Interview with Ray Melnik
Conducted by Sassy Brit from Alternative-Read
SB: Welcome back Ray!
After reviewing your previous two books, The Room and To Your Own Self Be True it’s a pleasure to see you back, and to read more about what’s going on in SciLab. So, lets begin with your new novella, Burnished Bridge, why did you choose this as the title?
RM: Hello again, Sassy. Thanks for letting me talk about my story. For the title; burnished is something you smooth, brighten or polish so being that Project Glint is a people-made tool to bridge space-time it made sense to me. It also seemed to be an unusual term you would hear to describe a bridge, but since Glint works via light it seemed to go well.
SB: May I ask why you slightly deviated from writing two full length novels to this shorter novella?
RM: I heard a song called “Maybe” from the new Ingrid Michaelson album and it gave me the idea for this love story, and it was a good way to add Project Glint which will be reintroduced in my 4th book and series ending novel. A novella just seemed to be the best format for this particular tale. People have written me to say they wished it were longer, but hopefully when they read the series ender they will feel it was worth the wait.
SB: Although The Room is a stand alone story, your books do have an underlying theme with characters from one book popping up in another. Do you have a long range intention with this device?
RM: The Room was meant to be a single novel, but soon after I was done I began to miss the characters so I wrote To Your Own Self Be True about Harry’s daughter after she had grown. I was able to answer the questions people had after reading The Room and have a little fun with cameo appearances of previous characters. After my second novel I realized how much fun I had writing about a future not too far from now and SciLab was a fertile environment so when I thought of the love story in Burnished Bridge I set it there and had some fun bringing more cameos in. If you remember the 12 year old girl in the tavern who tells Elina that she plans to be a scientist when she grows up; that’s Kaela, who of course does. All three books were meant to stand alone, but those who have read all of them have a little added insight. My fourth book is different however. It is intentionally being written to pull all the stories together and can only be fully appreciated by those who have read the others.
SB: Do you have any further plans to write about SciLab or are you going to work on something completely different?
RM: My series ender will most likely be the last using SciLab, but I do plan to keep writing stories set in the lower Hudson Valley of New York. I moved here from New York City ten years ago and fell in love with the area. The commute to the city for work is a bit long, but the environment here is well worth the extra time.
SB: This is your third self-published book, what are the advantages in self-publishing?
RM: I do well in my career in tech and have no interest in being a starving writer, doing book tours or putting myself through the ringer of the whole brick and mortar publishing world. I just love writing. Sales have been good, but I also donate to library systems as funds permit and tell people to request them from their libraries if available. Maybe some day in the future when I retire I’ll approach a publisher and write full time, but for now I’m just happy to have my stories read by those who discover them. There is only pleasure and no pressure being Indie.
SB: In my last interview with you you had just read The Music of Ourselves and Five Books of Marriage; both written by Harry Owen, the first poet laureate of Cheshire. Now what book have you just finished and what’s the next book on your TBR pile?
RM: It’s funny, but the very last book I just finished was “Non Dog”, the latest book of poems by Harry Owen. I really love poetry and in a way his books have been moving parallel to what I’m going through in my life. I’m well into chapter two of my forth book and while I’m writing I don’t read other fiction, but I’m re-reading books in the field of physics for reference. The one that I’m using most right now is “The Elegant Universe” by Brian Greene.
SB: When not writing, you work as a Senior Network Architect. If you don’t mind me asking, what exactly does a Senior Network Architect do?
RM: I first have to say that I love what I do in tech. I design, configure and install the systems that people never see and rarely think about. When the people of my firm plug their computers into the wall I get their data around the building and from New York to London, Tokyo, Hong Kong or any of our other offices in the States or worldwide. I also configure the firewalls that prevent hackers from getting into our private network. I get to play with some very expensive toys; basically a big kid’s dream.
SB: Do you still travel a lot and use that time for writing? Has your writing schedule changed since we last spoke?
RM: I do. In the last few years I’ve been to London five times, Tokyo twice, Hong Kong and many of the offices around the United States. I do use the long flights to write, but most of my writing is still done on my morning train commute. My writing schedule only changes when I get close to completing a book and I can’t help but want to do some editing during evenings at home.
SB: So, are your musical years as a singer and lyricist over, or do you still perform? Do you look back on those days as happy days; maybe even miss them?
RM: I had a blast as a singer, but I moved from writing lyrics to novels. Basically I love to tell stories and with a novel there is so much more room to elaborate. I do miss singing at times, but not the egos of the people in the industry. I have been fortunate to have done and do the three things in life I really love; music, writing and tech so I have no reason to complain. I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given.
SB: Quick question for fun. If you were to get an award for something, what would it be?
RM: For fun? Pie in the sky? I would love to be the one to win an award for an essay or article that helps people connect all the dots and finally realize that we don’t need to be powering all our great technology and advancements with sludge from the ground when there is so much at stake. But we would also thrive. Francis Darwin wrote, “But in science the credit goes to the man who convinces the world, not to the man to whom the idea first occurs.” The words would need to be so compelling, as to cut through the chatter of deliberate misinformation. Take for instance in the USA. To give one example, we have a man who buys up newspapers and television channels including one called “Fox News Channel,” used to spread misinformation 24 hours a day, to convince the very people hurt most that they should continue bending over and like it. Just my 2 pence…
SB: Where can our readers find out more about you and your works?
RM: They can go to my website called “Emergent Novels” to read excerpts, hear podcasts, see multimedia introductions, and I have a library section with short stories and essays. The address is: www.emergentnovels.com
SB: They can also win a copy of Burnished Bridge right here! First may I thank you once again for coming back to AR.
RM: Thanks again for letting me talk about my story.
Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest Ray Melnik, author of Burnished Bridge, The Room and To Your Own Self Be True.
Norm: Good day Ray and thanks once again for participating in an interview with Bookpleasures.com
Ray: Thank you for allowing me to talk about my story.
Norm:How much research did you undertake when you wrote your most recent novella, Burnished Bridge, as well as The Room and To Your Own Self Be True? Could you describe your research process?
Ray: Burnished Bridge deals with a wormhole which is a phenomenon that has fascinated me for many years and I had the benefit of having read several books already dealing with these events.
It amazes me how spacetime is described as a huge uneven fabric and that these events are rips that bridge between folds. They are believed to be able to bridge vast distances of spacetime.
When I researched for each of the novels and the novella, it was by reviewing previously read material. One book and video presentation by Brian Greene called The Elegant Universe had a wealth of most anything I needed to reference for thoughts, and the way he presents the science is the cleverest and most interesting you’ll find.
It is worth watching these 10 minute video segments http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/elegant/program.html I continually keep up on the latest science of astro and quantum physics because starting with real science is not only the best source for my stories, but also because science is simply fascinating in itself. My interest in the science in general has never been for the math and formulas, but always for what it means about our existence; about who we are and what caused the universe to begin to evolve.
Norm:Did you know the end of Burnished Bridge at the beginning?
Ray: I did. Before I ever begin writing any book I have the basic story start to finish. I let the details unfold as it goes, but I always know where I’m going.
Norm:Why did you write Burnished Bridge as a novella rather than a novel?
Ray: It was just a simple love story that I thought needed to stand on its own, but a story I wanted to tell. I believed a novella was the right size to tell it. Later I planned to add the concept into the mix with the first two novels in the book I’m writing now. Alex, Elina and Project Glint team up with Kyle, Kaela and Project Stasis, to pull everything together in a series finale that was born in The Room.
Norm:How did you go about constructing the character of Alex Dael? Is he patterned after someone you know?
Ray: Alex was not modeled after someone I know, but Janine was; his love interest. Janine was inspired by a good friend I commuted with at the time. She introduced me to the song that inspired the idea for the story. I was frustrated to hear about her boyfriend whom I believe is too immature and was blowing his chance with a great gal. I constructed Alex to be the kind of guy I believe she deserves; a guy who adores her.
I did it the same backwards way in To Your Own Self Be True with one of the main characters, Dr Kyle Trace. His wife Danielle was modeled after a very good friend from London. Kyle trace was constructed to be the kind of guy I believe she deserved. Most of my characters are simply composites of people I’ve experienced, but one character’s personality was based on my own and that was Harry, in The Room.
Norm:What do you want your work to do? Amuse people? Provoke thinking?
Ray: Burnished Bridge was written only to be a love story with a wild twist, but in general I write to tell existential stories that I do hope provoke serious thinking. I believe I’m adding a point of view that can be very strange to most people, but after getting to know the protagonists, I hope they come to understand.
Norm:Which writers have exerted the strongest influence upon you? As a follow up, which writer do you admire and feel you could never emulate?
Ray: The writers that have influenced me most are the existential writers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. I realize that my stories are deep into the genre of science fiction, but to me that part is secondary and not influenced by any science fiction writers. It is the existential and human side that drives the stories. The writer I would say I admire most is Camus and would never dream of emulating him, but I’m simply happy to be influenced by his stories.
Norm:How do you try to develop your writing skills?
Ray: I keep writing. In between books I write short stories and essays.
Norm:Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Ray: I find it difficult at times getting all the timelines straight. This series of stories intersect at various times of the past and future and I draft timelines with significant dates to keep it all straight. This fourth book will be the most complex of all, involving all of the previous timelines and a timeline from an alternate reality.
Norm:What has been the best part about being published?
Ray: Well it feels great when the books go to print and I roll back in the couch and read it as others will be reading it.
Norm:Do you have any advice for other writers?
Ray: The advice I would give is to be open and honest. I see some people who temper their writing because they fear it reveals a little too much about them.
Norm:Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Ray: I love getting emails from readers. Most people don’t write, but the emails I get are nice to read. The part that amazes me most is how differently the same book affects different people. The readers who comment on Amazon are the gutsiest of all and I appreciate their comments very much.
Norm:What is next for Ray Melnik and how can our readers find out more about you and your books?
Ray: Each book was written to stand on its own, but there were always the common threads. Right now I’ve started the 3rd novel, 4th book in the current series and it pulls all the previous stories to a conclusion. It is the series finale called, The Gift. I have a site called Emergent Novels”at www.emergentnovels.com and on the site there is information about the three current books with, excerpts, multimedia intros, synopsis, reviews, cover art, my bio and more. In addition they can click on Emergent Stories for short stories and essays.
Norm:Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?
Ray: Just that the story idea itself was inspired by a song, Maybe, from my favorite folk artist Ingrid Michaelson. A reader should keep this link and when they are finished reading Burnished Bridge, they should click it, listen, and they will understand why. Besides possibly discovering this incredibly talented new artist.
Norm:Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors