lives I’m pretty sure came from my work experience.

Who designs the covers for your books? What is your part in that as an author?
Charles Nemitz of Lucky Bat Books designed the covers for The Raie’Chaelia, The Vanishing, and The Journey Begins. He also designed the B&N cover for The Firelight of Maalda. Brielle Porter designed the Amazon cover for The Firelight of Maalda and she also did the cover for The Return, book three, which is being written right now. The cover she designed for book three is beautiful. It is here on my website:

My part in the process is that I give them a description of the cover I envision for the book and maybe a relevant excerpt from the text. Then, they try to create what I am describing. Both Charlie and Brielle integrated their own artistic vision into the covers as well and when they did, I found their ideas to actually be better than my own. So in between my vision and theirs, they both have created covers that I absolutely love and that I hope, the readers will love, too.

What were your feelings when you first saw the finished product of your first book?
Wow, that’s a good question. Disbelief for one. I couldn’t believe I had actually done it. I was also relieved, ecstatic, proud, grateful and worried. You know, a mix of emotions.

What do you do to unwind and relax?
I sit by the fire with a glass of wine and listen to an audiobook while I knit.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I am currently working on The Return, book three of the trilogy. I am also doing some editing for book one and writing a glossary with a pronunciation key to go in the back of book one, two and three. In addition to that, I’m getting ready for the blog tour for The Firelight of Maalda that starts this February. Details of the tour here:

What book are you reading now?
I’m finishing up several books: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, Inheritance by Christopher Paolini, and Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon.

Thank you for your time Melissa and for sharing your books with us!

Now for the giveaway…
Melissa is giving away copies of The Firelight of Maalda, book 2 in the Raie'Chaelia trilogy.  The Raie’Chaelia, book 1, and the prequels can be downloaded for free at Smashwords.

To get your copy of The Firelight of Maalda, follow Melissa in some way (your choice, see below) and leave a blog comment with your email address and tell us how you are following.  Giveaway ends March 1, 2012.

Melissa is also giving away a free Kindle in a drawing for her blog tour.  For information on that, just visit the tour stops listed here on Melissa's website:

To follow Melissa or find out more about her books:

1 comment:

  1. I'm following Melissa on Goodreads(Diane Bojda)
    Twitter(@Dyniy), Facebook(Diane Feryo Bojda)& on her website. Thanks for the great chance to win this book. ;-)