Let's have a chat with Melissa Wray and find out all about Destiny Road!
Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I live in Leopold, Victoria, Australia. It is halfway between town and the beach which is perfect for me. I am the proud mum of two beautiful children who make me laugh every day. I started writing several years ago after the birth of my first child. I naively thought I would have lots of time to write! I have been lucky enough to live and travel overseas and got to see some amazing places. My husband I moved to London 6 weeks after we were married so we tell people we had an 18 month long honeymoon.
Q ~ When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a primary school teacher from the time I could talk. When we played imaginary games as kids I was always the teacher writing sums on the blackboard. Thankfully my dream came true and I have been teaching on and off for 14 years. I am still very passionate about teaching and I especially love to teach reading and writing – obviously.
Q ~ What is your all time favorite book?
I love, love, love The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. I also love all books by Australian writer Bryce Courtenay who sadly passed away last year.
Q ~ What is your favorite food and why?
My favourite food is anything pasta based. In particular a dish called Lentica’. My great grandmother was Italian and she cooked it the best. Luckily my mum does it well. It’s a simple dish with lentils, pasta, onion and heaps of parmesan cheese on top. Strangely not many people outside our family like it.
Q ~ What is your biggest writing sin?
I get slack with details. I tend to write a chapter fairly generally so as to get my ideas down. Then I go back and re-work it many times to give it the necessary details. I also have trouble with apostrophe’s and when to use a capital letter for mum.
Q ~ Is there anything that you absolutely need to have with you when you write? Is there any place that you prefer writing?
Sometimes I love to have music blaring with a special soundtrack of my favourite songs. Other days I enjoy the peace and quiet of having an empty house. Often my writing is done at night after my two children are asleep so I might just pop some headphones on to get in my own little world of writing. I just invested in an Ipad to do some writing whilst out and about. Otherwise I carry a notebook with me and write on that, only to have to type it up when I get home. Although I do enjoy scribbling across the page except my ideas come out faster than the writing. When I read it back it doesn’t always make sense!
Q ~ What, or who, is your biggest inspiration?
My kids. I can’t very well tell them they can achieve anything and do things if they try hard and then not follow my own advice.
Q~ How did you get started writing?
I have always been a reader. I grew up 600m from the library! I have always enjoyed writing. I lived and travelled overseas for almost 2 years and kept a detailed diary of every place I went. It wasn’t until I had my first baby that I decided to take a creative writing course. It was by correspondence and took me 18 months. Since then I have kept writing (when I have time) and trying to develop my skills. I have entered and won/received mentions for other pieces of writing. I always thought it would be cool to have my own published book but I don’t think I thought it would seriously happen. When I started writing it was for middle grade readers (7-10 year olds). I never imagined writing for in the YA genre but strangely I think I have found my voice within it.
Q ~ You won your publishing contract through a writing competition. Can you tell us a bit about that?
I saw the competition through Morris Publishing Australia. My maiden name is Morris and I thought the coincidence too strong to ignore. So I sent the first 4 chapters off and was thrilled when it was shortlisted. Next was the entire manuscript which I madly finished editing the final couple of chapters! I read the email at least a dozen times telling me I had won the contract. It was such an unbelievable moment. You can read the 1st chapter for free on the publishers website. http://www.morrispublishingaustralia.com/destiny-road.html
Q ~ What advice would you give individuals who want to begin writing professionally?
Enter writing competitions. The first one I entered I received an honourable mention which gave me the confidence to continue. Since then I have entered others, some that include feedback which has taught me heaps. I recently entering a competition and received an honourable mention on a story I am working on called Late Bloomer. You can follow the link to read it.
I would also strongly suggest to get someone else (professional) to edit your work. It is amazing the mistakes you don’t see being so close to the story.
Q ~ How did Destiny Road come together for you?
Destiny Road came about as almost as a therapy session late one night. I couldn’t sleep thinking about the choices in our life that have a huge impact on our lives. So this night I got up and wrote madly all the jumbled thoughts floating around inside my head. A few days later I re-read it and thought my experience could be a good starting point for a story. The rest evolved from there. You see when I was 16 I went to live with my father for the first time. Unlike Jessica from Destiny Road I had known him all my life, but my parents divorced when I was very young. I was never able to say thank you to my dad for saying yes when I asked could I live with him. He passed away several years ago and it has always bothered me that I could not get those words out before he died. Now with Destiny Road I feel like I have said them so hopefully he knows.
Q ~ Did you learn anything about yourself while planning, writing, and editing Destiny Road?
I learnt that I could write a 65,000 word novel! Previously the longest story I had written was 10,000 words. My biggest learning curve has been since being offered a publishing contract. I had to get someone to look over it as it made little sense to me with copyright etc. Then the first thing my editor said was to jump on all my social media outlets and tell everyone. I rang my friend and asked her to come around and show me how to use facebook! Then I learnt how to create a book trailer which you can watch at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqNa07GVUtw
Next I joined Goodreads and created a blog. Finally I started networking which has been the most work but well worthwhile meeting such great people like yourself.
Aww, shuks, thanks Melissa. I don't know what to say to that. Oh wait, yes I do! Enter below to win one of 3 PDF copies of Destiny Road by Melissa Wray! Yup, she's one of those great people too!
Jessica is sixteen when she meets Bill for the first time. Six months later she is moved away by her mother, to begin a new life, away from what she knows. Away from the man she is just realising she might have wanted in her life all along, her biological father. So begins Jessica’s journey of living with the choices made by herself and those around her.
Check out my review of Destiny Road.
Good luck to everyone on the giveaway of 3 PDF copies of Destiny Road by Melissa Wray!
Destiny Road can also be purchased via the following: