Interview with Melissa Conway, Author of Xenofreak Nation

Melissa Conway is the author of four young adult ebooks. She is the founder of Indie Review Exchange and the book review site Booksquawk. Her website is here, her YouTube channel here, she blogs at Whimsilly and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for joining us today, Melissa. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself? 

I’ve lived in the western US my whole life, back and forth between California and the Pacific Northwest. Currently, my family and I are in cold and windy southeastern Washington State, but my heart remains in sunny San Diego. I have a college background in Advertising Art, but it didn’t come in handy until I left my job as an executive-level secretary and took up writing full-time. Now I use my art background to create the characters that populate my book trailers!

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

That particular bug has been biting members of my family for generations. My great, great grandfather was Charles Stuart Moody, a modestly successful and prolific writer at the beginning of the twentieth century. So I was encouraged from a young age to read and to express myself via the written word.

Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?

I started out writing romantic comedy under a different name, but both my love of the YA genre and the current market made me switch – and I’m glad I did, because I really think I’ve found my niche.

What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?

YA is a highly flexible genre in that it crosses over to adult readers, so reaching such a diverse audience would have to be my favorite part. The challenges aren’t so bad, but if I were pressed to name one, it might be finding that balance between appealing to both young adults and adults – in other words, aiming for a PG13 rating! Swear words are kept to a minimum, but do appear when called for, and sexual tension is kept to a slow simmer with a fade-to-black if things begin to boil over.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

It’s the near future and animals have been bioengineered to provide organs for human transplantation. As a side-effect of this new medical frontier, grafts of animal skin have replaced tattoos in popularity, which gives rise to a unique new demographic: Xenofreaks. Bryn Vega is one of two main protagonists. Her father is head of the Pure Human Society and when she’s kidnapped by the Bestia Butcher, the most notorious of the criminal xenosurgeons, she assumes it’s payback for her father’s anti-xeno activities. 

Scott Harding, the second protagonist, starts out as Bryn’s kidnapper and jailer. His nickname is Cougar because of the claws replacing his fingers—but Scott is not who he seems. He’s deep under cover for the Xenofreak Intelligence Agency, and has been given unprecedented immunity to find the Bestia Butcher’s lair and do whatever it takes to bring him to justice. When Bryn is forced to undergo a radical xenoalteration, she discovers a terrible secret: her father is using The Pure Human Society as a front for his own purposes. His willingness to sacrifice his daughter to accomplish them sends her running to Scott for protection, and into the hard-core underground subculture of the very xenofreak society she once despised.

What inspired you to write it?

I was trying to come up with a unique plot, and had thought up and discarded quite a few before the notion of animal skin grafts occurred to me. I was intrigued by the implications, both social and ethical.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

Xenofreak Nation is available at most major online ebook retailers (such as Kindle, Barnes&Noble and Smashwords).

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

I do! My website is www.melissaconway.net, where they can find a link to my blog, Whimsilly.

What is up next for you?

My soon-to-be-released next book is a YA Paranormal Romance called SelfSame. It’s about Sorcha Sloane, a typical small-town teen taking twenty-first century life for granted – and Enid Thompson, a poor farmer’s daughter in colonial New England in 1776. Enid and Sorcha are the selfsame girl – one spirit split between two bodies in a link that stretches across time. Every night while Enid’s body is sleeping, she wakes in the future as Sorcha, just as the old medicine man prophesied at her birth. And every night when Sorcha sleeps, she wakes in the past as Enid, in a frontier world on the brink of war. She only trusts a chosen few with the truth, until Ben Webster comes into Sorcha’s life and tells her his family has been desperately searching for her for over two hundred years…

Do you have anything else to add?

Interested readers can check out the book trailer of Xenofreak Nation here, and for SelfSame here.

Thank you for spending time with us today, Melissa. We wish you much success.

Thanks!

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