Melissa Furnish is a senior at Switzerland County High School. In a couple of weeks she will join her fellow classmates in commencement exercises; and this fall she will head to Purdue University.
All through her school career she’s been an extremely busy young woman: athlete, scholar, FFA and 4-H member, and general sheep enthusiast.
And, in the midst of all of that, she’s also a published author.
In fact, she’s already written four books.
The first, ‘The Deity Jewels’, was started when Melissa was in the eighth grade.
“I first started part one when I was in the eighth grade, and since then I’ve been working on them,” Melissa said. “I finished part three two years ago, but I’ve lost the chapters to some of that, so I have to get that back, or just re-write it.”
The books are a series, as Melissa says she has at least 20 more plots to more books on the series, along with more short stories, side stories, and super editions.
Melissa became interested in writing – by reading.
“I think reading things like the ‘Warrior Cats’ books by Erin Hunter, or like J.K. Rowling and ‘Harry Potter’ and stuff. Christopher Paolini, the author of the ‘Eragon’ series, he’s a big inspiration, too,” Melissa said. “Just that stuff. Growing up I really liked just thinking of new ideas and stuff. Different ideas behind things.”
So how did the love of reading translate to authorship?
“I think it’s just something and you kind of do,” she said. “I think it was just from when I was reading the ‘Warrior Cats’ books and really liking the way she wrote things and liking the idea behind being able to share you ideas and stuff through people’s experiences. I like the idea of sharing my ideas with people.”
When Melissa started writing the series five years ago, she remembers that it was a ‘dream’ to get published.
“I didn’t think it would actually happen,” she said, “But when I found out that Amazon would self-publish, I went ahead and jumped on it, because ‘why not?’, that’s a good idea. Finally getting to hold that book in my hands after five years, all that work and stuff, just sitting there at the computer and typing and not thinking it’s ever going to go anywhere. It was definitely a really good feeling, to get to feel it and see it in front of me.”
Melissa – who writes under the pseudonym ‘Mel E. Furnish’ – said that she self published the first book as an ebook on April 19th of this year; and then published a paperback version the next day.
The books – Part One and Part Two – are now available on Amazon.
“Part One is just a little over 500 pages; Part Two is around 400; and Part Three, I haven’t gotten up just yet, because like I said, I’ve had to rewrite the last few chapters of it.”
Along with that, Melissa has also published a ‘Super Edition’, which is just over 600 pages.
“It sort of off to the side,” Melissa says of the Super Edition. “It’s like the same time frame, but a different character.”
‘The Deity Jewels’ centers on Evaleana – Eva. The genre is fantasy; and the books are filled with twists and turns.
“I have ideas for lots of different plots, and I like to be able to do lots of different plot twists throughout my books, because I love the idea of cliff hangers and stuff like that and keeping the reader on edge, not knowing what’s going to happen next,” Melissa said. “I think in the first one, the main character goes through this journey that she never expected to go on. Learning about her past. She was kind of living a lie, if that makes sense. Learning who she really is and finding out what she has become in a certain amount of time and she’s got to face all these challenges and get through all these things and travel the world and become more experienced and prepare herself for what’s coming.”
Melissa said that when she first started writing the books, the characters were around her age; hoping to create characters that she could better relate to, as well as the readers she’s targeting.
It took about a year to write the first book; while the second book and the Super Edition took about two years, because she wrote them at the same time.
“It was very confusing,” Melissa said with a smile. “Because they’re both kind of a crossover, they mix in together. You have characters in one part of the world and characters in another part of the world, and they’re connected. You’re writing books that are going on at the same time, but it’s from a different character’s point of view.”
Melissa said that she’s also planning on writing short stories of in between the series and before the series, giving readers background stories and more specific information on elements and scenes in the book.
One of the big influences on Melissa was Helen Parks. Feeling the need to have an editor, someone who could independently read and make suggestions.
“I’ve known Helen for a long time,” Melissa said of her editor. “She taught my dad in English when he was younger. I remember when I first started writing my books, I needed an editor, someone to reread my story and make sure it made sense; and my grandma (Ginger Furnish) suggested Helen, and so did my sister Robin. She said, ‘Yes, I’d love to’.”
So Melissa heads to graduation and then on to college; and with a wide variety of interests, the one thing she probably won’t pursue is a career as an author.
“I prefer to keep my writing as a hobby,” she said. “It’s a stress reliever for me, I want it to be something that I continue to enjoy and not something I look at as work.”
Melissa is the daughter of Rob and Cheryl Furnish of Bennington Pike.