Let's welcome Melanie!
Please tell us a little about your journey to first getting published.
I’ve been writing stories since I was four but I didn’t write my first novel until the year I turned forty. I still remember the feeling of excitement I got when I sat down at the computer and starting writing. I still get it now. It took me three and a half years and five submissions before I got the call. By the time I sold, I had written over seventeen complete manuscripts to fill in the time while I waited for assessment on those five submissions.
How many books have you had published so far in your career?
48 books have gone on the shelves so far. I have just completed my 51st book, which will be out in November.
The world of publishing is ever evolving, how have you stayed on top of trends and continued to give your readers what they want?
I know what I want as a reader and how that has changed over time, so I guess I rely on my intuition to pick up on new directions romance is going in. But in this digital age fans will email directly and tell authors (and publishers/editors) what they want.
What has been the highlight of your publishing career so far?
I’m sure people would expect me to say winning the R*BTY in 2011, but while that was nice, it was an email I got late last year that nailed it for me. It was from an avid reader of romance who said my book Surrendering All But Her Heart was the best romance novel she had ever read. She listed the ways it had spoken to her, how it had made her feel, how the characters had stayed with her for days and days. But not only that, she said the book had changed her. I don’t there is any trophy or award that will ever mean more to me than that. It is what storytelling is all about-making the reader feel lasting emotion.
Which of your books is your favourite, and why?
I have a new favourite! It used to always be The Secret Baby Bargain, which was my 11th book but now it is Their Most Forbidden Fling, which is my 47th. But then just about every book I am working on is my favourite, but so says every writer.
Are you a plotter or a panster?
I am a bit of both but having said that, I have found it sometimes depends on the book/ story idea/theme as to whether I plot or wing it. One thing I do know - I always have trouble with the back end of the book if I don’t know what my crisis scene is when I start out. Once I know my black moment I can write towards it, otherwise I am lost in the wilderness until I find that magic piece of the story puzzle.
What is the one piece of advice you would give aspiring writers?
Write. I know it’s almost boring to hear it but writing is the only way. I always use swimming as an analogy as I spend a lot of time in the pool. No amount on books on swimming technique will teach a non-swimmer or a bad swimmer to swim. The only way is to get in the water and see how it feels. The more you swim, the fitter and stronger you get. Writing is exactly the same. Oh, and it helps to watch great swimmers ( and read great writers) so you can see how it’s supposed to be done!
The other gem of advice I endorse is: Describe your story in a sentence.
What do you love most about being a romance writer?
I love the experience of writing. Actually putting the words on the page is a source of great enjoyment for me. It really is like solving a puzzle, as I mentioned earlier. I truly believe just about anyone can write because it’s part of being human to be creative. We’ve been telling stories to each other since our knuckles were dragging along the ground. The real challenge is getting those words in the right order on the page so the reader experiences everything you want them to feel.
Thank you Melanie for joining us today.
Melanie has a copy of her latest release to give away to one commenter!
And visit Melanie at her website www.melaniemilburne.com.au
HI Melanie ,ReplyDelete
51 books - that is amazing. Love the cover for Their Most Forbidden Fling. Very hot.
As you know,I'm a big fan of yours, Melanie. I think the advice you gave me in that very first writing course I did with you in Brisbane is one of the reasons I'm published today. Things like - always finish the book...submit, don't wait, write another etc.ReplyDelete
I too took three and half years to be published and my 5th book was the one that cracked it, but I certainly didn't have 17 manuscripts waiting in the wings!!! That's incredible.
Thanks Helen and Melanie for the fabulous post!
51 books and each and every one of them breathtaking, incredible, gorgeous reads! Well done Melanie !ReplyDelete
51 wonderful stories. Thank you.ReplyDelete
Hey Melanie. Your energy and enthusiasm always blow me away. I love that you cited that reader letter as your highlight. Reader mail is so amazingly invigorating, isn't it? So much of this job is done in isolation so it's always great to know people have been touched enough to let you know.ReplyDelete
Fabulous pic btw - you always look gorgeous!
Wonderful interview, ladies! Melanie, it's fab to have you drop by and visit the LoveCats. :-) And now I've got to ask -- can you play the piano? (you look gorgeous in your photo, BTW)ReplyDelete
I think reader email is amazing. I once had a reader tell me one of my books had helped her come to terms with a difficult issue in her past and had brought her peace -- it just blew me away.
And I have to agree with Tammy -- hot cover for Their Most Forbidden Fling!
Fabulous post, ladies, and Melanie so lovely to *see* you here! I stand in awe at the number of books you write each year. You're amazing! Do you alternate Medical and Presents stories when you're working?ReplyDelete
Thanks for all the lovely comments.
Yes, Michelle, I do play the piano but very badly. And the guitar and the flute but I never mastered any of them.
Yvonne, I am only doing one medical a year at the moment as my Presents schedule is heavy, but I really look forward to writing them as they have a slightly different feel.
Tammy, the cover is hot! My hero is the most non slutty hero I've ever written but he is very definitely hot!
Amy, you are too sweet. You should see me before breakfast- a freak show!
What would I do without you as a fan! You are the greatest. xx
I am so glad you found my advice helpful. I'm so thrilled for you that you are now published. You showed a lot of talent right from the start.
Hi Melanie! Thanks for sharing details of your writing life. 51 books! Amazing! And every one a keeper! Where do you keep finding your inspiration and ideas from?ReplyDelete
It's great to have you here at the LoveCats. Love the new cover! And I've also got my eye on your gorgeous shawl too. Don't wear it to a writing conference or I might be tempted to make off with it...
Like Amy and Michelle, I connected with your comment about your reader mail being so precious. It can be truly amazing, can't it, to feel you've connected with someone in that way.
I'm still in awe of your productivity, as you know. But when you love what you do, it's a great incentive, isn't it?
Do you find yourself with ideas popping into your head, begging to be written, or do you sometimes go with an idea suggested by your editor instead?
Hi Melanie, Looks like I'm not the only one who feels inspired by you. I remember chatting with you at a Romance Writers of New Zealand conference and you were so open about your journey and the things that you'd learned. Fabulous having you on Lovecats today!ReplyDelete
Congratulations about your amazing achievement Melanie, I'm a HUGE fan and am continuously wrapped up in the stories you write. I love the emotion you pile into them.ReplyDelete
It was lovely reading this interview, thanks Melanie and Helen!ReplyDelete
Congratulations on the upcoming releases of Their Most Forbidden Fling and His Final Bargain!
I love reading your titles, Melanie! Heartbreaking, breathtaking and sensual reads!
Life is full of inspiration, don't you think? Or at least mine is! Maybe that's because mine is a little crazy. Ha ha
You are not getting my wrap! It's actually a scarf and I bought it in L.A. It's very light so it's trans-seasonal.
Ideas... I have too many and not enough time to write them all. I think it's because I spent so much of my earlier life putting off writing that it is all coming out now. But then, ideas beget other ideas, don't you find?
I think it's time I came back to New Zealand as I've forgotten what I said back then! I think I've probably changed a few things by now. I learn something new about writing on every book and also about myself.
Thanks for posting.
You are so kind. I look forward to your reviews!
I'm glad you enjoy the emotion in my stories. I hope you like what's coming up this year. I've been digging deep!
Hi Melanie, it's wonderful to have you here. I've always been a big fan of yours and love your enthusiasm for your writing. It never dips. That is one hot cover for Their Most Forbidden Fling.ReplyDelete
A great and inspirational interview, Melanie.ReplyDelete
But where did you get that amazing blue wrap from?!
Melanie, I love your stories! Your dialogue is amazing - so snappy and true to the characters.ReplyDelete
Congratulations on finishing (OMG!!) 51 books. Please, please keep 'em coming :)
You are so sweet! And yes, it is a hot cover. My hottest, I think. x
Nice to have you pop over! I got my wrap in L.A in a boutique, can't remember the name now. I loved it as it's so vibrant.
Hi Melanie - thank you for being here on LoveCats, 51 books! How thoroughly awesome. Here's to 51 more!!ReplyDelete
Look who's talking! You write great dialogue! Love your work. xx
Melanie, I'm with the others in having serious scarf envy!ReplyDelete
Welcome to the LoveCats, Melanie. You're a total legend so it's an absolute honour to have you visit us. :)
Melanie, I thought you'd feel that way about your wrap. It really is beautiful.ReplyDelete
Yes, you're right - ideas seem to spark more ideas and writing often seems a good way of keeping your creativity up. I'm looking forward to seeing what else you come up with.
Thanks for asking me to be here. What a lovely bunch of ladies!
Hey, I bought this scarf while I was at Anaheim last year. It was fun having coffee with you at RWA. We must do that again soon!
Melanie, it's a date. In fact, we should make it a regular date!ReplyDelete
Hi Melanie! Another case of scarf-envy here! You look so elegant swathed in that beautiful blue!ReplyDelete
It's fabulous to have you visit us here at the LoveCats! Congratulations on your 51st book! You are an inspiration!
You must be getting up there with the numbers now too!
I didn't realize that you are such a prolific writer. I did enjoy the interview thank you & I obviously have a lot of reading to catch up on.
Melanie, you are a true legend! To be as prolific as this and to keep coming up with new romances and then to create what you do every time is just amazing. For me, it's your characters that are so strong. You put them through so much challenge but you know in the end things will be uplifting, so yes, it's the emotional journey in the end.ReplyDelete
I hope you enjoy my backlist but I have to say I feel like a different writer now. I've really challenged myself over the last ten or so books. I guess it's part of the writer's journey that Christopher Vogler talks about.
I'm so glad you like my characters. I really like complicated, deep people, I guess because I have such a lot of them in my life! The emotional journey for anyone, fictional characters or real people, is what matters most.
Thanks for posting!
Nice highlights of your writing careerReplyDelete
Thanks bn100. Lovely to have you drop by.ReplyDelete