1. Who or what inspired you to write your first book and how has that subsequently influenced your writing?
I had an overwhelming urge to write. That's it plain and simple. I put my son down for a nap 21 years ago and something came over me. I had to wait 10+ years until I had the time to focus on writing–it was not easy to find even a few quiet moments with six kids underfoot 🙂 When our youngest went to kindergarten, I found my keyboard and we've been joined at the fingertips ever since.
2. What awards have you achieved for your books?
2011 Beach Book Award Winner (Spirituality); 2011 Readers Favorite Awards Winner (Fiction/Drama), Finalist (Women's fiction); 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Award, Finalist (Spirituality); 2011 New England Book Festival, Honorable Mention (Spitituality)
2011 Readers Favorite Awards Winner (paranormal), Finalist (Women's Fiction, Mystery); 2011 Dan Poynter's Global ebook AWards , Winner, (Paranormal); Top 10 Books of 2011, Pixel of Ink; Amazon Top 100 75+ Days running; Indie Reader's bestselling List That Counts (8 weeks); Top Books of 2011, The Write Agenda
COME BACK TO ME
2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Finalist; 2012 Reader's Favorite Awards, Finalist; 2012 Kindle Book Review Best Indie Books Award, Finalist (Winners TBD Oct. 2012); 2012 Dan Poynter's Global Ebook Awards, Finalist; Top 5 Must Read Books of 2011, Indie Reader; Top Ten Books of 2011, Tea Time With Marce; Indie Reader Best Reviewed Books of 2011, Huffington Post
3. Can you suggest one book that you think everyone should read and why?
A Thousand Splendid Suns. The characters in that book are harsh, real, often gritty or heart wrenching. Hosseini fleshes them out perfectly–sometimes you like them, sometimes you dislike them. Their plights are rich with detail and frustration, evoking emotions that are hard to suppress and creating a story that is hard to put down and stays with you long after you've read the last page.
4. Is there one specific book that you would liked to have written and why?
Not really. Every author brings their own artistic talent to their work, so my writing a book would have changed the flavor of it. I wish I were creative enough to come up with an exciting and unmatched premise like in the Hunger Games, but my writing career is still young, so never say never.
5. In the books that you've written to date, who would you say is the most complex character, who do you regard as your favourite character and why?
Oh yikes! My characters will turn on me if I answer the second question! The most complex character to write was Suha in COME BACK TO ME. She was a grand mixture of strength and compassion hidden beneath a lifetime of fear. Suha had an exterior that had hardened like an unripe apple–with a sweetness inside that she dare not reveal.
6. What made you choose writing novels as opposed to other creative styles of writing? And which genres do you most enjoy writing and why?
My characters speak to me loud and clear. They claim my brain when I write, and I assume they deem themselves worthy of entire novels rather than short stories or novellas. I didn't choose novel writing, it chose me.
7. Do you have any theme, plan, structure that you use to create and shape any of your books?
Nope, I'm a total pantzer. When I try to organize my writing from the first page it falls flat. For me, letting my characters take over is the most effective, and is the most fun. I'm often surprised by my characters actions. My children laugh at me when I am angry or excited about something a character did. They roll their eyes and I get a muted, "You wrote it, Mom. You decide what happens." If they only knew how wrong they were.
8. What makes you decide on the title of each book?
Titles and character names are very important to me. I have to feel the right title for my book and the right name for each character before I begin writing the book or about the character. I've been known to take a week to begin writing while I research a particular character's name. I know it's silly, but I do. I play around with titles and names until the right one hits, and then I'm ready to begin.
9. What do you find is the most challenging part as a writer and how did/do you overcome it?
The most challenging, by far, is establishing a readership. There are so many books out there, hundreds of thousands of new books on a daily basis. I believed in my work and never give up building relationships with readers.
10. How do you find inspiration to write and how do you keep motivated when things get tough when you're writing?
I never lack inspiration or motivation because I waited with baited breath for over 10 years before I was able to write. For me, writing is a passion, not a job. It's something I crave and every page I write rejuvenates my enthusiasm for the next. I'm truly blessed to be able to do what I love.
11. What has been your toughest criticism and best compliment given to you as a writer and how have you put both of these to your advantage?
Toughest criticism? Gosh, there are so many. I learned about formatting the hard way after 40,000 improperly formatted downloads of one of my books. Readers don't know about formatting ebooks, they only know about the end product. Therefore, they thought they had read a book with a plethora of editing errors, when in fact it was a technical malfunction. I had hired a formatter to format my book after it had already been in print–we found a few typos and I wanted them fixed. She used a PDF (big mistake) and many initial caps were lost, truncated sentences appeared. It was a nightmare and very embarrassing. In the end, it was my fault for trusting the system and not previewing the ebook before getting it out there.
12. What projects are you currently working on or looking forward to getting into in the future?
I'm so glad you asked! I have two manuscripts ready for publication:
TRACES OF KARA
Kara Knight can't wait to leave her hometown for the promise of nursing school and a fresh start on her future–leaving behind an overprotective mother, a broken heart and painful memories. However, twenty-five miles away, the brother she doesn't know is determined to be reunited with his sister he cannot forget. Kara is abducted and thrown into her obsessive captor's delusional world. As the past she thought she knew unravels around her, Kara struggles to make sense of the memories that come creeping back, threatening her sanity and safety. Meanwhile, Kara's mother races against time to save the daughter she fears she will lose when a long-held secret is revealed. The hours tick away as Roland plays out his plan–to take Kara with him into death at the exact moment of their birth, never to be separated again.
TRACES OF KARA is an action packed, pulse pounding psychological thriller/suspense novel that features a determined killer who slowly loss his grip on reality as his carefully detailed plan starts to fall apart and a heroine determined to move forward with her life who must now reconcile everything she believed to be true about her family with the reality of their tragic past.
WHERE PETALS FALL
Junie Olsen's hometown was a place of carefree afternoons, secret gardens, and pup tents-until the day her childhood best friend, Ellen, disappeared. It had been many years since that fateful afternoon, Junie is married to Ellen's older brother, and they're the proud parents of a seven-year-old girl, Sarah. Then, out of the blue, Sarah begins to emotionally regress, fraying her parents' once impenetrable marriage. Junie's father suddenly drops dead from a heart attack, spurring memories of the days surrounding Ellen's disappearance that Junie didin't realize she possessed. Junie finds herself asking questions about what really happened to Ellen, about her father's possible involvement, and about her own husband's complicity. Haunted by newfound memories, and at risk of losing her marriage, Junie must gather the courage to revisit her past and untangle the secrets surrounding her missing friend, and the trauma that has caused her little girl to climb back into herself.
WHERE PETALS FALL is an emotionally compelling women's fiction novel with an undercurrent of suspense featuring a determined mother whose world slowly unravels around her, and her transition into an indominatable heroine who must reconcile what she discovers about her husband and family's secret and tragic past, and find a way to put the pieces of her family back together and carry on.
13. Are there any new authors that have recently grabbed your interest and why?
I don't have much time to read. My reading time is at midnight, and I'm usually focusing on my book club choice for The Women's Nest, a social and support site for women that I run, so it's hard for me to evaluate many books over the year. I did just read an ARC of Kathleen Shoop's newest quirky women's novel, OPPOSITE OF THAT, and I truly enjoyed every second of it. She writes beautifully.
14. Do you have any advice or tools that are must-haves for aspiring writers?
Hmm….as for advice, the most important aspect of being a writer is producing quality work that you can feel good about sharing with others. I beg of you not to forgo the use of a professional editor–even if you have to delay publication for six months while you save money to hire an experienced editor. You have one reputation , and you must covet that reputation. Readers are forgiving, but they may not be forgivign enough for a poorly paced, error-ridden book. Nurture your story, walk away from it, hire beta readers, hire an editor, then read it over and over again until you are sure it's reader worthy. Readers aren't going anywhere, we're lucky in that regard. A few more weeks or months won't make things harder for your book to succeed. Oh, and also, learn about marketing your book BEFORE publication. Prepping is a good thing:-)
15. You have given us an insight into your professional life as a writer. What can you tell us about you as a person?
Oh gosh, personally? Well, I love chocolate, cake, ice cream, and brownies, but mostly I love whipped cream with chocolate jimmies and I can eat that without cake, ice cream etc. I adore my hubby, Les, and my children and step children, who fill my lives with interesting moments, laughter beyond the imaginable, support, and gray hair. My brothers (all six of them), my mother, and my friends and colleaugues mean the world to me. I crave writing, love exercise, and anything outdoors. Cape Cod is where I'd always rather be. I'm honest to a fault, dislike prejudice of any type, and according to my friends, I'm way too happy all the time. Colors and music make me happy. I love dancing in rain puddles and helping friends see the positive side of life. Oh, and I love my cat, William, even if I'm allergic to him.
16. Is there any particular question that you have wanted to be asked in an interview and how would you respond to that question?
Nope, I don't prepare for interviews. What you see is what you get, so I never think, "Damn it, I wish…"
Links to contact Melissa Foster:
www.melissafoster.com, www.fostering-success.com, www.facebook.com/melissafosterbooks, www.twitter.com/Melissa_Foster, www.thewomen'snest.com, www.worldliterarycafe.com, www.amazon.com (Melissa Foster
It has been interesting to see what Melissa has to say and for answering each question so fully! Many thanks to you Melissa! 🙂
Thank you to Heather at Creative Review