“The number one thing is to have fun with it and write as much as you can. Write what’s enjoyable to you.”
Northern California author, Mel Torrefranca (@meltorrefranca), brings us her secrets to success in her writing lifestyle, as well as her experience in publishing her debut novel, Leaving Wishville, and her recent release, Capsule. Starting her passion at the age of seven, she began writing from a young age and worked her way up to publishing and releasing novels. Inspired by Victoria Forester’s, The girl who could fly, she shares, “I really hadn’t read anything that actually inspired me as much as that book had, and I really wanted to write something that touched someone in the same way the book touched me, and that’s when I started writing my very first book that I finished.”
Photo of Mel Torrefranca
When asked what keeps Mel’s motivation and drive going, she adds, “What really keeps me going is the feedback I get in response to my books. That’s been very motivating because when I finish a book or I’m working on a book, it’s mostly just me alone and I’m the only person that thinks the story exists, and then when I actually share it with the world, I know that there’s other people out there who like it almost as much as I do. That is really motivating to know there’s people out there that really enjoy it, and waiting for me to put out my work.”
When Mel is not writing, you can find her on YouTube, fueling her other passion for video editing. “My main hobby besides writing would be YouTube because I really like editing YouTube,” she says, “That’s actually gone a lot more hand in hand with my writing than I was actually expecting, I didn’t think I would really be using YouTube to connect with readers, but now it’s become a way to connect with people that also enjoy my work. At the same time I’ve also put more effort into incorporating storytelling into my videos as well, because I know those are the types of channels I gravitate towards, where a story is told.”
A common challenge for youth writers, as well as writers of any age, is the hesitancy to publish. Often it can be difficult to just put your work out there, without thinking about how you’ll view it in the future. Mel shares her views with MPS, “A very common fear is being scared to publish, a lot of writers reach out to me and they’re worried they’re going to regret what they published, and I actually have experienced it firsthand,” she explains, “The first book I published was before my debut, which I just did not think it was a good book, and sure, looking back on it I thought it was horrible, but overall I think the experience was worth it, and if you do publish something and look back on it later on and it’s not your best work, that’s something that’s always going to happen. You can’t avoid it, we’re constantly growing as writers, and if you’re always waiting to publish your best work, you’ll always be waiting and aren’t going to publish until you’re really old.”
We asked Mel what she’s learned since starting writing, in an ever changing and fast paced environment. She says, “One of the biggest things I’ve learned recently is how to handle criticism. Some people who read what you’ve dedicated your life to for quite a long time don't like your writing at all, and it happens. You can’t avoid it. And for a couple weeks after I released my book, I was kind of discouraged after reading some reviews, they would just get me down and I was very unmotivated.” She tells us she overcame it by speaking to another author, who shared the same experience, “She told me that she had gone through a similar thing in the past and that she had to really stop and reevaluate how she writes, and that was really helpful for me to just remember that i don’t need to write a book that everyone likes. I know that I took more risks with the story, and the story is something that not everyone likes, so I had to learn how to be okay with that. That’s put me at ease about feedback and taking criticism.”
photo of Mel Torrefranca
And for those interested in writing, as well as those interested in the publishing process, Mel shares, “Write as much as you can, and try not to overthink it too much. There are a lot of articles out there and YouTube videos and they’re helpful, but can also be a distraction at times. All the information out there can steer you away from just writing the book. Even if you focus too much on the publishing aspect before the book is done can be really demotivating. I think the number one thing is to have fun with it and write as much as you can. Write what’s enjoyable to you and don’t think too much about whether it’s good, especially if you’re writing the first draft because it doesn’t have to be good.”
Finally, Mel gives us a summary of her debut novel, Leaving Wishville, as well as her recent release Capsule. “Leaving Wishville, I wrote starting my freshman year in high school and published my junior year. It’s about a fourteen year old boy named Benji Marino who lives in a town called Wishville where everyone who’s left has never returned. There’s this unspoken rule in this town that no one leaves, because the outside world is deemed unsafe. And the last person to leave from this town was Benji’s father, and he has this curiosity about leaving town, yet at the same time all of his friends and family want to keep him safe.”
And to follow, “Capsule,” she says “Which just came out on July 10th, follows Jackie Mendoza, she’s a sixteen year old gamer girl who’s anti-social, doesn’t really feel the need to make any friends, and two students from her high school go missing on the same day she discovers an app on her phone that threatened the lives of these two students. It says it will erase both of them forever, so she’s given the task of playing this game in order to save the missing students, and learns a lot about herself and the missing students along the way.”
At the end of the day, Mel and her readers are proud of her work. “They’re very different but I love them both,” she says. Mel’s motivation and authenticity in her writing, combined with her drive to write a story that readers love almost as much as she does, makes her the successful author many aspiring writers desire to become.
You can check out Mel’s website here: https://meltorrefranca.com/
Responses may be edited for length and clarity.