This week’s interview is with the awesome M.L. Chesley! I met her when I joined Word Weavers and her love of writing and willingness to help out other authors immediately humbled me. I’m so excited to finally get a chance to promote her work!
SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?
MC: Hmm… my process when I first began writing, was to just sit down and do it. Now, I have a map, notebooks and binders. The map helps me figure out how long it will take characters to travel in my world if they’re going long distances. The notebooks are for outlines, story notes, etc. and the binders hold tons of reference material I have had to research for just about everything in my books.
SJ: Bonus question – Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything? Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?
MC: If I have a quirky writing habit, I don’t know about it! I have to have certain music playing and if I’m writing while everyone is home and/or awake, I have to put on headphones.
SJ: Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?
MC: I absolutely believe in the muse! Most of my ideas just seem to pop inside my head when I least expect it. I have written a couple of stories that have spawned from dreams. But the majority of the time I’ll just be sitting there and have a sudden flash of insight. People look at me funny and I just shake my head and smile and say, ‘Nothing, just some voices in my head.’
SJ: bonus question – If your muse had a physical manifestation, what would he or she look like and how would she or he act? Is it a sexy superhero version of Callisto? A sharp-tongued rogue? A reptilian alien? Do they have a catch phrase?
MC: I swear my muse would have a whip!
SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?
MC: I think this first book is going to hold a special place in my heart forever. There are a few characters that have a lot of ‘me’ in them, personality-wise. I play favorites with my characters sometimes. I just go through cycles, so they all end up getting spoiled.
SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?
MC: I’d choose Fantasy every time. I love the mysticism of the genre. For me, fantasy isn’t about escaping, it’s about using my imagination to my fullest potential. While I am highly influenced by lots of things in the genre, I like to take things a step further. For example, Elves. I’ve always been fascinated by Elves! I don’t know why, it’s a quirk, we’ll leave it at that. But there are just so many possibilities to go with. You take the basic Elf, from say, Dungeons and Dragons and expand upon it. I have water Elves. They need to be near running water to harness the energy of it and use their magic. They can also transform into merfolk or fish.
SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?
MC: My biggest frustration is patience. I have so much going on in my head I can’t move fast enough to get it all out. I need to just stick in a link from my brain to my computer and be done with it. The downside of writing is all the time it takes away from other things. But it’s something I can’t help, I have to write or I go nuts. The one cliché about being a Fantasy writer is people looking at you like you’re a poor example of the human race. The way they always seem to think I can’t deal with the real world, so I have to escape and hide away.
SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?
MC: Well, since I just have the one book at the moment, I’d stick me and loved ones in ‘Adversarius’, but we’d live in Paridzule. If I had to stick an enemy in this book, they’d be stuck in either Relavia, or on the penal colonies where all the hardened criminals are kept.
SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?
MC: I don’t know. I know there are people out there who have a formula, or think they do, and it truly does work for them. I’d absolutely want that recipe!
SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?
MC: It is NOT an easy career choice. The sacrifices writers make to get the story out there and promote it sometimes make me feel guilty. There are times when I don’t spend a lot of social time with friends or quality time with family. I sacrifice sleep in order to write because I do try to focus on my family first, so I write when they’ve all gone to bed. Which makes getting up for work difficult at times. If I could stay home and still have the bills paid, I would. But then again, there is a certain amount of sacrifice in every job that you love and aspire to do.
SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.
MC: Fantasy is not about a running away from responsibilities or real life issues. In fact, I feel that fantasy is a way for people to escape their problems, even for a little while and still be able to sort out the problems they face. When you sleep, your dreams help you deal with emotional and stressful issues, if you interpret them correctly. The same can be said for Fantasy. It allows you to focus on something other than your problem so that you can continue to let your subconscious work it out. Sometimes, the characters are going through similar situations and solutions are presented through the written word.
SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?
MC: ”She’s the one who writes like it’s a role playing game!”
SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!
MC: Well, ‘Adversarius’ is my one and only baby right now. It’s the first in a trilogy and I’m wrapping up book two. But this book, this is the one I’ll always love! It’s a quick, easy read. It flows well. It’s funny and snarky and sad at times. There is a lot of action, but you don’t get confused. The bad guy is a guy you’ll love to hate and you’ll cheer for the good guys. Heck, I’d even offer up money back if you don’t laugh out loud at least once! But I’d get those people who would not laugh, just to prove me wrong. The characters are strong, well developed and the banter is great.
Okay, I’m done, ‘cause I really hate talking my stuff up. I’d rather let other people do it! Lol!
Two kingdoms, two goals.
The king of Relavia is determined to wipe out his warring neighbors in Paridzule, a worthy adversary for over five hundred years. News of an arranged marriage between his son and the daughter of his lifelong enemy has fueled the temper of Relavia’s tyrannical king. What he doesn’t realize is the true measure of his son’s honor and how far he is willing to go to gain peace.
M. L. Chesley is an Alaska based author, online blogger and MMORPG junkie. She has been writing fantasy for several years. Between writing, work and family she barely has time for much gaming, but some days, raids take precedence over all. If you would like to learn more about her world, created in this book, go to www.mlchesley.webs.com. You can also follow her blog at www.caledonialass.blogspot.com.