I’d like to welcome the multi-talented Marti Melville to Book Blather. First, a bit about her background. A former emergency room nurse who’s raised five children on her own, Marti is now a novelist and screenwriter known for her debut novel series, The Déjà vu Chronicles. Her first screenplay, Midnight Omen, was a winner at the Life Fest Film Festival, 2015. She is currently co-writing a medical thriller due to be released in 2016. As if that weren’t enough, Marti also has a background in dance, music and acting. Whew! I’m so glad you could join us today, Marti. Visit her website here: www.martimelville.com
Writing was never my intended career. Like most creative people who work hard to support themselves and their families, I focused on my job – working as an emergency room nurse. The hours were long and demanding but the paycheck came regularly (provided I clocked-in and out on time) and food was kept on the table. People around me have frequently asked, “When did you know in your heart that you wanted to be a nurse?” The answer hit my gut with the impact of a cannon ball shot from an 18th century frigate: “Never.”
I’ve always wanted to be in the entertainment industry.
Writing was a part of that desire and began for me in elementary school with homespun scripts written for my fourth grade teacher (she actually allowed us to practice and present them to our school). Sadly, I did not recognize the significance of my need to create stories until the year my sons had been deployed to separate wars. Those were long, sleepless nights that led to the creation of a pirate story and The Déjà vu Chronicles.
Since then, I have been asked many questions about my personal writing process – how I gain inspiration, what my writing process is, what advice I would give to aspiring authors, etc. The question that haunts me most is the one asked to describe the “wrong” process to take when writing a book or screenplay. It’s an interesting approach to gaining information and one that has a simplistic answer, in my mind anyway. That answer is – the most destructive step is to not write.
My creative ideas come at random, without provocation, and many times without meaning even to me – but they come and are valid, demanding to be recorded. I’ve learned that when I honor that demand, a story is soon born.
The same holds true for screenwriting. My initiation into the Hollywood screenwriting scene was exciting and a mistake. Through a set of serendipitous circumstances, I bounced from one professed producer to another until the day I crossed paths with my writing partner almost three years later. Fortunately, I stayed open to the possibility of creating a well-written screenplay based on my stories, which included connecting with the right (aka: honest) people. That day came very unexpectedly and I am blessed to continue on its course presently.
In the meantime, I write. Laptop, notebooks, stacks of papers, phone – anything handy serves as a tool to record the ideas as they come. These ideas are wonderful (I think) but my writing isn’t always presentable. Working closely with my publisher and magnificent editor has made all of the difference in the finished product – thank Heavens for their expertise! Good editing is something I cannot emphasize enough as a very important step required to creating a finished novel that is acceptable in the public’s eye (and saleable in the bookstores). Another word to the wise - don’t skimp on an editor!
And so, even with all of my writing imperfections – I write. The characters tell their stories and I am simply the tool to do it. I believe this with all my heart -- truly a blessing for a retired RN who, all the while she cared for her patients, loved to dream and tell stories.
Logline for Midnight Omen (screenplay):
Besieged by the supernatural, modern day teens are haunted by 18th Century marauders, but when faced with life on board an ancient ship, they learn their survival depends on haunting events lived long ago as Caribbean pirates.
Midnight Omen Déjà vu – Excerpt
“Ye be wishin’ ye be dead, jest like the ol’e witch, after I be finished with ye.”
He had reached across his body with his only free hand and pulled the chisel from his fleshy shoulder. Blood oozed from the gaping hole and dripped the length of the spike, running in streams down his brawny arm. Kathryn felt her own skin grow hot and sticky as the dark crimson blood pooled where his grasp remained firmly planted onto her forearm.
“Never!” she cried out. Tears blinded her eyes as she thrashed and still tried to break free from his steel grip. A warm sensation pulsed on her chest, its glowing pale crimson to match the pirate’s bloody hold. The Scarlet Seren had awakened.
With a flick of his wrist, the brute pitched the chisel across the room and sent it clattering loudly against the ground. Mariel lay still with Winne bent over her. A wiry pirate crouched low with his cutlass raised and ready to land the final blow, as Mariel lay motionless.
“We should finish this an’ take the other too,” he said and looked at Slade for approval. “Two for th’ cost o’ one, aye?” Slade said and leered at Winne. Just as the first raised his blade to strike, Kathryn shrieked. “HOLD! Stop! I’ll go with ye an’ ye can do with me as ye please.” She glanced at
Winne. “Only let the others alone,” she choked out the last words in between sobs. “An’ why would we do that?” The pirate said with his cutlass still overhead. “Because killing a witch brings death,” she said. Although she didn’t believe the fable
herself, she’d hoped that the pirate would. Apparently the ruse worked because the cutlass was dropped and the pirate stepped away from Mariel and Winne.
Just then, Kathryn felt the Seren awaken against her chest and prayed it would truly protect her. She reached up and took hold of the warm stone hanging about her neck. The bloodthirsty pirates froze and took in the meaning of her words. Slowly, lusty grins crept over their faces and Kathryn knew her ruse was not enough to scare them away.
“What more do ye want? Ye have me and there’s nothing of value in the cottage – nothing except spell books and witch’s amulets.” She had their attention. “If ye’d prefer to dabble with dark things ye know nothing of, well I can arrange for it.”
The pirate glanced around the room but did not move. “What would we want with dried sticks and old books? We’re in search of gold and finery of sorts,” he said and chortled -- but his eyes betrayed fear.
“Well then, ye’d best leave us in peace and be on your way in search of your treasure,” she said and attempted to move. A sharp steel tip caught her under the chin.
“We’re not leaving empty-handed,” he said then turned to face his mates. “It seems as if there be sommat we agreed upon – sommat we made an accord over, aye?” The sarcasm permeated his voice and the crew behind him chuckled. He turned back to face Kathryn.
“Me,” she said and felt her stomach wretch. There would be no escape for her if she wanted her family to survive. “ ... in exchange for their lives.”
“Aye, that be a good trade indeed, Missy,” a dusty baritone spoke.
The sound of rattling steel sword blades entering well-worn scabbards filled the tiny space they occupied.
In the center of the room, her father moaned in agony that only comes from deep within the heart. Head held high, she marched willingly into the crowd of waiting pirates. They parted slightly to let her through. A subtle fear of the trinkets she carried with her and the power carried
inside her kept grimy wandering hands away from the stunning brunette as she passed. Stepping across the protective salt line scattered down the length of the threshold, she heard her father call out to her once more. One by one, the dirty pirates followed her out through the arched doorway and into the misty night. Kathryn moved ahead of the pack, feeling only contempt for the men she now led down the cobblestone path and away from her home. Her tears lessened and heartache faded as hate took its place.
Her cheeks were wet but she refused to wipe them dry, her last act of defiance. Nothing mattered anymore and she had felt certain she would soon join her mother in the afterlife. Fog crept over the ground and licked at her feet making it difficult to see where to place the next step. She looked up through the misty night air at the moon, still encircled by its ominous ring of hazy light -- the radiant ring which glowed an omen’s warning for her. Suddenly, the eerily still night was pierced by the sobbing anguish of her grandmother’s cries coming from the cottage.
Kathryn paused and intense heartache pierced her for only a moment before she stepped off the path toward the waiting ship below.