It's hard to believe it has been over twenty years since I started my journey to write my first novel. Nights of frustrations, months of writer's block and multiple thoughts of doubt played like reruns through the years. I never thought I would finally become a published author. February 22, 2021 my debut novel Behind the Mirage will be introduced into the world. The journey has been long and trying; but it has been worth it. My debut novel is part of a series, and I cannot wait to bring my world into people's lives. This has been my dream for so many years. There are so many wonderful authors in this world, and I hope to be one of them. My first novel is not the only story I have stashed away, I have a few others and hope one day to bring those to life. I hope you enjoy my debut novel, and hope you follow me on its journey.
I remember many years ago when I first starting writing Lex — well, creating her. As I explained in my first newsletter, she has been through many changes. She was a vampire at one point in her life. She’s been a fairy, a soldier, and a shapeshifter. Her name has changed a few times. More than a few things went into my decisions about creating Lex. I knew I wanted a strong female lead, someone who can hold her own and not have to rely on others to get things done.
Lex feels deeply, she loves deeply, and she can react at a moment’s notice. Some people who know me well have mentioned they see a little of me in her. That might be true. But when writing, I try to separate myself from my characters. I find sometimes it is hard to do, because I want Lex to feel a certain emotion that might not be natural for me. One way of expressing that emotion is to put yourself in that situation. That is probably how Lex became a person who resembles me, in some ways.
I jumped around with ideas of how I wanted to write her. I have read books from first person point of view as well as third person. I chose to write Lex in first person because again, I wanted to give her the emotions that show why she feels the way she does about people, events, and history. I want readers to get into her head so they can help her navigate her decisions. Showing this can sometimes be complicated. She doesn’t like to rock the boat, but she has no hesitation to do things on her own. She’s stubborn. I sometimes wonder, if I ever had a conversation with Lex, what would she ask me? What would she want me to tell about her? I think the first thing she would ask me is why I ruined her life. Now to be fair, I didn’t ruin her life. I just made it more interesting. I wanted to throw something at her that would force her to take action to affect her life altering decisions.
Life is never meant to be easy; for Lex, something like having a whole other life she knew nothing about can be pretty traumatizing. Especially the way it happened to her. The second book goes into more detail. Someone who becomes close to her in the future alters her life by the consumption of unimaginable pain and rage. I knew I didn’t want her life to be easy. I wanted her to learn the truth in a way that would change her mind about trust in everyone around her.
I didn’t want to create a damsel in distress, the one who constantly needs saving. Although she does find herself in some pretty nasty situations that require help from others, she can swim on her own. Her life is pulled in so many directions that she loses her way a little. Like in every good adventure, the books present obstacles that she needs to get through to keep herself on track.
I will be upfront in saying there were times I would get frustrated with Lex. I wanted her to focus, and she would get distracted — another personality trait I’ve been known to possess that I must have accidently slipped in there.
While I been working on other projects, I have found myself thinking about Lex. She has become a big part of my life as the main character of my debut novel. I have also thought about her for more than twenty years, so it’s become a habit. I have spent those years tweaking her in every which way to finally turn her into someone I can be proud of, someone whose team I’d want to be on if the end of the world happens. Lex will definitely take a lot of turns in her life; Behind the Mirage is only her first adventure. I have more ideas that keep coming to me every day. She will be tested in many more ways; disgrace, redemption, failure. She will need to find her strength and learn to trust those around her. I cannot wait to explore more with her and take you on the journey with us.
How did you change this book from its earliest versions? What did Behind the Mirage look like at first?
The inception of Behind the Mirage was many years ago. It began as a screenplay — about vampires. Over the years it has been through so many changes. Title change, plot changes, character names. Even my main character Lex has gone through her own changes. Her name, her origin; even her species. I guess you could say I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with the story.
What book did you first dream that yours would be like? What inspiration book helped you start writing?
With many stories that I write, there has never really been a cause for why I write. It used to be an escape from certain things happening in my life; however, when I got older, I wrote because I had so many ideas, I needed to get them down. Behind the Mirage is my debut novel; a series in the making. My dream is to write multiple stories in different genres; like most authors, to write full time. I’m a huge fan of Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series. The main character was an inspiration for Lex. Strong willed, no nonsense, a life she never knew she had. I hope my stories resonate with readers, as hers does.
Did you rely on any formal training or schooling in writing along the way to your debut book, or are you a self-taught artist?
I took a few creative writing classes in college, but nothing really beyond that. I thought about what type of story I wanted to write, and just did it. There were many trial and errors like I explained earlier. Eventually, I found the story I wanted to write.
Was there a writing craft book that helped Behind the Mirage appear in your everyday life?
No writing craft book, just my own thoughts and imagination.
How did your work habits to create the novel change over time?
Journals and notebooks hide in boxes in my closet. I have recently opened those cherished things and reminisce on what use to be. How the story started, and what it turned out to be. I will tell you, completely different. I never really imagined that Behind the Mirage would actually end up where it is today. I dreamed of where I wanted it to go, but I never allowed it to get beyond that point.
I would never let anyone read my book, or any of my stories. I was too afraid someone would not like it, and then I would give up. There are many times I have to admit that I did give up. I stopped writing altogether for over twenty years. What can I say? Life happened.
Mythology gave me the idea for the book; the different stories, intertwining. However, it wasn’t a book that was magically brought together page by page. The idea for Lex being an assassin stated out by her just being a soldier. I eventually wanted her to be almost one of a kind so I found that being an assassin for Oberon might give her a bit of an edge. The whole writing process was handled differently too. I would write different scenes and begin to weave them together. The ending always came first, then the beginning. I would struggle with the middle; bringing everything together. I cannot tell you how many changes the book went through before the final.
What did you dream about the impact your book would make?
After years of procrastination, doubts, frustrations, here is where I am. I have to say, it was a wonderful decision to put myself out there and see what would happen. It’s a question that always comes to mind. ‘What if?’ I still have a few lingering questions for myself, but I try to keep positive thoughts and understand that it might be tough doing this all at first, but eventually it will be worth it.
What was your favorite book as a child? What book has changed your life?
To be completely honest, I never really liked to read. I did not have a favorite book as a child. There wasn’t a book that changed my life. Many people say you cannot be a writer if you do not like to read. Well, I disagree with that. I think it came from being forced to read certain books in school, I could never find anything that interested me.
What did you do to keep the faith about the project?
When I was laid off from my job, all I would do is job search. It would sometimes become tedious and I needed an outlet; something to keep me losing my mind.
Who was your biggest cheerleader for your writing when you began your project?
My mom has always been my champion. There were many times I wanted to give up, and she would be right there encouraging me to keep going. She didn’t care if I sold zero books or a million, she never wanted me to give up on my dream; which I can say is pretty hard.
How much mythology research and reading had you already done when you got started writing, and how much happened along the way?
I knew the main characters of mythology pretty well. Zeus, Hades, Ares and Apollo. They are very prominent in my book. I just took what I knew of them, and tweaked it a little bit. There were a few characteristics from the old stories that I wasn’t going to address in the book. I wanted my story to be different, but still have a little of the same.
Where were you in life when you decided to start writing your book? Was it a happy time, or uncertain, or sad?
It wasn’t until I moved across country and left everything I knew behind that I picked up writing again. Behind the Mirage was the beginning of my writing life again. I dabbled in it here and there; just enough to keep me going. It wasn’t until I lost my job that I focused more time to it. After the final chapter was written, I decided to take a stab at trying to get it published.
What made you choose your setting for the book?
I chose Greece for Behind the Mirage because it is the place, I want to visit more than any in the world. Plaka came into the picture from a friend of mine. A person he knew had visited and spoke fondly of it. Once I did my research on Plaka; how charming it is, how beautiful, I knew it was the best place for my location. It’s a beautiful neighborhood that felt so right, even though I haven’t visited. Not yet. I knew I always wanted to write a story that takes place in Greece. It was just finding the right ideas and characters. I could imagine seeing my main character; Lex walking through the neighborhood of Plaka. I imagined her entering the many shops and restaurants. I guess I wanted to see myself in her, to be able to walk in her shoes until I can visit there myself.
What’s the first thing (book, screenplay, story) you remember writing from start to finish?
I knew I wanted to write a screenplay, so one day I could see my name in movie credits. I had written a few before; action, thrillers. It taught me to write better because I was able to bring the story to life in my mind. I think this is also why I chose to write my first novel because a screenplay can’t really tell the story. Of course, with everything in life, things change. So, I decided to write a novel instead. I believed I could put more emotion and imagination into a novel then I could a screenplay. I wanted to bring to life my story; bring readers into my world and take them for a ride.
Behind the Mirage uses the world of mythology — what made you so enthusiastic about choosing that starting point for a story?
I’ve been really fascinated by it since I was young. I remember learning about it in school. I fell in love with the stories of the Gods and Goddesses. Reading the Iliad and the Odyssey in school, opened my mind into eventually wanting to write my own stories, and wanting to bring to life my own world introducing certain characters from mythology. My characters were chosen because of the roles they played.
It is hard to imagine that all my hard work in publishing is so close to fruition. I am extremely excited to have a cover reveal forthcoming, because it is awesome. It makes the book even more real to see my story come to life with a beautiful image on the cover.
My plans ahead are first getting the early reviews of my book. Reviews are extremely important because they help build readership and my tribe of fans. Contact like that with readers and reviewers gives me an idea of what readers are craving, what they want to know, and even insights on how to bring the book into the world.
I want the book available to everyone. Behind the Mirage will begin an an ebook version at first, then roll into a wide release with a paperback edition. It will be available through Amazon and this website, too.
As a new author, I am a little nervous. This is a major step in my life. I never thought I would have made it this far in the process and there will be more to come. I will be exploring the world of Behind the Mirage further with a second installment, one that will bring even more surprises and a deeper look into Lex's world of assassination, loss, and love.
It's hard to imagine that it has been about a year that I started the process of self-publishing. I didn't realize how much went into the whole thing that I really wasn't prepared. All I wanted was to get my first novel out; be done with the stress and celebrate that I actually did it. It's been over twenty that I wrote it. I didn't really understand the time and effort it takes into publishing a book. I have a remarkable team, that I wouldn't know what to do without them; to be honest, I would have given up. I have thrown around the idea of restarting my newsletter; its been awhile. I have never really been the best at using my time wisely. I notice that I am not the most consistent writer on my own blog. I mean to do better; now that its getting ever so closer. I constantly have ideas running in my head for other books, so of course that takes up some time as well. I believe it is just the motivation I feel like it has taken so long to get my book where it is, that I fall into my comfort zone that I will eventually write on my blog about it. What's the rush? Well, times wasting and I need to change my way of doing things.
It's been a long time since I have been on here. There is so much that has happened, I'm surprised I finally remembered. I've decided to self publish my first novel. With no luck trying traditional publishing, the next best thing was to self publish. What helped, I already had a team behind me ready and willing to help. It was a hard decision at first to make the plunge because a publishing house asked for my full manuscript only a few months before. They were excited about my book and wanted a new fantasy series. They told me they would let me know their final decision. A few months past and I heard nothing. I emailed them to find out if they had decided on my book; still no response. I finally made the decision to pull my manuscript and venture out on my own. I was very excited and hoping I made the right decision. I can tell you, I did.
I have gone through the copy-edit of my book, I've seen the inside of my cover and the book cover itself all in a matter of two months. I had waited over 6 for the publisher to get back to me. Even when I pulled my manuscript, I still didn't hear from them. I am not going to tell you it is cheap, because it is not. However, for being my first novel I wanted to really go all in. There are platforms to use when self publishing, but I just wanted my first to be perfect. It is getting close to the end. I am not really good at keeping up with posting, but now it's time to change.
Katharine Ann Melton