GUEST POST by Melissa Delport
The (Un)glamorous Life of a Writer: Fame, Fortune & Filthy Fingers
Melissa Delport (Author of The Traveler)
A lot of people ask me what it’s like being a writer. They usually say this in awed anticipation, waiting to be regaled with stories of glamour and fame. Yeah… about that… I need to set the record straight. There is nothing glamorous about writing – you spend half your time in your pyjamas and the other half at the physio sorting out a number of aches and pains that hours spent slumped over a laptop will give you. Even when you do land your publishing contract, you are only really allowed to feel like a superstar for an hour or two, until the kids get home demanding ice-cream and cheese puffs for lunch.
There is nothing quite like one’s own family to keep you grounded. I started my writing career with big dreams about radio and TV interviews galore, glossy double page spreads showcasing my beautiful home and me, in a gorgeous linen trouser suit, with adoring husband at my side and 3 exquisite children at my knee. People would stop me in the shops, asking me for advice, inspiration, and of course, my autograph.
Let me start by saying that none of this has actually happened. I am not sure when I realised that writing is not as glorified as I expected, but possibly it all started way back when I wrote my very first book. I printed out sections of my manuscript as I went along, beautiful pages of New Times Roman, printed on the best quality print paper and ready for my initial read through. Later, I went around the house searching for self-same pages, painstakingly straightening out crumpled up bits, trying to read through a rainbow riot of felt-tipped scribbles and of course, unfolding about fifty paper aeroplanes.
“This is Mommy’s work!” I yelled, tears pricking at my eyes. “My hard work! Do you know how important this is to mommy!” To which of course, the answer from my six-year-old was, “Mom, Presley’s pooped in the bath.” And my three-year-old’s subsequent: “Eeeeuw, dissss-gusting!” I looked to my husband, beseeching him with watery eyes and he looked vaguely alarmed, before leaping to his feet and pointing a finger half-heartedly in their general direction. “You know you shouldn’t touch Mommy’s things,” he scolded. His supposed support would probably have been far more effective if, in vacating his seat, he hadn’t revealed a wad of manuscript pages, on which he had been playing hangman with my eldest.
Things went from bad to worse. Short of wet wipes, manuscript pages were used to clean up unmentionable things. Realising my two-year old had taken to doodling on the tiles, the kitchen cupboards and the walls, in absence of her favourite drawing material – I gave her as many pages as her little heart desired.
Eventually I conceded defeat. I stopped printing and worked digitally. Everything was done on my laptop, which all three of my children know to never, ever touch. When my editor sent me a memo asking if “She dived aside, the cargsjgadsyrdyardgbshnbdkajdbmasssssssssbj missing her by inches” was a deliberate sentence, I realised that the sanctity of my laptop had been violated. “This is Mommy’s computer!” I roared. “It’s very expensive and you are not allowed to touch it!” Unfortunately, in my desperation to prove a point I was holding it out to show them. My two year old promptly stuck out a chubby finger and smeared Nutella across my screen.
And then there was the fame that I had dreamed of. My first ever newspaper interview came to fruition. I spent about three hours meticulously straightening my hair, and applying impeccable war paint. Of course the inevitable scuffle broke out in the lounge and I padded down the passage to resolve it. Then I started making notes, just in case, and asked my neighbour to please watch my kids for an hour. Reluctantly, she agreed. Half an hour later, I graciously greeted the journalist assigned to my interview, laying out a beautiful platter of snacks and a pot of tea in teapot I borrowed from my mother in law. All went well, apart from a few curious glances at my face, which I put down to reverent curiosity. Halfway through the sounds of screaming emanating from next door had become impossible to ignore. I rolled my eyes and whispered conspiratorially, “My neighbours kids.”
Waving her away a short while later, I chest bumped myself in the mirror. I had done it! I was on my way! Only three hours later did I realise I had only made up one eye.
Determined to act as cool as a cucumber, I refrained from calling to find out when my “piece” would appear in the paper. Then, one day I got a text message form my friend saying “Hi Michelle!” with a smiley face. To my horror, my article was out. They called.me Michelle. The whole way through. My family thought it was hilarious. My husband tried to call me Michelle in the bedroom. I almost punched him in the mouth.
I actually have been stopped in the shops, my hair scraped back in a frazzled bun, wearing dirty, scruffy jeans and a toddler hanging on each hip.
“Excuse me,” a timid, breathless voice asked. I straightened up, beaming. This was it! I had been recognised! It was inevitable really – by this stage I had appeared in no less than four obscure community papers. I quickly dropped the kids.
“Yes,” I turned, beaming. Thank goodness I had been perfecting my smile in the mirror for weeks. Slightly taken aback, the pretty brunette stepped away from me.
“Um… it’s just that I think your child dropped this.” She held up an empty BarOne wrapper. My six-year-old disappeared faster than a Hogwarts house-elf disapparating.
“Oh no,” I replied smoothly, “that’s definitely not mine. My children don’t eat chocolate.” Her gaze slid from me to the two toddlers I had just released, their entire faces covered in brown slobber. “Look, I’m very busy, is there anything else you wanted to ask?” I waited smugly for a request that was never forthcoming. I keep a pen in my bag, just in case. I think it’s dried up.
All in all, being an author is far from glamorous. Being a mother to three young children, even less so. But doing both? I’m living my dream, six-page spread aside.
*****Note: I did try to buy the “suit” that was to be my own brand of classy chic. I couldn’t squeeze my arse into the linen trousers.
Wife, mother of 3, businesswoman by day and author by night, Melissa Delport is the author of The Legacy Series and Rainfall. She graduated from the University of South Africa with a Bachelors Degree in English in 2000. She currently lives with her husband and three children in Hillcrest, South Africa.
Her first novel, The Legacy, published in 2013, is the first in The Legacy Series trilogy, and is followed by the sequel The Legion. The final book, The Legend is due out in 2014. She has also written an independent novel entitled Rainfall, a psychological romance, and a science-fiction, action-adventure called The Traveler.
An avid reader herself, Melissa finally decided to stop “watching from the sidelines” and to do what is her passion.
“I was driving home from work when inspiration struck, and a storyline started unravelling in my head. For a few days, it was all I could think about and eventually I realised that the only way to get it out of my head, was to put it all down on paper. I started writing, and that was that.”
- Title: The Traveler
- Author: Melissa Delport
- ASIN: B00IVKXJ7M
- Series: The Traveller Series (Book #1)
- Published: March 3rd 2014
- Format: eARC
- Genre: Sci-fi romance/action
- Word Count: 89,500
- Source: Publisher
- Rating: A-
Seven years ago, Rachel gave her heart to a dark, intense stranger, who left her broken and alone.
Every day since then Rachel has thought about Dex, her memories refusing to be silenced.
Now, Dex is back, but this time he is not alone. He has brought a formidable army – their sole purpose to conquer. Fate will bring Rachel and Dex back together, but on opposing sides of a war that threatens to obliterate her world.
Pitted against the power of the elements, Rachel and her friends must survive tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes and fire, all the while being hunted by a powerful enemy who will stop at nothing to pillage her planet.
Fleeing for her life amidst the chaos of a raging, burning city, Rachel realizes man’s only chance of survival lies in the hands of the very person who betrayed her all those years ago.
Earth is destined to fall, but Rachel is determined to save mankind, no matter the sacrifice.
(5 Kindle Gift Copies of The Traveler)
Quite simply I loved The Traveler, being a long time fan of the big budget action flick, the more car chases, explosions and natural disasters the better, I was naturally predisposed to like this story after reading the description. Truly, I don’t think that I have ever read a book that would be better suited to the big screen than this one.
Rachel is a journalist working on an innocuous art piece when all of a sudden the weather shifts and we are not talking the sun going behind the clouds kind of chill here. Suddenly it turns from a balmy July day in New York City to below freezing, with snow and ice, and if the extreme shift in weather weren’t enough super storms and other impossible phenomena apparently controlled by mysterious beings clothed all in black are being wielded as weapons. Inexplicably the earth is under attack, planes are falling out of the sky, massive craters are opening in the streets, Rachel and her crew are forced to flee for their lives.
The beings responsible for the pandemonium are strangely familiar to Rachel, reminiscent of a dark man from her past whom she thought to never see again. Finding herself at the epicentre of the conflict Rachel is faced with an untenable choice to return to the lover who abandoned her and who is somehow connected to this global conflict or leave Dex and fight for humanity’s salvation.
Melissa Delport’s The Traveler is a skilfully written action adventure story with just the right amount of romance and natural disasters to keep you from wanting to put it down for even a minute. Rachel is a strong, likeable character whom you could easily imagine people rallying around. Dex was quietly malevolent yet irresistible, might have been because I cast him as Ian Somerhalder in my mind or just that Ms Delport is just that good. Regardless, she has taken the classic alien invasion story and turned it on its head creating a captivating work of speculative fiction that will appeal to the masses.
Disclaimer: ARC was kindly provided by the publisher for an honest review.