Monday, February 20, 2023

Melissa L. Berger (Author Interview)


Dear Readers:

Last week I introduced you to the BOOK OF THE DAY, "What Mae Brings," by Melissa L. Berger. Today, I am pleased to present the interview with her so that you can get to know this incredible author.

Melissa L. Berger

“What Mae Brings:  A Novel”

Publisher/Date: Kindle Direct Publishing 2020

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Tell your readers a little about yourself, where you grew up, where you live now, where you went to school, etc. Let them get to know the personal you. 

I grew up in western New York in a small town before I moved to the big city of New York to pursue Arts & Entertainment. I graduated from N.Y.U.’s Tisch School of the Arts, where I received my B.F.A. I worked in Music Television, hosting various music shows. After 9/11, I drove cross-country to my new life in Los Angeles, where I pursued an acting career. I worked for Paramount Pictures in Hollywood, and I took a variety of roles and fun bit-parts in commercials, movies, and television. I also studied and performed many forms of cultural dance, including fire dancing. I joined the Screen Actors Guild under my new actor’s name, Melissa Mandisa. In my latest film, I played Aristiana’s Mother in The True Adventures of Wolfboy, starring Jaeden Martell. I have since returned to the New York area and have been pursuing my writing and arts over the past several years. I run a ‘Bed and Breakfast’ business, and I am also a 5-star Etsy artist. I do custom painting and portraits for customers worldwide. My love of storytelling is prominent in my acting endeavors, allegorical paintings, several children’s books, and my latest mystery novel, “What Mae Brings.”

What inspired you to author this book?

My varied experiences throughout my life inspired me to write “What Mae Brings.” I always strived for an honest and meaningful life, and grew up rather innocent in my outlook on the world. I’ve experienced great times in my life, but with that I’ve also experienced many of the darker sides of humanity and society, especially living in the bigger cities. Never wanting to be victimized, I often struggled with my independence in this big world. I’ve learned there is good and bad in everyone and everything, and that life is trying to understand where you fit, without falling into the gaps, in your quest for a good life. How staying strong and being brave can help one grow, but how  do you keep from hardening along the way, or losing the innocence of one’s own humanity and compassion? There is a fine line, and I wanted my characters to explore that line.


What were the struggles or obstacles you had to overcome to get this book written?

I wanted to give some of my own experiences to my characters. It was a therapy of sorts. Some of my more negative experiences or feelings, I tried to give to my characters in the search for an understanding of my own feelings through their eyes, and to also free myself of their hurtfulness and burden. Now, if I think of some of my more difficult memories, I feel I have passed them on to a character that handled the situation perhaps differently than I did, and that was a very interesting and profound experience for me. I feel very close to the characters I created. I really tried to give them my honest breath and yet let them continue to breathe on their own.


Who is your target audience, and why?

I think this book is great for all ages. It’s a story. It’s a thriller. It’s also an example of how a wild synopsis, such as this, really could happen to anyone, anywhere. No one is immune to life’s unpredictable nature. I never state an actual physical location or year where or when this novel takes place because I wanted to make it an “it could happen anywhere” type of book. Its main characters are of youthful college age, and I think readers of this age range would relate to its sentimentality.


If you were going to give one reason for anyone looking at your book to read, why should they buy it?

Every time you think you have the story figured out, it takes you in another direction entirely… I wrote it one chapter at a time, a chapter per day, never knowing even where it was going to lead, what I originally imagined for the book is not at all where it led me. It was such an exciting process because I watched it unravel as I typed it into my keyboard. I was as shocked as anyone else when there was a new twist to unravel. I couldn’t wait to see where it took me. I would start each chapter like a new morning, as that character, and just write, where am I and what would I do first in the situation?


What do you consider your greatest success in life?

My ability to try new forms of art and expression, new art forms, new dances, new writing, and experience new travels. “Courage isn’t not being afraid, but being afraid and doing it, anyway.” Some things in my life were absolutely terrifying for me to try or do, but I, like Mae, told myself to “Just do it!” No regrets. I am so proud of myself for the things that I did, where I defeated the fear to try.

What one piece of advice do you have for new authors?

Put your heart and your whole self into your characters! You can be every character and every experience you can relate to if you are creative enough to find the parallels within yourself. Writing is also a self-study.


What is next for you in your writing career?

My next project will be exploring the psychological side of the mystery/thriller… taking my own psych education and introducing a highly complex new character. I’m very excited for you all to read what’s coming next!


Tell your readers anything else you want to share.

Thank you for your time in reading this and supporting a new writer with ambitious dreams. It means the world to me.

What Mae Brings: A Novel 

I am a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. I have worked for over 28 years in the Arts & Entertainment Industry, both in NYC and Los Angeles, as an Actress (under the SAG name Melissa Mandisa), director, editor, producer, and documentary filmmaker. See: IMDb
As a performer, I have appeared in numerous Commercials, Tv, and Movies. I have worked as an Actor, Circus Artist, Fire-dancer, Sword performer, Bellydancer, Body Double, and Stand-In. In my latest film, I played Aristiana's Mother in 'The True Adventures of Wolfboy.'
I also am a Painter and a 5-Star Etsy Artist! See: Meli-RLO Art Studios
Writing credits include screenplays for festival-selected films and a large number of Children’s books (both as writer and illustrator). Search Melissa L. Berger on Amazon to see children's books that I've illustrated for other outstanding Authors.
“What Mae Brings” is my first full-length Adult Novel. It is an exciting mystery thriller!
I am currently writing my second novel, a psychological thriller, TBA.