Traveling to other countries enables a writer to experience first-hand other cultures and beliefs. These experiences affect not just their work, but their life as well. Melissa has explored ten other countries thus far: England, Scotland, France, Belgium, Morocco, Spain, Gibraltar, Mexico, Honduras, and Canada. Some of those locations have been the site of mission trips, while others were recreational visits. She says, “My parents, my family and I went to Mexico three times in one year on some mission trips. I went to Honduras right after the Hurricane of ’98 hit and we did some restoration/missionary work down there” (Conroy). She also went to England, Scotland, Belgium, and France on a six-week long mission’s tour doing different undertakings (Conroy).
Southern Spain and Britain were her favorite places to travel to. After leaving Spain, she went to Gibraltar with her mother, where they encountered a small piece of inspiration for Melissa’s novel, Clouds of War. During their trip, her mother had an ice cream bar snatched out of her hands by these “very bold” monkeys called Macaques (Conroy). In her novel, one of those Macaques sneaks onboard the airship and steals items for a few days, unknown to the crew (Conroy). She says it is “really fun to be able to blend some of that travel experience into [her] writing” (Conroy). So, not only have her travels benefited those that she helped during her mission trips, but they have helped her as well. Her experiences were able to give her insights and ideas for her novels, and will surely continue to do so as she keeps writing.
Of all the different areas in Melissa’s life, steampunk has been incredibly influential to her as a writer. Steampunk is, according to a popular steampunk website, “first and foremost a literary genre, or at least a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy that includes social or technological aspects of the 19th century (the steam) usually with some deconstruction of, reimagining of, or rebellion against parts of it (the punk)” (JRRL). It is a hobby or lifestyle that includes books, music, fashion, and even a life philosophy. Steampunk romanticizes certain aspects of the Victorian era, such as the attire, while incorporating steam technology and a strong belief in originality. Do-it-yourself projects and self-publishing are common among people interested in steampunk.