As an author I would guess you’re an avid reader. I won’t ask you who your favorite author is, but tell us about a few of your favorite reads from this year.
I straddle a traditional bent (Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz), love of historicals (When a Scot Ties a Knot by Tessa Dare), and humor (If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins).
You would be described as a hybrid author. Can you give us an idea of what your writing schedule looks like?
Mr. Curtis would say I’m always writing and that’s the truth. I have hard deadlines I can’t miss with Harlequin every 4 or 5 months. I fit in independent projects in between (or take time off – which I don’t really do, since I relax by drafting new books).
From your first book to your most recent work, how do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I’m more in touch with my inner voice. That little gremlin sits on my shoulder and whispers snatches of dialogue or story ideas. I didn’t used to listen and I spent a lot of time staring at a blank page because my inner voice was taking me in a slightly new direction. For example, I wrote a book recently where my inner voice kept telling me my hero had tried to commit suicide ten years prior. Clearly, this has big impact on a story and it was a Harlequin book (Season of Change) – meaning I had sold the story with one backstory and emotional journey and my inner voice was telling me to give it a drastic change. My editor was swamped and basically told me as long as the book turned out strong, I could make the change. Years ago, I would not have strayed from the terms of the contract if my intuition was telling me differently.
When writing a book, what are your biggest challenges to bringing your story to life?
I use humor in nearly all my stories, but if you don’t ground the characters in reality – with real backstory and flaws – they can become cliché. During the drafting process I will sometimes stop and journal as if I’m the character, delving into their past experiences. Often, what starts those journal entries are unexpected bits of dialogue or thoughts from the character. Dribbling in backstory in interesting ways can make characters relatable and likable.
I’ve noticed that you collaborate with other authors. What’s that like for you? How does that process work?
I’ve done a few anthologies where the stories in the set are connected – set in the same town, shared family members, shared homes, etc. I’m in a box set – A Heartwarming Christmas – that has 12 connected stories. This requires good communication between the authors up front about shared characters and traditions (town, community, family). Everyone has to read each other’s stories and kindly point out inconsistencies.
On a more personal note, we want to know about you.
I’m married to my college sweetheart. We’re empty nesters and dote on our little dog (half Yorkie/half Shitzu). I write both sweet and sexy contemporary romance, always lighthearted, often romantic comedy.
When you were a small child what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
A teacher or a newspaper reporter.
As a mother how do you inspire your children to follow their dreams?
I’ve always told them they can do anything they want, but it will require hard work and may not happen on the timeline they’d like.
What’s next for you?
I’m writing Book 8 in my Harmony Valley series for Harlequin, which they now market as romantic comedy. I’m also finishing up my sweet romantic comedy Bridesmaid series. 2016 is already overbooked…
How can we find you?
Readers of this blog will be emailed a FREE sweet romantic comedy by signing up for Melinda’s book release email newsletter. Link: http://www.melindacurtis.net/join-melinda-s-mailing-list