Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Author of the Month: Demelza Carlton

I will be posting this interview up early for the month of November as I will be occupied until November 2nd. Enjoy!


A few days ago I had the privilege of interviewing Demelza Carlton, author of How to Catch Crabs, the Romance Island Resort series, Turbulence and Triumph series, Ocean's Gift series, Mel Goes to Hell series, and many more titles (believe me when I say there are many, many titles)!

SSML: Thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview on such short notice!

DC: First, I want to ask how you became an author, and what inspired you?
When I was writing my Masters thesis, there was a shipwreck and a tale of survival at sea that didn't make sense – a fisherman survived on the open ocean for three weeks, yet he couldn't swim. And when he washed up on shore, it was miles from where his ship sank…and in completely the wrong directions for the ocean currents. In my notes, I wrote, "Mermaids did it," and left it at that. When I did the final proofread, I laughed, removed the mermaid reference and submitted my thesis…but over a glass of wine later, I figured I'd do a little research into mermaid legends and sightings. I'd already uncovered some local Indian Ocean legends about mermaids and water dragons, and when I put all these together, I started writing what became Ocean's Gift, the first book I published back in 2012.

SSML: What have you written so far?
DC: So far I've written 21 books and number 22 is on the way, across five different series.

SSML: What genre are your books?
DC: The Ocean's Gift series is urban fantasy, about modern-day mermaids in Australia. The Turbulence and Triumph series was supposed to be a prequel to Ocean's Gift, but it became a whole series as the events on 1923 weren't quite as simple as I'd first thought, so that's a little more historical, taking place in the lead-up to World War II in the Indian Ocean. 
I have the Mel Goes to Hell series, which is a mix of paranormal romance and satire, as Lucifer emerges as the CEO of the HELL Corporation and falls for an undercover angel working as an office temp.
There's my Nightmares Trilogy, dark, psychological suspense about a girl whose body is found on a beach, almost dead…and unravelling the story about what happened to her and why.
And last up is something that came out of my Nightmares Trilogy, but is very different. A young rock star retires at the end of the Trilogy, and with his millions he buys an island resort in remote Western Australia. He's looking for love, as opposed to just the one-night stands he's enjoyed as a rock star, and he's going about it in some very unusual ways, inspired by the hotel's extensive romance library. It's called the Romance Island Resort series.

SSML: What gives you inspiration when writing a story or developing characters?
DC: Hahaha…oh, anything can do that. The whole Mel Goes to Hell series was inspired by an uncomfortable ride on a crowded commuter train.
Someone challenged me to put together a video on what inspires me to write the crazy things I do…so of course, I rose to the challenge:
Truly, anything can inspire me. All my stories are set in Western Australia or the Indian Ocean, at places I've been to. I take thousands of photos, which continue to inspire me when I'm home in my study. A fair few of them are underwater shots, too!

SSML: What inspired you to write the Ocean's Gift Series and the Turbulence and Triumph Series?
DC: Hmm…I already said where I got the inspiration for Ocean's Gift, but it's that book that inspired Turbulence and Triumph. I'll do my best to answer without giving spoilers.
Ocean's Gift starts with the sinking of the Columbia in a cyclone in 1921, where the sixteen-year-old mermaid saves a man who couldn't swim. The story then cuts to 90 years later, when the same mermaid returns to the same island. Older, wise and accompanied by her two daughters.
As the Ocean's Gift series progresses, her past becomes increasingly important – especially those 90 years, as that's when her daughters were born and she learns the skills that allow her to live on land and pass as human, something many of her people struggle with. So I set out to write a bit of that to inform the modern-day series, so I didn't get mixed up.
Except…well, Sirena only tells an abridged version of her story to her daughters. The truth is far more captivating. She didn't just meet a bloke, do the deed with him and nine months later have his children. No, William McGregor meant a lot more to her than that…and so the Turbulence and Triumph series was born. 
It starts with a grief-stricken girl who is pulled out of the sea by the crew of the Trevessa. They believe their ship is cursed and tempers are running high on the ship, which is a cargo vessel that doesn't normally carry passengers. The exception is engineer William McGregor, who's on his way to take up a new job at the Christmas Island phosphate mine. He forms an odd friendship with the girl he pulled from the waves and….well, the rest is history. 

SSML: I'm assuming you majored in English?
DC: Definitely not. I have four degrees, all in science or applied science However, I did proofread PhD theses for my beer money while I was at university. I have a Masters in Emergency Management from the Graduate School of Policing here in Australia – and I did my research on evacuations of remote sites, which involved investigating hundreds of shipwrecks over hundreds of years.
You want to know a secret? While the ships have changed, the people on them haven't. When disaster strikes, there's always at least one person who does something stupid. Just watch the news next time there's a really big storm, plane crash or shipwreck.

SSML: What were you like in school?
DC: I was always a quick learner, whether it was English, mathematics, science or anything else, though the only sport I was good at was swimming. I remember sitting in my high school mathematics class, having finished everything we were supposed to do halfway through the class, so I pulled out an exercise book and worked on writing a novel.

SSML: Would you say there's a little bit of yourself in each of your characters?
DC: I honestly couldn't say, because most of my characters are distinct voices (and whole personalities) in my head that are definitely NOT mine, but they become a part of me, especially when I'm writing their story. The number of times I've watched an episode of Supernatural and had Lucifer sniggering and making snide comments in the back of my head, or watching anything with a mermaid in it and trying not to laugh as my girls made disparaging comments about the discomfort of wearing seashells. Perhaps they take a bit of me or perhaps I take a bit of them – or maybe a bit of both.

SSML: What drew you to "paranormal romance" and "satire"?
DC: You mean aside from a mermaid who wouldn't shut up until I'd written her story? Actually, I'd call my mermaid books urban fantasy more than paranormal romance, though there is a strong romantic element running through the stories.
No, it's my Mel Goes to Hell series that's a combination of satire and paranormal romance. I take it you haven't heard the story about how I was inspired by a briefcase up the bum? Oh yes. You heard that right. Without going into too much graphic detail…
I used to work in a city office, commuting on a crowded train to and from work every day. Think Tokyo – and yes, I've travelled on Tokyo trains at peak hour. Very squishy. Anyway, on this particular day, I squeezed into a train with a few hundred other people and we were packed in like sardines, so tight we couldn't move. And the train suddenly stopped, almost tipping us all over, but we were packed in so tightly, that all we did was sort of teeter together before righting ourselves.
But when I stood upright, so did everyone around me – and that's not all that went up. Someone's briefcase (attache case, I think they're called?) kept going right up my skirt until the corner was wedged between my cheeks.
Now, I'm no angel. I was having very devilish thoughts about what I was going to do to the bastard whose bag was WAY too close to my bum, starting with stomping on his foot so hard I'd break all his toes. I glanced around, trying to work out whose toes to target, when I caught the eye of the man who was holding the offending briefcase. He looked as harried and miserable as I was, and I realised…he didn't know where his bag was. So if I stomped on his foot, it would come as a complete surprise…he'd probably jump and the bag would go up even higher. Hell no. Time to rethink my plan.
So I had two options – tell him (and a hundred other people within earshot, all of whom I regularly caught the train with) that I had a briefcase up my bum, to my embarrassment and his, or do my best to endure the painful train ride for the next ten minutes until I got off the train. 
I took the angel's path, and while I walked (stiffly) home, I started thinking about the background of why an angel would be commuting on my crowded train in the first place. I found the idea itself funny as Hell.
When I got home, I started writing down what would become the first few chapters of Welcome to Hell and See You in Hell. The rest, as they say, is history. And it keeps me off the commuter trains, which is an added bonus.

SSML: Have you ever written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?
DC: No. My characters cause enough trouble inside my head – I wouldn't want to inflict them on anyone else. I do have an upcoming project in 2016 with some other authors where we're all writing a novel set in a particular shared world, but each novel is just one person's work.

SSML: How do you think you've evolved creatively?
DC: Well, there are the days I'm so deeply immersed in my characters and their world, that I believe I have gills and a tail, or wings and a halo, or even horns and a tail…
I'd like to think I improve with each book. As I write each book, receive feedback from my critique partners and read their books, I learn more about writing, narrative and what readers want. I hope I continue to improve throughout my career, as I know from experience that not much survives in stagnant water…though that gives me an idea for a post-apocalyptic mermaid story…

SSML: To conclude the interview, I wanted to ask you if there was any advice you'd like to give to writers.
DC: The advice I'd give writers: If you feel your work is good enough to publish, set it free. You won't know until you try and self-publishing is well worth the risk.

Check out her website where she's currently giving away free books from the Mel Goes to Hell series.
You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, and purchase her works in print at

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Author of the Month: Alec Emerine

A few weeks ago I interviewed Alec Emerine from Lake Mary, aka Merman Dylan, who is currently working on his book "Where the Tides Take Us." I had a wonderful time chatting with him. We may or may not have gone off topic :P Since this was my first chat-style interview, it's a bit longer and there were a lot of questions I wanted to ask him. I hope you enjoy!!

S: Let's start off with a little bit about you. How did you first start writing?

D: I first started writing a long time ago. Before I started working on any of my book series I would write fanfiction stories about video games and stuff. In elementary school, I remember creating my own creatures and a world they lived in that was inspired by Video Games and Cartoons. I remember trying to create different races for an online game, and then, I decided to write books. Now I'm working on writing my book series.
S: What is the current inspiration for your story?
D: The inspiration for my current story is my interest in light and darkness, good and evil. I find duality interesting. I don't want my story to be about good and evil, but I do think duality is a simple concept that can be used to create a complex story. Although my characters live in a world where there is good and evil, I want there to be a place in between for some of the characters to interact in. Another source of inspiration is the vastness of the sea and how under the sea and on land are two different worlds. My biggest hope is that the duality in the story helps people see the place in between that is our world. While light and darkness does exist, there is also a twilight that allows us to connect to each other in spite of our differences. With all the differences that exist between us, I want to write a story that shows how two worlds are actually smaller pieces of a much bigger world that involves both the worlds that one would think are too different to coexist.
S: I find the duality theme really interesting. As it turns out the current shows on tv and in the movies have that light and dark aspect to their stories too. Maybe it's just me but I've been noticing it a lot more recently. Do you think that it's a recurring theme?
D: Duality has appeared on lots of TV Shows. Recently, Once Upon a Time features a strong element of good and evil. In my personal opinion, there use of light and dark magic has created a major separation of good and evil. Many of their strongest characters are the ones that shift sides because they travel through that gray area. Who doesn't want to see Snow White try to kill the blue bird of happiness or see the evil queen get redeemed for her evil deeds. The characters that travel through the twilight are the ones that change and stay on the show. I believe that it's a recurring theme that is a simple concept that leads to a complex story many don't really have a good way to illustrate. The walking dead, for example, is an incredible story. You can't really say anyone is a good guy or bad guy. Some are more bad while others are more good, but every single one of the characters are constantly shifting around between the duality. Duality sets the boundaries, but the change in the characters make the story.
Often times, a story will give the characters their just deserves in the end for continuing to do evil deeds or continuing to do good deeds. Duality sets those boundaries. The important thing is that the characters don't interact only from the boundaries. They need to cross through the twilight to grow.
S: Funny you should mention Walking Dead and Once Upon a Time as those were the shows I was just thinking about when I posed the question lol!
D: They are great shows. I think Once Upon a Time needs to make more use of that place in between good and evil more. They seem very focused on the opposing sides. That's just my two cents. The Walking Dead makes great use of all three areas. You know what the boundaries are, but you also know that none of the main characters are stuck on one side or another.
S: Your main character, are they sort of in that grey area as well or are they gonna be exploring all three areas?
D: The character that I named my mersona self after is going to be an interesting case. Dylan Zalrian's name literally means born from the waves and strength of the sea. Dylan is unique because he's more like a gate keeper between the two places. Dylan is one half of a single whole, and there will be something about him that is greatly desired by both sides. Dylan exists in the light, but he has another half that exists in the darkness. They both play a major rule in the story. The evil that everyone has to fear is still something not even the dark half of Dylan has witnessed beyond small glimpses of the world the evil desires.
Dylan will be travelling from light toward darkness, and this transition plays a major role in the plot. However, this character isn't so simple of a character to say that he travels from light to darkness. He's the character that light and darkness pivots around. You'll have to read to find out how. All I want to say is, his dark half plays a similar major role, and the forces from both sides will be trying to obtain what the character doesn't know he has. Him and his dark half are like gate keepers in the sense that the other characters will change depending on how they go about trying to claim what they have.
S: Almost sounds like Anakin Skywalker. But a merman. 
D: He's not an easy character to talk bout because of how close to the plot he is. He's not a character that goes from good to evil or evil to good. Dylan is a character that is good with a few faults, but he never becomes evil. His fall means Evil's rise. This affects his dark half too. When Dylan falls into darkness, his dark half rises into light. One doesn't become the other but they are inverted from each other. If you think of it this way and I'm trying to be very careful with my words, if the big evil get the world that he wants, then Dylan's dark half becomes good while Dylan becomes evil. It's a mind bender, but Dylan can't be evil unless the bad guy gets what he wants. His absence of evil takes form as his Dark half as another character.
S: That does sound really complicated. What else can you tell us about the main plot of the story?
D: The main plot of the story or the first book involves a sea witch who is trying to lay claim to Dylan's home. She's having hard time claiming the last remnants of Marianous, and she doesn't figure out why until later. The story begins with a mysterious meteor shower that Adrian, Dylan, Lord William, Prince Andrew, and Rachel witness. The meteor shower means many different things for all of them. To some it's a very bad omen, and to others, it's a sign of change or adventure. The meteor shower kicks off the story by forming a connection between most of the characters. They all witnessed a celestial event that was bigger than normally ever was.
S: Were there any difficulties coming up with your story or characters?
D: Well, I think I had the most trouble with both. The characters are the story and the story is about the characters. They are two parts of a single whole. I found it easier to create the plot, but I found it harder to give the characters the spot light. As a writer, I find it easy to start making it sound like you are in the story hogging that spotlight. Writing good characters are the part I spend the most time on because they are the story because their actions make the story happen.
S: Besides Dylan, who was your other favourite character to work with?
D: I know I'm talking a lot about Dylan, but I have several major characters that play major roles throughout the story and the series. One of my other favourites is going to be the twist in the plot between Cecilia and William. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but Cecilia is a character that is very important, and the reason the Sea Witch has set her sights on this part of the world. She's the last of an island the witch claimed, and her story will be interesting. William is also another character I like. The biggest problem with asking about the characters is how dependent the story's plot is to the characters and their choices. I can say that William and Cecilia will have some very interesting interaction between each other that involves the Royal Family of Seasafair. Adrian is cursed by the Sea Witch, and Dylan is the only one holding back the curse even if he doesn't know it. Serena is a close friend to Dylan and Adrian. She made the Friendship Bracelets that she and her close friends share. Andrew wants to see the world. I love all of my characters, and I put a lot of work into them. There are just some things that are killing me not to share, but I don't want to spoil the story.
S: How far into the story are you?
D: I've completed almost 20 different chapters. Right now they are just drafts, and I'm working hard to tie those chapters into my story. I even have beginning plans for my second book. I'm just trying to finish my first story. I can't find enough time alone to focus on my writing... one of those things that comes with a busy life.
S: Thanks so much for doing this!
D: No Problem.
This pretty much concludes the interview! Just to get your feet wet though, Merman Dylan has graciously allowed me to share an excerpt from his book:
Before the Ancient World descended into darkness, the last friendship with humans ended in tragedy, and no one believed friendship was possible. He floated alone in the sea with this belief. Something in his heart told him that it was possible. No one else would entertain the idea.