Friday, December 31, 2010

Interview - Melanie Nowak, author of "ALMOST HUMAN"

Today at Bibliognome we have author Melanie Nowak who wrote the great trilogy Almost Human that I've been featuring here all week.  Melanie was nice enough to answer my questions and agreed to have a giveaway which will start tomorrow, so don't forget to come back tomorrow and read all about it.


Bibliognome:  Which of your characters has been your favorite to write about?

Melanie: Being asked to choose a favorite character, is like trying to pick a favorite child! I can’t choose one among the others. Honestly, I really am all of the characters in this book! It may sound strange because my characters are pretty diverse, but it’s true. Each of these characters has been taken from the seed of something within myself. I have been lucky enough in my life never to have been sexually abused or addicted to drugs - but everything that goes into making up the personalities for my characters, how they feel and react to things, has come from some little grain of dealing with something in my own life - magnified. At some point in my life I have totally identified with and "been" these people. Even if it didn't outwardly show - this is how I felt and wanted to react.

I wondered a little at first, whether I would be able to write a believable ‘guy’, but when you come down to it, we are all just people. I take care to really examine motives throughout each scene, and to try and observe and notice things the way I think a man would when writing from their perspective. It’s actually rather fun writing for my guys Cain and Ben, and stepping into the male point of view.

Outwardly I’m sure my friends and family would say I am most like Felicity. Physically, I have modeled her after myself; intellectually and emotionally she is very much the girl that I was at that age. I was usually pretty quiet and shy, constantly reading my fantasies rather than trying to live them out. Because of that, I identify very closely with Felicity, but I have to admit that it’s often more fun to write for my other ladies, Allie and Sindy. Allie is much more sassy and daring than I have ever been in life, and Sindy… well let’s just say it; She can be an evil bitch – and who wouldn’t think that was fun to write?

Bibliognome: Where did you get the idea to have your vampire's be venomous/be addictive?

Melanie: A few things came together to bring ALMOST HUMAN’s venomous vampires to life (or undead death, if you will). I’ve always been interested in bats. Vampire bats have a anticoagulant in their saliva called “draculin” (named after Count Dracula!) that keeps blood from clotting. I had the idea that such a thing would be useful for vampires as well. It would also be useful if they had something to keep the victim calm, like a drug.

I always wondered about a vampire’s ability to put victims in thrall. In old movies, vampires are always able to hypnotize people, and it’s never really explained. People are just ‘under their power’. I always wondered – why? How does it work? I put those questions together with the anticoagulant/drug idea, and took it further. What if vampires could inject their victims with venom – like a snake? Only the venom would not be deadly poison, but a combination of drugs that kept blood from clotting, kept the victim calm and even willing, and also could mark territory for the vampire – leaving a mark that other vampires could see. The vampire could then use the existence of this ‘drug’ in their victim’s system, to put them in thrall as well. 

The idea of venomous vampires seemed so logical to me, that I assumed for sure that someone else had done it already. I began searching my library for a book like that, so I could read it! This was probably in the late 80’s and there weren’t very many vampire books around at that time. I never found what I was looking for, and I filed the idea away. It never occurred to me to write it myself, LOL.

Around that time, I discovered Anne Rice’s vampire chronicles and absolutely loved them. That was the first time I read something from the vampire’s point of view. The way that she captured emotions and described surroundings was mesmerizing to me, and I really connected with her story. I’m also a huge fan of the T.V. series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. Joss Whedon is a genius! That said – in 2003, towards the end of the show, I started disliking some decisions the writers made for the characters. I understood their vision, but I also saw missed opportunities. I would have done things differently.

That started me thinking of how I would write a story of my own, with my own characters, incorporating my venomous vampire idea. None of this was written down, just daydreamed during housework. Then one day I realized that a lot of the ideas I had were really good, and it depressed me to think that it would all just be forgotten. So, I sat down one night at the computer, to write out a few things so I wouldn’t forget, and could look back at them one day. The scenes just came pouring out and before I knew it, I’d been up writing almost the whole night! That’s when I realized that I had a real story to tell, and wanted to write it all out from beginning to end. That is how my ALMOST HUMAN vampires were born.

Bibliognome: Will Cain's specialness be explored more in future books?

Melanie: Most definitely! Each of my characters has special abilities and facets to their personalities, paranormal and human, that make them unique. They evolve throughout each book, being shaped by their experiences, learning more about themselves and showing us different sides of themselves. Their journeys are far from over! At the moment I have 12 books planned for the ALMOST HUMAN series, with a spin off novel to come after, that might begin a new series of its own!

Bibliognome: I love the ending of each book, so which one of the three books in this trilogy had your favorite ending?

Melanie: I’m glad you enjoyed the endings. To tell you the truth, when I wrote the first trilogy, I wasn’t writing it to be published, I was writing the story for myself. Originally it was one long story that was more like a screen play than a novel, and it was later broken into three parts for publishing. Luckily the story did lend itself well to the transition, because each section really does have its own ‘flavor’ and focus – it was always a three part story, but it was meant to be read together. The result is that the ‘ending’ of each book isn’t a clearly defined ending to the book per say – it’s more like the end of an act or scene in a play. You know there is more coming and things are not completely resolved. I think my favorite ending is probably that of EVOLVING ECSTASY, because although bittersweet, to me it is the natural end to that part of the story and what is meant to be for that chapter of the characters lives. It was also fun writing the little twist end of the epilogue!

Bibliognome: What are you writing about next?

Melanie: I have been thinking about my characters and their story for years, and have already planned their future for many books to come. I have decided to write my ALMOST HUMAN series as a succession of trilogies. The series will continue chronologically with the same characters throughout, but each trilogy will have a new focus and storyline that follows through its three books. Each trilogy is fairly self-contained, allowing those three books to be read separately from the rest of the series, but will be more enjoyable if the trilogies are read in order, illustrating the full history of the characters.

Writing the series as a succession of trilogies gives readers the opportunity to feel a sense of completion during points in the story, even though the series will still continue for many books to come. As I said earlier, I’ve planned 4 trilogies for the ALMOST HUMAN series, meaning 12 books in all, and then I have plans for a spin off novel, which may result in a series of its own.

Right now I am writing Volume 2 ~ ALMOST HUMAN ~ The Second Trilogy, which will be titled: DESCENDANT OF DARKNESS.

Bibliognome: Who is your favorite author and what do you enjoy reading the most?

Melanie: Before I had begun writing, my genres of choice were fantasy, sci/fi & horror. I was never interested in reading romance, because the first few I had read, had very undeveloped characters and more sex than I had felt necessary based on the emotional underdevelopment of the story. I don’t remember what I had read, and I’m sure not all romance is like that, but it turned me off to the genre. I was much happier reading sci/fi fantasy with more interesting characters, that really made me think. I had never heard of paranormal romance or urban fantasy at the time.

After I published my own books and began the laborous adventure of marketing and promotion, I was introduced to the wealth of new paranormal stories, in Urban Fantasy & Paranormal Romance, genres I didn’t even realize existed. However, difficult as it was, I decided that I would not read any of them. I had already written my first three books, being completely unaware of new popular series such as Anita Blake, Sookie Stackhouse, Vampire Academy & Twilight, and one thing many readers praised was my unique approach to the genre. Rather than risk unintentionally influencing my writing style, I made the decision not to read any PNR or Urban Fantasy books until I am finished with my series.

The only vampire books I have ever read, are Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Anne Rice’s wonderful Vampire Chronicles, and Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. These days, writing fulfills all of my fantasy needs, and if I do feel I want to escape for a short break, I’ll read a sci/fi fantasy book.

I love series! Once I get invested in a world, a premise, or certain characters, I am usually insatiable in my pursuit of more of their story. I also really like books that are a bit morally ambiguous; I like to be challenged to make my own decisions about the characters. I like imperfect heroes, and villains you can empathize with. I also tend to stick with authors that I like, and read almost everything they write. Some of my favorite authors and their ‘stand outs’ for me:

Anne Rice: Vampire Chronicles series
Jack L. Chalker: Well of Souls series, Dancing Gods series
Michael Crichton: Jurassic Park series, Congo
Piers Anthony: Apprentice Adept series, Xanth series
Douglas Adams: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series
Stephen King: Pet Semetary, The Shining
Pamela C. Dean: The Secret Country series
Steven R. Boyett: Ariel
Elizabeth Marie Pope: The Perilous Gard

Bibliognome: What is your favorite word to say or write?

Melanie: What an interestingly odd question! I don’t think anyone has ever asked me that, and I have never thought about it before. The word venomous has a very exciting feel to it for me. It carries connotations of danger; something you should stay far away from – but even as a child I was always drawn to creatures that most people were afraid of, so for me it’s very intriguing.

Bibliognome: What to you is the best part of the whole writing process?

Melanie: As much as I truly love interacting with readers, and having discussions of choices my characters make and things they go through that others can empathize with, that isn’t my favorite part.

My absolute favorite part of writing has to be living the story. I feel as though I completely transform myself into these characters and emotionally put myself through everything that they experience. I guess I’m a bit masochistic, because my characters are sometimes put through the wringer! Writing is so cathartic for me though. I can take every bit of hurt, anger, depression, laughter and love that I have inside me, and use it to take my characters through their experiences and fuel their emotions. Inside I feel like I am an overly emotional and sensitive person – though I don’t always let it show. Living out these things through my characters gives me an outlet for all of that pent up emotion. I need that in my life.

Bibliognome: What's your biggest goal for the upcoming year?

Melanie: My only goal for the upcoming year in terms of my series is to finish writing the next book: DESCENDANT OF DARKNESS, and have it translate to the page the way I currently see and feel it in my mind and heart. I want to take my characters further in their journey, and live and learn with them along the way.

I don’t really set materialistic goals for myself. Of course it would be nice if I could sell more books, get my novels carried in some stores they aren’t represented in yet, and reach out to readers who haven’t yet been introduced to my venomous vamps, but I can’t really focus on that kind of thing. (The bill collectors might think I should be focused on it, but I’m just not, LOL)

Bibliognome: Anything else that you would like to let people know?

Melanie: ALMOST HUMAN is an independently published series, meaning that I handle every single aspect of it completely by myself with no outside help. There are of course pros and cons to that: I don’t have financial backing for a large promotional campaign, and I’m called upon to do things for the books that I don’t have much experience with, but it has been an incredible journey for me, and I am extremely proud to be able to present my vision for the series to readers without it being changed to suit the ideas and formats of a publisher. This series is my raw emotional relation of these characters and their lives.

Like most of my readers, I am a working mom with humble ambitions. However, I have this story inside of me that is just burning to be told, so I am following my heart and putting it down on paper to share with others. My favorite part of reading is being able to connect with a character or idea and take it with me after I’ve finished the book. I hope that my story resonates with my readers, and gives them something to take with them in life – an interesting new idea, a comforting thought, or even just a friend to take off the shelf and visit when you need them.

My favorite quote that really sums up the part books have played for me in life:

 "Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." Charles W. Eliot

I hope that my characters are a ‘constant friend’ to others as they are to me.

Now some quick questions:
         1.) venomous vampire or regular vampire? 
Venomous of course! 
         2.) pop or soda?

         3.) silver or gold?
I like gold better with my skin tone – but the designs I am drawn to are always in silver
         4.) Starbursts or Skittles?
Skittles (but I’d rather have Bottle Caps!)

         5.) pen or pencil?
Pencil, it must be really sharp though!

I would sincerely like to thank Becky of Bibliognome for giving me the opportunity to introduce everyone to my venomous vamps!
Currently available books for the series are:

ALMOST HUMAN ~ The First Trilogy
Volume 1: Fatal Infatuation
Volume 2: Lost Reflections
Volume 3: Evolving Ecstasy

ALMOST HUMAN ~ The Second Trilogy
Volume 1: Born to Blood

I am now writing Volume 2: Descendant of Darkness, for the second trilogy, and hope to release that book in 2011.

ALMOST HUMAN ~ The First Trilogy was featured in the New Title Showcase of Book Expo America in May 2010. At that time, the series became available Internationally in ebook and paperback, online and in your local bookstore – if it’s not on the shelf – ask for it!

You can purchase ALMOST HUMAN through Amazon at:

Or at a discount through my website, where you can also read free sample chapters:

Thanks so much for having me & happy reading!
~ Melanie Nowak


  1. Great interview! I love the Almost Human world - once addicted, always addicted. ;-)


  2. I love the idea of venomous vampires. A whole host of parasitic creatures have venom or anaesthetic in their saliva - mosquitoes, lampreys, etc - and the idea of having a vampire with those evolved traits just makes SENSE!


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