Melanie is proud to live and write in Iowa City, IA, the only UNESCO City of Literature in the United States, with her husband and four children. She graduated from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in Latin American Studies and Spanish. She loves languages, history, and goofing around with her kids. She’s been writing stories ever since she could put pen to paper and reading romances since she was old enough to sneak her mother’s books from her. Melanie loves a HEA and isn’t afraid to admit Hallmark Christmas movies play all year round in her house!
She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and a founding member of the Sassy Scribes writers’ group.
Jann: Your debut sweet romance, Healing Her Heart for the Holidays, is part of the Snow In Love: Sweet Romance Holiday Collection available October 14th. How does it feel to have your first story published?
Melanie: It’s so exciting, of course. You put all this work into building characters that you love and to get to share them with other people is awesome. I hope this is just the first of many stories I get to share.
Jann: Which came first when writing this story—character or plot?
Melanie: They really just grew together. I loved the idea of two broken people, one who knows they are and one who doesn’t, finding each other in the midst of a Christmas season neither wants to celebrate. And in that connection finding a reason to celebrate. I also knew I wanted to have a bed and breakfast in an old Victorian because I love those, and I wanted to pay homage to the Czech heritage of my husband’s family. And then everything just flowed from that.
Jann: Would you tell us about your characters Izabela Dobry and Mark Novak?
Melanie: I love these characters, and I was so mean to them making them so broken and needing each other so much but not wanting to need anyone. Izabela is born and bred Iowan. She lives in this big Victorian home that’s been in the family for generations and because of that she’s really rooted in traditions and heritage, all of which she’s avoiding at the start of the book. She’s thinks she’s weak and has nothing to offer anyone, but she’s completely wrong. She’s actually a very strong person and has such a capacity to give.
Mark is a workaholic from Florida, where he just fills his life with his job as a financial advisor. It’s how he sees himself contributing to the world. He doesn’t have much of a personal life, but he’s a really caring and generous person. He’s just never met anyone to make him think about what he’s missing and that his priorities might be wrong. Until, of course, he ends up on Izabela’s doorstep.
Jann: Are you working on something now that you can share with us?
Melanie: I’m working on a romantic suspense where the heroine is a security specialist and the hero is an action-film star. He’s being stalked by a cult who think he’s the reincarnation of their god, which he doesn’t see as a real threat while the studio wants to secure their investment and hires a woman bodyguard. I actually really like writing fight scenes. I was raised on 80s and early 90s action movies and I think it’s influenced me there.
Jann: Who are the Sassy Scribes?
Melanie: The Sassy Scribes is a group of romance authors that connected mainly over Facebook. We did some Nanowrimo challenges together and from there it just organically led to the idea of writing collections together. We’re hoping to publish at least 2 a year. And we have all types of writers, from those who do more romantic suspense to rom-com to paranormal/sci-fi. And those who will write steamier too. They’re awesome and we just have a blast when we get together on Zoom calls.
Jann: In your books, who is your favorite character and why?
Melanie: I love my heroine in the romantic suspense I’m working on named Autumn. She is a take-charge, fierce woman who doesn’t back down from a fight. And she’s super smart. She’s ruled by passion and very intense. I love writing her. The book is tentatively titled Chased Down and I hope to have it out shortly after the New Year.
Jann: What profession other than your own would you love to attempt?
Melanie: I’ve always loved acting and was a theater major at one point. Someday I’d like to have time to get involved in the local community theater but with four kids, working, and writing there just isn’t time right now!
Jann: What’s on your To-Be-Read pile?
Melanie: American Queen by Sierra Simone, Soul of Valor by Ann Malley, and Murder at Mistletoe Manor by Holly Tierny-Bedord.
Thank you so much Melanie for spending time with us on A Slice of Orange. Congratulations and good luck with the debut of Healing Her Heart for the Holidays!
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