Name Melanie Macek

Age About halfway to retirement

Where are you from

I was born in California but have lived in Texas over half of my life now. I’ve been married for 16 years. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies EC-4 (teaching) from Western Governors University in Utah and a Master of Art degree in Creative Writing from Regis University in Denver, Colorado. I have been lucky enough to find a job utilizing them both. I enjoy Texas but still identify as a SoCal girl, a desert rat. My husband and I love to travel, which is where a good number of story ideas come from.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

I’m working on the second book in the historical series ‘Heroes, Hearts, and Honor’. It’s almost done and I’m excited to get this one to beta readers in a month or so. I’m also working on a contemporary novel that has a bit of romance, a bit of science fiction, and a bit of thriller. No clue where that’s going, but it’s fun to write.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing something for as long as I can remember. I didn’t try to write my first novel until I was 21. I had an undeniable urge to start a story so I put on my jacket, grabbed a spiral notebook and a pen and started writing. I think I had about ten handwritten pages before frozen fingers forced me inside. It took me another 14 years to finish that book.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Not until I went to my first writer’s conference. I’d finished the first book, and had two others partially started. The women I met at that conference told me to call myself a writer and to do so proudly. They were extremely encouraging.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

Not depress your readers, but it was the death of my mother and my first marriage. My mother passed away suddenly when I was 21. Life fell apart for a few months, which took a toll on my marriage. With all the feelings I was dealing with, writing seemed like the perfect outlet at the time. I’ve have stops and starts along the way but it eventually became something that I need to do on a regular basis.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

I write stories that fall to the sweeter side of the spectrum. I try to do as much research as possible to make them historically accurate, going so far as to not use any words not in use at the time the story takes place (I try to catch them all but I’m sure a few have slipped by me). That way the reader can get a feel of what life used to be like. I’ve been told that the dialog is realistic and gives readers a real feel for what the characters are like. I try to make them relatable.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

Titles, the bane of my existence, lol. Sometimes I wake up with a title, then write the story. Other times I’ve had to wait until the book is completely written before I can think of a title. For my book, The Path to You, the title came about two weeks before release with the help of some online writer friends. No one except me like the original title. That one almost killed me! One thing I do is to check online to see if there are any other books with that exact title. If there are, I completely change it.

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Compromise, working as partners, and letting yourself be vulnerable. I see so many instances of people breaking up, either in fiction, television, or real life because they think one person gets to have it their way all the time. A lasting relationship can rarely survive that. I try to show strong characters who keep their dignity, who can appreciate a strong personality, and learn the give and take required to make it last.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Well, now if I told you that…. There are some similarities to my stories and events or people I’ve met. Most of the time, it’s a conglomeration of several people or incidents that end up in the books.

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?

There are several. It’s going to sound very cheesy, but in some way, every book I’ve read has influenced my life. Either by making me think about a situation in history or how I look at different types of relationships like work, romantic, or friendships. Depending on what’s going on in my life will dictate how much a certain book affects me at the time I read it.

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I hate to admit that since I switched jobs I haven’t had much time or brain energy to look for new books. I’ve stuck to established authors lately simply because I know what they’ll deliver.

I’d have to say my favorite author is Diana Gabaldon. (I can only imagine how much her name comes up in a search!) Hers are the only books that I’ve been able to read over and over again. I’ve probably read Outlander, the first book in the series, at least 7 times. That includes listening to the audiobooks. In fact, they’re the only audiobooks I own. Let’s just say, I’ve contributed greatly to Diana’s retirement fund.

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Romance Writers of America. While they’ve struggled a bit to keep up with the changes in the industry, they’ve made an effort to do it. They’re working toward accepting self-published authors in more and more ways and offer quite a few ways for a writer to better themselves.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

I would love to see it as a career. My books are not what’s popular on the market, so I still have to have a day job in order to pay bills and sock away something for the future.

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

I think I would have like to spent more time on the research. For what I had at the time, it’s accurate but I know I would find something incorrect if I went back over it.

Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Not really. I’ve always read and created stories since as far back as I can remember. When I was younger, I wrote songs in my head. I helped write a play in elementary school. It actually wasn’t too bad, for a bunch of eleven year olds. It just kind of morphed from there.

Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Nothing yet, as it’s still the first draft and completely unedited. I will tell you that it’s set during the end of the American Revolution in March 1781, Connecticut. There are many changes going on. The story takes place about six months after Benedict Arnold’s act of treason against the Continental Army. There’s uncertainty about where the next major battle will occur. Annabeth Smyth and Sergeant Major Benjamin Anstruther find themselves thrown together by unusual circumstances that force one to reevaluate what important and the other to take charge and not let people walk all over them. I’m hoping to have it out this coming summer, as the first draft is nearly complete.

Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Currently, the biggest challenge is finding the energy. Teaching takes a good chunk of time and even bigger chunk of energy. Most of the time, I only get to write on the weekends.

Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

My books end up being born from my travels. The historical series was born after a trip to Newport, Rhode Island. The information we learned while taking a local history tour made the story completely bloom in my mind. I’m originally from California, so the trilogy was born from places I lived and visited. For the places that I’m unable to visit or never have, Google Earth has become an invaluable tool because of the street view, elevation, where the sun is located during different times of day, all of that can be found on that program. I would hate for someone who lives in that city read my story and immediately tell that I didn’t bother to research their city.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

Several people have designed my covers. Stephanie Littlefield designed the cover for ‘Through Paige’s Eyes’ and did a beautiful job! A local photographer/designer Calcote Creations did the covers for my Rosewood Falls novella series. I personally did the covers for my ‘When Love’ trilogy and the stand alone ‘The Path to You’. Cindy Whitney did Renaissance Wench and Kincaid Group did ‘For Honor or Love’

Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

I think the most difficult part structurally was getting the characters to talk to me. This is actually the third story line and this one finally worked! Research wise? The hardest part is the strategies and remembering where all the pieces of the Continental Army were at the time, major illness outbreaks happening at the time, and making sure that it’s as historically accurate as possible.

Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

The book I’m writing now, the second book in my historical series, has taught me more about the American Revolutionary War. There are so many things that happened during that time in our history that aren’t ever covered in any history class in public school. As far as writing, it’s helping me to hone being able to give more than two characters a distinctive voice. This book has six different points of view.

Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead?

Can I say I dislike this question? LOL I’ve been asked this numerous times and I really have no idea. I don’t see famous people when I write. The characters tell me what they look like and rarely is it someone exceedingly famous.  The only one that I could come close would be ‘Renaissance Wench’. John Barrowman would play Simon English and Kiera Knightly would play Calista ‘Callie’ Houston.

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?

LISTEN TO YOUR INSTINCTS. People will offer tons of advice. Not all of it is right for you, nor is there one method that is an absolute road to success. There have been opportunities offered to me that seemed the best way to approach my career. A few were, but the opportunities that set off warning bells and I passed on were the ones that ended up hurting those who were involved.

FOLLOW YOUR PATH. No one else is in your heart or in your head. You know what audience you’re trying to reach. If you fall into the mindset that you have to write to a specific audience, you run the risk of taking the soul out of the story. Tell your story.

PROTECT YOUR WRITING. I’m not just talking about the pirates out there stealing stories because they can. I’m talking about protecting your writing time, your writing structure, and your voice. Now, that doesn’t mean ignore editors who tell you something sounds off because if it’s someone with experience, they’re probably right. It means protect the integrity of it. Do the best work you can, learn the grammar rules – then you’ll know how to properly break them, listen to your beta readers when they say something’s wrong. Constructive criticism will better your writing. Don’t take it as a personal attack.

Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I appreciate the time and money they spend on my books and I’ve enjoyed engaging with them. It’s been fun to hear how the stories affect them individually because rarely does the same scene affect readers the same way.

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

I’m going between ‘The Scottish Prisoner’ by Diana Gabaldon and ‘The 14th Colony’ by Steve Berry and a Nora Roberts book on my shelf that I want to start.

Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

No. I just know that my mother read to me from an early age. From about the age of five, we had a set of encyclopedias in our home, so I was always reading through those. My favorite volume was the last one where it had the most common words translated into six different languages. I no longer have the set, but I still have that one volume.

Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?

Good movies, sappy commercials, sometimes the things my students say make me laugh and it’s so difficult not to lose it in class.

Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?

I can’t pick just one! Writer, I guess either Diana Gabaldon or Steven King, Simon LeBon from Duran Duran, Wolfgang Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci.

Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?

Nothing. I don’t plan on being buried. I’m claustrophobic to a degree and the idea of being stuck in the ground, in a box, for eternity, is not appealing in the least. I hope my friends have a party where most of the sentences start “You remember when Melanie did….”

Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?

I’m a crafter: crochet, cross stitch, creating little projects especially if they require painting. I’m no artist by any means but I do attempt to draw occasionally, and reading. Reading is probably the hobby that takes the most of my time.

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

I’ve been watching ‘Turn: Washington’s Spies’ on AMC, which is shooting the 4th and final season (I think the British call them series) right now, ‘Outlander’, and my husband and I have been watching ‘The Crown’ on Netflix. I started watching ‘This Is Us’ but I never remember that it’s on and we don’t have a DVR. There’s not really that many shows that I’ve gotten into lately. Oh, ‘Sherlock’ on PBS was pretty addictive.

Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music

Food: Pizza and Spaghetti

Colors: Orange and Blue, Red when I’m doing a writing event.

Music: Duran Duran, Celtic Woman, Mozart, most 80’s music, I’ll listen to most styles at least once.

Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?

All through school, I wanted to be a veterinarian and for a while, I did work with animals. I guess I would have ended up doing what I’m doing now: teaching. 

Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?


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