YA Shot 2016 Tour – featuring Melinda Salisbury


Hello everyone! Today’s post is something a little different. I’m here today to talk about YA Shot.

YA Shot is a one-day festival that brings together UK Young Adult and Middle Grade authors. It’s a celebration of writing for young readers that aims to promote the joy of reading and inspire a passion for writing.

Although YA Shot works year around to help pair schools with local libraries for author events, the event itself takes place on 22nd October 2016. It involves around 70 authors and takes the form of a programme of workshops, panels and book singing sessions at Uxbridge Civic, Centre, Waterstone’s Uxbridge and Uxbridge Library. If you’re interested in attending, you should definitely check out their website – https://yashot.wordpress.com/ 

In honour of this special event, I’m pleased to have a special guest for this post. Melinda Salisbury is one of the fantastic authors involved in YA Shot. She’s the author of two fantastic fantasy novels – The Sin Eater’s Daughter and The Sleeping Prince – both of which you can find reviewed on this blog. The third book in the series, provisionally titled The Scarecrow Queen, is due for release in early 2017.

To read our interview and have a chance to win a copy of The Sin Eater’s Daughter, read on:

An Interview with Melinda Salisbury

Melinda Salisbury

Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?

Well, I was born and raised in the West Midland. My earliest ambition was to be a vet, because I have always liked animals more than people! At one point in time, one of my life goals was to be arrested for breaking into a test facility to release animals being kept there! I also had an Animal Club at school, and its purpose was to educate the members in the tracks, Latin names, and stools of native UK wildlife. I was the only member.


When did you decide to become a writer?

Growing up, I didn’t think I could become an author, because I don’t come from a middle or upper class background, and later I didn’t go to a top university and study writing. Though I have always enjoyed writing, reading, and telling stories, I never allowed myself to believe it was something I could do because of that. So I can’t say it was my lifelong dream, because I never allowed myself to dream it. But the thing with dreams is you don’t really choose them, they grow from the things you’re drawn to. So the more I read, the more I wanted to write…

I finally decided to go for it after a holiday in the US. It was my first big trip, and I realised on the way home that I didn’t want to go back to my then-job, or the life I was living at all. I wanted to try for the dream. So I did!


Getting a novel into print is no easy feat. How did you go about finding a publisher for The Sin Eater’s Daughter?

I went down the traditional route of searching for an agent, who then used her industry expertise to contact publishers she believed would be a good fit for the series. I’ve had a relatively easy publishing journey, compared to some others that I know of – I had multiple representation offers from agents, and also multiple offers from publishers, so I was able to make choices in that respect. I know I’m very fortunate.


What drew you to writing in the fantasy genre?

They’re the stories I’ve always enjoyed reading the most. Fantasy and magic and danger and darkness are the things I like to read about, so when it came to writing they were the obvious choice.


What is the hardest thing that you found about writing your debut novel?

Letting other people read it! It’s terrifying, to hand over something that you created alone and ask people to examine it, and form opinions on it. You have to really try to understand that there will be people who don’t like it, or don’t get it, and you have to remind yourself that that’s ok – people’s life experiences and interests and personalities vary so much you will never please everyone. Books are really personal, and that’s why they inspire such passion in readers.


Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and, if so, how do you overcome it?

I don’t think I suffer from Writer’s Block, but sometimes I find it hard to focus, or working seems overwhelming. I usually either work on something else, or just drop it completely and go for a walk, or read a book. Sometimes you have to force yourself though it, but sometimes you need to allow your brain time to work on it at the back of your mind.


The Sin Eater’s Daughter was a very claustrophobic novel. Was it challenging to write a novel that takes place in a relatively small setting?

Yes, of course! It limited the people she would interact with, and therefore opportunities that she could take, and though that’s ultimately what leads to the climax of the novel, it still makes it difficult to write a story that is compelling. But the story relies on her inexperience and lack of knowledge, and I had to remember that, and stay true to it. The Sin Eater’s Daughter is loosely based on Rapunzel – the girl locked in the tower, kept from the world. If I’d expanded the setting, Twylla would have been a different character, and it would have been a different story. It was hard, especially to keep her naïve when I knew the larger picture. Writing in first person certainly helped with that – even though the reader can see danger is coming, she can’t until it’s too late.


Although The Sin Eater’s Daughter and The Sleeping Prince are connected, their settings are incredibly different. Where did you take your inspiration from in designing your world?

I took it from our world! I built the world from the ground up, using Scandinavia as a loose geographic model for the location – the climate, and the natural world etc., and then weaving into that all of the creepy things that have caught my attention over the years – herb lore my Nan taught me, the golem of Prague, Sin Eating, alchemy. It’s a balancing act, but once you have the physical boundaries of the world, you can play about within them.


Both of your protagonists – Twylla and Errin – are incredibly strong characters. What do you think makes both of them special?

Twylla will not be broken. She is able to bear so much weight and bend with it. She never loses hope – despite having a terrifying, lonely life she’s still hopeful for more, still open hearted. She finds a way to work with what oppresses her and I think that’s extraordinary.

Errin is very determined. She will always achieve her goals, because she won’t stop until she does. Like Twylla, she’s not a quitter. She’ll keep going, and going, and going. They’re two sides of the same coin, one all fire and movement, one snow and endurance.


What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Keep going. It can happen, so keep going. Write and read, as much as you can. Explore the world, take inspiration from everything around you. Eavesdrop on conversations, walk home a different route. There are stories everywhere.


Why did you decide to get involved with YA Shot?

I feel very strongly about making the arts accessible, especially because of my own experiences growing up. I want to be part of initiatives that focus on getting art and artists out into communities who might not otherwise have access to them.




Melinda has very kindly agreed to giveaway a Signed Copy of the fantastic The Sin Eater’s Daughter  to one very lucky winner! The contest runs from now until 4th October 2016 at 12am GMT and is open to all residents of the United Kingdom.

Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t seem to want me to embed the widget for this giveaway on this page but if you want to enter, please click on the link below:


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