CHHR: Please give a brief introduction here.
Greetings from the land of Laptops and Lederhosen! I’m Michelle Mellon, author of Down by the Sea and Other Tales of Dark Destiny, and I wanted to share a bit about me so you have a better picture of the person lurking behind the words.
CHHR: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I was in the 4th grade, and my teacher had us studying poetry. I was inspired to write several poems and was asked to read a couple of them at a small assembly. It was so gratifying to see the words representing my thoughts and feelings connect with other people!
CHHR: What does your writing schedule look like?
Invisible. Really. I am a horribly undisciplined writer. I have tried different techniques over the years, but unless I’m taken with a new idea or story in progress, I struggle to write consistently.
I did participate in NaNoWriMo in 2016 and that helped me get my story collection ready for the publisher circuit, so I know I can work at it daily. But right now I’m still just taking advantage of chunks of time in the early mornings, holidays, and weekends.
CHHR: Do you have any interesting writing rituals? If so, what are they?
Nothing too crazy, but I do like to have my toys around me. I have a handful of Funko Pop! figures and a small skull collection that grace my desk. Although I can jot down ideas or write well on long bus or train trips, I need the comfort of my little friends to feel like my work is complete.
CHHR: Do you like writing short stories or novels?
I prefer writing short stories. Part of it is the challenge of compressing a world into a minimal amount of space. Part of it is the satisfaction of seeing an idea come to fruition much sooner.
I have written longer pieces--a novella for my master’s thesis and a screenplay because the idea was too large for a short story. I’ve also had an idea for a novel for more than a decade. I wrote the first couple of chapters and an outline, but I feel like I have many more short stories to get out of my system before I can dive fully into the novel.
CHHR: How is the horror scene where you live?
I’ve been living in Germany for almost three years, and local horror does not seem to be as active here as in the English-speaking world. Most top-sellers are U.S. or UK imports.
CHHR: Do you use outlines or do you go with the flow?
I usually go with the flow. Before I start writing I have the beginning, and an idea where I want the story to end up. Once I start writing, though, the story takes on a life of its own. Sometimes it ends up nowhere near where I had originally thought. I love lists and order, but for my short stories I think if I used a full outline I would limit my own creativity in letting the stories tell themselves.
CHHR: How did publishing your first book or short story change your writing process?
So far, very little. Except for the fact that I’m spending much more time promoting my collection right now than working on my writing. 😊
On the positive side, it’s made me much hungrier to capture some new ideas and set aside time to finish my second story collection. Also, I started a new job two weeks before my book was published, and that’s been an adjustment after 2.5 years at home and the fact that I’m in a foreign work culture with people half my age. Now instead of having the leisure of writing here and there and having it average out to daily progress, I really do have to actively carve out time to keep moving forward.
CHHR: What do you think makes a good horror story?
Oh boy. Well, to avoid offending anyone who writes or reads horror sub-genres different than my own preferences, I will say a good horror story is one that stays with you.
Personally, I am a fan of subtle stories that creep up slowly or make you re-think everything you’ve just read once you’ve reached the end of them. If I’m thinking about it, talking about it, or re-reading it to find “clues” I missed the first time around, it’s a good horror story to me.
CHHR: What are you currently working on?
I have a few stories I need to finish and shop around, and I’m working on edits to my second story collection. It’s based in Hamburg, Germany, where I lived for nearly two years before moving to Munich. I made up ghost stories about locations I visited around the city, then strung them together in a narrative of three friends from college who are reuniting as part of a vacation trip. Once I finish my edits I want to get the stories translated into German so I have a bilingual manuscript.
CHHR: What is in your TBR pile?
I’m not even sure anymore. Every time I see a book of interest I add it to my Amazon reading list. I’m pretty sure I’m about three years behind right now. But I did purchase a copy of 25 for One to aid with hurricane relief last year, so I alternate between reading one of the books in that collection of 25 novels and other books that pop up.
Most recently I enjoyed the anthology Sycorax’s Daughters and the absolutely wonderful The Great Passage by Shion Miura.
CHHR: What is the last book that scared you?
Ghost Story by Peter Straub, because I re-read it periodically. That’s the one novel that truly haunts me year after year.
CHHR: What is your favorite horror book?
My favorite horror book is The Stand by Stephen King, although I have a standalone copy of The Long Walk and it’s a close second. I think Stephen King is a master at turning the everyday into something insidious. I love his craftmanship.
CHHR: What is your favorite horror film?
Psycho, hands down. I saw it as a kid and fell in love with horror. In college we had a scholar in residence in my freshman dorm, and he hosted a Psycho viewing party and discussion. It was such an eye-opening experience that I bought (and still own) a copy of the movie. Psycho is truly a master class in subtle storytelling in film.
CHHR: What type of music do you listen to? What’s your favorite album?
Ah, I listen to a very eclectic mix of music. I think a lot of people say that, but my musical taste is definitely mood driven. So, some days it’s Barry Manilow or the Carpenters, some days it’s the Wailin’ Jennys or Lyle Lovett, some days it’s Three Days Grace or Dead by Sunrise. The soundtrack to Henry V gets heavy rotation as my soothing yet inspirational choice.
My favorite album usually shifts every few years, but right now it’s still A Thousand Suns by Linkin Park.
CHHR: What is your spirit animal?
That’s a tough one. I really love otters, but apparently they’re the Cosbys/Weinsteins of the sea. I’m a cat mom, but I feel that one’s a bit too obvious. So I think I’ll go with an odd and underrated original--the platypus.
CHHR: What is your favorite beer?
Well, even though I’m living in the land of beer, I’m not a huge beer fan. I usually get by with a Radler, which is a beer and lemonade mix.
CHHR: If you could have a beer with one author, who would it be?
Just one? That’s tough. Especially since there are so many amazing authors out there today. What I would love to do is reserve a horror masters table at Oktoberfest and just bask in the glory of meeting the living authors who influenced me as a kid reading horror. That would obviously be worth a massive beer or two, even for a lightweight like me. Stephen King, Peter Straub, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, Ramsey Campbell, John Saul…
But if I could only pick one, I’d pick Stephen King and I’d still invite him to Oktoberfest and talk music and writing and politics and movies and whatever else popped into our heads.
My website: www.mpmellon.com
My Twitter: www.twitter.com/mpmellon
My story collection on Amazon.com:
Michelle Mellon has been published in nearly a dozen speculative fiction anthologies and magazines and is a member of the Horror Writers Association. In August 2015 she and her husband relocated from San Francisco to Germany, where Ms. Mellon has been a stay-at-home cat mom while finishing a horror collection, submitting stories to anthologies and magazines, and publishing a blog about her expat adventures.
Her first story collection, Down by the Sea and Other Tales of Dark Destiny, was published by HellBound Books in April 2018 and is available through Amazon and other digital bookstores. Ms. Mellon recently joined a software startup as a content writer and is close to completing her second horror story collection.
For links to her book and updates on her work, visit www.mpmellon.com and/or follow her on Twitter: @mpmellon