Today I am privileged to speak to author, humorist, instructor and professional speaker Melodie Campbell. Good morning Melodie, it is a pleasure to have you with us today at Coffee Time Romance. We have a cozy chair for you to relax, even some plush blue slippers to put on your feet while we share a cup of hot coffee or tea. If you notice I have an assortment of blends for you to choose. We also have some fresh baked cookies, muffins and brownies, and Karenne has assured me, she has removed every single calorie. So take a seat while we begin.
Why not begin the morning by telling us how your day begins once you have had your cup of tea?
That’s coffee, dahling (insert English accent) preferably strong Kenyon with real cream. I like things hot and strong. (Did I say that??)
The routine: Stumble out of bed into kitchen. Set up coffee maker. Stumble into office. Boot up computer. Stumble back to get coffee…then back to office to answer the 100 work emails that have landed here overnight. Oh, and somewhere in there, put out giant Frankenpoodle for his morning piddle.
Rowena of the Wall has received some good reviews. Can you tell us what gave you the inspiration to compose this story?
Rowena Through the Wall is a comic novel, but oddly enough, the inspiration for it was not comic. I was sitting by my mother’s hospital bedside. 36 times, she had been admitting, dying. As the news got worse and worse, I looked at the hospital wall, and thought – if I could walk through that wall right now into another world, I would. That night, I went home and started Rowena.
Did it take you long to write the tale?
5 months. I wrote every day in the hospital, and every night when I got home. I needed escape, and so I wrote a story that allowed me, and my heroine to escape. The wonderful thing is - I put the paperback in my mother’s hand the month before she died.
Melodie, you have garnished many awards and the majority of your works have appeared in selected magazines. Which story would you say has been your best overall?
I have two. “Burglar for Coffee” is perhaps my zaniest and best example of my wacky humor. It was published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and won an award. You can read it on my website.
“The Perfect Mark” is another I’m proud of. It won an award and was published in Flash Fiction. It is a mere 650 words and has a double twist ending. It may be coming out in an anthology, so I can’t post it yet!
What would you say is your biggest challenge as a writer?
Finding time to write! I’m the General Manager of Crime Writers of Canada, and that takes up most of my day.
Also… the ‘lure of the virgin short story’. I am always getting distracted by new stories that pop into my mind and try to fight their way out, when I should be writing my novel.
On the flipside, what is the one thing that gets you most excited as a writer?
When I hear from readers. My first romance short story in Star Magazine prompted a letter to the editor that has kept me writing ever since. I love meeting and talking with other writers and readers. They are the most exciting people in the world, because they are always using their minds.
Can you describe your workstation for us?
Gak! A cluttered office with a beautiful arched window and a rickety old desk. A huge golden Frankenpoodle on the chaise beside me.
In your opinion, what are the three most essential ingredients of an excellent novel?
- A rollicking good tale! I read to escape. Take me away on a fantastic trip to another place where I can experience another life for just a little bit.
- Something not predictable! I love romance with my fiction, but I don’t want the end to be obvious from the start. That’s what I hope to give the reader in Rowena – adventure fiction that you won’t see coming.
- A protagonist I can admire and want to ‘become’ for a short while. Too many times, I see a heroine described as ‘spunky’ on the cover – but she doesn’t live up to it. I like a strong smart female character with a wicked sense of humor and the guts to ‘walk through that wall’ in the first place, so to speak.
Do you go with the flow or form an outline when you write?
When I write mystery, I have the whole story, including the ending, mapped out before I start to write. When I write fantasy/time travel romance like Rowena Through the Wall, I start with the plot half mapped out, but then let the characters guide me.
What can the readers expect from your talented fingers in the future?
The Goddaughter, a wacky mob caper, will be out this summer from Orca Books. It, of course, has romance in it as well. This book is my pinnacle of comedy.
Where There’s a Will, a classic amateur detective mystery, will be out this spring from Imajin books. It has romance as well.
And – Rowena and the Dark Lord (the sequel) should be out by the end of the summer. I’m nearly finished it.
You have decided to open up your bakery and make some killer cupcakes or other sinfully delicious items. What would you name your bakery? And what name would you give to your luscious dessert?
Name of Bakery: Sinfully Delicious (did I see that somewhere?)
Name of dessert: Naughty Lemon Pie (because it’s tart!)
What is your all-time favorite late night snack?
A bad man. I have a saying: I like to go to bed with a good book or a bad man.
Do you have a household chore that you really hate doing?
‘Household chore’? Is that some sort of medieval torture device?
You have plans to take a romantic trip and would like to share the tips with your readers. Tell the readers what you consider the best plans to really make the trip fabulous?
Oh, well here’s for giving it all away: I’m a ruins gal, so a romantic trip for me would not be a secluded resort. Nope – give me Rome and the Forum! England and the Tower of London! Greece, Egypt… I’ve walked the Sahara in Morocco, and been on archeological digs in Guatemala, climbed the pyramids in Mexico.
I adore Europe and Great Britain. My late cousin Tony was Viscount Clegg-Hill of Shropshire and Shrewsbury. The castle featured in Rowena Through the Wall is the original castle that was in our family from Norman times. It burned down in 1550 and was replaced by a Tudor structure. Rowena goes through the wall back to the time of her ancestors, and falls in love with the place too.
Since you are planning a romantic trip, where do you consider going, and who do you wish to accompany you?
Hmmm..somewhere different. This time, the Orient Express from Venice to Istanbul. Explore Turkey and from there embark on a ship to the Greek Isles. My husband is always with me, but this time I would take my two daughters too. Frankenpoodle will have to stay home, alas.
Melodie, thank you so much for taking the time to spend with us today. We look forward to reading all your upcoming stories, and wish you the best always. The slippers are yours to take along with any cookies or desserts on our Coffee Time table.
I’ll take the sweeties and leave you a book instead!