I'd like to welcome you to my interview with writer, Melody Richardson. Enjoy.
Hello Melody, can you please introduce yourself?
I'm Melody Richardson – freelance writer, photographer, editor & writers’ workshop facilitator. I’m based in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing 28 years.
What first got you interested in writing?
Reading made me want to write. It’s a natural progression; the more you read, the more you experience the thrill of communication through the sharing of ideas & images.
Do you attend a writing group?
I’m the writer in residence at two libraries in Muskoka – in Bracebridge & Baysville. I started circles at both libraries in the early 2000s.
Why do you attend a writing group?
I attend groups to learn how to listen, observe & tell stories.
What is the most valuable thing you have taken away from your writing group?
Everyone can write & improve their writing. We all have stories worth sharing.
What genre(s) do you write? What drew you to this/these genre(s)?
I write historical fiction, mysteries, for children. In non-fiction I focus on family history. History was one of my majors at university so the past is a passion for me.
What types of things do you write?
I write short stories, novels, magazine articles, for newspapers. I have a writing column that appears in a local monthly newspaper.
Have you ever had anything published?
My non-fiction has appeared in American & Canadian publications – magazines and newspapers
Would you consider self-publishing/e-publishing? Why/why not? Are you interested in eBooks, or do you prefer the old fashioned paper-made books?
I’ve self-published some of my fiction for children & a few novelas. I have published an anthology of memoir excerpts featuring members of my writing circle using my own imprint, Panda Publishing. Not yet tried eBooks.
Who/what influences your writing? Where do you get your inspiration from?
Life influences my writing. I live therefore I’m inspired. Living in Muskoka (in Ontario’s “cottage country”) you can’t help but be inspired by nature.
How do you come up with your characters’ names and personalities?
They find me.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
Find your voice. Believe in it. Use it.
What advice could you give to a new writer?
Define the parameters of your comfort zone. Do everything in your power to push through those barriers. Challenge yourself. Don’t take the easy path. Seek the uneven road; there’s where your best work will grow.
What is your writing routine?
I write when & where I can.
Do you start out with a complete idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
I just start writing & let my characters show me the way.
Do you have an editing process? Do you have someone else read over your work? Do you read your work aloud to yourself in front of the mirror?
I edit several days after I write. Others do look at my work. I always read my work out loud but not in front of the mirror.
Have you ever entered any writing competitions? Have you ever won?
Yes. I won a national short story competition.Have you ever attended an open mic event for spoken word performers, as either an observer or performer?
Yes. Great challenge & great fun.
How important is it for you to share your writing?
It’s why we all write.
If you could have written anything, what do you wish that could have been?
The poem High Flight.
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
I enjoy finding the words.
Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies/interests?
Cooking, puppet making.
What types of things do you read? Do you think your writing reflects your book tastes?
Love mysteries. Yes my writing does reflect my book tastes.
What are you working on at the moment?
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Sharing ideas & experiences makes us all better writers.
Would you be able to provide a short piece of your work?
This is an excerpt from my writing column (April 2012 edition) which appears in Great North Arrow newspaper. The column is called “Step in the Write Direction”. It’s for people who aren’t sure if they’re capable of writing:
“I can’t write.” I hear that a lot from people who have never expressed themselves creatively. It comes mostly from men. I’m not saying women are more creative; we can all cite talented males in the visual, performing, literary and culinary arts. However, when it comes to trying out the arts women are more adventurous and willing to push beyond their comfort zone.
Children are a different matter. When I present writers’ workshops to kids, I detect no difference between the genders. They all embrace the opportunity to participate in the creative process. That said, over the years I’ve come across three children who had never actively been imaginative, never pretended, never created their own worlds or conjured their own adventures. They were all boys. I know, I’ve read the studies. Boys, being active, are drawn to the physicality of sports while girls, being passive, are drawn to the introspectiveness of writing. Well, active or passive, males and females need to stretch their imaginations. They do that through the arts. Research shows that kids who study the arts score better academically because they learn how to think in new directions.
If we want our children to take chances and be creative, adults need to lead by example. Not interested in the arts? It doesn’t matter. Creativity has value beyond artistic endeavour. Lateral thinking, thinking outside the box, pushing the envelope – call it what you will – if we’re to save this blessed world of ours, we need new ideas that lead to new solutions. Now. So, whether strategizing on the soccer field, writing your life story or hoping to save the planet, lateral thinking matters. It begins by exercising your imagination.
© Melody RichardsonThank you very much Melody.