The Big Idea: E. J. Mellow

“Appearances can be deceiving.” In author E. J. Mellow’s Big Idea, she tells us a bit about how she plays off this phrase in her newest novel, Song of the Forever Rains.

E. J. MELLOW:

Much like a mythological beast, I tend to believe big ideas have a head and a heart and both better be properly seized or severed clean through to claim them.

Now, which path a writer takes—to kill or to collar—to master these ideas, is most likely a deeper psychological study for how said author functions in life combined with the desired tone of a novel. And, for the sake of a merry-go-round head spinner, an author could very well take both paths; capture the beast to later kill it. I, for one, am guilty of such behavior. And in Song of the Forever Rains it becomes clear why.

At the head of my beastly big idea sits first impressions and familiar tropes. A painted picture of that classic fairytale; a maiden captured by a monster and a hero meant to save her.

But what if, on closer inspection, we learn that the maiden purposefully got herself captured and, in fact, has the power to be more of a monster than the monster himself? What if our damsel in distress saves the hero?

And here we have the heart.

Song of the Forever Rains is a story of the masks we wear; the outward identity the world gazes upon to draw assumptions. But beneath the surface are roots and layers and undiscovered terrain. Beneath the surface are emotions and history and scars and beliefs propelling actions. It’s a world of appearances filled with contradictions. A murderess heroine and a villain to evoke empathy. A true M.C. Escher anomaly. 

So where did all this come from? This big idea beast lumbering around with its painted face hiding its heart’s intent. Quite simply it came from my own experiences. It came from a woman who writes novels on weekends and in-between hours while also working a nine-to-five. It came from all the roles I shuffle in and out of daily: mother, wife, lover, friend, boss, author. It came from what I had believed society needed from me paired with what I needed of myself. The Jekyll and Hyde dance of imposter syndrome mixed with bouts of unrivaled confidence. The many masks I have worn and still wear. It’s a feeling I knew I was not alone in grappling with and a story I had to explore telling.

From this is where I lured my big idea, caged and collared it to study and grow familiar. Once docile, no longer a threat, is when I sliced it open. I painted my characters with what I found inside. 

In Song of the Forever Rains I sought to write a story about the beautiful variance of humanity. The raw, the ugly, the dazzling and the delicate and that who we are is far more complicated and woven than a one-word answer. Because the masks we wear are just as much a part of our identity as the face beneath. 

My heroine showed me this. The realm of the Thief Kingdom embodies this. And for my dear readers, I hope for them to walk away more accepting of their various selves put forward.

I certainly did after writing this story. 


Song of the Forever Rains: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s  

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