Official Site | Melissa McPhail

How to Stay Inspired (and an Update on Kingdom Blades)

Inspiration is one of those elusive words, like “muse” and “success.” It evades us, confounds and confuses us, bewitches when it visits and devastates upon its departure. It’s that girl glimpsed across the subway terminal, or that place in a dream that you just can’t get to. I receive a lot of questions from readers. . . Read More

Artistic Integrity and The Pressure to Be Other Than We Are

Most people think of the word integrity as ‘adherence to moral and ethical principles,’ but there is another definition equally important to understanding the word: ‘the state of being whole, entire or undiminished.’ The two meanings of integrity are integral to each other. When one exhibits moral character, he is whole; when he displays unethical. . . Read More

Destiny and Fate in Fantasy (and Life)

Destiny versus choice, fate versus free will—these are core concepts in fantasy. Whether addressed indirectly (“You were born to save the world”) or as a subject of the character’s growth (“Accept this role and take up your sword”), the concepts often form the woof and warp of a story’s tapestry, even when the author isn’t. . . Read More

Grounding Fantasy in Reality and Tackling Controversial Topics

A reader wrote in to me recently and mentioned that while she didn’t have the same visceral reaction to a particular scene (no spoilers) as many other readers had, she didn’t like that one of the characters had to use sex as part of the resolution of the conflict in that scene. This is very. . . Read More

The Strands of Elae and Their Associated Adepts

Many of you have been asking about the magical strands of elae and their associated Adepts. This is a pared down version of the chart that appears in Paths of Alir (that chart contains information that would be spoilers for the earlier books). I plan to soon include this chart in the ebook versions of Cephrael’s Hand and. . . Read More

Author Q&A and a Plea to Aspiring Writers

To my readers: please know how much I appreciate your emails, mentions and comments! Recently, many of you have written to me asking similar questions. I thought it would be best to answer all of you here on my blog in order to give your questions adequate address. I’ve lumped your questions together into these three: “What inspired you to. . . Read More

How Much Should Authors Interact with Readers?

This new age of social media makes it easier than ever for readers and writers to interact. Whether via reviews posted online, comments on a blog, forum discussions, Facebook or twitter, authors now have the opportunity to engage with their readers via multiple direct lines of communication. This is generally fun for the readers. For authors, it. . . Read More

Immortality and Gods in Fantasy

It’s interesting to me how many novels, plays, poems (and even, dare I say, religions) deal with immortality without really dealing with immortality, i.e. immortality is automatically assumed, more understood than explored. In our concept, gods are immortal. In fact, immortality is usually a qualifying aspect to being considered a god. In my experience, even. . . Read More

Writing Kingdom Blades (PSOL Book 4)

Many of you have been asking when book four in A Pattern of Shadow & Light will be released. All I can tell you right now is that I’ll have Kingdom Blades to you at some point in 2016 (the Muse willing). For comparison, each book in this series runs around 300,000 words, and the first. . . Read More

On Isabel and Pelas in Paths of Alir

****SPOILER ALERT***** When I wrote the scene with Isabel and Pelas in the second half of Paths of Alir, I expected it could become controversial. I knew it would hit some readers in a way that felt morally uncomfortable, but I never imagined that the scene would be interpreted as a rape. I’ll explain more of what I did expect. . . Read More