When the roots of storytelling are as deep and winding as the Appalachian Mountains themselves, it's no wonder that Melissa Marr has such a profound connection to weaving tales that captivate and enchant. In this episode, we journey through Melissa's life, from her formative years under the influence of her grandmother's stories to her academic pursuits, all of which paved the way to her latest novel, Remedial Magic. We explore how Melissa's narrative prowess transcends genre, her devotion to multiple points of view, and the unmistakable charm of Victorian literature's impact on her storytelling techniques.
The whispers of wild horses in Arizona and the serendipity of a rattlesnake bite converge in Melissa's narrative, illustrating the unexpected paths of dipping her toes into self-publishing and the resilience of an author's spirit. Our conversation then meanders through the verdant valleys of creativity, shedding light on the symbiosis between nature and the written word, and how this bond manifests in Melissa's multifaceted career spanning writing and photography. We also navigate the digital world's choppy waters, where pseudonyms and review scandals can capsize even the most seasoned writers, revealing the importance of author communities as lifeboats amidst the storm of online discourse.
As we wrap up, the spotlight shines on the unlikely transformation from a self-published experiment to a celebrated book deal, a testament to faith in one's work and the magic of happenstance. Melissa's tale takes a full circle, encouraging us to anticipate her upcoming release and beckoning our listeners to join the lively discussion within our podcast community. The episode is a reminder that sometimes, the most enchanting stories are those that emerge from life's most unexpected moments.
Speaker 1: Hi, my name is Mandy Jackson Beverly. Welcome to the
Bookshop podcast. Each week, I present interviews with
independent bookshop owners from around the globe, authors,
publishing professionals and specialists in subjects dear to
my heart the environment and social justice. To help the show
reach more people, please share it with friends and family and
on social media, and remember to subscribe and leave a review
wherever you listen to this podcast. You're listening to
episode 238. Melissa Ma writes fiction for adults, teens and
children. Her books have been translated into 28 languages to
date and include bestsellers in the US, the New York Times, la
Times, usa Today, wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly,
as well as various countries overseas. She is best known for
the Wicked Lovely series for teens and graveminder for adults
and her utter inability to stick to one age, demographic,
format and genre. Wicked Lovely, her debut novel, was
simultaneously released in the US and UK by Harper Collins in
2007, with translation rights also sold in 20 plus countries.
The book debuted as a New York Times bestseller and evolved
into a multi-book series with myriad accolades and
international bestseller lists. Melissa's latest release is
Remedial Magic, a contemporary fantasy novel about an
unassuming librarian who discovers she has fallen in love
with a witch. Hi, melissa, and welcome to the show. It's lovely
to have you here.
Speaker 2: Thank you for having me.
Speaker 1: My pleasure. Let's begin with learning about you
being born and raised in the Appalachian Mountains and when
you realized you wanted to write .
Speaker 2: Well, at the time we didn't have television, and so
for me I started reading before I went to kindergarten. So I was
always a voracious reader, and so much so that, despite the
absolute beauty of the Appalachian landscape, my mom
would have to kick me outside, take my book and kick me outside
, because I'd rather be reading than anything else. And so I
think I've always it's always been about story, less about
writing, but more about story. And when you grow up in the kind
of culture that isn't television centered, you tend to
think about how do we? You know , how do we tell stories? You
know, how do we tell this story in a way that's super engaging?
So it's very, very hands moving, very much a case that folklore
was part of that, so it's just always been sort of the way
things were handled. Story is everything.
Speaker 1: Do you go back to the Appalachian Mountains at all?
Speaker 2: I don't anymore. It's been a few years. I think some
of there were some political difficulties and things have
Speaker 1: Yeah, it's heartbreaking that issues such
as political divide, diversity and inclusivity are tearing this
country apart. It's so sad and disappointing.
Speaker 2: It is, it very much is, and I miss it. You know that
was home it's. You know I find other mountains, other spaces.
I'm actually headed to the Ozarks next week, despite the
winter, because I still need that sort of green overdose.
Speaker 1: Yeah, I understand I'm the same way. In your
informal bio on your website you write, quote as a teen, I spend
a lot of time in trouble with principles, grounded and high
not ideal, but a combo of issues with authority and a rape meant
I was a difficult child and teen. End quote Was there a
turning point for you, or a person or a specific moment that
helped you move forward?
Speaker 2: I think for me oddly it was it was never a thing that
meant that I didn't have a plan . My plan was always I always
wanted to teach. I wanted to teach literature in particular,
and so even when I was in trouble all the time, I still
kept the grades. I kept between a three, five and a four O
through high school. I graduated college with a three eight, so
I kept focused on academia. So for me it was less about a
person changing it than this drive. And I found that drive in
books. I haunted the library, I read voraciously and I knew
that if I could just hold it together long enough, I could
get to college and from college graduates, going from there to
teach. And so it was really this master plan that came from
inside and that was encouraged by my grandmother. She was, she
was my life line, she was everything.
Speaker 1: So in your case, a person was there for you, but in
a sense, your innate sense of love for reading and story also
became somewhat of a character. For instance, sometimes when
we're reading a story the author has presented, a piece of
geography, like a mountain or a river or a house, becomes a
character, and I get the sense that that is how story was for
you as a child.
Speaker 2: Very much so, and part of that was my grandmother.
She was born in 1906. And she was able to graduate high school
up until she passed. She was actively reading. She actively
followed politics in the news. I still have one of her childhood
books that she gave me, and so that sense of story mattering
was something she gave me. You know, it was very much. There's
this whole world and all you have to do is crack a book to
get there and it can change your life, and so she fostered that
thing in me that caused the drive that led me to where I am.
Speaker 1: It warms my heart to hear stories like this and the
fact that she was born in 1906. Wow, 2023 was a busy year for
you regarding writing and teaching. Your new novel,
remedial Magic, will be published in a few days, on
February 20th, and you've already submitted the sequel.
Remedial Magic is written in multiple POVs, as are many of
your stories. Why did you choose this particular style of
writing for Remedial Magic?
Speaker 2: Actually I think almost everything I've written
has been multiple point of view. I had one exception. I did a
series, the Wicked and the Dead that was singular point of view
and that's the only one in 18 years of publishing novels. The
Victorians are my fixation, and so there is a theory where
you're talking about Robert Browning, the ring in the book
and he talks about the story happening between all these
narratives and that sort of imprinted upon me and from there
I went on and I did my graduate work on William Wagner. So
narrative theory is sort of a fixation of mine. When we look
at how anything happens, whether it's story or politics, the
truth is never contained in one voice. The truth is the thing
that happens in the spaces between people's stories. And so
when I write I really do start meaning to write one point of
view. Almost every book I intend to write one point of view, but
the more I see that point of view, the more I understand that
I need to hear from other people to understand it. To be
honest, that's how I approach politics and social issues. I
don't read a news source, I read from multiple news sources.
When I do research I look for multiple publications, Because
what I want is I want that thing that slips in and out between
different voices and stories, Because I think that's where the
heart of things are. Sorry, I sound super passionate about
that. It's a sort of lifelong fixation.
Speaker 1: Oh, my goodness, please don't apologize for being
passionate about a subject especially to do with writing. I
think it's about finding the gray and understanding the grain
between the black and the white . I wish more people in the
world would think about this concept, and it's an interesting
way in relating to multiple POVs. I'm just turning it all
over in my mind.
Speaker 2: Well, some of it's about liminality. I was very
feminist and I grew up in a very rural background. I grew up in
a place where being a lesbian was not the norm, and my drive
for children which probably came from where I grew up was to the
point that I literally risked death to carry a child to birth,
and so that kind of two things pulling on you when you grow up
liberal-minded and Appalachia, that's going to happen, and so I
think it stays and it influences how you create that
Speaker 1: Yeah, that's interesting and sadly true. I'm
originally from Australia and lived in England before I came
to California. I've lived longer now in the States than I have
in Australia and I have a liberal way of thinking. So when
I go back to Australia it can be difficult, mainly due to some
of the politics, and there is still an unexceptance for
diversity in certain areas of the country. But I go back
because a lot of the country and a lot of her people I cherish
and miss dearly. It's difficult, as I'm sure you know.
Speaker 2: I do know there's still beauty in it and I think
that's something that we have to remember. I still recognize the
beauty in those rural spaces and that sense of community and
the love of family, and I took that away and I carried that
with me too. So it wasn't just in response to the negative
parts. There's definitely beauty and it's finding ways to
represent both which, honestly, is part of what's going on in
remedial magic. Crenshaw is that space where you have those
conflicting tolerance as well as a thread of people who want to
Speaker 1: And that is an excellent segue into my next
question. After I'd read remedial magic, I started
looking at interviews you had done. I started reading
interviews you'd done and it dawned on me that the theme of
remedial magic is that witches must save the world of Crenshaw
from pollution which has made it unlivable for witches. And I'm
guessing your love and respect for nature goes back to the
appellation mountains of your youth. In hearing past
interviews it seemed to me you're a positive person, seeing
the glasses half full. Does walking in nature and
photography help support your optimistic outlook?
Speaker 2: Very much so. I mean, I don't think you can fall in
love with nature and not believe that nature is magic. When I
moved to the desert, I'd been in and out of the hospital a lot
in 2016. And I moved here and I discovered that there was a band
of wild horses, and so I started walking with them, I
started kayaking among them, to the point that my blood pressure
and my cholesterol were improved. I no longer needed
medication. Nature literally healed me, and I find that that
is for me. That comes through in everything I do. I didn't mean
to in my accidental book, but I took a bunch of pictures of the
horses and photography is part of how I capture nature for the
days that I'm in the house and so I took pictures of the horses
and my editor my children's editor saw them, and we ended up
releasing a book of my photography of loud horses with
a poem of mine about the horses that Dolly Parton, her charity,
bought 300 units to give to children across the nation. So
my love of nature was put into form, into physical form and
given to children, and if that's not magic, I mean I don't know
what is. You know that nature love just drives everything and
it heals me, it heals all of us.
Speaker 1: And it definitely came through in remedial magic.
Speaker 2: I think it's fascinating to me to realize how
much that comes through. My eldest son was a biological
conservation major. My daughter works for a climate change group
of scientists from different disciplines. She's an
archaeologist, so she works in South Africa, attached to
university in Norway, and she's working with this cross
disciplinary group of marine biologists and climatologists.
And all this and I don't think I've ever really intended to say
look, nature, is it, nature is is religion is is is everything.
But somehow, through just the things we did naturally with
them growing up, they captured that and they've chosen it as
their career in both cases, which is just phenomenal to me.
Doesn't that warm your?
Speaker 1: heart it does. It's just attributing your love of
nature to the next generation. I mean that's magic within itself
Speaker 2: Motherhood man it is. It is my personal drive.
Speaker 1: Yeah, that umbilical cord never really detaches in my
world. It's always there tugging, tugging, tugging.
Speaker 2: Definitely.
Speaker 1: Now, during the pandemic, you self published
books. What made you decide to self publish and how was this
experience for you?
Speaker 2: So I had a rattlesnake bite.
Speaker 1: Oh, my goodness.
Speaker 2: Which I don't recommend, just absolutely don't
recommend. You know, the universe gives us things. There
are reasons and I didn't know it . In 2019, when I had the
rattlesnake bite, I was kayaking , the wild horses stampeded, I
got flipped onto a rattlesnake. The rattlesnake and I were
together under the water. The current ripped us apart, but I
still had enough venom that it was very painful and I had a lot
of nightmares and so I coped with them, as I have coped with
everything, from the rape forward, from everything in my
life. I wrote and so I wrote this book and in the book I was
dealing with the fact that, you know, we have all these romances
and we have all these stories about vampires and they're so
sexy and they bite you and it's beautiful and magical and erotic
. It is not at all fabulous to have fangs in your body, so I
would have these nightmares. I wrote this book, but it isn't
the kind of book I usually write . It's very much a woman
fighting the monsters, single point of view. It's not the same
as my usual books. And then the pandemic came and my regular
books were delayed publication because you couldn't browse for
children's books because everything was closed and my
partner had to give up her job because they wouldn't let her
work from home because she investigated financial crimes
and they were high dollar crimes so she couldn't work. So
suddenly my releases were delayed and she was not working
and I had this book and I thought, well, I'm not going to
try and shop it in this situation. So I published it and
then I published several more and I had a prequel to Wicked
Lovely that I published and it was just fabulous. You get paid
monthly, which you know is not how it works in traditional, and
I ended up turning my website into a bookstore. So I was
selling signed copies of my books through my website because
I couldn't go anywhere to events. So it ended up being a
blessing that a rattlesnake bit me, which is not a sentence I
ever would expect to say, but because of the rattlesnake I
wrote the book and the timing was such that suddenly I was in
lockdown and a pandemic. So I ended up doing this trilogy and
self-publishing and it was fabulous, fun and it was a great
way to turn something that, quite honestly, gave me the sort
of nightmares that I slept with the light on for months. I was
just so concerned that there was going to end up being a
rattlesnake in the house, which is not rational. It's not. But I
just I would dream about the snake and it was horrible. It
was the muscle decay. The muscle rotting was so extreme that I
went from I was doing Pilates and hanging upside down to I
couldn't use the arm correctly because the biceps muscle had
brought it, there was a hole in it and so it was really.
Self-publishing was a great asset to me, as accidentally,
was a rattlesnake.
Speaker 1: See, the glass is half full.
Speaker 2: The glass must be half full.
Speaker 1: I'm guessing it helped that you were already an
established author before you self-published. Were you able to
reach out to your readers through newsletters and social
media? And, of course, at that stage that first part of the
pandemic people were hungry for books to read.
Speaker 2: Definitely and I do think some of that was a factor
I didn't actually have a newsletter at that point.
Because of my health I had withdrawn from publishing so I
had no newsletter. I did have social media and I was
fascinated to find that a lot of my diehard, my core readership
that has stayed with me all these years they were there. But
in a short period of time I started hearing from readers who
found me through the indie book and then went and found my
backlist. It was fascinating to see it go the opposite direction
. So I had some of the core wicked, lovely GraveMinder
readers move into the indie books and then I thought had
people that found me through those indie books that then went
and bought my backlist. So it was a really interesting
cross-pollination that happened.
Speaker 1: Did you self-publish wide or just focus on Amazon?
Speaker 2: I do wide. Barnes, Noble has been so good to me,
Indie bookstores have been so good to me, and libraries. I
mean when you grow up a poor kid in rural Appalachia you don't
have bookstores, you have librarians. And so as much as I
understand the pool that some people have towards doing KU, I
think that for me I've seen such amazing support from so many
corners. I can't fathom limiting that way.
Speaker 1: And I truly appreciate hearing your words
because, as you know, I'm a huge supporter of independent
bookshops and libraries and I encourage authors who are
considering self-publishing to go wide. Which means you not
only distribute through Amazon or Kindle Unlimited, you can use
IngramSpark to distribute to bookstores and libraries. Okay,
moving back to your books, you also write adult romances under
the pseudonym Ronnie Douglas. What brought that on?
Speaker 2: So back gosh, a forever ago, a decade or so ago,
there were a group of writers and we would do these writing
retreats Actually, we did them here in Arizona before I lived
here, and at one of the retreats , after dinner, we were talking
about self-publishing and our curiosity with it. And so we
decided this group of 10 writers , 10 women writers that we were
going to pick pseudonyms and we were each going to write a book
from the same group of characters, and so we had like a
concept at the beginning, which was that this first character,
who was my character, was working at the coffee shop and
all these people came in and a guy came in and he had a trunk
full of money, and so they were going to divide this money
between the group of them and then each go their own separate
way and never cross paths again. So I wrote this book called
Undaunted, which I published as Ronnie Douglas. My mother is
Scottish and her clan is clan Douglas, and so I went with
Douglas because she'd been nagging me for years to write a
romance, and so I ended up writing this book and I had
great fun sending it to my mother and not telling her. It
was me and she was like I love this, why can't you write like
this? And I was like, are you serious? So that was super fun
for me as like a gift to my mom, but it was an experiment, right
. And then people responded well , it did well. And so
HarperCollins was like would you like to write romances? So I
ended up doing these two romances as Ronnie. But you know
, things being as they are, harpercollins has, if you'd like
to know more about Ronnie Douglas, go to melissamarcom,
right. So my cover was blown instantly and I felt super
uncomfortable because I was writing like YA and middle grade
and, you know, very PG, pg, 13. And you know those books
weren't terribly raunchy or anything. But I was trying to
separate because you know, again , I'm a mom and I didn't like
the idea of readers of my younger fiction picking this up
and going, oh okay, I like her. So I think I was a little bit
more self-conscious about that, making sure I didn't cross
contaminate my young readership with my adult readership. But
you know, my plan was immediately blown to pieces, but
it was a lot of fun.
Speaker 1: And your mom got a great book because you wanted to
write something for her.
Speaker 2: She thought that was hysterical.
Speaker 1: That's a really sweet story. Okay, let's talk about
Goodreads. December 2023 brought to light review bombing from
fake accounts on Goodreads. According to NPR LAist quote,
author Kate Corrain was dropped by Delray Books, an imprint of
Penguin Random House, after she admitted writing fake Goodreads
reviews, louding her own book and exorniating works by other
novelists. Corrain's literary agent also cut ties with her end
quote. Now, like many authors, I stopped visiting Goodreads
years ago because it's almost like a free bullying platform
Now. You wrote about the importance of authors supporting
authors on Facebook in answer to your friend Janine Frost's
post about Kate Corrain. What are your thoughts on Goodreads,
specifically their inability to curb review bombing?
Speaker 2: I have very mixed feelings about Goodreads. I
agree that they need to do more about the review bombing very
much so I don't think they take it seriously enough. At the same
time, one of my books was a Goodreads choice finalist and
other of my books was a Goodreads choice winner, and
through those things I've connected with a lot of great
people, including staff at Goodreads, and I've connected
with other authors, lots of readers, and so initially I
loved Goodreads and I love the connections that any of these
literary communities offer. But I think that we live in a
society where we have clickbait headlines. We live in a world
where people want that adrenaline rush of conflict, and
so I think the motivation to stop that sort of thing is at
war with any. Businesses will just say desire to get clicks,
and so I don't think they're the only guilty parties, I just
think they're the most obvious party in this, and I think that
we've seen this. Whether it's Instagram, tiktok, bloggers,
there's always a contingent of people who believe in using
negativity to get attention. As you mentioned, I am very much a
half full kind of person. My glasses is never empty and that
kind of negativity just confuses me, just flat out confuses me.
I don't understand it. I don't, as when I talk to young authors,
especially when I teach through the MFA program, I strongly
suggest that they don't read those reviews. They don't go
there. So I could be review-bombed right now and I
wouldn't know about it. I understand that urge to just get
attention through negativity. It's children acting out and I
think this was an extreme case. I think this was a case where
some authors believe that Some people believe that it's
necessary to hurt others in order to uplift themselves.
Quite honestly, what I told Janine when we spoke about it,
what I've told several people, is where were her friends? Where
were the people telling her? What are you doing? That was my
question, because Janine and I talked about it and I believe
she addressed Ileona in that same post Ileona Andrews, we've
known each other for 18 years. The author network is about also
holding your friend's hand and saying, yes, this thing was done
and it hurts. Don't be stupid. Don't let that anger turn into
lashing out. I just don't think this author had that and she
should have. Well, I think what she did was horrible. What I
think Goodreads is not doing is problematic. I also really just
feel like having those authors, those embodies that are your
close people is another lesson we need to think about with this
. When you are creative, you are emotionally volatile at times
and you need to have people that have your back. I focused more
on that than the negativity, because that's my brain.
Speaker 1: Yeah, I think it's really sad because she had an
agent, a book deal with a major publisher and I think about the
insecurities she must have felt to think that she had to hurt
other authors in order to make her book look good. It's just
Speaker 2: Yes, I think we can't discount the fact that there
was a definite racist element of it. A number of the authors
targeted were people of color. I think, again, we're living in a
time period where there has been this political rhetoric
that allows racist, homophobic, sexist, just so much hate. It
allows people to think that that hate is okay. I don't know how
to say it politely, but basically I think we need to
look at the bigger picture and go back to thinking about each
other as individuals and people, instead of embracing this hate.
Because, whether it's in politics or at schools, my son
has to deal with the occasional hostility from classmates
mocking him for having two moms, as if having a spare mom is a
bad thing. That hate is so prevalent. I think part of what
we saw here was that hate infiltrating the publishing
Speaker 1: Yeah, melissa, I agree with everything you've
said. Moving forward, we can only hope that Goodreads figures
this out and stops people from having multiple accounts
specifically to hurt other writers. It's just not okay.
Speaker 2: I mean, I'm sure you can you look at the address from
which things are logged in? I'm sure there are apps that would
do it. I'm sure there are ways to do it. I have zero doubt that
we have the technology to do it , but it's a question of wanting
to do it. I mean, we've seen the same thing at Twitter. We've
seen the hate just bubble up on there and the only solution is
people in power making the decision that we don't embrace
hate. It's that simple.
Speaker 1: Yeah, it is Just backtracking a little bit about
reviews. Every author is going to get a bad review. It's not
possible that everyone in the world loves every single book.
It's just not possible. But what is interesting is that an
author can have 50 great reviews and one bad one, and the bad
one is the one we tend to focus on. Our psyche is a tricky
little thing. So, yeah, don't read the reviews.
Speaker 2: Well, and I think I'd rather see someone's career get
hurt by their own hate coming back at them than seeing
someone's career get hurt the people that were review bombed.
But what I would suggest to authors is that social media is
just such a small portion. We overinflate its importance
because we've got the TikTok tables at bookstore or whatever
the social media of the moment is. I get ugly reviews, everyone
gets ugly reviews, but there are still people that don't see
those reviews because they've picked up your book in person.
Bookstores, in particular the booksellers that know their
audience, that read the books, are going to still hand sell
your books. So while the goodreads review bombing hurts,
while social media negativity hurts, there are still this
whole other segment of the readership that isn't hanging
out on TikTok or Goodreads. So we overinflate it because we see
it and Melissa, that brings up a really good point.
Speaker 1: I'm always encouraging authors who come to
me and say you know, I've been to indie bookshops and explain
to them my books, you know, being a number one in a certain
category on Amazon, but the bookshop owners still won't put
my book in their bookshop. Well, there are a few reasons for
that, one being the simplicity of they just simply don't have
room on their bookshelves. But there's another reason, and it
starts with a question I always ask the author where do you buy
your books? Do you have a relationship with your local
independent bookshop? Most of the time, the answer is no, and
I feel that this is a part of bookselling. As you said, that
has nothing to do with social media, nothing to do with
Goodreads, nothing to do with reviews. It is about building
relationships. Yes, okay, now I would love to hear your
publishing story, from your first finished manuscript to
landing an agent and publishing deal.
Speaker 2: We're going back 18 years now make me feel old. I
wrote A Middle Grade which I self-published. It's not a good
book. It's not a great book. It is, however, a book that I
self-published because if you read it, you can see all the
seeds of Wicked Lovely in it. So I wrote this book, and the flaw
in this book is that it's YA language with a middle grade
plot, and at the time I was a baby author. I didn't realize
that that was a thing you can't do. So I wrote this book and I
queried. I did all the right things, but while I was writing
it because I was an academic while you're finishing one
project, waiting on reviews from the conferences or journals
you're submitting to, you start the next one, right, you start
your class prep for next term while this term is still in
session. So I started Wicked Lovely while this book was on
query and I started referencing Wicked Lovely in my queries for
this middle grade. And I got a letter from an agent saying I'm
not interested in the book you finished, but when this one's
done, reach out to me. So I had an agent request before the book
was written, which was weird, because that's not to happen. So
then I sent out queries to that agent who passed ultimately,
and about 10 others that I was interested in, and I got back, I
think, six requests and again, after I'd had more rejections
than queries on the first one because there was an editor or
an agent who kept such poor records he rejected me twice. I
decided, okay, there's all these people interested. I ended up
doing phone calls with them. I picked an agent she was a junior
agent at a respected agency and I went with her and a matter of
weeks later we did some minor revision. She sent it out on a
Friday afternoon in March and by Saturday morning we had a call
from Ann Hoppe at Harper Collins , who called and left a
voicemail saying I must have this book, I will die without
this book. And I was like she had its Terry Pratchett and
Terry Pratchett was my daughter's absolute favorite
author. And so here I am with Terry Pratchett's editor
interested in my book, and I was like, okay, she says she's
interested, we'll see. So come Monday there were three, maybe
four other editors who were interested and Ann hears this
from my then agent and says name your price, I must have this
book, I will die without this. I of course, knew none of this at
the time, because I wouldn't have named the price. My agent
did. I would have been, like you know, your Terry Pratchett's
agent. That's really enough. Whatever you want to give me is
fine. But my agent, of course you know agents, they get 15% of
what you make. So she named a much higher price than I would
have and Ann Hoppe said yes. And so suddenly here I am, school
teacher and I get this call and it's been like two days since
the book went out. I did not expect this. And I suddenly have
a book deal with Harper US and UK jointly acquiring Wicked
Lovely and two other books and it's a major deal. And I ended
up I was going to Disney with my kids that day because I lived
in Southern California. So I was taking the kids to Disney
because we had friends in from New York and, like all day, I
would periodically call my agent back and say tell me one more
time, because there was no way that could be real. I was
teaching part-time distance ed, so far and dead. I was looking
at this like I didn't have money to buy myself anything as a
souvenir from Disney and my big response was I can buy a hoodie.
That was my very adult response to my book deal. It was
phenomenal. It was absolutely life changing. And Ann Hoppe is
one of the finest editors in the business. She's phenomenal. She
went to the launch of one of the Wicked Lovely books with
wings oh how sweet Just. And she is such a supporter of indie
bookstores and librarians and, like Ann Hoppe, made that series
Retreaters and it was just, she was everything. And she took us
to meet Terry Pratchett. She said if you sign with us, you
will meet Terry Pratchett. And I was like again, you wouldn't
have had to offer money. She took my daughter and I to meet
Terry Pratchett at a book event. It was only the second book
event I had ever been to in my life and it was Terry Pratchett.
It was phenomenal.
Speaker 1: Wow, how exciting for both of you. She's incredible.
Let's talk about books. What are you currently reading?
Speaker 2: I read so much nonfiction. I always struggle
with this question, but last week I read a book called Decay
to God that is coming out the same day as my book, actually by
Elizabeth May. It's from Da. I loved it so much I actually
wrote her editor. I published my recommendation everywhere. It
was a nearly perfect read. I'm sure there's a flaw. If I read
it enough times I'd find one, but I couldn't find one on the
first read. I read it straight through. It's just a fabulous,
rich world building Pacy, Gorgeous to Cajah God by
Elizabeth May. So I just read that. I'm mostly reading
nonfiction books. I'm working on my next passion project and so
I've been reading River Kings by , I think it's, Dr Cat Jarmine.
I read several books on various women warriors through history.
I have a book I think it's just called Valkyrie. So I read a lot
of nonfiction. It's actually what I read for fun. I'm
actually starting a history master of arts because I read so
much history. I do all these historical tours. Why would I
not get a degree in it? So my treat to myself is, at 51 years
old, I am starting another graduate degree. You read enough
nonfiction it happens.
Speaker 1: Oh, I think that's awesome, Doing another degree
congratulations. From our conversation, I can't help but
keep going back to the fact that when you were thinking about
giving up writing, your author friends supported you and
encouraged you to pick up that pen again. I just think that's
wonderful, because that's what friends are for, right? That's
why the network matters. Yes, it absolutely does. Melissa, thank
you so much for being a guest on the show and I wish you all
the best with Remedial Magic available for readers on
February 20th and also with your other books coming out this
Speaker 2: Thank you very much. I swear I could talk to you all
day. This was a lot of fun.
Speaker 1: You've been listening to my conversation with author
Melissa Maher. Her new book, Remedial Magic, is out February
20th. To find out more about the Bookshop podcast, go to
thebookshoppodcastcom and make sure to subscribe and leave a
review wherever you listen to the show. You can also follow me
at Mandy Jackson Beverly on X, Instagram and Facebook and on
YouTube at the Bookshop podcast. If you have a favorite indie
bookshop that you'd like to suggest we have on the podcast,
I'd love to hear from you via the contact form at
thebookshoppodcastcom. The Bookshop podcast is written and
produced by me, Mandy Jackson Beverly, Theme music provided by
Brian Beverly, Executive Assistant to Mandy, Adrienne
Otterhan and Graphic Design by Francis Verralla. Thanks for
listening and I'll see you next time.