Interview with Melissa Ridley Elmes
By: Kevin 'Myth Master' Adams

Greetings my marvelous malevolent myth minions!

It's time for massively magnificent medieval mayhem!!

With yours truly…MYTH MASTER!!!

I've asked my victim to provide a little background before we started and this is what she came up with.

Myth Master: So then my dear…let us begin…

Melissa Ridley Elmes was born in Newport News Virginia, and as a military brat lived in Hawai'i, Virginia, and Illinois. She holds a BA in French from the College of William and Mary, an MA in English from Longwood University, and a PhD in English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is currently completing an MFA in Writing at Lindenwood University.

As an eternal newcomer and outsider (see family migration patterns noted above) as well as an introvert raised by an introvert, Melissa learned early on the importance of having a book with you at all times to stave off chatty strangers. If she did not have a book handy, she would write one. This trick has proved handy since second grade for avoiding undesired social interactions.

She is a professional medievalist who specializes in the literature and cultures of the medieval North Atlantic world (the British Isles and Iceland.) This means that she found a way to legitimize her interest in dragons, fairies, unicorns, and other assorted monsters and harness it to earn a salary. It is not a large salary. She is not George R.R. Martin.

Her creative writing typically explores ideas of identity, human being within the world, responses to social and cultural concerns, and ekphrasis and the transmission of ideas. She is in love with language, and involved in a poly–amorous relationship with English, French, Welsh, Old Norse/Icelandic, and Latin. Her husband does not consider this cheating.

In addition to writing, Melissa expresses herself creatively through painting (watercolor and oils) and belly–dancing. She loves Dungeons and Dragons, but never gets to play; fortunately Critical Role gives her vicarious experiences to stave off the cravings. She is a scholar who is also an avid sports fan (rugby and baseball) and if all of that is not interesting enough, she also has synesthesia, which ensures that her view of the world will always be inherently not like yours.

Myth Master: Now for hassling questions!!! woo hoo!!

Myth Master: Tell us about your family heritage, aside from the military.  What are your roots?

Melissa Ridley Elmes: On my mother's side, we are German and Irish; on my father's side, German and English. The only "Old World" place of origin I know definitively is that my Irish ancestors are from County Mayo, Ireland. The Ridleys are from somewhere in the south of England, and the Germans …. are … from somewhere in Germany.

Somehow, they all ended up in Northwest Iowa, which is where my parents hail from. Fun fact: the town my father is from is named Estherville, after one of the original women settlers there, Esther Ridley. But that Ridley family is NOT the same one as the Ridleys my family hails from, who came quite a bit later. We are the Ridley 2.0 version, perhaps. 

Myth Master: Your favorite myth?

Melissa Ridley Elmes: The question has sent me into an existential crisis. No one has ever asked me this before, and I don't know the answer! Can I call it a three–way tie, between the Mabinogion, Ragnarok, and Philomena? With about ten runners–up? Oh my gosh, this is stressful … next question.

Myth Master: Tell us what type of synesthesia you have.  Do you smell colors or hear numbers?

Melissa Ridley Elmes: Yes. (Sorry, that was a really facile answer.) So, examples––numbers and colors: seven is green; five is orange, eleven is red; numbers and music: 7 is an arpeggio; 5 is a bass beat; 11 is a middle C; colors and "smells"––not as much a smell as a sensation––green resonates as swampy––but pleasant, nature, "light green" swampy, not dank, dungish–mud swampy; red is bright and warm; purple is dark and warm; yellow is rich and cold.

Going the other way, smells to colors, much more straightforward: strawberries smell red, lemons smell yellow, kale smells green, oranges smell… orange––but then, sometimes, the numbers kick in and you're eating a strawberry, smelling red, and seeing the #11 while a middle C note soars through your head. It's not every time, it's not every smell/number/color, and it's not always all of these at once, although sometimes it is––which is sensory overload and completely overwhelming when it does happen.

None of this is conscious, and it doesn't take any extra time to manifest––it just "is"," like breathing, blinking, any other action/reaction. It's really hard to convey to anyone who doesn't experience the world this way. I had no idea this was not the usual way of interacting with the world when I was growing up; I thought I was just the weird kid. I mean, I clearly am (still!) a weird kid, but it was really helpful when I learned that the weird was not just me, synesthesia is a thing, and other people have it.

Myth Master: So then 7, 5 and 11?

Woo hoo!! ha haha ha!

Myth Master: Are you a red head?

Melissa Ridley Elmes: Yes, I've been a redhead for most of my adult life …! I was born blond, but it never fit. As soon as I realized I could have red hair, I did.

Myth Master: Well, this has been fun and all, but now let's see how you fare when the Myth Master unleashes his questions in his podcast interview!!

Hungry for more?

Want to listen to Melissa put MM in his place about Medieval stuffs?

Or what Melissa's dark secret is?

Listen to the Myth Master cackle with joy as he recalls his favorite torture methods!!


You'll have to listen to her podcast by clicking the link below!!

Enjoy Myth Master's newest podcast by clicking HERE!

NEXT IN THE LAIR : Micheal Arnold

Send in questions to us for him!

Yours in torture,

MM ;)

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