This week, we get to meet Melinda, or as I first met her, Mel, in her And Man Grew Proud novelette I had the privilege to be assigned to read before publication.
Hi, what’s your name and where are you from?
My name is Mel Lee Newmin and I herald from Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania, USA, home of the Amish and the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster.
When did you start writing and what got you interested in seeking publication of your work?
I wrote my first short story when I was about five years old on my mother’s 1945 Remington Quietwriter manual typewriter, which was bigger than I was at the time. I’ve written steadily throughout my life ever since. I’ve always dreamed of being a published author from that first story until today.
What’s the name of your novelette and what’s the story about?
In Finding Paradise, a tough-as-nails killer for hire is approached by a kickass girl to protect her and her ten orphans on a journey to mythical Paradise. They must escape the remains of a decaying, crime-ridden Philadelphia, through lands overtaken by murderous bandits and wild dogs to find a place that may or may not exist.
Writing such a work in just 7 days from scratch must have been difficult, run us through that week, how did you find it? What came easily and what was a challenge?
I have to laugh, because when I first read about the challenge, I thought I’d pass. Then, on Day 4, an idea came to me that I thought I would go with. By Day 5, I’d written enough that I knew needed to finish it. So I actually wrote the story in three days. The short time period was tough. It limited the amount of editing and polishing I could do, as well as the complexity of the plot. I didn’t have time to develop complex relationships between characters or any subplots beyond the main narrative.
Tell us a little bit about the main characters in your novelette?
Jared is a middle-aged man who’s survived the chaos that Philadelphia devolves into after an electromagnetic pulse wipes out all electrical systems on earth. Having obtained a rifle and ammunition, he works as hired protection for anyone who will pay him in food. Because his mother taught him to read, Jared knows that once the world was a magical place, but that now his life is drab and purposeless. A longing deep within him yearns for something better than what he has. Desta is a twenty-something woman sold into sexual slavery by her mother. When her last master dies of an unknown disease, he frees her by revealing the location of a mythical paradise, a place the EMP didn’t touch. Determined to find that place and save other children from suffering her fate, Desta collects a group of children tough enough to face the journey and leads them from Philadelphia.
Did you draw upon your own experiences for this story? Were you inspired by real people or events in your life?
This story definitely came from my life. I live in Amish country, outside of Philadelphia. All the scenes in the story come from places I’ve been. The journey itself is one I’ve taken hundreds of times to visit my sister in the city. I wish I was as kickass as Desta, but maybe there’s a little of her in me. Who knows?
Is this the longest work you’ve had published? Tell us a bit about your writing career highlights.
Finding Paradise is definitely not the longest piece I’ve written. I am pleased to have two full length science fiction novels (Noman’s Land and Balance of Fortune) of 100,000 words each pending publication in 2020. The longest piece I’ve written is an epic fantasy of 300,000 words with the plan to sell it as a trilogy. I’ve enjoyed a lot of success as a writer in the past two years, especially with the Zombie Pirates who have published eight of my stories. I’ve also been published in anthologies from the UK and the US and placed third in the annual On The Premises competition with my story Pick Your Poison.
What motivates you to succeed as a writer?
I love to write. I love seeing the words develop on the screen, see the characters develop and watch where they go. Since I never tell my characters what to do, it’s fun to see what they decide. Sometimes they really surprise me. I especially love when readers enjoy my work and tell me about it. It’s like a drug. As soon as I get that hit, I need more, so I keep writing. My readers are voracious. I have to keep feeding them which feeds me.
Besides writing, what do you enjoy doing with your time?
Writing takes up most of my free time, however, I tuck gardening and caring for my two dogs Jojo and Peekaboo in the cracks. I love to be outside, hiking in the woods, or reading a book in the sunshine. Nothing beats a day at the beach.
Thanks for your time. If readers would like to find out more about you or read your work where can they find you on social media or elsewhere on the internet?
I manage two blogs, www.newminworlds.wordpress.com and www.vampiresofbaltimore.wordpress.com. The first is my author’s page with excerpts from my novels. The later is a fiction blog that weekly follows the adventures of the vampire Niles Gule.