Today's guest is YA sci-fi author Melissa Conway to talk about her newest book Xenofreak Nation.
Melissa Conway is the author of four young adult sci-fi ebooks. She is the founder of Indie Review Exchange and the book review site Booksquawk. Her website is here, her YouTube channel here, she blogs at Whimsilly and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
Welcome, Melissa. Please tell us about your current release.
Xenofreak Nation is a near-future young adult sci-fi thriller. It's been referred to as a dystopian, but if it is, then it's pretty darn close politically to the world we live in now, which says a lot about our current society!
In the story, bioengineered animals provide organs for human transplantation. Grafts of animal skin have replaced tattoos in popularity, which gives rise to a unique new demographic: Xenofreaks. Bryn Vega is one of two main protagonists. Her father is head of the Pure Human Society and when she’s kidnapped by the Bestia Butcher, the most notorious of the criminal xenosurgeons, she assumes its payback for her father’s anti-xeno activities.
Scott Harding, the second protagonist, starts out as her kidnapper and jailer. His nickname is Cougar because of the claws replacing his fingers—but Scott is not who he seems. He's deep under cover for the Xenofreak Intelligence Agency, and has been given unprecedented immunity to find the Bestia Butcher’s lair and do whatever it takes to bring him to justice. When Bryn is forced to undergo a radical xenoalteration, she discovers a terrible secret: her father is using The Pure Human Society as a front for his own purposes. His willingness to sacrifice his daughter to accomplish them sends her running to Scott for protection, and into the hard-core underground subculture of the very xenofreak society she once despised.
What inspired you to write this book?
One of the things I'm challenged by is the fact that it's hard to come up with a truly unique plot these days. Many of the current books and movies are rehashed. Don't get me wrong, I love a good classic and I enjoy reading books that put a new spin on them, but I strive to produce something that distinguishes itself from the pack. Coming up with such a concept usually starts with a simple, what if? And then it snowballs!
What exciting story are you working on next?
I'm just about to release my latest, a paranormal YA romance called SelfSame, about a girl who lives two lives simultaneously - when she's asleep in the here and now, her spirit goes into the past to occupy the body of a young woman in colonial America. I'm very excited about it, so much so that I already made the book trailer, here.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In the second grade. I wrote a poem in class that my teacher submitted to a contest in the local newspaper - and I won! Sometimes validation is all we need to give us a push in the right direction.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to do what I love full-time. My work day isn't regimented, but I don't need to enforce structure upon myself - on the contrary - I'm one of those driven people who need to schedule in down time! Other than writing, I've discovered I have a passion for creating 3D art. It stemmed from making my book trailer videos, and has blossomed into a hobby that keeps me occupied when my writing muse isn't sitting on my shoulder.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I'm a true 'pantser.' I start a story with only the vaguest notion of where it's going to go. Somehow, characters manifest and plot lines slowly come together. Sometimes it amazes me that I can take a few days off to let the story simmer and then wake up one morning and whatever solution I need is just there. The power of the unconscious mind...
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer and an artist. It took awhile, but after college, where I studied Advertising Art, I ended up in a career as an executive-level secretary. I'm now doing what I anticipated I would do when I was a child. It's just as exciting and wonderful as I'd imagined!
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Nothing comes to mind... :o)
Thanks so much for visiting and talking with us today!