In our new author series, we’ll be offering a clairvoyant peek behind the veil of who and what makes up TRANSCENDENT. Here’s a glimpse at Melissa A. Winton and her story “Beckoned.”
ABOUT THE STORY
What inspired your story?
Inspiration for my story came from several different sources over the course of many years. I liken my brain to thousands of open browser tabs with endless memory, continuously searching for and collecting information. At any moment, nuggets from many of those tabs will suddenly converge into a cohesive story for me. A painting of mine of a humanoid tree with an hourglass curving trunk and arms outstretched to the sky, resembling a Marilyn Monroe pose, an image of a rose with a baby’s skull Photoshopped into the center of it that I happened upon while scrolling Pinterest in the middle of a sleepless night, the highly debated Women’s Right to Choose during the 2016 Presidential Race, and a short story by Earnest Hemmingway that I read way back in high school theater class all weaved themselves into Beckoned.
Did you have to do any research? If so, what kind? What did you learn?
I did a significant amount of research on the 1920s style, phrases and speech patterns, and medical procedures, including abortions. I learned lots of things, but the one thing that gave me concept of a dream/nightmare or altered state of consciousness came from the overuse of ether during medical procedures, in particular, back-alley abortions. Although the patient thinks they are put under, they’re actually conscious during the entire procedure, but they have no recollection of it. It was also interesting to learn that doctors, who lost their medical licenses from addiction to ether, often performed illegal abortions out of their homes.
Can you tell me a little bit about your protagonist?
Mary Montgomery is an attractive young, newly married woman, eager to make a name for herself in the male-dominant world much to the dismay of her husband, who would prefer her to stay at home. Although she is a victim, shame and guilt drive her to lie, hide, and discreetly seek out an illegal procedure to protect herself.
What would you like readers to take away from your story?
I would like for readers to understand is that not all things are as black-and-white, cut-and-dry, as they seem on the surface. There are many layers to a woman, and their situation may contain an iceberg of circumstances, reasons, and emotions that will drive her to make such an inconceivable choice—albeit not every woman.
Which phrase are you most proud of in this story?
This is a hard question to answer. It’s almost along the same lines of someone asking me which child I’m most proud of. An editor once told me that my “writing style breaks rules, much like art,” that I “paint with words.” While I hint at my style earlier in the story, I guess I would say that I’m most proud of the moment I introduce my protagonist’s inner voice:
The hairs along the back of her neck stand on end, chills race up and down her spine, coming to rest with a million tingles on her crown.
Someone is walking over my grave.
If your story was front-page news, what would the headline be?
Disgraced Doctor in Rape Victim’s Abortion Charged with Wrongful Death
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Every book I own combined with an adult college course I took on creative writing and the mechanics of writing a book, and attending a writer’s conference in Dallas. Each of these had a major hand in educating, shaping, and developing my style of writing and my approach.
If you had to put your name on someone else’s book/story, which would it be and why?
Gerald’s Game by Stephen King. Honestly, I would say anything written by Stephen King because he’s been the biggest influence on me, but Gerald’s Game was the first novel I read that not only introduced a person’s inner voice, but also the mental struggles an individual has within. It felt true to the kind of person I am on a personal level. I have identified the different inner personalities that make up me, and I often have those kinds of mental fights between them much like Jessie does in the book. Seeing it displayed in writing the way he did seemed to give me permission to dive deep into my characters and display all of the personalities that make up their being.
When did you decide to take writing seriously?
I don’t know that I have just yet, though I wish I could. To me, writing is a very selfish endeavor. It demands a tremendous amount of time, effort, and attention, which I feel I can’t fully donate. At least not yet, not while I am dividing so much of me between my business, my husband, my children, my home, my dogs, and my other responsibilities. Some day, hopefully soon, I will put down some of those balls I’m juggling and focus more on my writing, because it is my true passion.
If you could choose a single superpower, what would it be and why?
Mind manipulation. I actually get asked this question a lot by my children and their friends. Mind manipulation is more than just telekinesis, telepathy, or mental suggestion; it’s all of those and so much more, the full and complete control of your mind, to fully access and dominate another’s mind and body, manipulate all matter, space, and time, generate energy, and absorb and bestow life. I guess that would make me Jean Grey as The Phoenix!
Melissa A. Winton is a serial entrepreneur, having owned and operated two charity home-based haunted attractions, a scenic design production company for the haunted attractions and escape rooms, co-owning a merchandise and apparel printing service for the Haunted Attractions Industry, and published author within the psychological horror short story genre under the pseudonym, Ann K. Boyer.
With a substantial art background in scenic design for the Halloween and Haunted Attractions Industries, combined with extended education in psychology, specifically the causes of fear, Melissa has earned the moniker, Hauntzilla, for “creating the worlds that the monsters live in.” It is this experience that has contributed to Melissa’s publications in such anthologies as CHIRAL MAD 2, alongside Jack Ketchum, David Morrell, and Gary McMahon, and the only eZine, HORROR D’OEUVRES, by DarkFuse Magazine.
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