[MYSTERY WRITERS UNITE, MWU] I’m very excited about today’s blog post here on Mystery Writers Unite because I get to share with you an interview that I had with Melissa Foster, author of Chasing Amanda,Megan's Way and Come Back To Me.
WOW! This is one hard working, talented, and inspirational woman!!
MWU: When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer and what inspired you to write your first book?
Melissa: Hi Becky, thanks so much for having me on your blog today. I’m thrilled to be here.
My answer will appear different than it had in previous interviews, because I’ve not spent time thinking back to my youth and trying to figure out just when that exact moment hit. I don’t think I realized at a young age that I wanted to write, but when I was sixteen I wanted to either be a journalist or an attorney—I know, vastly different fields. That was probably the first time that the urge to write was strong enough for me to take note.
MWU: I read in one of your previous interviews that your writing style has streamlined from one book to another. In what way(s) and how much time do you think you shaved from bringing an idea that has been roaming in your mind to a novel?
Melissa: I’m laughing as I’m reading this because yes, that was true two months ago. I have learned to conceptualize more of the story before writing, and for COME BACK TO ME, my newest release, that helped streamline the writing process tremendously. Now, however, I’m writing a suspense novel and I’m finding that conceptualizing in the same level of detail as I did with COME BACK TO ME is nearly impossible. It’s a different type of story, and to a greater extent must develop and grow as I learn more about the characters and setting as I write. So…not much time has been shaved for this particular writing period.
MWU: What is the most difficult task you face when writing a book? For example, designing the cover, deciding on layout, marketing, self-promotion, etc.
Melissa: For all of my confidence when helping others, I’m equally insecure. That’s a secret 🙂 The most difficult part for me is letting my books go. When they’re released into the hands of the public, it’s the scariest time for me, and as such, the most difficult. I’ve said before that I feel naked when a book is released, and I’m not sure if I’ll be whistled at or beaned with tomatoes. I love whistles…please whistle.
MWU: Do you typically title your books before they are written based on the idea brewing in your mind or do you wait a bit to see how the story unfolds before you decide upon a name? I read that Chasing Amanda was originally titled “The Knowing” when you began writing it…why did you decide to change the title part way through?
Melissa: Yes. I’m weird with my titles. Sometimes I can’t move forward with writing unless I feel the title. I’m currently in a quandary over the working title for my next novel, and it’s amazing to me how many hours I can stare at my computer monitor figuring out the title.
MWU: Characters in Chasing Amanda and Megan’s Way have been given super natural gifts and I wondered if you could have a power bestowed upon you what would you want it to be and why?
Melissa: I would want the power to heal. Too many people are touched by unfair diseases. I wish I could help those people.
MWU: To date, and based upon all three books you’ve written, which character(s) have been the hardest for you to create and why?
Melissa: I had a difficult time creating April in COME BACK TO ME. She had a very different personality then that of my other characters. She was very hard on the outside, and a scared little girl, hiding from the pain of her past on the inside. Even though that’s not such a stretch for me, personally, it certainly was the most difficult character to develop.
MWU: Are any of your past characters really you in disguise? Are any of the characters in your books based on people you know?
Melissa: **Smiling** I get asked that a lot, and I like to think that no, these are not pieces of me, but the reality is that we write what we know. I do feel that in MEGAN’S WAY, there was some of me in both Megan and Olivia. If you’ve read the story, and the personal information in the back of the book, then you know that story is a very personal one. It was quite easy to step into the shoes of both Olivia and Megan, as daughter, and as mother, and develop the characters.
In CHASING AMANDA, I probably unknowingly gave Molly some of my stubbornness 🙂
MWU: I know that Megan’s Way is being made into a film (Congratulations!!) and I was wondering how that project a) came about and b) how it is going and c) when can your fans expect to see it in theatres?
Melissa: Yes, thank you! I self published MEGAN’S WAY in 2009, and feedback from readers was overwhelming. Many stated that they’d love to see the book adapted to film. One day my husband suggested that I pursue the idea. I called Dakota Fanning’s agent and we spoke for about 45 minutes (she’s just lovely). She asked me to send the book. Three weeks later she asked me to send a copy to Dakota, and Dakota’s manager. About six weeks later she asked for a screenplay. I’m not a screenplay writer, but I went to work with a local screenplay writer, developed a script, and she turned it down. During that time, I had also written a direct adaptation.
This past summer, I was connected with my new director, Lynn d’Angona (LULU ASKEW, THE PROPOSAL, X-FILES, etc.). We really hit it off. I feel very blessed to have connected with her.
Lynn is directing MEGAN’S WAY through the New England Film Factory, with producer Nan Morales (EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES, YOUTH IN REVOLT, LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER, RUNAWAY BRIDE, etc.). Filming will take place in Cape Cod and I have full confidence in both Lynn and Nan. I’m excited to be part of this next adventure!
It’s my understanding that the process takes about 18 months. I’m just as anxious as you are!
MWU: What books or authors have influenced your writing? If you had to choose a writing mentor, who would that be?
Melissa: I answer this question a lot, and every book I read helps me in some way, whether it’s how I want to write or effects I want to stay away from. The one author who has influenced my writing from day 1 was Jodi Picoult. Her books drew me in on an emotional level in a way that others didn’t. Harlen Coben’s books did the same thing. To this day, if I read Harlen, I have to look at his photo several times because they’re so emotionally compelling that I can’t help but think they’re written by a woman (totally sexist remark. I apologize).
MWU: If you could part with one morsel of wisdom for new writers, what would that be?
Melissa: Never stop writing, never skip a professional editor, and don’t be in a rush to put out work that isn’t the best it can be. (oops, that’s three, sorry).
MWU: What are you working on now and when can we expect to see your next new novel?
Melissa: I’m currently working on THIRTY SIX HOURS (unsure of working title), a suspense novel set in a small, blue-collar town. I have just begun writing this story, so I don’t have a great one liner for you yet, but I’ll try.
Kara Knight has just thirty six hours to find her way out of her obsessive captor's delusional world. Mistaken for Roland Greer's long-lost fraternal twin, Kara struggles to make sense in the darkness that envelopes her, and plot her escape, as the hours tick away and Roland Greer plays out his plan. In thirty six hours, at the exact moment of their birth, he will take them both into death–never to be separated again.
THIRTY SIX HOURS is a psychological thriller that will make you question your every memory.
I know how busy you are and wanted to thank you for taking the time to let me interview you for Mystery Writers Unite – this is a fairly new blog and I really appreciate you giving me the opportunity to showcase your talents!
Becky, I feel blessed to have connected with you. Social media has opened such wonderful avenues to connect with readers and the literary community. Thank you for reaching out to me, and for having me as your guest. It has been my pleasure to be part of this project with you, and I hope to remain connected for years to come.
—— Melissa Foster Books
Synopsis for Chasing Amanda
Nine years ago, Molly Tanner witnessed a young girl's abduction in the busy city of Philadelphia, shifting her occasional clairvoyance into overdrive. Two days later, the girl's body was found, and Molly's life fell apart. Consumed by guilt for not acting upon her visions, and on the brink of losing her family, Molly escaped the torturous reminders in the city, fleeing to the safety of the close-knit rural community of Boyds, Maryland.
Molly's life is back on track, her son has begun college, and she and her husband have finally rekindled their relationship. Their fresh start is shattered when a seven-year-old girl disappears from a local part near Molly's home. Unable to turn her back on another child and troubled by memories of the past, Molly sets out to find her, jeopardizing the marriage she'd fought so hard to hold together. While unearthing clues and struggling to decipher her visions, Molly discovers another side of Boyds, where the residents–and the land itself–hold potentially lethal secrets, and exposes another side of her husband, one that threatens to tear them apart.
Chasing Amanda Awards:
2011 Readers Favorite Awards, Winner (Paranormal), Finalist, (Women's Fiction, Mystery)
2011 Dan Poynter's Global eBook Awards, Winner, (Paranormal)
When Megan Taylor, a single mother and artist living in Cape Cod, receives the shocking news that her cancer has returned, she's faced with the most difficult decision she's ever had to make. the love she has for her daughter, Olivia, and her closest friends will be stretched and frayed.
Megan's illness reawakens the torment of her best friend, Holly Townsend, whose long-held secrets and years of betrayal come back to haunt her. How does one choose between a daughter and a life-long best friend? Can the secret she has been keeping be revealed after years of lying without destroying everyone in its wake? Meanwhile, fourteen-year-old Olivia's world is falling apart right before her eyes, and there's nothing she can do about it. She finds herself acting in ways she cannot even begin to understand. When her internal struggles turn to dangerous behavior, even the paranormal connection she shares with her mother might not be enough to save her – her life will hang in the balance.
Megan's Way is a journey of self-discovery and heartfelt emotions, exploring the depth of the mother-daughter bond, and the intricacies of friendship.
Megan's Way Awards:
2010 Next Generation Indie Book Award, Finalist (Spirituality)
2011 Beach Book Award, Winner (Spirituality)
2011 Readers Favorite Awards, Winner (Fiction/Drama), Finalist(Women's Fiction)
Tess Johnson has it all, Beau, her handsome photographer husband, a thriving business, and a newly discovered pregnancy. When Beau accepts an overseas photography assignment, Tess decides to wait to reveal her secret — only she's never given the chance. Beau's helicopter crashes in the desert.
As Tess struggles to put her life back together and deal with the pregnancy she can no longer hide a new client appears offering more than just a new project.
Meanwhile, two Iraqi women who are fleeing Honor Killings find Beau alive in the middle of the desert, his body ravaged. Suha, a doctor, and Samira, a widow and mother of three young children, nurse him back to health in a makeshift tent. Beau bonds with the women and children, and together, with the help of an underground organization, they continue their dangerous escape.
What happens next is a test of loyalties, strength, and love.