Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Spotlight in Six - Melissa James

Welcome to the first Spotlight in Six for 2008! This month we're joined by Melissa James, whose current release is Mother In A Million.

As part of our Mills and Boon Centenary celebrations, we're holding contests throughout the year. Melissa is generously offering a signed copy of Mother In A Million to a lucky reader! All you have to do is send an e-mail with the subject line of CONTEST to hrablog@hotmail.com to be entered. The closing date is Jan 31 and then the winner will be announced on the blog and contacted for their mailing information!

Here she is....Melissa James!

Where do you find new and fresh ideas?

The news, the net, songs, chance remarks by family, friends, strangers – there’s so much inspiration out there. I find listening to people talking on buses and in cafes very inspiring – though it’s much harder now that everyone around me speaks in foreign languages. I’m trying to learn German but I’m finding the grammar very tough going!

Writers often use photos of celebrities as “casting”. Do you do this, and who has inspired some of your characters?

I have, actually – not all the time, just when faces inspire me. I’ve used Ewan McGregor for the face of Noah in A Mother In A Million, my January release; I’ve used Australian actor Ernie Dingo for the face of Jim in Her Outback Knight, my July 07 release. I trawl the net for faces that suit my characters, and quite often they’re just interesting faces, not famous ones.

What are your favourite and least favourite parts of writing a novel? Is there a particular section that you struggle with?

Favourite? The exciting part is starting a story, with so many possibilities! I love the tense leadup to the first kiss; I love discovering things about my characters at the same time they do. I love finding beautiful similes and poetic stanza to bring my readers lovely visuals or insights to my characters.

I hate saying goodbye, really. My stories and characters haunt me while I’m writing and saying goodbye hurts. The only antidote is, of course, starting a new possibility – a new book! J

When you are not writing, what do you do? How do you pamper yourself?

Moving to Switzerland from Australia was pampering in itself in a way. We live in a small but postcard-pretty village in eastern Switzerland, in rolling hills and wine country, with the Rhine River winding through. A walk, even in freezing winter, is a treat, with the cold, clean air and the views. I love going to the movies – really looking forward to seeing P.S: I Love You with one of my new friends here. And we’re discovering the delights of skiing together as a family on weekends. I’m falling over a lot but loving it anyway! And finally, my darling husband takes us out once or twice a week to the local restaurants to try Swiss/German food. I feel very pampered lately!

Imagine you’re stranded…where are you and who are you with?

Anyone apart from my darling husband, you mean? Nope, sorry, it’s just my man. We’ve been together 25 years and I’m looking forward to the rest. My kids could come along, too, if they wanted, though the fights would drive me batty. The only other non-related, non-friend person who could tempt me would be the divine and very talented Gerard Butler…but I’d still pick my man first!

Finally, please tell us what’s up and coming for you in the months ahead!

Release-wise, I have two books and a novella released this year, including taking part in two exciting promotions: the Marriages of Convenience anthology, and my novella was a ton of fun to write – an ex-rocker and a wild old boy’s daughter running off to marry for all the wrong reasons. I had a ball with it. And starting in April and finishing with my novel in September, the Wedding Planners series is a fun, touching series about 5 cynical women who find love unexpectedly – and the one woman who did believe in a happily-ever-after, whose wedding is going to save The Wedding Belles from going under (my heroine, Julie), looking as though she’s going to lose it all.

Right now, I’m working on my own series, which I’m very excited about. Look for the Suddenly Royal series in 2009…a fireman and his ballet teacher sister find their lives changing suddenly and irrevocably. It’s kind of a Princess Diaries meets Notting Hill…fun and poignant – and with very high stakes. I don’t have a release date as yet, but I’m loving writing the books and very much looking forward to seeing what my readers think of it.

Thanks for having me on the blog, and all the very best to your readers in the coming year. Happy reading with Harlequin Romance!


  1. Hi Melissa; a truly interesting interview. I have always wanted to visit Switzerland and the place of Heidi. You are so fortunate and it sounds like a divine place.

  2. Hi Melissa. I recently read Her Outback Knight--okay so I'm a little behind--and I loved it. Looking forward to reading Mother in a Million

  3. Hi, Robyn,

    Sorry I've not answered until now, had computer problems and then google sent me to a German site to sign up and had to translate everything...

    I love living here! It's quiet and beautiful, fresh and cold, which is a treat after hot Australia. There, 13 degrees celsuis was cold! Now I say it's a nice day at 8 degrees celsius.

    But our region is hilly and lovely and makes walking a pleasure, which is a good thing as that gets my mind geared for writing.

    Oh, and I did go to Meienfeld, the original village Johanna Spyri based Dorfli on. We walked up to Peter's Hut before the weather began closing in. We plan to make it up to Grandfather's Hut and Heidi's Meadow next summer.

    Can you tell I read Heidi at least 50 times when I was a girl?

  4. Hi, Patricia,

    Thank you so much for telling me that! Being of Aboriginal background myself, Jim has a big space in my heart. I felt very lucky that my wonderful editor at M&B lets me write stories that matter to me, you know?

    I hope you like A Mother in a Million - just get the hankies out! If you read the review at cataromance.com, you'll see what I mean...

    Thanks again. I do love hearing how people like my books. For some reason it doesn't happen often.

  5. Hi Melissa,
    What a picturesque picture you've created of Switzerland, though not sure if I could handle the cold, brrrrr. Though definitely a holiday destination. Your upcoming books sound exciting - i'm looking forward to reading them! Good luck.

  6. Hi Melissa,

    I can't wait to see Mother in a Million on the shelves! I feel very privileged to have read it already :) and just know that readers will love it.

    And Patricia, I loved Jimmy in Her Outback Knight - and that kiss in the car? Phew! Hot. Lol

  7. Hey Melissa, how are you on the other side of the world. I'm loved the picture you painted us of where you are living. Bet it's nice an cold - great for hot chocolate in front of the fire.

    Good luck with your new series.

    hugs and kisses from Oz

  8. Hi Melissa.
    Just wanted to pop in and say thank you for such wonderful reads. It sounds like Switzerland is a fabulous place to be. Will we see a book set in this country soon?

  9. From Melissa, who for some reason is losing a battle with blogger:

    "Hey, been having hassles logging in - Eleni, thanks for visiting and I love your name! Can I use it in my current series, Suddenly Royal? It's set in a Greek-speaking nation...

    Thanks for popping by, Rachel. You had the privilege of reading MIAM over and over, didn't you, CP? :-D And did a mighty job of helping me edit!

    Thanks for visiting, Tracey. I do love living here, even if my morning walks are conducted in the afternoons now to be in above-zero temperatures and not shrouded in romantic but freezing mist from the river nearby. :-)))"

  10. Princess Diaries meets Notting Hill? Very high concept, Melissa and it sounds wonderful.

    How are you managing with the German?

  11. Melissa, your Suddenly Royal series is going to be HUGE! I love the characters, and I know your readers will too.

    Congratulations on the Cataromance Award!!!! Wonderful achievement for a wonderful book.

    All the best to you and M&Bs 100th anniversary!

    Robbie, who desperately wants to see PS I Love You

  12. Hi Melissa, my commiserations about the sign-in problems. And yep, no worries about using my name (I can say I was an inspiration!!). And I agree with Robbie, the Suddenly Royal series is going to be *huge*.

  13. **Melissa's still having problems with Blogger - so here is a post from her**

    Hi, everyone,
    Liz, I have aimed very high concept with my series, but I'm having such a ball writing it! But I still want to write like you when I grow up. ;-))) The German is going slow but sure. Have to find more time for homework, and to start up another course. I get about half of what people say, but when they start speaking quickly I'm lost.
    Jane, thanks for visiting...I do love it here and yes, I'd love to set a book here. Maybe that can be my next goal.

  14. **Another Melissa post***

    Thanks, Robbie, for visiting! You have to love supportive CPs, even when on deadline! Thanks for the kudos on Suddenly Royal, Robbie and Eleni (love that name!). I just hope readers agree...

    Still didn't get to see P.S: I Love You. Got a flu type bug and stayed home. It takes me a few hours now to get to a theatre that runs English movies. They translate all movies into German, French and Italian here.

  15. Hey Melissa,
    Commiserations on getting a bug - I saw PS I love you last week, with my mum - and we both loved it. Different from the book but still good - hunky guys to gawk, especially Gerard Butler! So enjoy it when you see it. You too Robbie.