Nike: In book one of your New Orleans Detectives series, CHERISHED WITNESS, lawman J.T. Romano betrays your heroine Kelly Watson who is in the witness protection program hiding from the mob. Wanting to trap the man who murdered his wife and unborn child, he helps the mob find her and uses her as bait. Talk about a woman having serious trust issues with a man…how did you think up this scenario?
Melanie: I’m not a plotter, so the premise for this book didn’t come to me whole cloth. The first idea that came to me was the setting: Romano’s Italian Eatery, a restaurant I modeled after one on the Mississippi Gulf Coast that struck my fancy. The handsome chef came out of the kitchen and I thought… oh, boy. I turned him into a cop, and he became J.T. Romano, who was running the restaurant for his injured brother. The rest of the story unfolded as I wrote it.
Nike: Then in book four of that series, BELOVED CAPTIVE you open with detective Kevin Jacobs, who is stabbed and bleeding, deciding that since he looks like the man who just killed a judge, he must take a beautiful physician, Dr. Rebecca Daniels, hostage until he can prove his innocence. You like to open your novels by throwing your main characters into desperate situations. Why is that?
Melanie: I’m trying to hook the reader on page one… and please my 8th grade English teacher, who taught me to begin stories in medias res, or “in the middle of things”. That lesson has served me well ever since I started writing.
Nike: In book five, UNWILLING ACCOMPLICE, Marcy Moretti’s a deranged husband, has killed a man and now is after his wife. Her detective brother-in-law, still emotionally reeling after the death of his wife, is the only one she can turn to. The tension drips off these pages. Do you outline and plan it that way, or are you a seat of your pants writer?
Melanie: I don’t outline. I’ve tried it, and it doesn’t work for me. I just start writing and let the story unfold as I go. So I guess you’d say I’m definitely a pantser.
Nike: You’ve attended The Writer’s Police Academy set in a criminal justice community college in North Carolina. I understand you plan to go again this year. I’d very much like to attend that conference/workshop this September. I hope it’s going to be possible for me. I hear it’s terrific. What’s so great about it? And what did you get out of it?
Melanie: The WPA has great instructors who help us “get it right” so we won’t cheat our readers. We also get hands on training with the FATS training and Driving Simulator. FATS training, a chance to walk in a police officer’s shoes, is such a blast. I shot a fence and almost a baby, too, last year (not for real! Don’t freak out! It was just a simulator. lol) I also did some good things, too, and I learned a lot. I hope to do better this year. I’ve already signed up and booked my hotel room. Cannot. Wait.
Nike: Lastly, what would you like your readers to take away from your books?
Melanie: My books are pure escapism for my readers, even if they are justice-themed, but I do seek to put a heroic face on the law enforcement community. Cops have a tough job – they risk their lives for us day in and day out — and I admire them for what they do. My kudos to all the men and women in blue out there. Thank you!
Thanks also for this opportunity, Nike. Please look for my new series, the Keller County Cops, that begins with MARKED FOR MURDER, my April book at Desert Breeze, and the sixth and final book in my New Orleans Detective series, PERFECT PARTNER, that comes out in June. Also, FLASH BANG, my new single title suspense, will come out at Whiskey Creek Press on March 15th.
***Melanie’s novels can be found at the Desert Breeze Publishing website. http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/StoreFront.bok