Melanie Dobson has written ten contemporary and historical novels including five releases in Summerside’s Love Finds You series. In 2011, two of her releases won Carol Awards: Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa (for historical romance) and The Silent Order (for romantic suspense).
She enjoys the research process that comes along with being an author of historical fiction so much that she often has a difficult time stopping the research on the history and locale in order to start the writing. Because Melanie visits each location she writes about, she’s been able to spend time in the beautiful and fascinating towns across the country that bring her stories to life.
Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master's degree in communication from Regent University. Prior to her writing career, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and a publicist for The Family Channel. She later launched her own public relations company and worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for more than fifteen years.
She met her husband, Jon, in Colorado Springs, but since they've been married, the Dobsons have relocated numerous times including stints in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Berlin, and Southern California. Along with their two daughters, Karly and Kiki, they now enjoy their home in the Pacific Northwest. The entire Dobson family loves to travel and hike in both the mountains and along the cliffs above the Pacific.
When Melanie isn't writing or playing with her family, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.
Why do you write the kind of books you do?
I love to research old towns and uncover stories about heroic people from the past. When I write historical fiction (what one friend calls “fact-tion”), I immerse myself in a different era and ask “what if….” The wondering “what if” is my favorite part of writing a novel.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
I have three happiest days. The first day was May 9, 1998 when I married the love of my life in a rustic
Colorado lodge. The second was the day Jon
and I met our oldest daughter. I’ll never forget going to the hospital that
July morning and lifting the most beautiful brown haired, brown-eyed baby girl
into my arms. I didn’t want to put her back down. And the third was the day the
State of South Carolina
granted us custody of our second daughter, Kinzel Shae. We were waiting at the
state line for the phone call that said we could take her out of the state to
meet her sister and grandparents.
How has being published changed your life?
Deadlines have definitely changed my life. I used to have months and even years to linger over a story idea or dream about what might happen with my characters, but now I have to discipline myself to decide quickly about the direction of my characters and story. Part of me misses those days of researching for hours as I dreamed and wondered about the beginning and middle of a story, but as someone who starts a new project with great enthusiasm and then struggles to complete it, deadlines are really good for me. They help me stay on track to actually write the endings of my story ideas as well.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished reading Things Unseen: Living in the Light of Forever by Mark Buchanan. It’s a beautifully written book about what why we are never fully content in this life because what our hearts long for most is on the other side.
What is your current work in progress?
I’m in the midst of edits for Where the Trail Ends, one of the novels in Summerside’s new American Tapestries series. This historical romance is about a woman named Samantha Waldron and her young brother who struggle to survive after they are left behind on the
Oregon Trail. And it’s
about a proper British gentleman who wants the American emigrants to go home
before they take over this new country that Hudson’s Bay Company has claimed for the
What would be your dream vacation?
Europe for a month
(or more) with my family. We lived in Berlin
when our girls were younger, and I would like to take them back to explore the
medieval German villages as well as visit the quaint towns and mountains in Austria, Switzerland,
France, and Italy.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
Each book is a little different. Sometimes I send my editor ideas of where I’d like to set one of the Love Finds You books, and sometimes she asks me to write a novel in a specific location. Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana, for example, was set in
because this town was a major hub on the Underground Railroad, and the name Liberty was quite fitting
for the townspeople’s work in helping runaway slaves. Love Finds You in Amana and were
set in the Amana Colonies--a place I've been intrigued about since I was a
child. And Love Finds You in Mackinac
Island, Michigan was the perfect setting for a Victorian-era romance
about a society family on the crux of losing their fortune and an
eighty-year-old mystery discovered in an abandoned lighthouse. Homestead
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
My dear friend, Tosha Williams. Tosha and I became friends at
, and her friendship has been
a treasure to me for more than twenty years now. Our paths have intersected
repeatedly over the years, but now that we live 1,400 miles apart, we try to
get together for “tea” over the phone whenever we can. It would be such a treat
for me to spend an entire evening with her, talking about writing, our
families, and how God is working in our lives. Liberty University
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I love travelling and exploring abandoned houses, ghost towns, and old cemeteries. I also enjoy hiking in the mountains with my family during the summer and country western dancing in the winter. My husband tolerates this dancing hobby of mine fairly well and we often go two-stepping on date nights.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
My most difficult obstacle right now is scheduling blocks of time devoted to writing. I write during the evenings after my girls have gone to bed as well as on Saturdays while they are running errands and playing with Dad. With every book deadline, I schedule one or two weekends in a local hotel to focus on the story. The girls love to come swim at the hotel pool with their dad, and I’m able to have (mostly) uninterrupted writing time for forty-eight hours.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
I watched an interview a long time ago with a bestselling novelist, and I was shocked when the woman said she was a “horrible” writer. She quickly followed up her admission, saying that even though she was a horrible writer she was a fabulous re-writer.
At the time I watched her interview, I was talking about writing all the time and thinking about it even more. The problem was that I was not actually doing much writing because I was terrified I would fail. And if I failed, I would be devastated. Once I realized my first draft didn’t have to be even close to perfect, I let go of my fears and began scribbling down random thoughts and scenes onto paper. Then I polished and reworked and rewrote these thoughts and scenes until I had a clean manuscript that I could send to a publisher.
I would encourage a new writer who might be terrified of the process to sit down with a notepad or her laptop and begin pouring out what’s in her heart for the first draft. Don’t sweat the editing and publishing until later.
Tell us about the featured book.
I’ve always wanted to visit
Island so I was really excited to contract for a story set on this
lovely island where time seems to stand still. There are no cars on Mackinac
and most of the houses and hotels were built more than a hundred years ago. Here’s
a short blurb about this novel:
As the Gilded Age comes to a close, Elena Bissette’s once-wealthy family has nearly lost its fortune. The Bissettes still own a home on fashionable
Mackinac Island, where they
will spend one last summer in the hope of introducing Elena to a wealthy
suitor. But Elena is repulsed by the idea of marrying for money. Quickly tiring
of the extravagant balls, she spends most evenings escaping back into
Mackinac’s rugged forest. There she meets Chase, a handsome soldier who shares
her love for the night sky. The two begin to meet in secret at an abandoned
lighthouse, where they work together to solve a mystery hidden in the pages of
a tattered diary.
As Elena falls in love with Chase, her mother relentlessly contrives to introduce her to the island’s most eligible bachelor. Marriage to the elusive millionaire would solve the Bissettes’ financial woes, and Elena is torn between duty and love.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Wind gusted over the bow of the Manitou and whistled under the canopy of her deck. Below the deck, a pipe organ entertained those women who wouldn’t think of mussing their hair or wrinkling their beaded gowns as the steamer maneuvered through the Straits of Mackinac. The deck was crowded with men smoking cigars and talking about whether their fine country would recover from the utter failure of the economy.
Elena Bissette wasn’t talking with the men. She stood against the railing and clung to the organza band that encircled her new hat, trying to keep it from drowning in the choppy waters that marked the juncture of Lakes Michigan and Huron. Strands of light brown hair tangled around her face, and she tried unsuccessfully to secure them behind her ears with her gloved fingers. The breeze tugged at her hair like a child wanting to play, but she couldn’t join in. Not until she was alone.
Jillian had put up Elena’s hair an hour ago, pinning it neatly into an elegant French twist. Her hair would be a disaster by the time they reached
Island—and so would her mother, once she saw Elena’s hair. When
Mama emerged onto the deck, Elena knew exactly what she would say.
Elena Ingrid Bissette. Her mother’s fists would ball up against her wide hips. You’re not supposed to be outside in the wind. You’re supposed to be in the stateroom until our arrival, waiting with your father and me.
The admonitions raged louder in Elena’s mind, drowning out the roar of the wind and waves.
What if he saw you like this, Elena? What would he do?
Mama would snap her fingers. He’d move on to the next girl. Just like that. And there will be plenty of young ladies on Mackinac this summer, plenty of pretty girls.
Tears would follow in perfect dramatic time, just a few of them to inspire the necessary dose of guilt. Then her mother would lean even closer.
Are you trying to ruin what’s left of our lives?
Elena laughed in spite of herself. As if tangled hair could ruin the Bissette family name.
I like the story already. How can readers find you on the Internet?
I love connecting with readers on Facebook or through my website—www.melaniedobson.com.
Melanie Dobson's "Mackinac Island' Kindle Fire Giveaway! Celebrate with Melanie by entering her Kindle Fire Giveaway!
Find out what the reviewers are saying here!
- A brand new Kindle Fire
- Signed copies of Melanie’s Love Find You books: Love Finds you in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa, Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa, and Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana.
Just click one of the icons below to enter! Tell your friends about Melanie's giveaway on FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.
Thank you, Melanie, for sharing with us today.
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Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan - paperback
Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan - Kindle
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