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Writing through the fog

Leeton-based writer Melanie Ifield always wanted to be an author but it wasn't until she contracted chronic fatigue syndrome that she found the opportunity to publish.

For Ms Ifield the desire to write started early. "As a little girl I filled exercise books with stories," she says. "I think it's something I always wanted to do."

"I got side-tracked working for Federal Government in Canberra writing policy documents all day. Writing policy is a particular voice, a journalistic style. It was hard to come home and find my own words and you do need an authentic voice to write fiction."

"Now I'm finding time, even if it is due to ill health. Chronic fatigue has freed the words."

In late 2103 Melanie Ifield published three books under her own imprint. The books are available through the Amazon website and each aim at different genres of the fiction market.

The Chicken Liberation Army is a story of action and adventure for young readers. Published 31 October 2013, it details young protagonist Bella as she investigates the abuse of chickens on a local farm.

"A mate had some chickens and mentioned euphemistically that a fox had 'liberated' some of the chickens, so the idea began to develop in my head," says Ms Ifield.

"Then I was thinking on a catchy title and liked CLA for the CIA kind of reference. I liked the idea of really adventurous kids. These days childhood seems cloaked in bubble-wrap and kids hate that. It's important to provide that fantasy I think."

The Candlestick Dragon is a fantasy for middle grade readers and young adults published on 13 November 2013. The plot introduces Daniel Smith, who discovers a magical doorway into the land of Novarmere.

"It's based around the loneliness of the lead character and his need to fit in to society. He gets outside of the bullying that allows him to step into an adult role of being a hero. It's based around courage, he goes from feeling inadequate in the 'real world' to stepping up to the challenge when confronted with the threat of death. And he realises that he's had that strength all along."

Three more books in the series are scheduled for release in 2014.

The Age of Corruption was published on 6 December 2013. This is an action and adventure novel for adults as lead character Fiona Page finds herself hunted by a psychopath and protected by a retired assassin.

"When I started this book I was living in Canberra, and the impression of that city is that it's so boring. So, I thought about what else could be going on here? I'm not going to be a martial arts killing machine, so I started developing a fantasy life to see where the story would go and it kind of got away from me a bit."

While the two previously mentioned books were written for middle grade to teen readers, this one is aimed at an adult audience. "It's called The Age of Corruption because it explores the question of how far you could go without a moral compass?"

"These three novels are my beginning as an author," says Ms Ifield, who is currently writing a book detailing her own experience with illness and chronic fatigue. "People ask for help and any ideas on how to cope and, after I email a lengthy reply, they encourage me to write it down."

"Some times I feel 'human' but others I feel like a foreigner in my own skin, struggling with exhaustion, nausea, and headaches to find the words to express myself."

She believes that writing is an important pursuit. "It helps me get up in the morning. Illness can be demotivating but, even if I write only 500 words, I'm still doing something I love."

"Follow your dreams," Ms Ifield advises. "It's difficult when your brain is in a fog but I've managed to do it. Don't give up."

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