Interview with Melody Carlson
As the holidays come to a close, we start to prepare for the next big thing…Valentine’s Day. Whether we are in a relationship or in search of Mr. /Ms. Right, this special celebration warrants our full attention. Plain and simple, we all want to be loved. Being able to find one person and commit to a long-term relationship filled with love and respect can seem like an overwhelming proposition. Yet when the stars align, the feeling of pure contentment is priceless.
This month’s Jen’s Jewels Melody Carlson addresses this very topic in her latest release, Once Upon a Winter’s Heart. When Emma Burcelli’s grandfather, a true romantic, passes away, she moves back home to help her grandmother grieve. Upon her arrival, she is surprised to discover her parents’ relationship is at a crossroads. As she tries to play matchmaker, she soon realizes that perhaps it’s her own heart that needs to be mended.
Jen: As a bestselling author with over 200 books in print, your path to publication is a story in itself. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.
Melody: Although I’ve always loved writing and got encouragement from teachers throughout school, I never took it seriously. I think it’s because the writing process came so easily to me. I graduated from high school a year early and when it came time to pick a college, despite a couple of full ride scholarships at private schools, I decided to attend the local community college. And a year later, at the ripe old age of eighteen, with an associate’s degree in early childhood education in hand, I went overseas to teach preschool in Papua New Guinea for a year. After that I traveled around the world and when I got home I couldn’t get motivated to return to college. I taught preschool, got married, had children, and worked at a diverse variety of other jobs. But nothing ever challenged me enough to make me want to stick with it. Except for writing. 200 plus books later, I’m still taking it seriously. And I still love it.
Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to pursue a career as an author.
Melody: In my early thirties, I decided to take writing seriously. I’d been writing in various capacities prior to this (newspaper, PTA newsletters, job-related...). But it was a funny incident with my twelve year old son that gave me the “push” I needed. My son was an avid reader who had devoured all the “good” books we could find and wanted to read Stephen King. I was concerned he wasn’t ready for King and took him to a bookstore to peruse the young adult shelves. What I found there (in the early 90’s) seemed dark and twisted and poorly written. I held up a book to my son and said, “I could write this badly.” Of course, it seemed silly, but I thought if the bar to get published was that low, I might be able to get over it.
Jen: Your prolific writing career includes titles in more than just one genre. Which category is your most favorite to write and why?
Melody: I know my writing diversity is a frustration to some of my publishers. I would make their lives easier if I could just pigeonhole myself into one genre and stay there. However, that is not how my mind works. I love having the freedom to write some serious issues-based novels (like Finding Alice or my TrueColors series). But I’m sure I’d get depressed if that was all I wrote. I also enjoy creating feel-good stories that simply take the reader away. I heard a quote that people read for two reasons: 1) to forget and 2) to remember. And I suppose my books are like that too. Some of my books will transport a reader to a happier place by helping them to forget about their daily stresses. Other books will remind a reader that there is pain out there and they are not alone. In answer to my “favorite” genre—it is always whichever book I’m writing at the time.
Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to write a novel? And, what is the most challenging part of the writing process?