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 Blinddatebrides.com 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!