This month I am talking to Krystal-Ann Melbourne, a fantasy author currently working on A Balance of Souls.
Hello, Krystal-Ann. To start things off, do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
I used to write almost exclusively on paper and then type it up later as a form of editing, but now I write through an online cloud program so that I can access my chapters easily from both home and work. Of course, if I hit a particularly difficult section I sometimes resort to pen and paper again. Strand myself at some tea shop with no means of accessing the internet and force words onto the page.
Did you come across any specific challenges in writing A Balance of Souls? What would you do differently the next time?
Not outlining (she says after over a decade of rewrites trying to repair an impossibly mangled plot). It wasn’t a complete waste—I simultaneously spent all that time learning how to write—but for the next book I will definitely be outlining, probably even to the level of planning individual paragraphs. I expect the overall writing process to go much more smoothly because of it.
What surprised you most about your story?
That voice exists, and I have one. I didn’t realise it until I tried to convert my main character’s chapters to third person. All the other chapters were third person and read perfectly fine, so I didn’t expect a problem. But Maya simply cannot be written in third. She needs to be in first because of all the nuanced observations I can make with her, the clipped pattern of her thoughts, the constant undertone of disdain. She has a voice, and so do the rest of my characters, and now so do I.
When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?
Usually, it goes one of two ways. Sometimes I’ll be laying in bed thinking up story ideas and I’ll be like, “Hey! I should totally put a cute little goat girl in the book somewhere. She could have a toque and knitted boots and have one goat with a bitten ear following her around.” This is what usually happens for my fun characters. My main ones were all characters I thought were awesome and wrote the book specifically to give them a place. Often I’ll build on them long after they’re already in the story, “Wouldn’t it be cute if Clementine collected bells as a girl?” Then there are necessary side characters, which are less fun. Sometimes I’ll have a plot event that simply requires a goat girl with a toque and knitted boots. I aim to make these characters more than just the role they need to fill, but most of the time they won’t even have names in the end. Luckily, I have so many main characters already I’ve no fear of the book ever lacking personality.
If your protagonist were transported to our world in the modern day, what would they think?
Actually, my story takes place in a fantasy realm that’s linked to the world as we knew it in the mid-1900’s. My main character was taken there once (quite a surprise to people reading when I set my scene to Manhattan 1964 xD) and she found it completely overwhelming. The technology, the lights, the noise. She looks at the human realm as a place void of simple, sacred peace, and would honestly much rather hide away on her island and forget it even exists.
Thank you, Krystal-Ann. That’s all we have time for today.
Krystal-Ann Melbourne is an author and artist living in Montreal with her two fat cats. Since neither writing nor painting pays the rent, she also works full time as a Video Game Playtester (best day job ever) for a game which she’s not allowed to tell anyone about.
Her other interests include teaching herself piano, violin, knitting, cooking, baking, making candles, and gardening. She’d really like to get into creating art from sandblasting old windows and is always working to improve her French.