Following the publication of her debut novel, The Sin Eater’s Daughter, I am pleased to welcome author, Melinda Salisbury onto the blog, to talk about her big break into publishing.
1) Your debut novel, The Sin Eater’s Daughter is about to be published, how does that make you feel?
Honestly – I’m terrified! For so long it’s been mine, and very shortly it’s going to be the worlds’ and that’s such a big thing to try and understand. I’m so excited for it, but at the same time it’s too big to comprehend. I never really believed it would happen, throughout the whole process it seemed impossible that I could be an author, so now it’s here it’s scary, and exciting, and surreal, and thrilling all at once. But I’ve been keeping a scrapbook of the journey, so I’ll be able to look back on this time in the future and remember what a ride it was.
2) Which character do you most identify with in The Sin Eater’s Daughter and why?
Twylla. I don’t think I’m very much like her, personality wise, but I find her struggles so relatable. She’s told who she is and what she’ll be, she’s given no choice in it. Until about five years ago I had largely same mind-set she has; I had been to school, then college, then university. I had a job and a boyfriend. I was living the life I thought I was supposed to and yet I wasn’t happy. I was ticking all of the boxes for a “good” life and yet I felt as though I was dying. I had everything you’re supposed to want and it wasn’t enough and it made me hate myself. It took some really severe turbulence on a plane to make me realise I had to do something, and that I could make different choices, and try living a different way. Twylla is the same – but for her Lief is the turbulence. He comes in and shakes things up and makes her question whether what she’s doing is worth it.
3) Who was the first person you told about your book deal?
My friend and critique partner, Robin Stevens. She’d been helping me stay sane throughout my whole journey to publication – she was one of the early readers for The Sin Eater’s Daughter, so she was the first person I wanted to tell. Also, she’s an author too, so she understood EXACTLY what a big deal it was.
4) The cover is amazing. Did you have any say in the development of it?
I did! I got to speak to my editor about the covers I liked and was less keen on, and she made a note. I didn’t expect to see the cover when I did, and I burst into tears and sent a lot of caps locked emails telling everyone how much I loved them. It was so beautiful. I immediately made it my laptop background, and my phone background – pretty tragically, I even went to the library and printed a picture off and put it up on my wall at home. I was so proud that this beautiful image had been created because of my story.
5) What was your first reaction when you found out that your book was to be published?
I threw up! When my agent said she was putting me on submission and that I shouldn’t expect to hear anything for a good few weeks, I decided to go on a trip so I had something else to focus on. I knew if I didn’t do something I’d spend every day refreshing my email, so I booked a week away in Reykjavik and started researching it, booking activities and checking out restaurants and museums that would keep me away from the Internet so I didn’t drive myself potty. But the Monday before I flew out Claire emailed to say I’d had an offer. I was still at work and I got so excited that I threw up. The following day I flew to Iceland, knowing that no matter what else happened, I had a book deal. It made the whole trip a lot more special.
6) I have to ask, but what is the deal with Jeff Goldblum on your website?
When I first made the website I had absolutely nothing really to put on it. And I am a huge Jurassic Park fan, so I decided to have a page dedicated to Jeff Goldblum. It started as a silly thing that has now developed a life of its own. I have no plans to change it, either. He’s a beautiful man.
7) Tell us what a typical writing day would be like?
I don’t have one, I’m afraid. I’m a really haphazard person. I’ll have days where I write 7000-8000 words, sometimes I’ll only write 100 and spend the rest of the day on Twitter. It really depends on what I feel like, what’s distracting me, etc. I’m trying to change that though; when I start writing the third book I’m going to try and be more rigorous, and set myself a target of 2500 words every day, stopping when I hit that limit. I need to build some better writing habits, because when I started out, I didn’t think it would become a professional thing, so I didn’t treat it as one. But it’s not a hobby anymore, and I need to make sure I’m staying on target for deadlines and leaving myself time for other things too.
8) What advice would you give to aspiring and unpublished authors?
Obviously read, and write, as often as you can. But everyone says that, and everyone knows it. Personally, my biggest piece of advice though would be travel. See the world around you. Explore. Go to new places, try new things. It doesn’t have to be outside of your country – go visit a neighbouring town, go and walk streets you’ve never walked before in your own town. Eat food from a different country. Listen to music you don’t normally listen to. Soak up anything different. The more you see, the more ammunition you give the storyteller inside you. Giving them a wealth of inspiration is what’ll keep the stories flowing out of you.
The Sin Eater’s Daughter is published by Scholastic and is available to buy now.
Twylla has a gift - or a curse. She can kill with a single touch. Now she's the court executioner, compelled to do the queen's bidding - and marry the prince. But when she meets a rebellious guard, Twylla starts to question everything she's been told...
To find out more about Melinda Salisbury: