Tuesday, 14 April 2020

The Hippo Hangs Out . . . . with Melina Druga

As part of #IndieApril I'm thrilled to be hanging out with another Indie Author. Today's guest is Melina Druga and she has been 'creating fictional people since 1989'

Let's start with the introductions and then we can get chatting.

Photo courtesy of Melina Druga

Most kids have an active imagination.  My imagination has stayed strong into adulthood, and I’ve funneled that creativity into a successful writing career.  I write history, both fiction and nonfiction, because although your school history classes may have been boring, the past is not.  My goal is to bring the past to life in all its myriad of colors.

I write with the assistance of a furry writing buddy – AKA the family cat who often sits with me while I work.

When not researching, writing or editing, I’m wife to a wonderful man who also is my copy editor and mother to a budding baker/guitarist/architect.

The portion of my brain that isn’t filled with fictional people is filled with song lyrics.  I listen to hard rock daily and find entertainment, inspiration and comfort in it.

Namaste.  I practice yoga daily for a balanced body and mind.  But, no, I can’t do a headstand. 

Another way I express my creativity is through the camera lens.  I especially enjoy nature and architecture photography.

I cook most meals from scratch.  I’m a healthy cooking advocate, much to my husband’s chagrin.  

                                                     *    *    *    * 

Welcome to The Hippo Melina, please do pull up a chair and help yourself to some green tea, it's freshly made.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I did.  When I was younger, I had a very ethnic maiden name combined with my very ethnic first name.  Both chronically were mispronounced and misspelled.  They still are.  I wanted to write under the pseudonym Lena London.  By the time I published my first book, however, I had already established my freelance writing career, so I decided to use my real name.

What’s your favourite motivational phrase?
I take most of my motivation from music.  In fact, music keeps me productive, focused and alert while writing.  Right now, my biggest motivator is the Breaking Benjamin song, “I Will Not Bow.”  It reminds me to not listen to negativity or inner demons.  Here are some of the lyrics:

All is lost again
But I'm not giving in
I will not bow
I will not break
I will shut the world away
I will not fall
I will not fade
I will take your breath away

I'd never heard of this band so I googled them - and I certainly wasn't expecting that Melina! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing etc come from?
It comes from my maternal grandmother’s branch of the family tree.  That branch is filled with creative people.  I’ve been writing for as long as I have been able to write.  My parents read books to me when I was young and that instilled in me a love of books.

What did you edit out of your last book?
I cut out of Angel of Mercy more than 17,000 words including a prologue and an epilogue.  For my current work-in-progress, Those Left Behind, I cut more than 20,000 words.  My process works like this:  I write rough drafts without going back and rereading or making changes. After letting the draft sit for months, I return to it and cut out what isn’t working and add more details where necessary.

What do you think is more important: characters or plot?
Definitely characters.  If a reader doesn’t care about a story’s characters, she won’t care about the plot either.

I'm always interested to hear people's thoughts on this - I think it really is a chicken or the egg type question.

What character in your book are you least likely to get along with and why?
Amelia Barlette.  She has a very negative personality to the point of being toxic at times.  I purposefully try not to associate with negative people, because I don’t like the effect they have on my mood.  We get glimpses of Amelia’s personality in Angel of Mercy, but we see more of her in the second book in my trilogy, Those Left Behind.

You get a brilliant idea/thought/phrase at an inappropriate moment (eg in the shower or driving) what do you do?
Brainstorming doesn’t work for me, so that’s generally how I get all my ideas.  When that happens, I repeat the idea to myself until I can write it down.

Describe yourself in five words.
Determined, motivated, ambitious, creative, loyal.

                                                       *    *    *    *

Melina mentioned her book Angel of Mercy and I think now would be a great time for me to tell you a bit more about it.

She had her entire life planned until the Great War began and everything changed.

April 1914.  Barrie, Ontario.  Hettie Steward is feisty, educated, ambitious and stubborn.  Her fiancรฉ, Geoffrey Bartlette, the love of her life since childhood, has been a patient man.  He waited while she attended nursing school and worked a year, but now it is time to wed.  While Hettie is thrilled to be starting her life with Geoffrey, she laments that marriage means sacrificing her beloved nursing career, and domestic life brings her nothing but drudgery and boredom.

When the Great War begins a few months into their marriage, Geoffrey enlists and persuades Hettie to join the Canadian Army Nursing Service and follow him overseas.  After all, everyone says the war will be short, and it will be their opportunity to have a proper honeymoon.  Returning to work is exactly what Hettie was craving, and she eager accepts.

The war, however, does not end quickly.  Soon tragedy strikes, proving true the old adage “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.”  Geoffrey is killed at the Second Battle of Ypres, and Hettie is faced with a choice.  Return home or stay in Europe and continue nursing?  Moreover, will she discover the person she is meant to be now that her life has been steered onto a new path?

Angel of Mercy is the first in a trilogy following Hettie and her family as they navigate the challenges and heartbreak World War 1 brings.

                                                              *    *    *    *

You can find out more about Melina, her books and connect with her using the links below:

I'd like to thank Melina for taking the time to stop by and chat with me today. It's been really interesting getting to know more about you and the many different hats that you wear! Until next time - Namaste ๐Ÿ˜Š ๐Ÿ™

No comments:

Post a Comment