Frequently Asked Questions

Sometimes I get interesting reader questions on social media or the website. I’ll be taking some of these questions and posting them (new ones at the top) as they grab me. So it’s not so much Frequently Asked Questions as questions that appeal to me or that I think other readers might be interested in. I’ll try to avoid spoiling any important plot points, but if you wish to remain absolutely pure of hints, best to read my work before coming here. 

When does the next book come out?
The next book is a Scarlett Bernard novel, Shadow Hunt, out Feb 13! There will also be a third Nightshades book in June 0f 2018 called Outbreak. When a preorder goes up I will make it available here.

Will there be a new Lex/Scarlett/book? When?
Theoretically…yes to everything. The plan with the Old World books is to do a Scarlett trilogy, then a Lex trilogy, then Scarlett, etc. I’ll keep going as long as I can think of new stories, and as long as someone will keep paying me.

What’s the order of the Old World series? Do I need to start with book 1?
I actually have included a handy Suggested Reading Order page on this website, which you can find here. However, the Old World series was designed to have multiple entry points. There’s a Scarlett Bernard trilogy, a Boundary Magic trilogy, and a Disrupted Magic trilogy (which follows the further adventures of Scarlett, years after the first books). In theory, you can jump into the series at Dead Spots, Boundary Magic, or Midnight Curse. If you like Scarlett best, you can jump right from Hunter’s Trail to Midnight Curse, skipping over Lex. If you decide Scarlett’s not for you, you can head right over to Boundary Crossed.
However, if you want the full experience with the short stories and novella, see the Suggested Reading Order page.

Will you explain that thing that happened in that one scene on page 354, because I don’t get it.
No, I’m sorry, I won’t. From time to time I do get emails or messages asking me to justify or elaborate on something that happens in the books, and I just can’t do it. As a writer, my job is to write the best possible book I can, put it out into the world, and fervently hope people enjoy it. That’s where my participation ends, if for no other reason than me needing to get back to writing more books. I’m happy to live in a time when I can interact with readers and vice versa, but for the sake of my sanity, that just can’t mean putting my writing on trial and asking me to defend it. I will never claim any of my books are perfect, but I do promise that I always do my best to make them so.
Meanwhile, I always encourage readers to talk to each other and compare notes. Start a wiki, or a book group, or a website devoted to hating me. Leave reviews, suggest the book at book clubs, use the many tools on Goodreads. We live in an age where you can interact with each other even more than with me, and I think that’s awesome. You should take advantage.

Can I meet you in person? 
I wish you would! I spend a lot of time attending science fiction/fantasy conventions, and do the occasional reading/signing at bookstores. Whenever I have solid plans, I put them up on my Appearances page, which is on the top toolbar, toward the right. I’m always delighted to meet readers who liked the books, and happy to sign anything that’s not human skin. Okay, maybe human skin, depending on location and/or number of drinks I’ve had.

Will there ever be a Sashi series?
Short version? Probably not. But I am asked this question with some regularity, so here’s the long version: Bloodsick was a short novel that I wrote to be part of a boxed set with some very talented urban fantasy authors. The box set has since retired, but I still sell Bloodsick on my own. I don’t have the time (or the aptitude) to really devote myself to indie publishing, especially when I have responsibilities to my publisher to keep writing the longer works. I just don’t feel like it would be professional for me focus my attention on Sashi when I’m under contract for other novels.

However, that doesn’t mean I’m done with Sashi or that she won’t keep popping up in the Old World books.

What inspired you to write about a female combat veteran? Is Lex based on a real person? 
No, Lex is not based on a specific real person (nor are any of my protagonists). I would find that way too difficult, since I write in first person and am therefore “inside” Lex’s head. If she were based on a real person I’d have to constantly call that woman up to find out how she’d react to things.
As far as writing a female combat vet, that actually goes back to Scarlett. In many ways, Scarlett is a typical urban fantasy heroine: smart, sarcastic, mouthy, independent. After Hunter’s Trail, my publisher asked me to write a new protagonist, and my first thought was “oh no, how can I write someone who’s different from Scarlett?” It’s hard to write multiple first person protagonists without them all sounding the same, but I didn’t want to just write the opposite of Scarlett, either, because that seemed boring and pat.
So instead I asked myself what Scarlett would never do. One of the answers that came to me was “join the army.” At the beginning of her story, Scarlett is a reluctant hero – she wants to just go about her life, and it annoys her that she keeps getting sucked into these big dramas. So a soldier –a person who willingly goes into battle and is prepared to make huge sacrifices for her country– that was someone different from Scarlett, but still interesting for me to write.

Why write about a null?
Well, when I started writing, I wasn’t sure I wanted to write an urban fantasy. First, as any publisher will tell you, it’s an oversaturated market. It’s not that I think you shouldn’t write about something just because other people have written about it before, but I didn’t want to just be another identical entry in the crowded field. So I promised myself that I would never write an urban fantasy unless I could come up with an idea I hadn’t seen before. No one was more surprised than me when I actually did.

(Note my careful phrasing: an idea I hadn’t seen before. I’ve never claimed to be the first person to think of a null character – after I’d written Dead Spots someone pointed out that the X-Men character Leech is a lot like Scarlett. I have also heard about similarities to Gail Carringer’s series. I have never read those books, and because I’ve heard the comparisons, I probably never will.)

If magical creatures stay away from each other, why doesn’t Scarlett apply? Are nulls a 4th branch?
It’s true, interspecies romance isn’t a thing in my world, because my mythology always leans heavily on the basic rules of evolution. (Read more about this here.)  Whenever I get tangled up in my own questions, that’s where I go first. One of the most fundamental principles of evolution is the continuation of a species – we have a biological need to procreate. Werewolves and vampires can’t make babies in the traditional sense, but they can theoretically turn a human, which is why both species consider humanity part of the dating pool. But if you’re a werewolf, there’s no appeal to dating a vampire, because there’s no way you could ever procreate with that person. Witches do have babies the old-fashioned way, but they wouldn’t be able to make babies with vampires or werewolves,  so humans are part of their dating pool, too.
In Bloodsick, the novella that covers Will’s origin story, we get a little more detail about how the whole chemistry works, and you see that the physical aversion between species isn’t set in stone.
The thing to remember about Scarlett, though, is that she negates all those rules, anyway. She’s the ultimate even playing field, so anyone who might have been attracted to her when they were human will be attracted to her now. So it’s not that magical creatures stay away from her, it’s that when she’s around there are no magical creatures.
No, nulls aren’t a 4th branch of magical species. I think of them more like a zonkey – a strange aberration in the evolutionary record. But like zonkeys, there are reasons why nulls happen, they don’t just drop out of the sky. (Guys, wouldn’t it be crazy if zonkeys dropped out of the sky?)

Are there any other forms of supernaturals in the Old World?
That would be telling. I will say for certain that once upon a time there were other creatures roaming the earth – Eli mentions it briefly in Dead Spots – and they died away when they couldn’t evolve to co-exist with humans. Vampires, witches, and werewolves adapted best because they evolved from magical conduits who were very similar to humans. 

Do you see spin offs from this wolds continuing, featuring on different characters, maybe ones we don’t yet know about?
How many ideas for stories are you carrying around right now? How many never make it?
Oh, man, I have so many other short stories and novellas I’d love to write in this world. The two biggest ones I hope to get to are: 1) Scarlett’s time in New York between Dead Spots and Trail of Dead, and 2) what happens to Corry right after Dead Spots, while Scarlett is out of town and Will, at least, is aware of her status. I’ve had the Corry story in particular plotted out for something like two years now, but I have to focus on the books that I’m under contract to write first. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for side projects, unfortunately.If I had nothing but time, I’d also love to write Kirsten’s origin story (she’s the only one we don’t know now!), and follow what happens to Lizzy right after Hunter’s Trail. I’ve also had a seed of an idea in the back of my head for what happens to Esther after she flees Olivia’s Scarlett-shrine in Trail of Dead.
For me, one of the most fun thing about writing is getting to explore all these little pocket stories that are possible for literally any character in the books. Sometimes I think I should get my act together and set up a Kickstarter for a whole book of Old World short stories. But then I remember that I’m on a deadline and I have to get back to work.

Here’s me on a convention day, at 7:30 am.


  1. Jacqueline Mazeika

    Omg….. disrupted magic book 2. Could you make a bigger cliff hanger????? I need more! (Thank you! I love your books and tie ins)

    • I agree! I’d even wait a year or two for more Lex, whom I prefer as a protagonist just to get extra story based on that cliffhanger!

  2. Hello, Melissa! Love the books! Crossover question: would Scarlett’s power destroy a Denarius coin, or would it just keep the Denarian from changing?

  3. Hi Melissa! You are an amazing writer and I love your work! If I could ask for one favor…write faster!!!! LOL!

  4. Hi Mellisa, I just recently discovered your books and I’m glad I did. I love it when I come a good series with several books already released. I read them all in a week and cannot wait for more!

  5. Hello!

    Just finished Boundary Born and I thought the use of the crystals was very fun and interesting. What books/other reading material would you recommend for the total beginner who wants to learn about mystical crystals and minerals? I’m interested in learning about the history of the belief in mystical powers in crystals and minerals, connected theories (terminology and their definitions), and how people today use crystals for healing, etc.

    Thanks 😀

  6. Vivian Anderson

    I started these two series, and backwards to boot. I read Lex’s stories first, and now I am hooked. I had been in kind of a reading drought, but then Scarlett and Lex pulled me out! Thank you and keep writing. Can’t wait to see where these characters go next!

  7. Have you made a playlist for Boundary Lines? I love your other playlists!

    • Thanks, Alex! I haven’t made a Boundary Lines playlist yet. I was planning on it, but then I got distracted by finishing up Boundary Born (ordinarily I’d have time to do both, but it’s been an unnaturally busy couple of months). Since the books are my bread and butter I’ve gotta finish that first, but I’m hoping to come back and complete the “soundtrack” next month.

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  9. I just had to say…I love all the authors you named in your next to last question: Harry Dresden, Felix Castor, Mercy Thompson, and Kitty Norville, Harry and Mercy being my fave, well you did it.

    You made it to my top ten list of favorite urban fantasy reads right next to those characters and authors you named, and is not just your unique take on urban story.

    It is well written, strong story, great world with 3 dimensional characters and delivered in such a way that pulls me into your story deep, which is what I love best about reading–that feeling of submersion–disappearing from the real world for a bit.

    So far I can’t get enough, thank you from a voracious reader and new fan.

  10. Hi Melissa!

    What inspired you to write about a female combat veteran? Is Lex based on a real person?

    I really appreciate that you include characters of multi-racial and minority race background but at the same time treat them like normal human beings rather than making their ethnicity some sort novelty. What’s the possibility of someone like Simon or Tracy leading a full-length novel as a protagonist? Would I be on the right track to assume that something like this would be met with a certain level of resistance from publishers?

    (Disclaimer: I am a female Army combat-veteran of minority race who used to live in Boulder so Lex, Simon, Tracy, etc. hold a special place in my heart 😉

    • I love this question. I answered the first part above, but the race question is so interesting and complex that I’m going to put together a blog post about it. Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

  11. Melissa,
    Absolutely LOVE your stories!
    Just wondering, have you ever considered creating a profile on I’d sponsor you in return for a short story ever month or two!

    Mike Morrow

    • Thanks, Mike! I’m aware of Patreon, but I just don’t really have time to get involved with it – I love writing the short stories, but every one takes time away from the novels, which are my favorite. But thanks for thinking of me!

  12. Melissa, I started with “Boundary Crossed” and managed to read the entire Scarlett series in less than a week! I ate them like candy. I’m a big fan of the Kitty Norville and Harry Dresden series and you remind me of them. Thank you for feeding my addiction! You’re wonderful keep on doing what you do! Now for my question – I recognized Boundary Crossed’s Samantha Wheaton in “Hunter’s Trail”, but the books clashed. In Boundaries Crossed they believed she was killed by a serial killer but the way it left off in Hunter’s Trail it sounded like they had covered up the murders. I’m guessing Det. Cruz comes up with something after Hunter’s ends? Maybe my confusion is because I read them backwards?

    • Hi, Kory!
      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the books. To answer your question, Scarlett and Jesse cover up one murder – Henry Remus’s. But his four victims are still missing, and even Scarlett can’t cover that up, especially when there’s evidence pointing back to Henry. With the bodies missing, there’s no reason why they can’t blame Henry for the murders he really did commit.
      If that’s still confusing, I encourage you to read the short story that’ll be coming out June 16th. It’s set in between Boundary Crossed and Boundary Lines, and it deals with Lex’s trip to LA to get answers about her sister’s murder. I’ll be sending the story to my newsletter recipients for free on the 16th, and then anyone else will be able to buy it for a dollar. 🙂

  13. Thank you for responding, Melissa. I apologize if I offended you, but I’m a little emotional when I find angst at the end of a well-written book and no means of determining the characters HEA. As I was trying to figure out where their story might be continued, I was thinking maybe the Scarlett series could be Sashi’s daughter… I guess not. I also really hope that Astrid didn’t end of with Will. While I could empathize with her plight, she acted selfishly, especially when the reader realizes that Sashi’s plan might have actually worked for Will and now everything is ruined. I was so sad for Will and Sashi. Poor Sashi. She was left with no mom, no man, a baby and an uncertain future. You did a great job developing all of their characters, especially for a short story/prequel. I didn’t necessarily agree with some of the decisions they made, but I thought it was realistic as Sashi was still young and a little rebellious and Will was understandably protective given his background. I will probably give Scarlett a try, but I think I’ll have to wait until the series if finished. Have a wonderful day and good luck with your writing.

  14. I’m feeling very frustrated right now. I just finished Bloodsick and thought “Yay! I’ve found a new author!” I rushed to my computer to determine which book comes next so that I could hopefully find SOME kind of happiness for these characters, only to find confusion and no apparent solution. I enjoyed your writing and the twists towards the end, and I was even OK with the cliffhanger UNTIL I discovered that THAT’S IT! Now I’m emotionally attached to characters that may or may not be referenced at some point in the Scarlett series. I don’t know… maybe if I had already read the Scarlett series, I would be OK with this, but since I haven’t I’m reluctant to open myself up to more frustration and disappointment. 🙁

    • Laura,
      I’m gonna tell you something I haven’t said ANYWHERE else yet– just between you, me, and the internet: Sashi’s story isn’t over. And I don’t mean in a vague, futuristic, “I mean to get to it” kind of way. It’s already been written. 🙂

      • Melissa,

        Thank you. Thank you. Thank you! I literally just this moment finished Blood Sick, its the first of your books I’ve read. I rushed to the internet to find the rest of of your books and realized there was no more Sashi, or conclusion! I am so happy to hear that you have the story written. I admit to being a little bit of an emotional coward, so I was afraid to actually read your other books and find out that Sashi, Will, and Astrid hadn’t ever had any sort of HEA…
        That being said, your work is amazingly powerful and well written! I was completely and totally invested in your characters within 20 pages! That’s amazing as often a character need several books to really resonate on that level. Reading people’s comments it sounds like I wasn’t alone in feeling that way 🙂
        So now I would like some advice on the best way to approach your other books. Do I need to read your other series to understand Will and his place in Sashi’s continuing story? That sounds vaguely insulting, I am not saying reading your other books would be a chore I’m sure they are amazing, Its just that I’m really obsessed and a slightly single minded.
        Thank you again for your wonderful work!

        • Hi, Katie!
          I’m glad you liked Bloodsick. The best way to figure out where to go next is by visiting my Suggested Reading Order page, here:
          Will and Sashi are side characters; I have no current plans to make them the main character in more stories (though I never say never). That said, you can follow Will in the Scarlett Bernard trilogy, where he has a supporting role. Sashi will be appearing next in a full-length novel, as opposed to a short story, so if you can keep up with the Old World books you won’t miss her. 🙂 Happy reading!

  15. I just read blood sick- and I wanted to know if there will be anything else written about the baby coming or if the main characters ever get back together? As a intro to your world, I didnt care for the cliffhanger or the fact that i can’t find anything else about the pack or about the fact you actually wrote the short story. I am now gun shy about the rest of your work. Do you always use cliffhangers? It seems weird to write a story then not have it on your website. Please let me know about if you have a happy ending for the story or if no one ever talks to each other every again and they all die unhappy.

    • Hi, Shanya – sorry it took me so long to see this; I didn’t realize I had to click something to approve comments on my website. Technology is not my strong suit.
      Thank you for reading Bloodsick, and for being interested enough to follow up. I’ve been getting the “when are you getting back to Sashi” question often enough that I’ve added it to this page – basically, yes, but not for a little while.
      My first two Scarlett Bernard books do use “twist” endings, which are then resolved in the following novel, so the trilogy itself is self-contained. I decided to write the short story, “Sell-By Date,” and Bloodsick because I wanted to explore the origins of some of my Old World characters, but it wouldn’t make sense to do so within Scarlett’s novels. Both of these stories are meant to be an interesting addendum to the series, but you don’t have to read them to make sense of the Scarlett trilogy, and you don’t have to read the Scarlett trilogy to make sense of the short work.
      “Sell-By Date” was released free to readers who subscribe to my newsletters, and now I sell it on Amazon for a dollar. Bloodsick is currently part of a box set that only costs a dollar, which is an amazing value, considering it contains six books. I would love to have the financial breathing room to give away both things for free all the time on my website, but writing is how I make my living, and writing anything at all takes time away from novel writing, as well as time away from any other work I could be doing for money. So the economic reality is that at this point in my career I need to charge something for my writing, but with future short stories I hope to do the same thing I did with “Sell-By Date” and release it to my longtime readers first and for free.

      • I loved Bloodsick it is what got me to buy and read the Scarelett trilogy. I understand you have to write what you get paid for and agree, but would really love to learn more about Sahsi and the baby !! It was to me the most gripping and I cannot wait to buy it if you do write it!!!I do think all those who love the Scarlett trilogy would read more about Sashi and the baby and hopefully Will finding out about his child and for Sashi to have a HAE!!!!

    • Hi shayna.

      While the books do end on cliffhangers, the cliffhanger in the first book is literally on the last page, the last few lines, made me a fan for life, and climb the wall in anticipation of the next book….. All in all as far as they go, that’s pretty good

  16. Thank you for answering our questions.

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