I’ll tell you a secret about Melissa. She’s me. Everything about her adventure in those first chapters are things I experienced. Right up until she runs away from the house full of stoned men, yes, that happened to me and I ran. I also found the steeple. Cold church steps and a blanket of stars were my sanctuary that night.
That’s where Melissa and I parted ways and she became her own person, with her own angels and demons, her own connection to the supernatural. When I was on the church steps, I felt the presence of my beloved grandmother, who had recently died. My invisible angel. And at that age, on the edge of seventeen and in deep shit, I needed all the angels I could get.
Melissa doesn’t have an angel; she has a guide. Natalia is a living being, another teenaged girl, who interacts on other planes of existence, in other dimensions. Her mission is to save Melissa from a murderer. Pretty big order for a fifteen year old. But then Natalia’s family has been woven into the world of Paradise Fields for generations, and she was born to do this work, traveling between worlds.
I found mention of Paradise Fields in a book on mythology, an interest of mine since I was Melissa’s age. Sometimes with writers, a word, or two words, resonate. And Paradise Fields resonated for me. In mythology, the Fields are a plane of existence akin to my own Catholic purgatory, only nicer. I knew I had to use those words, claim them, somehow. And so I did. I built a world far removed from anything in the myths and legends, intersecting my interest in superstring theory with many “what if” elements.
My novels are earth-bound things, firmly grounded in the here and now. But for Melissa, I let my imagination take flight in ways new and thrilling. I did some other new things with Sweet Melissa. It’s my first published novella, although the form is a favorite of mine. And it’s also the first published work featuring new adults and teens. All my novels have subplots with teenaged characters–now that you know what a little vagabond I was, maybe that makes more sense. I just get that age and its challenges. But I never gave myself permission to put the new adults first in a book. Until now.
Many firsts, but that’s what we writers live for, what all creative types seek with each project. To make new. Welcome to the world, Melissa.