Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Spotlight in Six - Melissa McClone

This month we welcome Melissa McClone to the hotseat with her Spotlight in Six!

Where do you find new and fresh ideas?

I find ideas everywhere. Sometimes I hear a song on the radio or I'm watching a movie or show and think "what if..." Magazines, newspapers, books, even eavesdropping provide tons of fodder for book ideas, too.

The idea for my November release, Rescued By the Magic of Christmas, came from two places all related to the same news story. Three climbers went missing on Mount Hood (about an hour and a half from where I live) in December of 1996. I wanted to know more and ended up on a Pacific Northwest Climbing forum. Mountain rescuers who had been part of the search up to that point were posting. One or two had been on the mountain that day.

I thought a man like of these guys (volunteer, dedicated, using skills/talent to help others) would make a great romance hero. The only problem I thought I'd have would be finding the right story. A day or so later, I was watching the rescue mission on a cable news channel when the idea for the book hit me. I grabbed a piece of paper and scribbled out a one page synopsis.

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

I use pictures for "inspiration" all the time. I'm very visual, and though my characters are never that particular person, I need a marker so to speak. Some of my past Harlequin romance heroes have been inspired by Eddie Cibrian, Eric Close, Gabriel Aubry.

For my mountain rescue hero, Jake Porter, I didn't use a celebrity for inspiration, but pictures of actual mountain rescuers. Esquire Magazine provided eleventh hour help with this style spread featuring members of Portland Mountain Rescue. Some of the guys pictured helped me with my research, too!

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

I'll start with my least favorite part...the blank page. I'm what you'd call a rewriter. I much prefer revising to the actual writing part. The other part I've struggled with in the past has been chapters four and five. I seem to hit a big bump after writing the first three chapters for some reason.

My favorite part is writing the end (i.e. the resolution.) I love bringing two characters together so that they can live their happily ever after! And of course, the actual writing of "THE END" is always nice, too.

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

When I'm not writing, I'm taking care of my family. I have three children (ages 10, 8 and 5), three cats and a dog so I keep pretty busy aside from writing.

To pamper myself, I read and I climb. I discovered climbing while researching my November book and fell in love with the sport in spite of my fear of heights. It's the one thing I've found to quiet the voices in my head and allow me to get away from everything whether its for a few hours at the rock gym or a couple of days outside somewhere. The perfect pampering for a writer-mom!

Imagine you're stranded - where are you and who are you with?

Hmmm...I've written two stranded romance novels, and I much prefer the tropical setting in my Silhouette Romance, The Wedding Adventure to the snowy forest in my Harlequin Romance, SOS Marry Me. It's warmer and much easier to find food!

So I'm imagining my husband and I on a sunny island somewhere with the scents of salt water, cocoa butter and rum in the air. But since I hike and climb, there's a better chance I'd actually end up in stranded in a snowy forest with one of my climbing partners!

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

As I mentioned above, Rescued by the Magic of Christmas hits the shelves this month. Blind Date with the Millionaire will be out in June 2009. The book is the third in a trilogy called with Jennie Adams (book 1 out in April 2009) and Fiona Harper (book 2 out in May 2009.)
Melissa also has an online read going on at the Mills and Boon website! Click here to read her short story, HUSBAND MATERIAL!


  1. Climbing? Yikes. I'm of the school that thinks: "To write a novel about mountaineering you need only climb one mountain. Part way..." But I can see how it would take you away from everything but the moment. Pure focus. Exactly what a writer needs most.

    But thanks for sharing the Esquire article. :)

  2. Great interview. How do you cope when you're on deadline? Do you celebrate when you finish your book?

  3. Lovely interview.

    I understand about getting outdoors to relax. That's what I do, too. A walk in the forest is a great way to clear the head and unwind.

  4. Exactly Liz. It's that pure focus and with my busy life I haven't found that any where else but climbing. Glad you enjoyed the link, Liz. I still have the magazine. My hubby brought it home for me and said, "Here, I think you might need this!" Gotta love a man who knows exactly what his writer wife needs!

    Thanks Dru. On deadline, I'm pretty much on autopilot with life (doing what needs to be done and that's about it) and just thinking/writing about the book that last week or so. One day I dream of finishing early and taking a week off then reading the complete. Of course, my writing process is laughing its head off at the moment ;) I do celebrate when I finish a book. Usually dinner out (Thai food), chocolate and a well-deserved nap!

    Thanks Sarita. I enjoy hiking, too, and have spent many early mornings circling a lake that's a short walk away from my house. It really does help!

  5. Love that cover, Melissa. It's gorgeous, right along with the title and the subject matter. And I'm fascinated that you took up climbing. Tell us a bit about how you found these climbers who helped you research the story and how you actually researched. Did you go climbing with them?

    This asked by a person who gets dizzy changing a light bulb! lol

  6. Anonymous8:18 AM

    Great interview. Must say Im afraid of height and dont think I could climb lol. I love a good Christmas romance at this time of the year and will be checking your book out at Borders tomorrow.

  7. Melissa, I really admire you for climbing mountains when you have a fear of heights. I've hiked for years, and while I may take the more difficult route up a mountain, I always look for the most gentle slope possible on the way down!

  8. Linda - I found the climbers and mountain rescuers on line. I stumbled across a climbing forum while following the news story. I was very intimidated, but knew I needed help with the book so pm'd a couple of people. One of the first was the sister of one of guys in the Esquire spread. She got us connected and he's become a great friend who ended up helping me with three books, including SOS Marry Me of The Wedding Planners since I have a search and rescue team find the hero and heroine. I'd email him questions then he would call me and we'd talk about the book/climbing/him. Then he set up a dinner with other rescuers so I could get a feel for the group dynamics, since my hero is part of a team of four when he goes out on a mission.

    One climber I PM'd turned out to be this 28 year old hottie. He's nicknamed the Climbing Cutie on my blog. He's the one who really got me climbing and I have climbed with him. He's who I turn to for guy talk/thinking when my heroes turn into girly men. He really helped me with SOS Marry Me's Kane Wiley. I also turn to him when I want to know about dating these days.

    The research was mainly just me taking a chance by asking a question via private messages or email and seeing if people would help. Some said no or never replied, but many did, and some wonderful friendships have blossomed from that. I would have loved to climb Mount Hood myself, but when I was writing the book it isn't a very good time to climb. One of these days!

    I also approached climbers at climbing events. I'm normally shy but have no fear when it comes to researching one of my books. I met the wife of a rescuer at a PMR fundraiser.

    At a slide show presentation, I also met a climber who really opened himself up to me about climbing and accidents and a whole lot of other things. He'd lost a close friend and climbing partner some months before in Alaska. He was the one giving the slide show and when I saw him just knew I had to talk to him about the book. He was more than happy to help, but catching him in between his climbing trips was interesting. Thank goodness for the Internet! He turned out to be a wealth of information and made me rethink my hero a little.

    Pretty much all my outdoor climbing partners have come from the climbing forum I stumbled across. It's been awesome the way they've helped this newbie scared of heights!

    Thanks Rottie_Mom. I hear you on the height thing! But climbing is helping with that. Though I cannot look down. Made that mistake. Never again!!!

  9. Thank Myrna! I hear you on taking the gentlest slope down. The most scared I was during one climb wasn't the actual climbing part but the hike to it. Once I get a rope on me I feel a lot safer!!!

  10. Wonderful intereview, Melissa.

  11. Great interview, Melissa. Thanks for stopping by!

    That Esquire article was great.

    I'm with Liz on climbing...

  12. It sounds as if you had fun writing this book, Melissa - though perhaps it was scary fun some of the time.

    I'm loving the sound of your hero.

    And I love your cover!

  13. I'm with you on the beach, Melissa! I would much rather be stranded somewhere sunny than ANYWHERE cold. ;-)

    Great interview! I love the cover of that book, too. It just makes me feel SO Christmas-y!!


  14. Thanks catslady, Amy, Shirley and Michelle!

    And I really love the cover, too. It comes from a scene in the book that I just love!