I am delighted to give a warm welcome to Canadian debut novelist, Melanie Robertson-King, my first guest in the Author Spotlight after the summer break. I’ve known Melanie online for some time and know she has connections to Scotland. I couldn’t be more pleased that her first novel, A Shadow in the Past, is now released from 4RV Publishing. Great to have you here today, Melanie, as part of your blog tour and thanks for answering my questions! First, here’s a little about the novel.
A Shadow in the Past
When a contemporary teen is transported back through time to the Victorian era, she becomes A Shadow in the Past…
When nineteen year old Sarah Shand finds herself in Victorian Era Aberdeenshire, Scotland, she has no idea how she got there. Her last memory is of being at the stone circle on the family farm in the year 2010.
Despite having difficulty coming to terms with her situation, Sarah quickly learns she must keep her true identity a secret.
Still, she feels stifled by the Victorians’ confining social practices, including arranged marriages between wealthy and influential families, confronts them head on and suffers the consequences.
When Sarah realizes she has fallen in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, she faces an agonizing decision. Does she try to find her way back to 2010 or remain in the past with the man she loves?
A Shadow in the Past is available from: 4RV Publishing; Amazon US; Amazon Canada; Amazon UK; Barnes & Noble; ChaptersIndigo
Tell us a little about how you became a writer
I’ve always enjoyed reading and as a teen penned some short stories as well as what could have been a graphic novel (as I did the illustrations myself) but there was never an end to it. I spent most of the summer I graduated from grade 8, working on it.
It wasn’t until many years later that I put pen to paper and began writing again – first short stories that I entered in contests (not overly successful) and articles which I’ve had published in Canada, the US and the UK.
This summer, one of my short stories (Cole’s Notes) was contracted by Carrick Publishing for their first cross-genre anthology for the Kindle. I was thrilled! It was a story I had written after attending a writing workshop and had used some of the tips I’d picked up that day.
Did you have to do a lot of research for this novel?
Yes and no. As far as the location, not too much because I’ve been to that part of your beautiful country many times. I set my novel in Aberdeenshire where my father was born. The historical part needed lots of research – clothing, customs, available appliances, food, drink, speech, and medical knowledge of the day. There are many books on the Victorian Era but not many focus on Scotland specifically but Great Britain as a whole.
Was it difficult to find a publisher?
Difficult doesn’t begin to describe it. I had sent out various drafts over the years to publishers all with the same result – doesn’t fit our needs at this time but good luck. I entered the Mills & Boon New Voices twice but never got very far.
Then, one day last year whilst visiting your blogs, I stumbled onto your post about the MuseItUp Online Conference so I signed up and booked appointments to pitch to an agent and an editor. I pitched to Vivian Zabel of 4RV Publishing. By this time, I had a fantastic pitch but that was about it. The pitch went extremely well and I was asked to submit, so the next few days I perfected the opening of my novel and submitted it. Needless to say, I was gobsmacked when she e-mailed me later that night and said they were offering me a contract. Wow! And had I not stopped by your blog and read about the conference, I might still be making the rounds submitting without success. (I’m so pleased about that, Melanie!)
Do you think eBooks are the future? Or do you prefer print?
I don’t think print books will ever disappear. There’s nothing like the feel of a physical book in your hands. I have many tomes in both formats. A loaded eReader is so much more practical to take on trips when you have to consider the weight of your luggage. I tend to alternate reading between print and eBooks.
How will you promote your book?
I travelled to Kansas with my red shoes aka ruby slippers (I wore them for my first book award at the RWA chapter Valentines brunch) for the US debut of my novel at the Kansas Book Festival and on Sept 22nd, I hosted a launch in my hometown of Brockville, Ontario.
I’m a member of loveahappyending.com and recently became one of their feature authors. Their new initiative is the loveahappyending.com bookshelf where publishers and their authors and successful indie authors, along with their books, are featured.
Currently, I’m on day 5 of a 15 day blog tour promoting A Shadow in the Past. It started on Sept 28th and will carry on until Oct 12th where my grand finale will be on Author Roast & Toast.
I did a radio interview a few days before my local launch, a TV interview immediately before and will be doing another TV interview for another program in October. In the meantime, I’ll use my blog and website to my advantage and set up signings/readings at area bookstores and libraries.
And then there’s social media which is huge these days. I have an author page on Facebook, am on Twitter and Google+, although I don’t post as often on the latter as I should.
What is the most difficult part about starting a new novel?
For me, it’s saying goodbye to the characters that I’ve come to know and love. I’d love to keep writing books that feature my heroine from A Shadow in the Past but other than the sequel that the framework is already written for, I think I need to give the others a chance. They’re begging me to let them bask in the spotlight so if I don’t want to be tortured by them, I best go along with their demands.
Do you have a favourite writing place?
As long as I can find a comfortable place to sit with my laptop, I’m happy. My only demand is that it has to be totally quiet. No TV, no radio, no music of any kind, and don’t even think of talking to me. My train of thought can get derailed so easily that I need the quiet.
Do you find time for hobbies?
Not as much as I used to have but it’s not been my writing that’s kept me from doing them. I love to travel but looking after ill and elderly relatives put those plans on hold. My trip to Kansas was the first long trip I’d taken in years.
We have a beautiful waterfront here in town (and if you stand on the pavement in front of my house and turn to your right, you can see the river so I can brag I have a river view) so walking the paths along it, usually with my camera.
I’m also interested in genealogy which was quite useful when it came to developing family trees for my characters.
What are your current writing plans?
Working on the sequel for A Shadow in the Past will become a priority in January, but between now and then I want to get my name and my current novel out there as much as possible.
Any tips for new writers?
Read, read, and read some more. Join a writing group and get a good critique partner. And on that note, be prepared to accept their suggestions. Attend workshops. And I know this is easier said than done but don’t take a rejection too hard.
Many thanks for those great answers, Melanie.
You can find out more about Melanie on her Author Website; Blog; Facebook; Twitter @RobertsoKing
Melanie is a member of Romance Writers of America and their Ottawa Chapter.
She lives in Brockville, Ontario, Canada along the shore of the majestic St. Lawrence River with her husband, son and oldest grandson.