Name Mellanie Szereto
Where are you from?
I grew up in Ohio, spent three years in Texas, and have lived in rural Indiana for 25 years. I still love going back to Ohio. It feels like home!
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I’ve been a dance mom, a homeschooler, chief cook and bottle washer, and too many other “Mom” occupations to list! My husband and I have been married for almost 31 years and have two children. I’m a stay-at-home mom, having left the work force as a bookkeeper when our daughter was born and continuing when our autistic/Asperger’s son was born seven years later. I enjoy hiking, gardening, cooking, and Pilates—and, of course, writing!
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I have a brand new release! The Main Dish, book 4 in the Love on the Menu…Extra Hot series, is now available in e-book and print!
Links for The Main Dish:
Amazon (e-book): http://amzn.to/2q11rA6
CreateSpace (print): https://www.createspace.com/7174484
Kobo (e-book): https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-main-dish
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing (with the intent to publish) in 2005 partly to have “me” time and because I had stories in my head that wanted to be told. In high school, I wrote some poetry and a few short stories.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
As soon as I typed the first word, I considered myself a writer. It’s part of who I am, whether anyone reads what I create or not.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
After reading many, many romance books—some good and some not-so-good, I finally found an outlet for the stories in my head. I love the escapism and the creativity.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
My writing style varies from genre to genre, but I always try to capture the essence and the voices of my characters in every story. I’m a grammar nerd, so that definitely affects my writing style!
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Titles often pop into my head as I’m driving, taking a shower, preparing my garden vegetables for canning and freezing—anything that lets my thoughts roam free. Since my latest series is foodie romance, I concentrated on food-related themes.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Most of my stories focus on family and that family doesn’t always have to be a blood relation. In The Main Dish, the hero is a wonderful father to his former stepdaughter and the heroine has a strained relationship with her parents. Love can be thicker than the blood ties!
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I always use bits of real life, personal experiences, and actual events in my books. I think those touches create more realistic characters and plots. Many of the foods I mention in my stories are straight from my kitchen!
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I loved reading when I was young, often checking out the maximum number of library books week after week! Those that stand out in my mind are Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women series, the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Black Beauty books by Anna Sewell, and Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague series. Another favorite is The Velvet Room by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, because what reader doesn’t see a library as the perfect place to escape to!
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 don’t read as much as I used to because…writing. However, I do belong to a book discussion group and we read an eclectic variety of authors and books. A few that stand out are Still Alice by Lisa Genova, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, and The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas by Anand Moriarty. Two of my favorite romance authors are Cheryl Brooks, who writes sci-fi with really awesome aliens, and Nan Reinhardt, who writes contemporary with older heroines.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The best group of supporters is my local RWA chapter, Indiana Romance Writers of America. We teach and learn from each other and I’ve made many friends through IRWA and RWA!
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, writing is a career to me. While making money is nice, telling stories is what I was meant to do. I’ll write until I can’t anymore.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
That’s a trick question! Like most authors, I continue to tweak and edit even my published books in my head. The Main Dish has just gone out into the world and I’m working on the next book, so I’ll say “No” for now!
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I don’t know the exact how, but several years ago my mother gave me an essay I wrote in fourth grade. I said I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. Maybe the interest has always been there!
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here’s my favorite line from the hero’s and heroine’s first-meet scene:
“Don’t you think you should at least try a sample before you book a caterer? The food could be terrible or give you food poisoning. Here, take one of each.” Mason nodded toward the remaining samples.
Food critic Ginger Elcott has made a lot of enemies with her snarky and scathing reviews, leaving her scrambling to book a caterer for her spur-of-the-moment wedding. As her recurring bad luck would have it, the one man her fiancé wants her to hire is also the object of an annoying and unexpected attraction.
Dealing with bridezillas is part of the job for Mason Hughes, but his newest client takes argumentative and demanding to a new level. Surrendering to her request seems like the easiest solution, but a sizzling kiss sparks more than a passing sexual interest in her.
Circumstances change drastically when Ginger dumps her cheating groom and proposes much more than a single night of passion to her sexy caterer. Two contracts and a wedding later, the bedroom is hotter than the kitchen until a malicious review of Mason’s Premier Catering threatens to roast their newly complicated relationship.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I’m a borderline perfectionist and I can’t plot a book to save my life! My characters are strong-willed and won’t talk to me if I try to make the story go in any direction other than the one they’re dictating.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Many of my books are set in Ohio and I often use research as an excuse to visit. On occasion, my characters will travel to other places I’ve enjoyed visiting or have lived.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
All the covers of my self-published works have been designed by Bethany Michaels of Dragonfly Press Design. She’s a wonderful friend and does fantastic work!
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Life consistently and persistently interferes with my self-imposed deadlines. When I should’ve been finishing the book last month, I also spent time dealing with a stolen credit card number, someone denting my daughter’s car, my daughter interviewing for jobs and accepting one halfway across the country, and my husband’s job stress. I’ve had to learn to be flexible and forgiving when I don’t make my target deadlines, because life goes on either way!
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I always do some research while I’m writing. It can be anything from specific ingredients for the characters’ recipes to making sure they’re using the correct terminology. In The Main Dish, I learned that Ohio does, in fact, have a pork farmers association. For my next book, I’m researching the state and local requirements for running a small egg farm.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I’d cast Paul Rudd (Ant-Man) as Aidan Rourke in Just Desserts, book 1 in the Love on the Menu…Extra Hot series. His mischievous expressions fit Aidan’s personality to a tee!
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
For every writer—Keep writing if you love doing it. For new writers—Learn writing craft and join a writers’ group for support.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope my books give you the kind of escape you enjoy. While I write the stories of my heart, knowing they touch readers’ hearts is a wonderful feeling. I love hearing how much you enjoy my characters and their experiences.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m reading A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman, one of the books my book group chose for this year.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
This goes wayyyy back. I remember reading the classic Little Golden Books when I was four or five years old. One was about children putting on their boots after school and having a parade in the rain. I also loved the Dick and Jane readers from elementary school!
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My husband makes me laugh! He has an endless sense of humor. Cry??? Touching movies and commercials, being mad, and other people crying.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
That’s a tough question! Einstein, Beethoven, Madame Curie, DaVinci, and so many other brilliant minds to choose from… I don’t think I can choose just one!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
“She made a difference in the world.” I believe all of us have the potential to make the world a better place and have a positive influence on at least one person’s life.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I really enjoy hiking and spending time in the wooded hills of Ohio. If I’m wearing enough sunscreen, I also like kayaking!
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I like Star Trek (all the TV series and the movies), the Marvel Comics movies (especially The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy), Dr. Who (even way back to John Pertwee and Tom Baker!), and other sci-fi movies and shows, if they’re well-made and have a good mix of action, intelligence, and humor. Yes, I’m a nerd all the way through! I really enjoyed Hidden Figures and hope the portrayal of John Glenn was historically accurate. What role models he and those extraordinary women are!
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I love fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, homemade bread, soups and stews, good ethnic food of almost any kind. Earth tones are more favorite colors—browns, greens, and blues. They fit the nature-lover in me. Music… I’m a Classic Rock fan—everything from Boston to ZZTop to AC/DC to Bruce Springsteen—but I also have a love of classical music.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I love to learn and study how different parts are related in the grand scheme of things. I’m very much a thinker. Researcher? Philosopher?
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
My website address is http://www.mellanieszereto.com. You can find all the latest news and books there, as well as a peek into what I’m working on next!
Social media links:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/mellanieszereto