- Tell us about your writing process. Do you aim for a daily word count, page count, or a couple of scenes each day?
For as much of a planner I am when it comes to my writing process I am very inconsistent. I can write five chapters one day and then write two words the next because I became distracted by something. When I was writing the first draft manuscript of The Veiled Threat, I wrote almost every day because I felt like I needed to get it out of my head. It was my first book and every time I sat down to write another chapter it was like seeing the new episode of my favorite television show, I was just as excited to read it for the first time. So it always depends on how my headspace is sometimes it can be ten chapters a day or barely one but somehow it all comes together and gets done. I think the most important thing is don’t worry about getting something down every day, worry about getting it done. Finish your story and hey I’m in college so some of my best work is trying to finish a page count by Sunday and not writing all week.
- What gave you the inspiration for your book (and the series)?
When I came up with the idea of The Veiled Threat, I was a 20-year-old English Major in community college. I had just gotten engaged, and I was struggling. I hated my major, and yet I loved to write more than anything. I had professors who would tell me they disliked my writing style or that if I didn’t change my voice, I’d never be published. So I left. I dropped all of my classes with no idea what to do next. I got a call from my best friend one night, to go to this weekly Dungeon and Dragon event, and she didn’t want to go alone. I dragged my feet the whole way there. When we were all seated, I was handed a character sheet and was asked to create anyone I wanted. And so, I did. Instead of playing, I found myself writing sheets and sheets about a young elven captain, a pirate ship renowned throughout a magical world full of gods, monsters, and people of varying shape and size. Somehow I created an entire 9 book outline and now have three trilogies to the series with the hope to publish one book a year.
- What sort of research did you do for this book?
So probably not enough, to be honest, insert laughing face emoji. I, of course, did a ton of research on pirate ships, types of ships, ship terminology, pirate hierarchies, culture, and then used about half of what I learned combined with my imagination. Nereid as a country is definitely a mishmash of time periods, greek myth combined into ocean cultures with eighteenth-century pirates. The things that were cultural or had basis I made sure were as accurate as possible but for other things like Elven culture, their language, their magic, there wasn’t much I could look up to help create. I needed and had to rely on things I liked and what I would want to read. But through doing the research I found that I really loved history and I was really good at remembering it so since writing The Veiled Threat I’ve come back to school and am majoring in History.
- Are you a pantser or a plotter? A bit of both?
Completely a bit of both, I don’t think there’s an author out there that’s just one or the other. I mean I have worked with other writers who love to plan every detail and yet once they’re on the page a character will speak to them and do something completely unexpected. I am both completely. I have two whiteboards in my office, my storyboards and I have chapter maps on one and the other is for thoughts that happen in the middle of writing and when I’m walking by to get my tea or coming back from lunch. These people that writers create speak to you throughout the entire story, they evolve as we do and just as the saying goes with life and best made plans, writing is the same you can never expect where your muse will take you.
- Do you prefer a certain type of music to listen to when you’re writing, or are you better with silence?
It definitely depends. Usually, I listen to instrumental but there can be scenes that need a stronger voice. When I wrote the scene between Jo and Shea in Shea’s old bedroom after their conversation and unearthing truths about each other when that moment shatters I had to listen to Sober by Demi Lovato on repeat for some reason. I couldn’t tell you why, but something about it just fit. And its the same with other scenes. As far as most often music I listen to while writing its always either instrumental or usually a musical of some kind. I’m a huge musical theater nerd. For a lot of Shea’s monologues about Jo, I’d listen to Aladdin singing about Jasmine. It helps create the mood I think for the author and it helps translate the tone you want onto the page.
- What book(s) are you reading now?
So I am reading two things at the moment, one is nonfiction. It’s called Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie, its about legendary and real princesses from history. It’s been a great read so far, even though I’m a huge Disney fiend and the author is not, historical monarchies are fascinating to me and obviously played a huge role in my series so its partially for fun and research. The second is called Graceling by Kristin Cashore, I’ve just started it after rereading one of my favorite series The Goddess Test. So far I love it! The characters are great and her writing is very enjoyable.
- Just for fun — what TV shows or movies have you really enjoyed (or disliked?) recently?
Recently? Hmm, I’m a huge Outlander fan so I’m waiting very patiently (semi-patiently) for the next season. My husband and I love the show The 100, we just finished the most recent season’s finale and it was incredible. I’ve read the books and Clarke is one of my favorite female characters ever written, a total badass. As far as movies go, I saw Rocketman and fell in love all over again with Taron Egerton. He’s an amazing actor and his voice is stunning! And we’re just not gonna talk about Endgame cause I’m a team ironman girl and I just can’t. And then for old time sakes, my hubby and I watched Pan, which I hear everyone hated, and it’s funny because we loved it. Maybe its a fantasy fan thing but I just thought the story was fun and an original take and the effects were bloody cool. Not to mention Garrett Hedlund’s Hook is basically my main character Shea so… I apologize for writing so many but I think that covers it!
Sophia Menesini lives in Martinez, CA with her husband, and their two small Chihuahuas, Ziggy and Zeppelin. The Veiled Threat is her first novel. Sophia is an avid tea connoisseur and lover of Scotland with an unconventional memory for obscure Disney and Broadway song lyrics.