"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Melissa Lopez writes for herself. She creates her worlds for her characters. She is an author of ancient fantasy, contemporary, dark urban fantasy, futuristic, historical, paranormal, suspense, and erotic romance.
Journeys of love every woman needs to take.
An Interview with Melissa Lopez
PNR: Can you tell us a little about how you started writing; was it something you have always wanted to do?
Melissa L.: Actually, no. It was a surprise how writing came about for me. Official Dark-Hunter fan-fiction writing and the encouragement of the moderator Lo Smith played a fundamental part of me pursuing my own worlds.
I'd always been interested in story telling. I'd always loved to read and listen to others tell stories. But it wasn't until college when others, teachers and professors started commenting on my originality and voice possibilities gave birth in my mind.
In my twenties I starting writing children's stories as a hobby but I loved to read romance. Then later, the 9/11 tragedy happened...I kept thinking life is so precious...What do I really want out of life for myself? Do I dare try and write a romance? Create my own worlds? Was Lo right? Could I be good enough?
In the end it was my husband who encouraged and supported me to give it a serious go. And here I am.
PNR: Are you able to write as much as you would like? Could you tell us about your writing schedule? What do you enjoy doing when not writing?
Melissa L.: Yes, pretty much. I treat my writing like a business. It took a while but now my entire family and group of close friends understand just how important my career is to me. I try to write, edit, research, and work on promotion five days a week. I average working 6-10 hours five days a week.
When I’m not writing, I very much enjoy spending time with my family.
PNR: Who or what has been the biggest influence on your writing? Who has been your biggest support?
Melissa L.: There are so many influences. Ann Peach was the first "in the business" who gave me a positive nudge towards publication. I'll always be grateful for her telling me I had raw talent.
Like I mentioned, Lo Smith. She taught me all about characterization. She pounded it into my muse to keep them real, stay true and be fair to them.
Lori Foster influenced me with her kindness. And Sherrilyn Kenyon, the author goddess unwittingly influenced me. Not only are her worlds incredible but her marketing skills are amazing.
Again, my husband is my biggest supporter. Followed by Mechele Armstrong my critique partner, Paula my web mistress, and my friend Mo.
PNR: What are the greatest challenges to you as an author?
Melissa L.: Oh, I’ve recently posted a journal entry on this. Discovering my author voice and style was quite the challenge for me. I’d been struggling to identify my specific author voice and style. My Samhain editor actually pointed it out to me during first round edits of Dark Chance. I was thrilled!
I’m also visually challenged. Not that I consider it a challenge, but others might.
PNR: What do you feel are the essential elements of a great story?
Melissa L.: I read a great deal or romance as well as write the genre. For me, it comes down to real life characters, great goals, motivation and conflict, believable plots, and a happy-ever-after.
PNR: You write under several pen names. What influenced your decision to use pseudonyms?
Melissa L.: Yep, I do. I co-author under Melany Logen and Marissa Alwin. Sharing pen names makes it easier for us to market our stories.
PNR: You have received a great deal of recognition and reader admiration for your writing. How does it feel to have such positive recognition for your work?
Melissa L.: I’m very fortunate and thankful to have the encouragement and support I have. I’m lucky to be where I am in my career.
PNR: Congratulations, readers are excited about the March 2008 release of DARK SENTINEL and the June 2008 release of DARK CHANCE from Samhain Publishing; these are the first two titles in your new Netherworld series. Could you tell us what inspired this dark fantasy series and a little about your vision for the project? What direction will the series be taking?
Melissa L.: Thank you! I’m still so thrilled!
Netherworld sparked to life with a whispered word. Redemption. What’s necessary in the process of redeeming? What kind of act would redemption take? This led to my central concept. The forsaken. The forgotten. And with that concept I just knew I wanted a world with multi dimensional layers like that of the Dark-Hunter world of Sherrilyn Kenyon. I wanted a world I could build on and expand as the series unfolded.
For a more in-depth inspiration, I was struck by one of my early college classes and one of my very favorite pieces of literature. Dante’s Inferno. This story is truly a masterpiece! I read it three times before the semester was up. The premise of Dante’s Inferno stuck with me from the first reading. Truly fascinating! Imagine circles in Hell. As I was toying with Dark Sentinel’s premise another story came to mind. One written by Kate Hill centered on a demon. Demons! Yes! I needed demons! I wanted lots and lots of demons. I nearly flipped my computer chair over when Pinhead from Cliver Barker’s Hellraiser popped into my head for a visit. Truly, this is not a character you want to know intimately. And neither is my Dark Prince. Seriously a purely evil being. My muse was in Heaven as the bits and pieces of Netherworld started falling into order.
Right now I’ve got three more Netherworld stories in the works. At present I plan on playing with more myths and legends in future installments.
PNR: Tell us about the challenges you face in world building with paranormal elements in a contemporary setting and making it work with the ideas you have in mind for the progression of your characters and the series? How much research is involved?
Melissa L.: Well the biggest challenge is keeping the world building straight from one story to the next. It’s made a little easier since I have parallel worlds. I try to use settings/areas of the country I’ve visited. And it goes without saying, while I research to spark my muse much of Netherworld comes down to the freedom of my imagination.
PNR: Could you give us some insight into the mythology of Netherworld that will be the thread to connect the series?
Melissa L.: In keeping Netherworld original, I plan to introduce those mythological beings of existing legends that come alive for my muse. There’s no one culture’s mythology in the position of influence.
In Dark Sentinel I got to meet the Giants which some cultures spin tales of their existence during the time of the Olympian gods. And in Byron's tale a very unpleasant Greek goddess is causing havoc.
The thread that connects my Netherworld series is the parallel worlds at play. And those that have a chance at redemption and those that clearly do not.
PNR: Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do you balance these two elements?
Melissa L.: I like to think my stories are character driven. But without an in-depth plot for the characters to live through there wouldn’t be much of a story. I try to make sure I weave in the characters’ goals, motivations and conflicts to help keep the balance.
PNR: Teva and Lash are wonderfully complex characters; could you tell us about the development of their relationship? What was your inspiration for these characters?
Melissa L.: Thank you. Oh, I like to think their relationship develops into a friendship first with a whole lot of longing for more. I love a lot of sexual tension in a story. I couldn’t tell you where Lash’s sprung from. This happens to me a lot. I look over and my shoulder to find a new character regularly. But Teva was giving birth from an essay I wrote a few years ago on the Louisiana Bayou titled I Am. You can find the essay on the extras page of my website.
PNR: How would you describe the sensuality level of your books; do you find it challenging to write love/sex scenes?
Melissa L.: Well, normally I try to keep the sexual tension very high until the mid-way point of a story. I’d describe the sensuality in my stories as hot. For some of my couples very hot.
I’ve had a surprise or two pop up when writing love scenes but I’ve never had a real challenge.
PNR: There is something about a “Bad Boy” that makes our hearts race. Why do you feel that readers are attracted to that bad boy image of a hero, or anti hero as the case may be?
Melissa L.: I think some readers what to be the one to “change” that bad boy. They want to be the motivation of his redemption.
PNR: What is it about the paranormal romance genre that captures your imagination? Is there a genre you haven’t written but would like to try?
Melissa L.: I believe it’s the “what ifs” the paranormal genre allows that captivates my muse.
Not as yet. With my co-authorships I’ve gotten to explore several genres. But I know there are still concepts/theme I want to have my muse have a go at.
PNR: Could you tell us about your current projects, what can readers expect to see in the coming months?
Melissa L.: I’ve got Cursed by Moonlight, a were-wolf fantasy set on an ancient Earth like setting that released in May from Ellora’s Cave. And Dark Chance my second story of Netherworld released this month.
Right now, I’m working on Riptide Love story two of my Australian Thorns. And my agent is working with me on a couple projects as well.
PNR: Thank you, Melissa, for taking time out to talk to us. Where can readers find out what’s new and how can they contact you?
Melissa L.: Thanks so, so much for having me! I keep my website updated monthly with the latest info on what’s new and what’s in the works. My e-mail is melissa @ melissa-lopez .com (no spaces) and I’m very active on my Livejournal. I love to interact with readers.
JOURNEYS OF LOVE every woman needs to take.Featured in this issue: ~Really Bad Boys ~Lyrical Press Interviews with: Elizabeth Amber Melissa Lopez Stella & Audra Price Gena Showalter J.R. Ward
March 18, 2008
Netherworld: Book 1
Their love could give him a second chance at life—or condemn her to an eternity of damnation.
A Book of the Netherworld
Yanked from his tortured existence in Netherworld and dumped naked in the Louisiana Bayou, Lash could swear he’s died and gone to heaven. Except for the fact that a millennium ago he died a condemned soul, forever barred from Paradise. His new life feels like the next best thing, full of small miracles. Like silence. And ice water. And the company of a beautiful, compassionate woman.
Teva is a woman with a taste for heavy-metal music, an inherited talent for magic, and a trusting heart. She knows nothing about the mysterious stranger she’s taken in, only that he needs her help. And the fact that he’s gorgeous hasn’t escaped her attention. She can’t see Lash as anything other than a sexy, gentle man who soothes her nightmares away.
Then Lash learns the real reason for his reprieve from Netherworld—he’s been sent to corrupt Teva’s soul with sinful pleasures. Starved for tenderness and aching with desire, Lash yearns to accept the loving embrace Teva offers. But he can’t give in to passion without tainting her, condemning her to the horrors of Netherworld.
The ultimate battle between good and evil is brewing, and Lash stands caught in the middle between Teva, who owns his heart—and Satan, who owns his soul.
June 10, 2008
Netherworld: Book 2
Do you believe in chance?
Absolution Book One
A book of Netherworld.
Olivia Sutcliff is a lost soul who has endured the tortures of Netherworld for more than a hundred years, but now she’s given one chance to get out—on a task set by the Dark Prince himself. She must use her sexual wiles to help damn an innocent man, and failure means a fate worse than hell.
FBI special agent Malin Cross has devoted every waking moment to catching the killer who haunts his nightmares. Until he meets the woman of his dreams. She’s a perfect submissive, one who anticipates his every fantasy. But she also asks too many questions, leaving Malin to wonder if she’s as innocent as she seems…or if she’s bait to lure him into the killer’s web.
As Olivia entices Malin deeper into a world that wants him destroyed, her second thoughts grow into a desire to save him from making a damning mistake.
But as the forces of light and dark collide, their lives—and their souls—hang on the one sacrifice that could destroy them both.
May 10, 2008
Torrid Tarot Series
By day, Alric is a fearless warrior who rules his people fairly and protects them fiercely. But when the full moon rises, he becomes that which he hates — a beast whose ferocious impulses he cannot control.
Caasi belongs to a wandering people who have set up camp on Alric's land. From the moment she first catches sight of the lord of the land, she is enchanted by him. And he is no better off — it's no wonder his people call her a witch.
Alric is desperate to find an end to his curse, and he calls upon Caasi to help him. But as a mysterious old crone has hinted, only he can free himself…
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