I'm so pleased to help celebrate another book birthday today! And, on the menu, is this glorious new book by the glorious Melissa Welliver!
Here are the deets as well as a brilliant and insightful interview with the author!
What if living forever was a death sentence?
Decades after the discovery that a small percentage of the population has stopped ageing, the Avalonia Zone is in crisis. From overpopulation to food shortages, the ‘Undying’ have been blamed for the state’s problems, banished to the fringes of society, and punished for every minor infraction.
When sixteen-year-old Sadie takes the fall for an attack by a rebel group, The Alchemists, she suddenly finds herself wrenched away from her quiet life and from her ailing father.
Armed with little help and even less knowledge, Sadie is thrust into a cold and cryptic ‘correctional facility’ – The Tower. Here she’ll have to rethink everything she’s been told about the Undying population in an attempt to save the life she knows, protect a group of unlikely friends, and give voice to the voiceless in a society on the brink of catastrophic upheaval.
The first in a daring dystopian trilogy, The Undying Tower descends into the dark side of immortality and champions fighting for what’s right, especially when the world is against you.
Did you always dream of being a writer?
I think so! I’ve always loved coming up with games and things to do in the playground when I was a child, and then I used to read and write a LOT of fanfiction (not that I knew it was called that then!) as I got older. It went on the back burner for a while at uni while I studied history, but I took a creative writing class in my final year and never looked back.
When did you start pursuing publication of your work?
August 1st 2016! I had just finished the Curtis Brown Creative course and was convinced my book was PERFECT and totally ready for publication after weeks of hard work (spoiler alert: it was not!). There was an open call for submissions with a large agency so I submitted my freshly finished novel to that and was lucky enough to get shortlisted. The agent that liked my work then sadly had to cover maternity leave, so didn’t have time to work with me. I was gutted and convinced it was the end of the road, but kept going. I wrote a new book, landed an agent, and the journey began.
How long did it take from that first thought to release day?
5 years – or to be specific, 1,865 days! There were lots of turns along the track – I changed agents, changed books, books died out on submission... but five years after I first submitted to agents, I’ve made it. Everyone’s journey is different, and the worst thing to learn along the way is PATIENCE, but it’s imperative to staying sane in the publishing game... I’m still working on it!
What's been the hardest part of publishing a book so far?
I think the hardest part is the waiting. You have to sit on all sorts of publishing news for the longest time before you can shout about it, and that’s tough to feel like you’re keeping stuff from writing pals, especially in such a close knit and friendly community as writing twitter. The rejection is probably equally as hard, but in hindsight it’s necessary to produce bigger and better books than you have before.
And the easiest, or most enjoyable?
I always had in my head that a big author moment would be when someone, that I do not know the name of, chooses to read my book for pleasure. Now that’s happened, I can’t tell you how lovely it is. Especially when they hop online to tell you how much they enjoyed it! Whenever I get down about the process, I look through those messages and hold them close. I wish I could bottle that feeling!
What's next for you?
Books 2 and 3 of The Undying Tower await me in various word documents on my laptop! I’m lucky enough that I get to release a full trilogy with Agora Books, so next I’m off to help Sadie finish her adventure in the Avalonia Zone.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to writers just starting their pursuit of publication?
Be persistent. The only writers that definitely won’t get published are the ones that give up. Keep focused, get good people around you, find your cheerleaders, and you’ll meet your goal. It only takes one yes!
Last book you read?
Every Line of you by Naomi Gibson
What book are you reading now?
Hexed by Julia Tuffs
Best book you've ever read?
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Best moment of your writing life?
Signing my publication deal for The Undying Tower!
Name of your newest WIP?
The Undying Tower 2 – title TBC!
If not an author, what would be your dream job?
Astronaut. Send me to Mars!
Melissa Welliver writes speculative fiction about how the End Of The World is never really the end of the world. After studying MA Creative Writing under Jeanette Winterson at the University of Manchester, she went on to complete Curtis Brown Creative’s Writing for Children course. Her work has listed in Bath Novel Award, Mslexia, the Hachette Children’s Novel Award, and the Wells Book for Children Competition. She has been published in two short story collections and is an avid member of the Twitter writing community. Born in Stockport, she now lives in the High Peak with an assortment of doggy friends. The Undying Tower is her first novel.
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