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Melissa has long felt a pull to the support roles in life, whether protecting friends and loved ones or cheering others on from the side. She has a keen dislike of hypocrisy and needless sadism, striving to champion, at the very least, basic human dignity (but preferably more than that). Though a bit of a hermit, at heart her door is always open to the defense of the mistreated. Above all, she networks efficiently, assisting by placing folks when and where they need to be. Sometimes this requires a significant amount of understanding for non-conformists and other taxonomies of divergence. With as much patience and empathy as can be reasonably mustered, she embraces these challenges. 

Melissa Millward

Third Managing Editor,
Creative Staff & Illustrator.

I want my free will and want it accompanying / the path which leads to action; / and want during times that beg questions, / where something is up, / to be among those in the know, / or else be alone.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

Ms. Millward has a passion for the weird and awe-inspiring, which imbues everything she does. An artist, writer, and editor, she balances insight, depth, and whimsy in all her endeavors and travels. Melissa has a wildly creative flair focused through a keenly analytical mind, ever balancing realism and thoughtfulness. Her extensive world-building experience in a variety of styles, games, and settings is only exceeded by an array of other talents, from dance and fine arts to business management. 
Born in Portland, Oregon and transplanted to Utah, Mel’s had an eclectic upbringing. Graduating from Woods Cross High School in 2001 with zero fanfare set a pattern of disappointing and perplexing her parents which she continues to this day. Leaving Utah immediately, she moved to Detroit just in time for 9/11, during her first semester of college. Everything was cancelled and she promptly moved back. Ms. Millward attended a number of universities and summarily left, vexed by lies on their class descriptions (“Kickboxing and Self-defense aren’t Tae-Bo, you guys.”) Her subsequent work roles spanned waitress, apprentice tattoo artist, and even a position at the U.S. Postal Service, decoding others’ terrible handwriting and failures of geography. Two office jobs later, she began an exciting (terrifying, stress-inducing) venture in small business ownership as proprietor of Salt Lake City’s SteamHead Cafe, a coffee bar housed in a pagan community center. The storefront featured supplies, classes, and a bevy of interesting personalities to watch. Sometimes she even remembers it fondly. Following that, and a whirlwind relocation, she now works in boutique retail. Mostly, she is trying to get all of the skill points and unlock the secret Factotum class. (“It’s important! For character development …”). 

Melissa’s fandoms began in the late 80’s with Star Trek reruns, as she’d run around the house wailing the theme song, pissing everyone off. Her family hosted annual Star Wars trilogy parties, a tradition she continues despite not being a “hardcore” fan. The 90’s, with early access to the internet and IRC, marked her discovery of freeform roleplay, which was a revelation. She found it the coolest, not discovering D&D or World of Darkness until much later, yet steeped in their Apocrypha for years. Despite testimony of 80’s propaganda and moral panics, her exposure to punk was not her passion for RPG’s, but rather listening to Siouxsie and the Banshees since the tender age of 2. This, as well as disenchantment with her LDS upbringing, pushed her entirely into the Alt. Culture scene. Growing up Mormon, yet normalizing LGBTQ+ (given older siblings of said community), led to an inevitable clash, without Melissa ever “coming out” officially. Lesbian Avengers meetings, drag shows at age 14, and letters and photos of her elder brother’s activism all lit the “fuse” for this departure. 

A polymath, Ms. Millward isn’t limited to writing and editing; she crafts worlds through fine art, rendered in watercolor, pencil, and clay, casting the imagined and ethereal into being. Her commissions enrich a diverse portfolio, spanning individual projects to broader creative ventures. Having worked SaltCity Steamfest as a henna artist, Melissa encountered a certain swarthy individual who recruited her for his wacky company. Following late-night drinks in the lobby, the next she knew, she was working for a firm based out of Connecticut. “Very similar to Shanghai-ing, but far more pleasant.” Her work began with (and continues to include) “Can you do these art things?”, but her duties have expanded tremendously. Mel’s depths of lore inform her participation on creative staff, spanning all manner of nerdery. She has decades running role-playing games and leading parties into battle, engaged in media that spans multiple genres. Her background in speculative fiction, and questioning authority includes helping build conventions, and getting a lifetime ban from Wizards of the Coast. Oh well. 

Whether it’s tabletop gaming, board-games, or simply story-swapping, Melissa’s breadth and depth of experience is a tapestry adorning the fantastic and L’Outre. In addition to contributing to the internal lore of SFS’s in-house fiction, The Living Multiverse, she is also an Assigning Editor for The Unconventional, coordinating and organizing external contributors spanning the country and globe. What’s more, her illustration work enriches the company’s in-house performance brands, making her gestalt role a rarefied one. An excellent addition to Steam-Funk’s Operations staff, her brand of organized chaos has been absolutely invaluable.