I’m thrilled to announce that my latest interview is with Australian author Melissa James.
Please will you tell us about your latest book?
Outback Baby Miracle began as a story requested by readers of my first book – Her Galahad; Duncan’s story. Unfortunately it didn’t sell there – but when I pitched a similar story to Romance, they loved it. It’s the story about a man who feels responsible for the deaths of his wife and child, and the woman who doesn’t know the meaning of the word “distance”. Her pregnancy forces him to come close; her giving heart and soul make him yearn to be more – a better man. It was a very emotional journey for me, as my beloved critique partner Maryanne suddenly passed away in the middle of writing it, and the grief overwhelmed me. My dear friend, and now critique partner, Rachel helped me through, as well as my other dear friends.
How long have you been writing and what made you start?
I started in 1991, when my husband brought home an article on romance writers and encouraged me to try it. I was soon hooked! It was kind of surreal, really.
Many people spend a long time finding an agent. Can you tell us about your agent hunt?
Through a friend’s recommendation one agent offered representation, and I was about to sign with them when I got an email. I’d finalled in the Romance Junkies contest and the final judge, Deidre Knight, asked me for the rest of the book, she loved it that much. I emailed the agent I was in negotiations with, and let her know what was happening (she’d said historicals weren’t her thing, and if I found an agent who loved them, quickly, I had her blessing). I sent the full to Deidre and she offered representation 3 days later. It was totally amazing and a bit intimidating, really, but I feel I made the right decision. Deidre and I mesh well personally and professionally! She’s fantastic to work with.
Everyone loves a good call story. Can you tell us yours?
My call story…hmmm. I won the RWNZ Clendon Award in 2000 with a book then called Dark Knight, and Leslie Wainger asked for revisions to buy it for Intimate Moments. I did them, sent it in, got an agent in the interim and he called me on Dec 1, 2000. I danced around the house with my mother while my then agent was still on the phone! He told my former editor, who was quite sad – her dream is to get someone who doesn’t care about being cool and professional when she calls. :-))))
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Don’t be the next so-and-so who’s already at the top of her game – be yourself, the best YOU that you can be, and don’t be afraid to write something others say won’t sell. I think about 27 people said that about Her Galahad…:-)))
Can you tell us what you’re working on now and what books you have coming out in the future?
I’ve sent in 3 ideas to my editor in London via my agent, and in the meantime I’m working on revisions to my historical – it’s a Georgian historical set in 1803, just before the resumption of war. It’s the first in a series I’m planning, about the spies that risked their lives to save England from Napoleon’s planned invasion, and the men and women who bring them to their knees.
Thank you so much, Melissa, for sparing the time to be interviewed. I really appreciate it.
Melissa James is a born-and-bred Sydneysider now living about an hour north of the city with her husband and three kids, in a small bayside suburb not far from some of the best beaches in the country. She started writing when her husband brought home an article on what a local romance author earned and she thought, “I can do that!” 7 years and 2 genre-switching attempts later she returned to romance, won the Romance Writers of New Zealand’s Clendon Award in 2000, picked up an agent and within three months got her first call, selling to Intimate Moments (now Silhouette Romantic Suspense). Two years later, feeling tired of dark stories, she re-wrote a goofy comedy she had on file, sent it in and sold to Silhouette Romance. It was the best career move of her life. From that her career changed direction to Mills & Boon/Harlequin Romance, writing deeply emotional stories, and she’s never been happier. A full-time writer, she spends her days working out character motivations and the unusual storylines that are her byword at Romance. In between times, she’s writing dark, lush, sexy historical romances set in the pre-war days of Georgian England, about a group of spies who give their all to save their country from Bonaparte’s coming invasion. Jumping genres and time zones suits her frustrated time-travel nature perfectly!