Mel also pens a great blog and includes tips for writers at Brain Clutter.
So, for a nominal fee (just kidding), I offered to interview her here because I’m always happy when one of “us” back alley writers claws their way into the light of actual real live publishing. Yay! Melissa!
Now, for your reading pleasure, here is our conversation. And if you like this, you should checkout her books over at Wild Rose Press, and if you don’t like it, blame me. I’m used to it.
Slave Driver : You claim to write romance novels with a lot of sharks in them. Exactly what kind of sharks do you write about? Great White sharks? Nurse sharks? Tiger sharks? And what exactly qualifies you as a shark expert? Are you an oceanographer? Because I read a rumor on the internet that you're really a Slurpee Wrangler at the 7-11.
Melissa Blue : I never said shark, I said snark. Snark is a fine art form full of sarcasm and wit. The best writers serve it with dark humor, but it's not mandatory. Ask anybody who knows me I serve it well. You really don't see it coming.
Slave Driver : Your name is Melissa Blue. Is that a pseudonym? Or are you really Blue? And is it like a neon blue, a sky blue or a Smurf blue?
Melissa Blue : I'd call myself a nice Carmel color, but from reading my books one would think I don't accept my "blackness". Not quite sure what that is. Even in today's world people think there is a recipe to writing African American books. And if you don't sound "black" then you must be selling out. I sound like myself. I sound like my upbringing. Of course my characters are going to sound like me. The important issue isn't color, but having two characters meet and fall in love.
Slave Driver : Do you like the singer and PETA freak 'Pink' ? And if you say yes this interview is over.
Melissa Blue : I'm too poor to own real fur, but if I could...
Slave Driver : How hard was it to break into a field dominated by fugly middle aged women? Because I've seen the jacket photos for many of these authors and they're kind of dowdy looking to be writing such hot and smutty stuff.
Melissa Blue : I lucked out with having both brains and beauty. Just kidding. Not all romance authors are fugly. We all don't wear house robes, and eat bons bons. That's a myth. Romance authors come in all shapes in sizes. Many have very high profile professions like attorneys and doctors. Me, I'm going to school to become a paralegal. Come hell or high water, I'll be graduating in May with my certificate.
As for was it hard to break into publishing? Yes and no. I lucked out with my first story. I'd only submitted it once and on the second submission it was contracted. I didn't know what real rejection felt like, but trust me I've made up for those in spades.
Slave Driver : How many books have you allegedly written? Do they have titles? Can we get them at a book store or must they be purchased from a creepy guy on the corner wearing a trench coat, black socks and not much else?
Melissa Blue : I only count books I've finished, so since I started writing in 2004 I've written seven. Only two have been published with The Wild Rose Press, See Megan Run and How Much You Want to Bet? Since SMR is a new release you can get it as an e-book directly from their site. HMYWTB? (A mouth full of a title) you can find it on Amazon, the Barnes and Noble site, or download the e-book in varies locations. Truly, if you are buying it, I'm not picky.
Side note: My mother has said she'd be willing to sell it out the trunk of her car. She's not creepy, but she might feed you.
Slave Driver : How do you research your characters? Because I've seen a picture of a placeholder for one of your stories and he's yummy looking. Do you ever ask someone, say, me, to volunteer to take one for the team and do the research for you? Because I promise I'd turn over all my notes when I was finished with one of your
Melissa Blue : I'm a visual person, but it amazes me finding a placeholder is the last thing I do when I'm researching my characters. I do free-writing sessions and write down what comes to me. I need to know my characters back story or I get stuck in the story. I truly believe a person is made up of everything they've experienced. How they dealt with it. Who they have as friends. Who raised them. And most importantly what's their profession. A cop will think differently than a librarian. But both would have chosen their jobs due to their personality.
Then the grand finale is finding their placeholder. That's the most fun part.
Slave Driver : Vegetarian or Omnivore? And if you say Vegetarian this interview is over.
Melissa Blue : I tried to go without a beef when the tainted meat story came out. I live in the valley so we were the main target area. The day the ban was lifted I had a burger. Does that answer your question?
Slave Driver : Do you have any pets? Expound. And do you have pictures of them as long as it's a dog? No pictures of children please, you are, after all, talking to me.
Melissa Blue : I have children. That's enough.
Slave Driver : Have your parents read your novels? Many people who write sex scenes in their stories have some concerns about their Mother reading those sections, but has your Father tried to send you to your room until you change your wicked ways?
Melissa Blue : When I gave my parents my first book I told them, "Don't read it. You can brag, but for the love of all that is holy don't read it."
Slave Driver : Do you have a day job? And do they know what you do while you are 'On the clock?' Because even if you're not actually writing on the company dime you're probably thinking on the company dime and most corporations don't like that. They don't appreciate it when their employees think while on their payroll. And if you do think about a character do you punch in and out while you do it or subtract the twelve minutes you've been running a scene in your head from your weekly time sheet?"
Melissa Blue : Yes, I have a day job. If "thinking" on company time could get me fired than my boss would have gotten rid of me a long time ago. Though to be honest if I had all the time in the world to write I'd probably wouldn't. I have a lot of respect for authors who write full-time. I don't have the discipline to write every day from nine to five. But here's my secret: I write better (and more) when I only have 2 hours a day to write. Plus, all that isolation would get to me. I won't go as far to say I'm a people person, but I need human contact every once and while. So, in a perfect world. I'd work part-time and write part-time.
Slave Driver : When you die what would you like on your Tombstone? And do NOT say Pepperoni, that's already taken.
Melissa Blue : Well, first I won't be buried. I've never liked being large crowds, but if I did... Don't mourn. Celebrate her life with Cabana boys.
Slave Driver : To continue in this vein, Pineapple on pizza; Yummy or an affront to God that should be banned from Pizza Parlors for life, like Pete Rose and Baseball? And Cubs or White Sox. And if you say White Sox this interview is over.
Melissa Blue : Umm, so not a fan of sports. That's why I became a writer.
So everybody jump on over to Wild Rose Press and buy an e-copy of Mel’s new book, See Megan Run.
And for those of you who insist on buying it in actual paper form, it comes out December 12, 2008.
While you’re there buy “How Much do you Want to Bet?”
also. I’ve read it and it’s really good. And you can trust me on this because my personal philosophy is “Life is too short to read crappy books.”