I’ve never been good at seeing what lies ahead. I’m more of a one-day-at-a-time person. I do what’s in front of me and try to trust God for what’s coming at me tomorrow. However, if I had some control over what’s in the future (ha!) I would love to get more involved in TV/film projects. I do have some good connections and I try to write my books in ways that translate to the screen, but it’s a huge hop from books to
Tell us a little about your family.
Because I grew up in a “broken” home, I always dreamed of having a husband, kids, dogs, white picket fence…you get the picture. As a result I married a bit early (to a great guy) and the kids (two handsome sons) came a bit quickly, and now they are grown men with struggles of their own. Now 33 years later, I’m still shaking my head and wondering where the time went. But my husband and I are blessed with an adorable granddaughter who spends a fair amount of time with us. And we also have a sweet yellow lab named Audrey.
Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
When I first started writing, I worried that reading a good book might somehow seep into my own writing or change my “voice.” And so I decided never to read a novel while in the midst of my own project. Unfortunately that eliminated a lot of reading time for me. But I do try to read a book when I’m between projects. Or if I’m traveling. I try to read the best books I can find because I consider it a learning time for me. I tend to read the sorts of stories I like to write. But I am trying to broaden my selections.
What are you working on right now?
I’m writing a women’s book that’s part of a series being written by a stable of authors. I did a project like this once before and it seems I forgot how challenging it is to match up all the details of characters, setting, timelines, etc. But it’s good discipline for me and it forces me to outline, which is something I never do.
What outside interests do you have?
I love gardening (especially this time of year). But it can be a challenge where I live because we have extreme temperatures as well as hungry deer and rabbits. But we’re in the process of putting in a large fenced garden and plan to get a few laying hens as well. I also like to travel in our motorhome, and “camp” and play in the beautiful northwest. And I enjoy spending time at the beach, where we have a tiny cabin.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
I used to shy away from setting too many books in the northwest, where we live. But then I heard from readers that they enjoyed it. As a result, I’ve set quite a few books along our coast (which I think is gorgeous) or in our mountains. But sometimes (often in teen books) I try to make the setting seem like Anywhere USA because I want the reader to feel immersed, as if it’s her town, her story, and not be distracted by the setting.
If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
I’m not sure. In a way I think my ignorance really was bliss—if I had known more, I might’ve been too intimidated to try. And looking back I realize that many of the things I thought I knew weren’t really true. But I never dreamed that I’d write and publish as much as I have and I don’t think it would’ve been good to have known that. One thing that did frustrate me, when I first began writing, was trying to grasp the publishing process. But then I worked in a publishing for a few years and got an invaluable education. Maybe the one thing I wish I’d known (and still need to remember) is that the one constant in publishing is that it’s fluid and ever-changing. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, everything gets turned upside down again. But change is good, right?
What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
It’s not a “new” lesson, but it’s something I never completely get—learning to trust God despite everything. I see loved ones going through trials; friends whose lives are being shaken; a country and world that looks unstable…and it’s easy to feel fearful or worried. That’s when I am reminded I need to trust God. I need to give my concerns to him. He’s the one who takes care of us, and we just need to believe in his goodness and mercy.
What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
1. Allow yourself to write poorly. In other words, let the words flow without constantly self-editing. When you’re done you can go back and fix what needs fixing. 2. Take time to study and observe the world around you. Participate in life and relationships so you have something to write about, and so it feels real. 3. Write, write, write—the more you write the better you get at it. If one project “fails” start another one. It’s all about learning and improving, and that takes time and work.
Tell us about the featured book.
Shattered is part of a series of stand-alone teen novels called Secrets. The commonality of these books is that each main character has a big secret to keep. Early in the story, Cleo Neilson decides to disobey her mother. At the time, it makes sense to her and seems reasonable. But the consequence of Cleo’s bad choice turns her entire life upside down. And the guilt that comes with it is debilitating to the point of almost lethal. She doesn’t think she can ever tell the truth…or that her life will ever be worth living again.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Helicopter Mom is a phrase that must’ve been coined to describe my mom. I am convinced of this. Oh, she would never admit to hovering or overprotecting or smother-mothering me to the point of near asphyxiation. If anyone suggested such a thing, her response would be to flash an effervescent yet innocent smile and say, “It’s simply because I love Cleo so much, and I only get one chance to be a good mom.” And thanks to Mom’s sunny disposition and sweet spirit, most would excuse her bad behavior.
Even I used to excuse her. Like the time she was the only parent to show up at the middle school assembly where ex-cons were talking to students about “stranger danger.” I was a little red faced then, but I knew she meant well. And after she heard their sincere presentation and was assured that they weren’t actually using the assembly as an opportunity to pick out their next young victims, namely me, she went home and made brownies. I forgave her then . . . and many times afterward.
But the older I got, the less tolerant I grew. And now, as a healthy, normal seventeen-year-old girl who wants some independence, here is what I know for sure: If I look over my shoulder, my mom will most likely be there. Lurking somewhere on the sidelines or in the shadows, she will be watching (aka spying) to ensure that “nothing goes wrong in my life.”
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I have a website www.melodycarlson.com and I invite readers to visit there and to sign up for my monthly newsletter (we have many contests and give away lots of books!).
Thank you, Melody, for visiting with us again.
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