Friday, August 21, 2020

Interview with novelist Melissa Riddell

Novelist Melissa Riddell joins me today to chat about her new sci-fi post-apocalyptic romance, The Descendant.

During her virtual book tour, Melissa will be giving away a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card, a signed copy of The Descendant (book 1), OR an ARC of the second book in the series to lucky randomly drawn winners. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!


Melissa Riddell is from a small, West Texas town in which she still lives with her husband. Her writing career started as a hobby when she was a teenager, writing poems and short stories. Eventually, she branched out and began constructing novels. When not contemplating new story ideas, she can be found traipsing around Texas State Parks, herding her cats, or reading a book.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
The Descendant is the first book of the Baltin Trilogy. It puts the reader in Tilly Morgan’s shoes, a tough little scrapper with a potty mouth. The story shows her journey through Texas to find her older sister. Tilly is one of the few humans to have survived an alien invasion. The unseen visitors released an electromagnetic pulse and destroyed all electronics and then wiped out most of humanity with a killer virus. As a lonely survivor, she navigates the new, savage world and clings to the hope her sister is also immune and alive. Unfortunately, her sister lives in Florida, hence the journey across Texas.
Along the way, she befriends Kodiak, a funny, lovable dog who becomes her best friend. A few weeks later, she’s rescued by a cocky, handsome stranger named Jareth, who’s intent on tagging along, whether she wants him or not. It follows their relationship as they travel and touches upon truth, trust, and forgiveness. It has a few twists and turns, too.

What inspired you to write this book?
At the time the idea started, I worked on an Air Force base and would daydream of secret aliens and government conspiracies. Plus, I was playing Fallout 4 and loved how the main character and Dogmeat form their bond. So, after turning part of the idea into a short story, I decided I wanted to flesh it out into a full-length novel.

Excerpt from The Descendant:
Jareth clears his throat. “I know it’s not much, but I like the way it feels—the earthy smell, the chalky texture. Plus, it gets cooler back in the tunnels, which makes for great food storage.” His voice bounces from the walls, projecting the sound all around me.
Shadows cast by the edge of the distant firelight flicker across his face, revealing the hollow of a small dimple in his cheek. It’s a face that’s near perfection. Too bad he had to open his mouth and ruin it.
“Like what you see, Red?”
Oh, my God. I’m going to kill this man. Blood rushes to my face, but I’m not sure if it’s from embarrassment or anger.
Pressing my lips together, I try to focus on anything that’s not him. The earthen smell he mentioned isn’t unpleasant. It reminds me of mom’s garden; digging our hands into the dark, moist soil to plant seedlings for the summer season. It’s a satisfying, honest scent.
But I’m not about to let him know that. “Kind of smells like bat crap in here.”
Hazarding a glance at his face, he nods his head, the small smile still playing about his lips. “Oh, that’s what the smell is? I thought it was body odor and dog fur.”
I will kill the jerk in his sleep tonight.
Pivoting on the balls of my feet, I stalk back to Kodiak.
Dreadful. Hateful. Spiteful man. “I hope a stalactite falls on your head.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m currently writing the prequel to The Descendant. It will follow Tilly for the two years between the electromagnetic pulse and the release of the virus that killed most humans. It’s a survival story and shows how she and her parents weathered those two years in their little Texas town, along with the community.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I didn’t consider myself a writer until this book was published. It’s funny, because I never, in a million years, would’ve guessed this would be a career for me. Now, I can’t stop the stories. My brain is like Pandora’s Box!

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 work full-time as a contractor for the military, but at night, I write for several hours every evening. The hubby knows how obsessive I am about things, so he doesn’t bother me while I shut myself in my office for months on end, cranking out one story after the other. I’m quite an introvert, though most people would never guess it after meeting me, but I love the solitude of being a writer.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Goodness, I don’t know. Wait, yes I do. I broke my laptop by hitting it against a door (I’m a klutz), but it still works. I can’t write on any other computer or laptop because I’m afraid it’ll mess with my creative mojo. So, I use this poor, beat-up thing (it won’t even shut) to write my stories. And there’s no way I’m taking it in to be repaired because then I’ll be without it for who knows how long and unable to write.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A singer in a rock and roll band, then it changed to a police officer, then a teacher… you get the picture.

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Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
Thanks for the interview!

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