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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, fantasy author Melanie K. Moschella shares what inspired her to write The Raek Riders Series, and her creative writing process.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed Melanie K. Moschella about her life and career, what inspired her to start writing fantasy books, and the story of The Raek Riders Series.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m a full-time mom to a toddler and a full-time writer/indie author/entrepreneur. I’m tired as you can imagine! I grew up in New Jersey but now live in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire with my family. I like to get outside as much as possible, have a serious sweet-tooth, and participate in a local community theater.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I was never that person walking around saying, “I’d like to write a novel one day.” If anything, for most of my life I didn’t have the confidence to write anything or put my work out into the world. It wasn’t until I became a mom that things changed—that I changed. Suddenly, my self-doubt didn’t matter anymore. All that mattered was keeping my daughter happy and healthy and being the best version of myself and the best role-model I could be. I want my daughter to grow up knowing she can have a career in something she’s passionate about and that she can follow her dreams, so first, I have to do those things.
When did you take a step to start writing?
I started writing my first book when my daughter was seven months old. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I had a story in my head and the will to tell it, so I sat down at my computer and wrote every chance I got—mostly during my daughter’s painfully brief naps.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
It took me … maybe six months to write my first book, but rather than work on releasing it, I continued to write. I felt like I needed to complete the series I’d started, so I kept working until all five books were done. From start to finish, The Raek Riders Series took me about a year and a half to be ready for release.
What made you want to write The Raek Riders Series?
As a new mom during a pandemic, I was extremely isolated at home. My isolation drove me to retreat mentally into what I call an “extended daydream,” and for months, I nurtured this daydream while I nurtured my baby girl.
The original inspiration for the daydream was Eragon. My husband and I listened to the Eragon audiobooks, and I started to imagine my own dragon-riding fantasy.
What were your biggest challenges with writing The Raek Riders Series?
My biggest challenge writing The Raek Riders Series was balancing writing with life. When I write, I like to completely immerse myself in my work and struggle to focus on anything else. Of course, as a mom—without childcare—that was difficult. I often had to stop mid-flow to tend to my daughter’s needs or walk my dog or do the laundry. There never seemed to be enough time in the day.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
My protagonist, Meera, was inspired by my feeling of isolation. At the beginning of Iron-Bound Flames, book one of the series, she’s motivated by her own feelings of loneliness and isolation to seek drastic change in her life. Meera isn’t special or chosen—she’s an ordinary human woman—but the string of choices she makes in the series alter her life and her destiny.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
For whatever reason, I harbor an inherent distrust of people who are overly charming, and King Bartro definitely falls under that category. His personal sigil is a grinning bear, catching a fish in its mouth, and he lives up to that sigil—grooming and manipulating people with his attention and flickering gaze.
What is the inciting incident of The Raek Riders Series?
Out of loneliness, pride, and something she doesn’t come to understand until later in the book, Meera makes an impulsive decision; she volunteers herself to feed a dangerous creature imprisoned at the palace called a raek. Against all odds, she survives her task, forming a bargain with the raek as well as an unexpected friendship.
What is the main conflict of The Raek Riders Series?
Meera becomes infamous at the palace and soon catches the eye of King Bartro. She’s enraptured by the king’s attention and acts as a spy and interrogator for him, but her fondness for the raek—and her interest in his mysterious rider—will ultimately force her to choose between her king and her conscience.
Did you plot The Raek Riders Series in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
I daydreamed my books in advance and kept a very long and disorganized list of scenes and dialogue as they came to me, but I didn’t do any extensive planning or plotting. Mostly, I imagined what would happen next on my elliptical or falling asleep at night, and I wrote it down. My husband and I joke that I’m actually just a ghost writer for the little elves in my head because I often didn’t even feel like I was coming up with what happened in my books. When people read my books and talk to me about my plot devices, I just laugh because it makes my writing sound much more intentional than it really was. There was a story in my head, and I put it down.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did The Raek Riders Series need?
I did most of my editing entirely on my own with some support from my husband (who’s a grammar stickler). I chose not to hire an editor after hiring a beta reader for book one, who told me my book was “bookstore ready.” It absolutely was not bookstore ready at the time, and I decided then that I was my harshest critic and the person I needed to please was myself.
I read each book in my series between five and ten times to polish my writing. It felt like a lot of editing, but really, I didn’t make any drastic changes—just edits to sentence structure, mostly. The most work I did was in the very first chapter of the very first book. I struggled to explain everything I needed to explain while still keeping the scene moving, which I imagine is often difficult in first chapters—especially in fantasy books.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
If there’s a story in your head, just put it down! Don’t overwhelm yourself trying too hard to emulate someone else’s methods for writing or style of writing. Just put it down like no one is ever going to read it and fine-tune later. First drafts are always rough, and that’s okay.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
There are two more series and one stand-alone book swirling around in my head, waiting to be written down. The next series I plan to work on is set in early 1900s Boston and is based off of a dream I once had about a one-eyed man in a tower of glass. It will be historical fiction meets fantasy and offer plenty of romance and adventure, while exploring themes of feminism.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I’m proud of myself now, but it has taken me a while to feel that way. After I wrote the first book in my series, I felt like it didn’t mean anything—that maybe I could celebrate if I wrote another. Then I felt like maybe I could feel proud of myself if I finished the series. Then I thought maybe I would have accomplished something if I sold a lot of books and made money.
Pride is hard for me, but I’ve been working on acknowledging my accomplishment. I don’t know if my books will be successful and financially worth the effort and money I’m putting into them, but being able to feel my accomplishment is worth it all regardless. I can say I’m an author—that I wrote five books in year—and that has value to me. Even just finishing something I started feels good and worthwhile.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Iron-Bound Flames (The Raek Riders Series Book 1)
A Warrior at Heart (The Raek Riders Series Book 2)
As Easy as Falling (The Raek Riders Series Book 3)
A Flight of Fancy (The Raek Riders Series Book 4)
The Middle of the End (The Raek Riders Series Book 5)
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