This trilogy appears to be a hit with most, with an average review of 4 out of 5 stars. This series is available 2 ways: either as 6 novels or as 22 novellas (novellas are in the kindle unlimited program). Melanie Nowak gives some great advice and tips on being a writer. Check it out!!
When did you first discover you wanted to be a writer and why writing?
Honestly, I never dreamed that I would become an author! I have my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science, with a Bachelor’s in education, and had planned a career as a school librarian, sharing my love of reading with students. Through a series of unfortunate health events I found myself injured, ill, and unable to follow the path I had chosen. Luckily another path had already chosen me!
In 2003 I had begun writing a vampire story because I had an idea and characters in my head that needed to be immortalized rather than forgotten. I wrote my story, enjoyed it, and shared it with a few friends just for fun. When they suggested I try to publish, I did…diligently. For almost 2 years I used all of my resources to research the industry and submit my books to agents and publishers, but got nowhere – no one even wanted to read a sample! Among my 200 rejection postcards, was one that said: “No one wants to read vampires anymore – Anne Rice has done them to death!” This was shortly before Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight came out…
So I decided to just keep writing for my own cathartic enjoyment. I’d never planned to be an author anyway. While at university, a professor mentioned Amazon’s anticipated unveiling of the Kindle. I decided to submit my books…and they were accepted! I was among the first Indie Authors to have their books on Kindle when it was released! It was nice to have closure, feeling like I’d done something with the story and could move on to writing more. I knew nothing about marketing or promotion at the time. I just released my books on Kindle and left them there waiting to be discovered. It was a hobby and I didn’t really expect much to come of it.
A few copies sold that summer and I got wonderful reviews, which was exciting – people from across the country that I’d never met actually loved my books! Then disaster struck…I became very ill with rheumatic fever, (which is bad enough!) but to make matters worse, the illness swelled all my joints and aggravated bad injuries I’d had from a car accident years before and erased all the progress I had made with physical therapy. I was forced to long-term bed rest and had to forfeit the Librarian position I had lined up to begin in a few weeks.
My husband and I were devastated, and unsure what we would do, but they say when one door closes, another opens. Suddenly my books started selling like wildfire! I wasn’t exactly on the Bestseller’s List, but I sold 30+ copies a day for weeks straight! It helped support my family in a time of need and show me a new opportunity. Writing is now my saving passion. Although still plagued by some chronic health issues, I feel blessed that I am able to stay home with my kids and write the stories I love!
Tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
A few things came together to bring the ALMOST HUMAN series to life. I’ve always been interested in bats. Vampire bats have a anticoagulant in their saliva called “draculin” (named after Count Dracula!) that keeps blood from clotting. I had the idea that such a thing would be useful for vampires as well. It would also be useful if they had something to keep the victim calm, like a drug.
I always wondered about a vampire’s ability to put victims in thrall. In old movies, vampires are always able to hypnotize people, and it’s never really explained. People are just ‘under their power’. I always wondered – why? How does it work? I put those questions together with the anticoagulant/drug idea, and took it further. What if vampires could inject their victims with venom – like a snake? Only the venom would not be deadly poison, but a combination of drugs that kept blood from clotting, kept the victim calm and even willing, and also could mark territory for the vampire – leaving a psychic mark that other vampires could see. The vampire could then use the existence of this ‘drug’ in their victim’s system, to put them in thrall as well.
The idea of venomous vampires seemed so logical to me, that I assumed for sure that someone else had done it already. I began searching my library for a book like that, so I could read it! This was probably in the early 90’s and there weren’t very many vampire books around at that time. I never found what I was looking for, and I filed the idea away. It never occurred to me to write it myself, LOL.
In the late 80’s, I had discovered Anne Rice’s vampire chronicles and absolutely loved them. That was the first time I read something from the vampire’s point of view. The way that she captured emotions and described surroundings was mesmerizing to me, and I really connected with her story. I’m also a huge fan of the T.V. series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. Joss Whedon is a genius! That said – towards the end of the show, I started disliking some decisions the writers made. I understood their vision, but I also saw missed opportunities. I would have done things differently.
That started me thinking of my own storylines and my own characters, incorporating my venomous vampire idea. None of this was written down, just daydreamed during housework. Then one day I realized that a lot of the ideas I had were really good, and it depressed me to think that it would all just be forgotten. So, I sat down one night at the computer, to write out a few things so I wouldn’t forget, and could look back at them one day. The scenes just came pouring out and before I knew it, I’d been up writing almost the whole night! That’s when I realized that I had a real story to tell, and wanted to write it all out from beginning to end. That is how my ALMOST HUMAN vampires were born.
You mentioned that Fatal Infatuation is the first book in a series. Can you tell us more about the series?
I currently have 2 series in my venomous vampire saga. While both follow the same characters chronologically, you can begin the Second series without having read the First.
ALMOST HUMAN – The First Series, set around a small upstate college town, is a paranormal romantic fantasy of drama, angst and action. An elder vampire struggles with his faith, his crusade to mentor others, and his attraction to a young college woman, who is trying to navigate the hurdles of dealing with her peers, her job, vampires, zombies, and…college.
ALMOST HUMAN – The Second Series has more of a paranormal urban fantasy feel, still filled with drama, action and romance, the viewpoints broaden to include more of an ensemble cast of vampires and humans who have traveled beyond college to navigate adulthood, and discover paranormal abilities previously unknown. They must learn to master the difficult nuances of balancing thirst, power and…marriage. Oh, and they may just have to save the world.
There are two different ways to read my venomous vampire series ALMOST HUMAN. There are 6 full novels (2 trilogies), which are quite long, and they were later broken up to also be published as 21 novellas. You can read the story in a feast of novels or as bite-sized novellas – pick your poison! The first trilogy of novels is available in an Omnibus Edition as well.
I have recently released another novella UNITING VAMPIRES – part 1 of my next upcoming novel, VAMPIRESS REIGNING. There will be two more novellas coming out this year. Then all three of those novellas will be combined for the release of the full novel, due in late October.
What message or lasting thought do you hope your readers will take away from your book?
ALMOST HUMAN is a story of love, hope, and faith, in which we recognize that no one is perfect. We all have choices to make and are doing the best we can – we are only human…or almost human, as the case may be. My story means different things to different people.
Can you offer any advice for beginning writers or those trying to get published
Decide why you are writing. Is your ultimate goal financial success, or to tell an amazing story? If you just want to write but aren’t as emotionally connected to it, that is an entirely different path from someone who wants to truly express & share feelings and ideas; the difference between writing articles or informative observation pieces, and writing a novel. While writing a novel can bring financial success, in my opinion that should never be the focus – a good story needs passion behind it. If you are passionate about your writing and want to share your story with readers, here’s my advice:
1st – If you have a story inside of you yearning to be told, then be unafraid to really give in to it and write your true thoughts and feelings. You cannot write while worrying about who might read it or what they will think. First, be true to that inner voice and write the story that you want to write.
2nd – Edit – a lot. You’ve poured your heart out onto the page, now you need to look at it with a critical eye for grammar, story structure, and continuity. Understand the story structure of different genres and where your story will fit. It’s alright to blend genres, but labels such as YA and Adult fiction need to be discerned more carefully. Sex and language are not the only determining factors between YA and Adult. Also consider the complexity of plot, reading level of the vocabulary used and the intellectual focus of the story as it relates to age. Do not write “down” to your readers – it is important to be sure they can follow the plot and understand the story, but don’t be afraid to write something that will make people stop and think. Proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation is so important that I have to say it again. If you’re unsure about something – look it up! EDIT!
3rd – If you want to share your story, you will find a way. Independent publishing isn’t for everyone – neither is Traditional publishing. You have to figure out what is right for you. Large publishing companies will be hard to reach without connections. It’s not impossible (but close). Be aware – larger publishers often want you to edit your work to fit their image. Getting traditionally published is HARD. Even if you have the best book ever, getting the right people to read it will be even harder than writing it – you have been warned. I was rejected over 200 times without anyone even being willing to read my manuscript! There are many small presses that are more open to accepting new work without many changes, you just have to find the right one for you. I did some research and found that the small presses that were open to publishing my work, did not feel like a good fit for me, so I opted for Independent Publishing. Whatever publishing path you feel is right for you, do not give up!
Independent publishing is also a good option to keep your story true to your own vision – but be prepared to put in the effort. If you do not work hard to help your target audience find your book, and if your book is not of professional quality when it is read, your sales and reputation as an author will suffer. Make sure your book is the best it can be, and then find a way to help others find it!
4th – Believe in yourself and be strong. Publishing Independently can be frustrating and difficult at times. You need to have patience, a very thick skin and an incorrigible spirit. It takes a long time and a lot of effort to gain an audience who appreciates your work. Your audience deserves a professional quality book, and when you are working independently it is often more difficult to see your work with a discerning and unbiased eye. Almost all books get a negative review at some time or another. It is important to truly analyze the review to see if there is criticism in there that can help you improve. Decide whether your story came across as you intended. If it seems that it did, and the reader just didn’t enjoy or agree with it, then that is their prerogative. If the reader seemed to miss your intent, then perhaps it wasn’t clearly expressed in the writing and you should consider toning it a bit.
5th – Decide how you will define your success. If to you, success = money, quit now, LOL. To me success is the feeling of accomplishment and the swell of excitement I feel when someone tells me my book really resonated with them. In my experience, take care of the emotional success and the physical success will follow. I concerned myself with telling a good story, putting in tons of work to research certain elements, refine and edit it to the best of my ability, and learned what was needed to publish and promote it. I make myself accessible to readers and view it all as a labor of love. Through that sincere effort, I have earned more loyal readers to my series than I’d ever expected. Now writing is my full time job and I can actually pay my bills with it!
Do you have any strange antics you do while you write?
Most of my writing begins as scribbles in a notebook. I play out the scenes in my head and write down all of the dialogue on paper. I always speak dialogue aloud. That is one reason I usually try to write when no one else is home, but at this point, when I am sitting in my room or out on my deck talking to myself, my family just shrugs – mom’s writing again. Then as I transfer the dialogue to the computer I add details of scene blocking and inner diatribe while typing. Then I go over it yet again to fill in more description of setting and surroundings.
As far as strange antics go… I do truly enjoy “living” out my scenes as best I can and I especially enjoy acting out fight scenes! I can often be seen on my deck, or in the field behind my house, swinging a samurai sword, using a chain whip, or just tumbling and practicing how certain actions would play out with my husband and teenage sons.
If you could have dinner with a novelist, dead or alive, who would it be?
That is a tough question for me! The answer is probably not who most would think – my first inclination (and I think what readers might expect) would be to choose Anne Rice. Her books were a great inspiration to me! BUT…I have spoken with Anne Rice online a few times, and I got to meet her a few years back!
At this point, I think I would enjoy dinner with fantasy author Piers Anthony. I grew up on his books! He was the first author I ever read who wrote detailed Author’s Notes at the end of his books that made me (and all readers, I suspect) feel as though I knew him. Some of his books skew a bit young for re-reading now, but many of his adult books are still very enjoyable to me. I loved the interesting ideas and characters he created. He has a knack for placing relatable people in fantastic situations.
I could say all of those same things about fantasy author Jack L. Chalker, and he would be my next choice!
Published: July 3, 2008
Series: Almost Human, The First Trilogy
Where to Buy:
Felicity views going away to college as an opportunity to mature into a confident young woman, but her new beginning turns out to be more of an adventure than she bargains for when she finds that her school is plagued by vampires!
Cain is an elder vampire who displays quiet confidence even as he struggles to overcome sins of his past. Surprisingly, he found that in losing his life he gained his faith and a purpose.
His mission: find the hostile vampires that inhabit this small college town, and educate them to live in peace with humans. Their leader, Sindy, is a wicked temptress who has set her sights on Felicity’s new friend Ben. She will be difficult to control, but after meeting Felicity, Cain’s most difficult task lies in controlling himself.
Together they join an ensemble cast of characters to navigate the difficulties of addiction and desire; the perils of zombies and vampires; and struggles with abuse, morality and… college.
She studied the vampire for a moment as he read the inside jacket cover of the book. He looked like an ordinary guy. Okay well, maybe not ordinary. He looked like an extremely attractive guy. Early twenties probably, broad shoulders, very nice build. How could she be expected to fear someone so achingly gorgeous? His hair fell down into his eyes as he looked at the book and he absently swiped it aside, although it fell back again almost immediately. He was a little pale, but he certainly didn’t look supernatural. He looked up from the book to find her staring at him. She quickly searched for something to say. “I suppose you’ll be taking it over to the café?”
“Mr. predictable, that’s me.”
“Right.” She had an odd thought as she swept the change from the counter into her pocket. “Do you actually drink coffee, or is that just for show?”
He seemed to find her inquiry amusing. She supposed such a direct question might be considered rude, but she couldn’t help wondering. “I can drink what I like.”
She came out from behind the register and began walking him over to the café. She noticed Ben staring, but ignored him. The presence of the man beside her commanded her full attention. “So what do you do besides drink coffee and read?”
He looked a little sobered by the question. “Fight.”
“Other vampires?” she asked quietly.
His gaze travelled over her seductively. “Temptation mostly.”
She wasn’t sure whether to melt or shudder.
Melanie Nowak is author of the venomous vampire series ALMOST HUMAN, and a happily married mom of two boys. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education and a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. Originally a Long Islander, she now lives with her family on a peaceful mountaintop in the forest of upstate New York. She has always had a vivid imagination and a fascination for the paranormal. Acting and singing are loves of hers as well. However, upon conceiving the idea for her ALMOST HUMAN series in 2003, she discovered a previously unknown passion for writing! Now she puts her over-active imagination to good use, creating characters she loves, and she gets to play all of the parts!
Let me know if you check out this book. Until next time, Happy Reading 🙂