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Tuesday, May 03, 2016

 

Meet Melissa Bybee, Fall 2015 Flash Fiction Contest Runner-Up

For anyone whose dreams have been dashed, Melissa Bybee offers a deliciously comic story of a disappointing prince charming. Please enjoy The Prince of No Returns, and return for an interview with this enchanting children’s writer.

When Melissa Bybee isn’t defending her dark chocolate from candy craving ninjas, saving her children from their nefarious electronic devices, or wielding her sword of resolve against the time-squandering Internet, she can be found typing away on her laptop laughing maniacally, or sobbing. She writes children’s fantasy, and short stories. A mezzo soprano, she loves to sing, especially with her three sisters. Melissa has been published in the Richmond Times Dispatch, and her middle grade short story, “Alligators at the Jefferson,” is included in the forthcoming River Secrets Anthology. Melissa lives in Richmond, VA with her husband, two children and their small dragon that looks suspiciously like a Papillon. You can find her at www.melissabybee.com, and twitter @MelissaBybee.


WOW: Hi Melissa, congratulations on placing in our Fall 2015 top ten! What inspired your story, The Prince of No Returns?

Melissa: Chocolate. No really. The grocery store was selling chocolates in the shape of a frog wearing a gold crown. Which lead me to wonder what would happen if real frog princes were sold at the store. Then I wondered what would happen if someone were dissatisfied with their frog prince and wanted to return them. You should have seen me snorting in the chocolate aisle. I laughed a lot while I wrote this story. It was too much fun.

WOW: I can just picture you lost in your thoughts and laughing, with onlookers wondering what is wrong with the chocolate--too funny!

You’ve been writing YA novels; how is the process or experience different for you with flash fiction? 

Melissa: I do enjoy my novels. But I have written some short stories, a few that are flash. The process isn’t much different for me, a smaller plot with fewer words. I once read that one of the most important things in writing is striving for clarity. I think that’s good advice whether it’s flash fiction or a novel. The reader should never come away confused, which means striving for clear and concise language--something I continue to hone. Short stories, especially flash, can teach you to be choosy with your words and to cut, cut, cut.

WOW: What do you enjoy most about children’s writing?

Melissa: I enjoy writing for children because their books appeal to all ages. “Children’s” can cover everyone from babies to YA. Adults read to their children, and many read the latest YA novels. The opportunity is there to bring families together through reading. Writing for children is really writing for everyone. It’s rewarding to have an adult tell you how much they loved your story, but a child? Even better!

WOW: You mentioned acceptance into an upcoming anthology, congratulations! Can you share a little about this?

Melissa: I can say a little. A local author near me had this great idea to create a middle grade anthology made up of short stories about local historical landmarks, and asked for submissions. I chose to write about a local hotel that in the early 1900s had alligators living in its marble pools. I toured the hotel, visited with the staff and learned of important events in its past. Luckily, no one had their hand bitten off or died by alligator attack. It’s been a great experience. I feel so blessed to be included with so many talented authors. All the short stories are diverse and fantastic. I think the kids will love it.

WOW: Aside from the anthology, what other projects are you working on?

Melissa: I’m elbow deep in my YA fantasy novel, Sisters of the Desert. Its the story of teenage sisters who share a Moses/Pharaoh type relationship. I’m at 71,000 words and have set a personal goal to have it finished this summer so I can query with it in the fall. To say I’m excited about it is an understatement. I’m also playing around with a middle grade novel and a few picture books. On top of that, I’d love to write a sequel to a past novel I finished, and ideas are gathering for several more future YA novels. Whew! I sound busy. For me, having multiple projects gives me something to work on if I get stuck on my current project. That way, I’m never really in trouble. By the time I come back to my novel, I’ve usually worked through whatever bothered me in the first place.

WOW: You are busy! Thank you for taking some time out to talk with us today.

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