Welcome ! We are grateful to have Melanie Atkins here with us
today, to answer a few questions, Thanks Melanie for stopping
by and answering some questions for us.
We are talking with Melanie today about her book Cherished
Witness, and finding out about some of her other work.
Thanks Melanie, and Welcome
Could you please tell us about your latest release, Cherished
Kelly Watson, a.k.a. Teresa Pastral, threw the Fifth Amendment
out the window when she testified against her mob boss husband
at his murder trial. Now divorced, she has begun a new life in the
Witness Security Program. Only--the mob finds her, thanks to
handsome lawman J.T. Romano, who uses her as bait to lure the
man who murdered his wife and unborn child to town. To ensure
her safety, she is forced to trust J.T., the man who has betrayed
her to the mob. But can she also protect her heart?
Who was your favorite character in this book and why?
J.T. Romano, because he isn’t afraid to admit that he made a mistake in his quest for
revenge, which could have gotten Kelly killed. He regains his honor by protecting her. He
doesn’t plan on falling in love.
Where do you get the inspiration for your characters, especially such a realistic one like J.
I found the inspiration for J.T. when I spotted a gorgeous hunk of man working in a small
seafood restaurant in tiny Bay St. Louis, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which was the
model for Snake Bayou. Unfortunately, Hurricane Katrina demolished the town and the
restaurant. That breaks my heart.
I loved your description of the Louisiana swamp. Do you do a lot of research on the
locations and circumstances of your books?
I’ve visited south Louisiana many times, have spent time in the swamp, and have also
spent a lot of time on the Mississippi Gulf Coast prior to the hurricane. I try to write about
locations with which I’m familiar. It makes my job easier and adds local flavor to my books.
Is there a particular reason you chose Louisiana and Mississippi for your location? I was
impressed that it wasn’t the easy one, New Orleans, but more obscure and even more
interesting places like Snake Bayou and the backwoods of Louisiana.
Well, for starters, I live in central Mississippi. I chose those locations because I know them
well and I feel comfortable with the material.
How did you decide that you would be a writer, and what helped you make that decision?
I’ve always loved to write, even in high school, but I never thought about writing a novel
until much, much later. I married right out of college and put everything on hold until my
husband and I divorced many years later. After that, I took a creative writing class at a
local college—and that was all it took to get the juices flowing again. I’ve been writing
romance ever since.
When you get an idea for a book, do you start out with a character in mind, or does the
plot come to you first?
It depends on the book. With Cherished Witness, I started with J.T. Romano and a
location. But earlier this year I got the inspiration for one of my single titles, Blood Rite,
after seeing three garbage cans upside down in a park. I know that sounds strange, but
that led to the idea of dumped bodies that had been drained of blood…and grew into a
detailed story with lots of subplots. The full of Blood Rite is under consideration in New
York right now.
Do you find yourself reading more or less now that you write?
Less, unfortunately. But I keep a book in my car and read whenever I get stopped by a
train, at lunch during my day job, and even when I’m at the gas pump. I also keep
"emergency" books in my trunk, in case I get stuck somewhere. LOL I don’t read at home in
the evening, because that’s when I write.
What is your favorite genre and/or author?
My favorite genre is romantic suspense. Some of my favorite authors are Linda Castillo,
Tess Gerritsen, Mallory Kane, Linda Howard, Lisa Gardner, Sandra Brown, Tami Hoag, Sheri
Gilmore, Sable Grey, and John Sandford.
What are your hobbies?
I play tennis in a local league and enjoy working out at the gym.
Do you have any chats, appearances, or upcoming events?
I’ll be one of the featured authors at The Romance Studio in November, and I hope to start
a newsletter soon. I’m also working on some other ideas.
When you suffer from ‘writer’s block’ is there a way you break out of it?
I like to meet with other writers and brainstorm. That always helps!
I see that this is the first of a new series. Can readers hope that your next book involves
Slade Montgomery? He was my second favorite character in this book, J. T. being my first.
Yes! Slade is featured in Prime Suspect, the sequel to Cherished Witness. That was a fun
book to write, too. Slade is hot …and he doesn’t realize he’s still in love with his former
fiancée, who is the prime suspect in a brutal murder.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write, write, and write some more! Enter contests, attend conferences where you can learn
from more experienced writers, and join a critique group. Keep writing every day…I’ve found
that the more I write, the better I get. This is true of anyone. Know your market. And
never, never, ever give up. Persistence, practice, and market familiarity are the keys to a
successful writing career.
Describe your perfect ‘writing’ day.
That would be a day when I don’t have to go to my day job! I would actually have all day
to write…then I would go to the gym to wind down, and end the day watching a good
movie and sharing a drink with friends.
Can you share your website address with us?
I Want to thank Melanie on behalf of Coffee Time Romance for chatting with us today!