2 February 2010

Author Interview: Melanie Rose

Author Melanie Rose first came to my attention when I read her fabulous debut novel Could It Be Magic? and loved it. I was also intrigued by Melanie's road to becoming published by HarperCollins, and was lucky enough to ask her about her experience when she agreed to do an author interview with us. I've recently read Melanie's second book Coming Home and also loved that, so if you haven't picked up one of her books yet, make sure you do!

1. Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book, Coming Home, is my second novel published by Harper Collins and it is passing all my expectations with wonderful reviews and a slot in the top 20 Bookseller list!

I just love to write - and seeing my books in print and knowing people are enjoying my work is both gratifying and humbling.

Coming Home is actually based (loosely)on a true story. The Kitty in the story is my late grandmother, who really did have to wait for her first love to make his fortune before he married her and who sadly lost a son to illness. She really did visit relatives by the sea and almost lost her siblings on the cliff edge, and her stories are what make the characters so real.

The Kitty story is one strand in the weave of the book. I think of writing a novel as compiling a jigsaw with all the pieces fitting closely together to make the finished picture and the pieces just pop into my head and whirl around until they slot perfectly into place.

2. Your road to being a published author was interesting. Your first novel 'Being Lauren' was published by a small publishing house, and became so popular it was chosen as a favourite read by Radio 4 listeners. How did you then get picked up by Harper Collins to be published with them?

My first book, Being Lauren was published by a small self publishing house who did an initial print run of 1,000 copies. The book proved so popular that in under three months they sold out and a second print run of 2,000 copies followed. To my delight Being Lauren was voted one of the favourite reads of the year by BBC Radio 4's Open Book programme. I sold my books everywhere I could, doing signings in bookshops and introducing myself to complete strangers until I bumped into my agent, who read the book and decided to sign me up.

My agent then contacted Harper Collins who signed me for a three book contract, the first of which was Being Lauren, edited, polished and improved and brought out as Could it be Magic?

The second book is Coming Home and there is a third book written and ready to come out in Jan 2011 called Down to Earth. Hopefully there will be many, many more!

3. Both have your books have been about women with "identity crises" shall we say. What is it about this theme that appeals to you?

The theme of women with identity crises appeals to me because there are so many choices to be made in life. If we take one path we could live one kind of life and if we choose another we could end up being such different people. I also believe we have a soul identity which may or may not gel with our biological, inherited body, and that mix changes every time we reincarnate - or maybe it's just that I have an over active imagination!

4. Where did you get the ideas for your books, and leading characters Lauren/Jessica and "Kate"?

The ideas for my books come from being fascinated with people. I love hearing stories and I spend my time thinking, 'what if?'  Even when I'm doing the laundry (I have four sons) and am cooking or doing the school run, my mind is whirring away, working on plots and characters and endless possibilities. All my characters contain traits of real people and I file away information in my brain when I meet people in case they can be cast in my next book. And of course, there is a lot of me in them too.

5. Your books contain an element of magic and fantasy about them. Is this something you are interested in yourself i.e. the paranormal and 'strange but true' things happening?!

I am fascinated by the paranormal and 'strange but true' happenings. The real world can make us weary and sometimes a little magic and escapism is all we need to refresh ourselves and remember who we really are. I believe in a Creator much more powerful than anything we can imagine and I think we are each here for the purpose of improving ourselves by making the right choices and seeking the right paths. The crossroads our heroine in Coming Home faces during the blizzard represents her life-choices. I think that sometimes if we get things wrong we get a little help from a higher power, sometimes in small ways and sometimes in ways that seem decidedly spooky!

6. What do you do when you aren't writing?

I'm always writing. When I'm not actually at the keyboard my mind is working on getting to know my characters, envisaging scenes and doing research. I spend a lot of time looking after my family and our pets, but I have conversations with myself so I know how my characters will react in given situations and the family provides me with plenty of inspiration. I keep in touch with friends as I think people are important and I enjoy cycling, pilates and badminton too. Before becoming a mum I trained as a nursery nurse and spent several years looking after under privileged children and later working on the children's ward at the Royal Marsden Hospital. I used to write novels in my lunch breaks.

7. Who are your favourite authors, and your favourite books?

I adore books and love reading. Strangely I don't read the type of books I write. I like Bernard Cornwell and Dan Brown, thrillers and action adventures. I do try to read when I can but its usually on holiday as the rest of the time I'm writing if I get a spare minute. I have a pile of books I'd love to delve into when I have time.

8. Can you tell us anything about your third book, and is it true there is a fourth in the pipeline? (I know that there is but this part of the question is for our readers!)

The first draft of my third book is written, but yet to be edited. It is to be called Down to Earth and is due to be published in January next year. The first chapters are at the back of Coming Home and my publisher thinks its the best yet...so we will see! I am working on a fourth book and am about two thirds of the way through. I'm so excited about it I can barely sleep, which is a good thing as the same happened with my previous books and I like to write at night when the house is quiet.

9. What advice do you have for people like yourself who want to write but can't seem to get the attention from the major publishing houses?

If you are a writer, then keep writing. Never let anyone tell you it can't be done! It is tough in the publishing industry at the moment and I have heard it said that even Charles Dickens and Jane Austen would have trouble getting published now if they were starting out. If you can get an agent then you are half way there.

But there are self publishing houses like Troubador who will look at your work and at least give you an honest appraisal of your work and its suitability for commercial publication so you know where you stand. And if you do self publish - work your socks off to make sure your books get the attention they deserve!

Thanks so much, Melanie!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the interview! I have both of the books and I can't wait to read them!