Melissa Crandall is an author with tie-in novels and a self published fantasy under her belt. She’s also written a collection of short fiction. Here, she shares her experience.
A Story Every Day: Can you give us a brief timeline of your whole history? Your first memory to the present?
Melissa Crandall: I was just a wee thing when the dinosaurs showed up…. Just kidding. I’m not quite that old. Let’s see…My first memories are a bit jumbled, but most involve my dog Yogi, a wonderful border collie. I’ve always been an animal-lover, and they fill up a lot of my life. Did the college thing. I’ve lived in New York State, Pennsylvania, Washington (State, not DC), Oregon, and am now in Connecticut.
ASED: How did you get involved with writing tie-in novels?
MC: I cut my teeth on fanzines, back when fanzines were hard-copy things (a dying breed nowadays). I did fan stories for Star Wars, Star Trek, the Dragonriders of Pern, Elfquest, Phoenix, Dr. Who….you name it. I got into the writing of actual media tie-in novels when another author invited me to join her and a friend in a Star Trek collaboration (“Ice Trap” under the name L.A. Graf — which stands for Let’s All Get Rich And Famous.)
ASED: What tie-in novels have you written and how does your process for them differ from your process when you write your “own” things, like your self-published fantasy?
MC: I wrote the Dr. McCoy sections of “Ice Trap” as I said above, then I moved on to solo novels: Star Trek “Shell Game,” Quantum Leap “Search and Rescue,” and the novelization of the pilot episode of “Earth 2.” The big difference with a media tie-in book is that you’re playing in someone else’s sandbox. There are rules by which you must abide.
ASED: You’ve been writing since you were 5. What was one of the first things you wrote?
MC: The first thing I wrote was a “book” (several sheets of paper folded in the middle and stapled together) called “The Dog and the Fox.”
ASED: What’s one of your favorite pieces that you wrote at a young age?
MC: When I was in grade school, a friend and I did a series of “comic books” about a super hero horse. In high school, there was an entire group of us that wrote together. Those were fun times. We did a lot of westerns, TV ripoffs, that sort of thing, and even one or two original stories.
ASED: Do you see your younger writing reflected in your writing now?
MC: The work I did as a young writer helped grow me as an adult writer. And I still have the love of words, the fascination with fantasy, the willingness to find “magic” (and I use that term loosely) behind the mundane.
ASED: What was the process like for your first published piece? Can you walk us through it?
MC: I assume you mean first professional piece. That was “Ice Trap” and it was actually fairly easy because the author who invited me along already had a relationship with Pocket Books. When it came time to do my own Trek novel (“Shell Game”), the weight was on me to write the synopsis, market it to the editors, hope for the best, write the book, all of that. I got the book in under deadline. Then I received a HUGE number of revisions. What a learning experience! I got those in under deadline, too, I’m pleased to say.
ASED: Did you always want to be a published writer?
MC: I always wanted to WRITE. I can’t say when I first began to think I might be able to be published. For a long time, I shied away from it. I was afraid that if I turned out to be good, I’d have to do it again, and I was worried I wouldn’t be good the second time. I don’t think about that anymore. I work hard at what I do and try to turn out the best work possible. Some people will like it, some won’t. You can’t please everyone.
ASED: Did you share your writing from an early age or keep it private?
MC: I shared it with friends (once I discovered they wrote, too), but not with family.
ASED: What is the process of self-publishing? What did it look like for you?
MC: At first, I was resistent. It took me a long time to get around to the idea of self-publishing. The media tie-in books went the standard publishing route. My book of short speculative fiction “Darling Wendy and Other Stories” was picked up by a small press in NYC. I tried for a long time to sell an agent/publisher on my fantasy novel “Weathercock” without luck. But I believe so strongly in the book and what it has to say about our world, our view of male/female roles in our society, and our notions of self-determination that I refused to let someone else tell me it should languish. So I bit the bullet.
I was MOST fortunate to encounter Ryan Twomey at Bookateer Publishing. Ryan talked me through the entire process, was a terrific cheerleader, an exacting task master, and an all-around terrific guy.