Today, I’m in Arizona enjoying the desert air while sitting by a pool, drinking Arizona tea and thinking fondly of my family and friends who are still battling the ravages of winter up north. Husband is in the pool on one of those inflatable blue floating things. One wonders how it could possibly remain above surface while holding his weight. Having just arrived here in the land of the desert sun, husband is ghostly pale and looks mildly ridiculous out there in his swim shorts. Fortunately, no one else is at the pool today as true Arizonians recognize that 60 degrees is not bathing weather. Ah! Here comes author Melissa Bowersock who will join me on the adjacent chaise so that we might discuss her fantasy book, The Blue Crystal.
Naomi: Let’s start with just a brief synopsis of your book. In 20 words or less, tell me what it is about.
Melissa: The Blue Crystal is similar to the Lord of the Rings: it’s the classic struggle between good and evil. (Whew! Made it with 1 word to spare!)
Naomi: In this case, I will count it’s as two words since it’s is actually a conjunction and in my opinion the sentence would have sounded better if it was it is instead of it’s.
Melissa: What does that mean?
Naomi: I haven’t the foggiest idea. I got lost there somewhere in the middle of the sentence. Moving on, who is your favorite character and why?
Melissa: My favorite character in this book has to be Igli, the whining halfling. Unlike hobbits and other likeable characters we have met before, Igli is surly, cowardly, and has a tendency to exaggerate wildly. He is of some dubious help to Jared, the protagonist, as they try to figure out how to free Jared’s family from cruel slavery, but he’s definitely “high maintenance” and comic relief.
Naomi: Whoa! Back up here for a moment. You are telling me you actually have met Hobbits before? Would that be here in Arizona?
Melissa: Well, no. I meant figuratively.
Naomi: No, you specifically said we met Hobbits before and they were likable. I have never met a Hobbit and I certainly don’t recall them being likeable if I had. You wouldn’t happen to be referring to my husband floating there in the pool, would you? He does look a bit Hobbit-ish.
Melissa: Actually, he does.
Husband waves and smiles thinking we are admiring his pasty form.
Naomi: Go back to sleep, dear. Now Melissa, if Igli called you up tomorrow and said, “Hey, let’s go do something.” What and where would you go with him?
Melissa: Igli would like to go bowling but he could never lift a human-size bowling ball. He would probably try, throw his back out and then blame me for that. If we decided to go do something harmless like have a cup of coffee, he would probably ignore any warnings about the temperature of the hot coffee, gulp it, burn his tongue, then whine about that.
Naomi: Igli sounds like a truly joyful companion, not unlike husband in the pool. What’s the hardest part about writing your book?
Melissa: The challenge of writing this particular book was creating all the strange plants and animals. Since the action takes place on a distant planet, I had to map out ecosystems and decide what plants and animals would thrive in each, how they would interrelate and how they would help or threaten Jared and Igli as they journeyed through the countryside. (By the way, you can see pictures of some of the weird animals on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Blue-Crystal-a-novel-by-Melissa-Bowersock/175201995842506 .)
Naomi: Hmm. That sounds like a great deal of effort. In my books, I make all foreign planets look like Arizona. That way, I don’t have to bother mapping out flora and fauna. I just throw in a shopping mall with a Saguaro cactus in the parking lot. What’s the easiest part about writing your book?
Melissa: The easiest part was writing the villain, Mal-Zor. He doesn’t have one redeeming characteristic, so it was fun writing all the nefarious ways he uses to reach his goal of finding the Blue Crystal and becoming all-powerful, and more fun giving him his comeuppance in the end.
Naomi: If you had to pick one object to represent your story and one color to paint it in, what would it be and why?
Melissa: Well, gee, this question is made to order! Of course—a blue crystal! Beyond that, it would have to be a black lion, because that’s what Diakan is, Jared’s rescued “pet,” 4-legged companion and trusty steed.
Naomi: Do you do anything else besides write and if so what is it?
Melissa: Let’s see, I breathe, eat, sleep. Oh, yeah, I do other things. I work a day job, plus I love photography, travel, reading (of course). I like anything creative and dabble in painting, jewelry-making, and ceramics.
Naomi: What’s the ugliest thing in your closet?
Melissa: Probably my sweats. They’re about 15 years old, so thin they are getting holes, but they’re so comfortable that I can’t throw them away. I’ve bought things to replace them, but the new ones are never as comfy as the old ones, so I always revert back to them. I’ll probably wear them until they fall off.
Naomi: Husband wears 15 year old sweats too. It’s not a pretty sight but come to think of it, it is better than what we are viewing now.
Husband smiles and waves again thinking we are admiring his pasty form.
Naomi: Go back to sleep, dear. What’s in the bottom of your purse, backpack, attaché or whatever you carry?
Melissa: Everything I need in case of a nuclear attack. I was never a Boy Scout, but I do like to be prepared. I have a full pharmacopeia, Band-Aids, at least 20 pens, a camera, safety pins, dental floss, and the owner’s manual of my cell phone because I don’t use it enough to remember how to find stuff. Whenever my husband and I go to Target, he points out the very largest suitcase on display and says I need that instead of my purse. I especially need the kind with wheels; my purse weighs a ton.
Naomi: Are you anticipating a nuclear attack? There are two very important items your purse is missing, underwear and fennel seeds. Both were required by authors who shall remain nameless. Name one character in your book that reminds you of a real person and tell us who it is and how they are similar.
Melissa: Jared is probably most similar to my husband. Jared has a strong sense of right and wrong and doesn’t think twice about setting out to correct the wrongs visited on his family by the evil tyrant Mal-Zor. This does not mean he doesn’t feel fear or anguish; he just knows that action needs to be taken and therefore he steps up. He may fail, but he will never have regrets about not trying.
Husband smiles and waves thinking we are talking about him and his pasty form.
Naomi: No dear. We are discussing Melissa’s husband. Go back to sleep. Melissa, what’s your favorite game? Would your favorite character play it and be any good at it?
Melissa: My favorite game is Scrabble. Igli would not do well at it; he would make up words and then be offended if I challenged them. If they weren’t in the (human) dictionary, he would say that they were in the halfling dictionary which, of course, he would not have a copy of. After a sound beating, he would swear I had been cheating all along.
Naomi: Again, a strong similarity to pasty hobbit-like husband in the pool. GO BACK TO SLEEP, DEAR. WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT YOU. Melissa, did you ever wonder if you were a little crazy for writing fantasy fiction?
Melissa: I think I’d be crazier if I didn’t write. Having all these characters loose in my brain without an outlet like my books would mean it was getting pretty crowded in the ol’ gray matter. And since I write in many genres—fantasy, action, romance, western, spiritual, satire and biography—having all these various characters interacting with each other would definitely take its toll on my sanity!
Naomi: Did your friends ever wonder the same thing?
Melissa: All the time. But most of my friends never understand where I get my ideas and/or how I can write them all down. Many of them go tharn at the idea of writing anything longer than a Facebook post, so setting down a whole book (or many books!) just dumbfounds them. Of course, once they do find out I write books, they all think I’m rich and just working for a hobby, so that just goes to show you how out of touch they are.
Naomi: Speaking of out of touch, pasty husband is now flexing, for our benefit, what thirty years ago was an impressive bicep but now looks oddly like a benign growth. While I encourage him once again to go to sleep you can find out more about Melissa and her books at the links below:
Melissa Bowersock is an eclectic writer who turns her hand to any kind of story that moves her: contemporary, western, fantasy, romance, action/adventure, spiritual, satire or biography. She thrives in the Sonoran desert of Southern Arizona with her husband and an Airedale terrier. She is also a certified hypnotherapist.