I met Krystal-Ann Melbourne on Scribophile, which is a great website for exchanging critiques and feedback on writing. Beyond writing fantasy, we have a lot in common — she and I both have cats and gardens. We’ve even both worked in the video game industry. She’s still employed full-time as a play-tester and I wound up teaching instead, but it was a pleasure to ask her a couple of questions for my monthly interview feature.
Which book would you love to have been the author of?
House of Leaves. I dislike the majority of the book, especially the documentary styled parts, but when it gets near the end and they’re writing one word per page so that you need to physically keep flipping pages to figure out what that gunshot did, it’s amazing. The creativity behind its formatting redefined for me what the boundaries of literature are, and partially inspired one of my future projects, Hesitation.
It took me a long time to get through House of Leaves — over a year. I’m glad I read it, but like you, I disliked the majority of it. Still, it was interesting to get a glimpse of a more experimental style. Maybe we’ll see more of that with the advent of e-books. Where do you see publishing going in the future?
I’m not an expert, having no intention to ever buy or sell an ebook, but it seems like there are so many people who are selling ebooks that the market for them is absolutely drowned. Add to that people being able to publish content with often a much lower level of scrutiny than traditional publishing, and people who can make arrangements for their own book reviews, I find readers have a hard time trusting the quality of an ebook before they buy it. That’s not to say traditional publishing is without its bad eggs, but at least we can use ours for packing fluff and firewood.
I don’t know what I would do without ebooks — I travel a lot and a kindle takes up much less space than a duffle bag filled with books — but I do tend to buy more traditionally published ebooks, myself. I take it, then, that you’ll be querying when the time is right? Does writer’s block ever interfere with your schedule?
When I’m too lazy or lacking the necessary creativity to write, I punish myself with editing. Writing is more fun than editing, but editing requires minimum creativity. It’s more mechanical, and when it isn’t, when I look at a paragraph and decide I have to completely reorganize it, add and delete… well, that’s a good stepping stone into writing again.
What is the toughest thing about writing, then?
Editing. No, really. I go into a new chapter all nervous because I think writing something fresh for a change will be so difficult, but once then first sentence is down it all just flows. Editing that flow into something passable is the hard part. It’s taken half my life to edit my first novel into something I’m proud of, but through all that time I’ve learned enough about both writing and editing that I’m looking forward to the next book. With everything I’ve already done, a new book sounds easy.
I have Pandora playlists for different projects that help me focus past the writer’s block when it comes. What to you use to get yourself into the mood for writing?
There definitely needs to be some sort of background noise, something that’s entertaining enough that I won’t be distracted with things in the apartment around me, but not too distracting that I’ll focus only on it and not my work. Usually I’ll watch playthrough videos of horror games, but lately I’ve actually really enjoyed just playing rainy mood as white noise (rainy mood being a website that always plays the sound of rainstorms). There also absolutely must be tea.
I play a lot of 7 Days to Die, but I don’t know if I could watch playthroughs of it while I was writing. The tea and the rain sounds very atmospheric, though.
About Krystal-Ann Melbourne
Krystal-Ann Melbourne is an author and artist living in Montreal with her two fat cats. Since neither writing nor painting pays the rent, she also works full time as a Video Game Playtester (best day job ever) for a game which she’s not allowed to tell anyone about.
Her other interests include teaching herself piano, violin, knitting, cooking, baking, making candles, and gardening. She’d really like to get into creating art from sandblasting old windows, and is always working to improve her French.