I'm delighted to have author, Melodie Ramone, on my blog today!
Melodie, you have some excellent reviews for your book, After Forever Ends. Can you pick one or two comments from those reviews that made you grin from ear to ear?
Reviews are an odd thing for me. They send me into a tizzy. I really try not to read them. LOL I mean, I do read them. How does an author not crave feedback? But I always go cold inside and kind of don't want to look. Nobody wants to write something that someone else is going to hate. I've been lucky because the vast majority of my reviews have been positive. One of my favorites, though, is where the opening paragraph reads:
"I have once heard of a quotation saying that while ordinary people live only once, a reader lives many lifetimes. I never really grasped the true meaning of this statement before this book. After reading it I feel like I have lived an entire lifetime. I have lived, laughed, loved and cried along with the characters in this book that felt so real that I actually miss them now." -- Pavarthy
And this one by Alice Anne: "This was such an amazing generational love story...not just between husband and wife, but among all family members and those that loved them. I felt like I knew every character personally, and they stayed true to themselves throughout the entire novel."
I love when I know I successfully brought somebody into that wonderful family, and transported them into that magical little world in the Welsh wood. I love that the reader lived another life, even for a little while. It's what writing is all about to me.
I noticed in your Author notes on Amazon that you said, After Forever Ends, was a labor of love. Can you share a little about that?
Absolutely! If you've read After Forever Ends, you'd never guess that it was written during one of the darkest periods of my life. The main character makes a point to focus on the positive, which was something that I desperately needed to do at the time. It started as a challenge to write a love story, but it took on a life all of its own. What began as a simple story of boy meets girl became something deeply personal, and I soon found myself interweaving my own life with elements of fiction and swirling them together with experiences that were both mine and those of people close to me. I had no idea when I began how intense it was going to become or how much of my soul I was going to pour into it, but I did. I reached down deep and pulled up things I thought I'd dealt with, brought people back to life who I'd never had the chance to finish things with. It set me free in more ways than I can count.
You've live in some great places -- Scotland, Wales, the U.S. -- is there one particular place in any of these countries that qualifies as your happy place? (meaning, when you need a respite from writing or just life in general, you close your eyes and go to...?)
Oh, my gosh, yes! Wales. At the same time I say that, a voice from deep inside my heart cries, "Scotland!" But I live in the U.S., so...yeah, I'm displaced. I've always been torn. Having more than one home does that, it sort of splinters you so you always feel like you need to be in more than one place at a time. So, let me put it this way. I love my life where I am, yet Scotland is home to me, but my heart is in Wales, which is why I chose it for the location of After Forever Ends. It's the happiest place I ever was, so it was easy to convey the peace and joy I felt there in my book.
When you're not writing or tending to your family, what do you like to do?
I'm a mega-super nerd. I spend a lot of time reading non-fiction books and journals having to do with things like Physics and Photonics. I don't watch a lot of TV, but when I do it's always something on Science Channel or History or Discovery. Aside from that, I read everything else I can find, too. Fiction, DIY, History, Biographies...I'm not very picky as long as I learn something. I love to learn. I live to learn. When I'm not fueling my brain, I'm usually painting, doing embroidery, whipping up culinary masterpieces in my very unattractive kitchen, roller skating with my kids, or knitting. I'm also learning to make jewelry. Oh, and I'm a homeschool teacher, so I grumble a lot about curriculum and moan about having to grade workbooks. I'm just terribly exciting, let me tell you. Stand too close to me and you'll get windblown!
Are you currently plotting or writing your next book?
I am. Right now, I'm still in the getting to know the characters phase. I thought one thing was going to be the story, so I dove right in and then the main character slammed on the proverbial brakes, waved a finger in my face, and said, 'Uh-uh-uh!' Now I know it's a totally different story than I thought. Sigh. So I don't know the details yet, but that's all good with me. I never start a story with a plot. I start with a character and he/she tells me what happened to them. Then I take their voice and run with it as far as it takes me.
What aspect of writing is the easiest for you? The hardest?
The easiest thing for me is getting into a groove. Once I know the character's voice and I can tune into that, the story just flows. Most of the time, I keep it to a minimum. I didn't do that with After Forever Ends. Silvia, the main character, is a talker, so I let her talk. The story wouldn't have been true if I hadn't. She's telling everything in retrospect to her granddaughter. Ever met a grandma who doesn't tell you all kinds of things you didn't ask to know once she gets rolling? Yeah, me, either! Haha! So there was Silvia, chattering away, and I wrote it all down. I love it when I get into that kind of a groove.
Now, for the hardest part of writing. The hardest part of writing for me is definitely the beginning. Where to start, how to capture a reader's attention, how to make somebody want to keep reading...it's tough for me. Figuring out how much back story to put in and where to put it, worrying about giving too much information too quickly...it makes me insane! Someone told me once that the most terrifying thing in the world is a blank page. I don't know if it's terrifying, but it's sure frustrating! Hee. But once I get to chapter two, the rest is gravy.
If you could pick one author to sit and have a cup of coffee with to discuss books or writing, who would it be?
Dorothy Parker. Could you imagine having a cup of coffee with her? I imagine she would be something like my grandmother was. A woman light years ahead of her time, unintimidated by others, unashamed of who she is, and unafraid of her own abilities and intelligence. Maybe she'd be a bit crusty, but hey...it's a messy world. Once we get out there and our hands get stained, aren't we all?
What is the best advice you could offer an aspiring writer?
Write. No matter what "they" say about how your ideas are unimportant or how you're wasting your time or how nobody will ever read it, write anyway. Write constantly. Write inside your head when you're driving your car. Scribble on napkins at the coffee shop. Listen to your inner voice closely and write, write, write. Write the truth. Write lies. Take revenge on your enemies with a pen. Put it down. Fall in love with the perfect person. Relive an unbelievable moment. Write it. Write it all. And when your hands are sore, write some more. Because you are who you are, you have survived all you have and you have a story to tell. You have a voice. Use it. And don't ever let anybody, especially your own self, silence you. Never give up. Never compromise. Never surrender. Write. Write. Write.
We would love to hear more about, After Forever Ends. Could you share a blurb and an excerpt?
Here's the short blurb:
Simple yet extraordinary, told with wit and candor, Silvia recalls a life of joy and sorrow, laughter and tears. As she unravels the tangled web of her days, she reveals the secrets that exist in an ancient wood, how hearts given freely can become the stuff of magic, and how true happiness was never any farther than her own back garden.
** I love the beginning of Chapter Two where Silvia begins to tell the story of her and Oliver. Keep in mind, the book is more of a "life story" than a traditional "love story". But love is there, right from the go, surrounding her and influencing her every breath. And this is how her tale began:
Excerpt, Chapter Two, After Forever Ends:
I don't honestly remember a day before I met Oliver Dickinson. I think my life must have started right then on my arrival to Bennington College, the boarding school my father decided to send me to that year. I had been boarding since I was seven and, to be be honest, I quite preferred it to the summers I spent sitting around our cottage in Edinburgh having to be perfectly quiet while Dad was working. Boarding school was much more fun than home. I always had at least two friends every year to spend time with and no one bothered me for wandering off alone to study. I was most happy about being at Bennington, actually, because there were both boys and girls who attended. At fifteen years old, I was rather interested in boys after having gone to an all girls' school for the last eight years.
Anyway, my first day I was sitting on a stone bench in the second quad reviewing my afternoon schedule. Schools are always the same. You can tell each and every clique from the next by the looks of them. I had always been quiet and spent much of my time observing those around me. At Bennington, the athletes were all clean cut, shirts tucked in, hair respectably short for the lads and pulled back in barrettes for the girls, who stood rather more boyishly than they should have in their skirts. The brainy kids were all in a huddle beside the statue of a woman walking with a book in her hand and were talking excitedly and waving their schedules at each other. The princesses all stood together in a tight circle and distinguished themselves from the rest by their sparkling barrettes, perfect make up, expensive bags, and manicured hands. The princes were the same, sans make up and sparkling barrettes. They all wore the same expression on their faces as if they smelled something horrible. The misfits, which were the crowd I always fell into, were spotted here and there, individuals who weren't really interested in what was happening around them, but were more involved in taking in the warm rays of the sun. I was watching one of them...a girl, blonde, who was holding a bottle of water in one hand while trying to open her purse without spilling her drink inside. I was wondering why she didn't just put down the bottle when...THUNK! Something that felt like a stone hit me on the back of my head.
"Oh, great galloping grey goats!" A loud voice came from behind me as a figure rushed around to my front. I had my hands over the back of my head deciding if I were injured or just surprised when I realised a boy had put an arm around me in apology, "I am so sorry! I've hit you with the ball! I smacked it right at you, I did! I didn't hurt you, did I?"
I looked up and I swear time stopped. It was not that he was the most traditionally handsome boy I had ever seen, although I can't say he wasn't attractive. He was simply out-and-out adorable, so bloody cute he immediately made my insides wiggle. He was one of the misfits, I surmised instantly, and a popular one at that. He had a long neck from which hung a loosened black tie and the top two buttons of his white uniform shirt were undone. His dark brown hair was an intentional mess, obviously kept just short enough to meet regulations at the school. I noticed straight away he hand nice skin, a smooth, olive complexion, even though there was a small nick on his chin from having shaved. He had a straight nose, high set cheekbones, and, I glanced at his hand where he was still holding my arm, long fingers and a very gentle touch. I peeked back up at him and he blinked as my eyes met his, looking at me as if he knew me from a time long ago and was shocked to see me again so soon. Neither of us knew what to say.
"No." I answered suddenly, moving my hand from the back of my head. My mouth had gone dry. "No...I mean...no...I just...no, not at all..."
"Sorry?" He was amused, still keeping his eyes locked with mine, a smile forming at the corners of his mouth. He stood straight and peered down at me with his head cocked as if he wasn't sure what to do. We were lost in an odd moment set apart from time and trying to find our way back to where we had started. "No what?"
"I mean...no. I'm not hurt. Not at all. I'm fine. I'm just...I'm..." He grinned at me crookedly and I felt my face flush as I returned the smile. "I'm just Silvia," I said finally, reaching out to shake his hand. "I'm just Silvia Cotton and I'm just fine, thank you."
He took my hand in his and held it for a second without shaking it. He just sort of let the weight of it fall against his palm and kept looking at me with that sideways grin. He could have had the devil inside of him with all the mischief of that little smile, but it was too sweet to belong to anything more than an ornery angel. It was at that moment he spoke that I noticed that he had two dimples, one on the left cheek and one on the chin, and that his lashes were long and black. His eyes were the exact colour of baking chocolate melted in a silver bowl, but they sparkled in the sunlight, "I'm Just Oliver Dickinson," he told me brightly. "It's nice to meet you, Just Silvia Cotton. Sorry about that, you know. I hope I didn't tick you off."
"No." I started giggling like a mental, like the girls you see in films making fools of themselves, but it seemed perfectly OK since he was still smiling. "I'm not ticked off."
"Not hurt and not ticked off. Just Silvia. Just Silvia Cotton, eh?" He sat beside me on the bench. It was a few more seconds before he released my hand. "You're new here. What year are you?"
"Ah, me as well. We're bound to have loads of courses together." He glanced at my schedule, which was open on my lap. "Well, maybe not then. You must be clever."
"I get good marks."
"What's that accent?"
"I'm from Scotland."
"Lovely!" He said sincerely. "No other Scots here that I'm aware of, you're the only one! Have you met many people at the school yet?"
"No, I haven't had time. I wasn't here last night. My father dropped me off this morning right after breakfast." I couldn't believe I was actually sitting on a bench having a conversation with him. I was usually very shy, but there was something about him that set me completely at ease. Whether it was the kindness in his eyes or his disarming smile I am still not sure, but whatever it was, I felt I'd known him for a long time and not at all as if we'd just met.
"Oh, well then let me help you meet some." He turned and gave a friendly wave at someone who had just called out a hello to him. "I know everyone at this place for the most part. I've been coming here since I was eleven." He turned back to me. "You'll have to meet my brother, Alexander, first. He's my twin, but don't think we're all that much alike. Only just exactly." He jerked an arm at a group of teenagers across the quad as if to invite them over. I could pick Alexander out from a distance. They could have been the same person. Tall, long limbed and dark haired with a loose tie and his shirt undocked, he gave a short wave of acknowledgement and began to amble toward us. Oliver continued, "The lovely lady beside him is his current flavour of the week, but don't tell her I called her that. She's a nice girl, which is a switch for my brother, lemme tell you! Her name's Sarah Farnsworth. She's rich as the queen and has the brains of a rabbit." The group began to approach, appearing to be a friendly bunch. "And that is Merlyn Pierce, the black kid with the hat on crooked. Nothing bad to say about him, he's a right decent sort. He fancies being an opera singer, but he can't sing. He goes off into the fields and belts out Puccini every so often and clears the sky of birds." He paused to shake his head with a mock frown on his face, then turned his head back to me and grinned. Our eyes locked again for several seconds before he broke away. "The one with the scarf is Lance Crosby." He continued, "He's a fantastic bloke. Alex's and my dorm mate. He actually knitted that scarf himself. Can you believe it? Happy colours, he says! He's quite the quilter from what I gather, too." Oliver looked at me and winked. "Just don't ever mention it to Lance that he's short. In fact, when you greet him, just say, 'Hello! You're looking quite tall today!'"
I found myself giggling again.
"Everyone," Oliver stood and put his hand on my shoulder, "This is Just Silvia Cotton and she's just fine!"
** You can find, After Forever Ends at:
Barnes and Noble
If you'd like to follow Melodie's writing and books:
Twitter - https://twitter.com/Melodie_Ramone
Website - www.melodieramone.com
Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6540025.Melodie_Ramone
Blog - www.revenge-of-the-ginger.blogspot.com
Amazon author page - http://www.amazon.com/Melodie-Ramone/e/B009OXADDS/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1