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Interview with Mel Torrefranca

Hello everybody, I hope you are doing amazing. I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted but today we have something super special lined up for you! I am incredibly honoured to have the amazing Mel Torrefranca over for an author interview!

Mel is an entrepreneur, an author and a YouTuber. She published her debut novel leaving Wishville in 2020 and her latest novel Capsule is a sci-fi thriller, which comes out on 10th July. Don’t forget to subscribe to her YouTube channel, which is awesome. And now let’s get started!

1. Firstly, tell us a little about Capsule!

Capsule is my second novel, a young adult sci-fi thriller coming July 10, 2021. The story follows Jackie Mendoza, a sixteen-year-old gamer who discovers a strange app called Capsule on her phone the same day two students from her high school—Peter Moon and Kat Pike—are announced missing. Capsule claims only Jackie can save the heartless blogger Peter and the narcissist Instagrammer Kat, but why would she risk her life for two people she doesn’t even like?

2. How did you have the idea?

The idea of Capsule came from the title and cover concept itself. One day I randomly thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have a book titled Capsule with a giant pill on the cover?” From that seed of an idea grew the intricate plot of a novel I would work on for the next fourteen months.

3. Do you have a favourite character?

I relate to Jackie Mendoza the most. She struggles with social interaction not because she’s afraid of reaching out to people, but because she doesn’t believe she needs anyone. This is a mindset I’ve shared with Jackie in the past.

Although I find Jackie relatable, my favorite character is Peter Moon. I’m proud to say he’s one of the most well-developed characters I’ve created throughout my writing career so far. I truly experienced his pain as I wrote scenes from his perspective and quickly found myself rooting for him.

4. What scene or chapter did you most enjoy writing?

That’s a tough one! I think I’d have to say the campfire scene. If you’ve read Capsule, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. I’ll be honest—I cried every single time I had to rewrite that scene. Every word of dialogue and every small action held so much weight. It was emotionally draining for me as I felt the entire impact of the story relied on executing that one scene perfectly. There was no room for error. I couldn’t mess it up. When I finally finished editing the campfire scene, it was the most rewarding feeling I’d experienced in a long time.

5. What was the most challenging part of the process?

The most challenging part to write was the setting. My debut novel Leaving Wishville takes place in one isolated town, but scenes in Capsule hardly take place in the same location twice as the main characters are constantly on the move. Describing the location from scratch in nearly every scene was a new experience for me.

Although Capsule is set in modern-day California, the locations are entirely fictitious, so it took a few months to develop the setting. In fact, a total of fifty-five beta readers read and critiqued an early draft, and one of the most common critiques was that my locations were hard to imagine. After drawing drafts and drafts of maps, creating lists of defining qualities for different locations, and rewriting the setting of each scene multiple times, I finally gained confidence in my descriptions.

6. Did you outline the book? If so, did you follow the outline or stray away from it?

I start with a rough outline that I usually stray from while writing the first draft. However, during the editing process, I restructure the novel according to an outline to ensure it includes every vital element of an engaging story. I personally enjoy Blake Snyder’s beat sheet.

7. How long did it take to write and publish?

By the time of publication on July 10, 2021, it will have taken me fourteen months to write, edit, and publish Capsule.

8. What part of the process was your favourite?

My favorite part was definitely the beta reading process. Fifty-five people read and critiqued an early draft of Capsule to help me decide what changes to make before moving on to publication. This was the first time I had shared this story with anyone besides myself, and it was exciting to hear their unique—and sometimes contradicting—perspectives on my work.

And since this is your second time publishing a book, what did you do differently this time? In both writing and publishing.

The writing process of Capsule was similar to Leaving Wishville because I wrote both first drafts within the course of one month. However, I wrote Capsule with a much more thorough outline, which I believe helped shorten the editing process.

In publishing, I put more emphasis on marketing and was less shy about putting my book out there. I reached out to people I thought might be interested in reading my work and got the word out as much as I could.

9. Were there any books, tv shows or movies that inspired you?

I wouldn’t say any creative piece inspired Capsule directly, but there are definitely elements of storytelling that I’ve seen in different media and was excited to experiment with myself. I’ve always been a fan of redemption arcs, a great example being the character development of Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender. I enjoy the reluctant hero trope as well, a strong element seen in the Dreamworks show Trollhunters. The movie Wonder, based on the novel by R.J. Palacio, does a great job of showcasing the different character perspectives to make a point that sometimes the bad gay isn’t necessarily a bad guy. Lastly, the BBC show Sherlock has a great display of an unlikely team that develops into friendship over time.

All of these story elements make an appearance in Capsule. I was excited to write a story about three teens from extremely different backgrounds forced to work together for a common goal. I challenged myself to make everyone the bad guy. We see these morally-gray characters grow together and learn to see the world from each other’s perspectives.

10. How did you balance writing with all of your other projects?

One way I’m able to balance writing with my other projects is through prioritization. It’s impossible to do everything all the time, so I often ease the load by occasionally putting other projects on hold for a week or so and focusing strictly on writing and writing alone.

11. And finally, do you have any advice for young writers?

One of the most common messages I receive from beginner writers on social media is that they’re worried they don’t have enough experience to write a book. My main piece of advice—which I will repeat over and over until I die—is to stop overthinking the writing process and just go for it! You don’t need to furiously consume advice articles and videos to learn how to write a good story. You don’t need to do what the other authors are doing. Just get started, and you’ll learn along the way.

And that is it for today! Thank you so much Mel for doing this. This was honestly so much fun to do and I hope this helps you in your own writing process. Don't forget to pre order Capsule, it's absolutely amazing and you will not regret it! Don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss any other posts and drop a comment down below and tell me whether you'd like to see more posts like this!

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