Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Author Spotlight: Melanie Robertson-King

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

A Shadow in the Past is Melanie Robertson-King’s debut novel. Prior to turning her hand to fiction, she wrote articles and has been published in Canada, the US and the UK. In addition to writing, her interests include genealogy, photography and travel. On one of her trips to Scotland, she had the honor of meeting The Princess Royal.

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.


Nicky Wells said...

Great interview, Melanie and Rosemary, loved the questions and the answers. And how amazing to hear about the connection between Rosemary's blog and Melanie's publishing contracts. Right place, right time, some things are just meant to be. That is so inspiring! Great launch, tour, Mel, I hope it's all going really well. X

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Many thanks for commenting, Nicky - it really was a case of serendipity!

Melanie said...

Thanks for hosting me here today, Rosemary!

Melanie said...

Thanks for stopping by Nicky! Right place, right time for sure. Rosemary said it best - serendipity.

Kit Domino said...

Great interview, Rosemary. Fascinating to read. Another book for the must read pile.

Melanie said...

Thanks for stopping by, Kit. Time travel is almost as fun to write as it is to read.

Bill Kirton said...

Great stuff, you two. You're both excellent proof of the irresistible draw of writing, and your remarks about how your characters hassle you for attention, Melanie, is so familiar. And even if you don't have much time for hobbies, who needs them when the writing's going well?

Final point, I bet Melanie's not the only one who's benefited from the links you keep posting, Rosemary.

Janice Horton said...

What a lovely interview and how fabulous that it was on your blog, Rosemary, where Melanie's first steps to finding a publisher were made!

I do love a Scottish set novel and I'm really looking forward to reading A Shadow in the Past. I wish you great success, Melanie. Have fun on your around the world virtual tour!

Janice xx

4RV Publishing said...

Wow! Now we're in Scotland. I also enjoyed the visit in A Shadow in the Past.

Melanie said...

Thanks for stopping by, Bill, and commenting. I'd rather have my characters hassling me for attention than not speaking to me at all. And I agree, when the writing is going well, who needs hobbies.


Jean Bull said...

A great interview, Rosemary and Melanie. I'm looking forward to reading A Shadow in the Past!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi everyone - I've been out most of the day and it's lovely to see so many coments. Thanks for supporting Melanie! It's a pleasure to have you here, Melanie.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for that, Kit!

Many thanks for your kind comment, Bill!

Thanks for visiting, Janice - you know all about Scottish set novels!

Many thanks for your support in visiting the blog, 4RV Publishing!

Thank you, Jean!

Melanie said...

It was fabulous that my landing a publisher began from reading a post here. So much so, that when you read my novel, you'll see that I mention Rosemary in the acknowledgements.

Thanks for your good wishes, Janice!

Melanie said...

Hope you enjoy your stop in the 'auld country', Vivian.

Sheryl said...

A case of persistence paying off (coupled with obvious talent!). Well done, Melanie, and absolute best of luck! :) xx

Bikerhen said...

And here you are in bonnie Scotland. It's a great tour so far...love the different blogs I have visited.

Melanie said...

Disappear for a bite of lunch and come back the place is really jumping! Wow! Thanks for dropping by Jean.

Sheryl, I've been told that I'm sometimes too stubborn for my own good...

Bikerhen, you made it! Glad to see you here and that you've enjoyed the stops along the way.

It's been great being here today, Rosemary. Perhaps, I can return the favour and host you over at Celtic Connexions.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for visiting, Sheryl!

Hi Bikerhen - thanks for commenting!

Patsy said...

Interesting interview and the book sounds intriguing.

Joanna said...

That was a lovely interview, Rosemary and Melanie. The novel sounds fabulous and it was fantastic to know how Rosemary's blog post played an important role in the story of its publication.
Congratulations, Melanie, on your success and good luck with all your writing in the future.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for commenting, Patsy!

Many thanks, Joanna!

Joan Fleming said...

Such an interesting interview, Melanie and Rosemary. I've recently returned from a short visit to Aberdeenshire, so your book sounds all the more enticing!

Maggie Jagger said...

The air smells good here! I like the advice you give, Melanie. Joining a group worked for me, and reading to dissect how the magic is made helped me see what I was missing.

Melanie said...

Hi Patsy and Joanna. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Melanie said...

Ah, Aberdeenshire. Hope you had a great time there, Joan. Can I ask what part of the lovely shire?

Melanie said...

Hi Maggie. The air does smell fantastic, doesn't it? So fresh and crisp and clean.

I can say that joining ORWA was one of the best moves I ever made.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for commenting, Joan!

Hi Maggie - thanks for coming over to comment!

Anonymous said...

Great interview Rosemary, will check the website. You have cake on my blog.xx

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