I began my writing life as Melinda Hammond, producing "sweet" Regency romances. These were published in hardback but are now all available as e-books, too – I', very pleased they are still available because I know many people still enjoy them. I have also written a couple of dual time books as Melinda Hammond, although I am currently concentrating more on my Sarah Mallory novels for Harlequin Historical – these are fast-paced romantic historical adventures with what is classed as a "warm" sensuality rating. I grew up reading adventure romances set in the past, by authors such as Sabatini and Dumas as well as my all-time favourite Georgette Heyer and my latest Sarah Mallory novel, NEVER TRUST A REBEL, is a Georgian romance with lots of adventure, a hero who is risking his life just coming back to England and a heroine who is every bit as brave and resourceful. I just love writing about the past!
Who was your Greatest inspiration in helping you develop your writing career?
It has to be Georgette Heyer. I read Jane Austen and the Brontes at school and loved them, but once I had discovered Heyer I was swept away into the witty, elegant world that she created. I devoured everything she wrote and when she died in 1974 I still wanted more – so the solution seemed to be to write my own! I did just that, in my first Regency romance, Fortune's Lady, was published in 1980.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Oh my, that's difficult. My heroes are always have a combination of characteristics from actors and actresses – I have to have a few pictures pinned up on my noticeboard while I am writing. I love dark, brooding heroes, but I do not believe I am the only writer whose characters often "appear" ready-made and when I envisaged Drew Castlemain, my hero for NEVER TRUST A REBEL, he had lighter hair – brown –lovely blue eyes and oodles of boyish charm. I suppose Dan Stevens (remember him in Downton Abbey?) would fit the bill – he was also in the TV mini-series of Sense & Sensibility in 1981, so he has a track record of playing historical heroes.
As for my heroine, Elyse, she is a brunette with a heart-shaped face with huge deep brown eyes. All of my heroines are beautiful, naturally (!) but sometimes their attraction is more of an inner charm, not immediately evident. Elyse is an accredited beauty – and rich, too. Drew has to see past those obvious attractions to the intelligent, spirited girl beneath, one who can capture and hold his attention for a lifetime. So, who could I see playing her? I'm not sure – perhaps the readers might have some suggestions.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Don't beat yourself up about it. We all get days when the words won't come. Sometimes I move on and write a later scene, or perhaps go back and edit what I have written so far, or just read around the subject and maybe do a little more research, anything to keep focussed on the work in progress.
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
To me (and lots of other authors, I am sure) my books are like my children, I love them and feel very protective, but not everyone is going to like my style or my stories. Good reviews are wonderful for the ego, bad ones can really be depressing, but it's important to keep them all in perspective. Having said that I am only human and I do like to bask in good reviews, and I try really hard to ignore the bad ones.
Walking the dog, visiting the theatre, watching something not too taxing on TV.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Don't get it right, get it written – i.e. just get on with it!
What is your favorite book?
It varies, I have a shelf full!
The food you couldn’t live without?
Spicy foods – chilli, curries etc.
The BEST thing about you?
Being able to write (and get published) the stories I want to read :-)
One place you’ve never been, but ALWAYS wanted to go?
The past – a good book can take me there for a short time.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
There are so many great people in the past, but I think I would really like to meet Captain Thomas Coram, who established the foundling hospital in the mid 18th century. He was a shipwright and sailor who came back to England to retire after working in America. He managed to enlist the help of the rich and famous of the time such as Hogarth and Handel and the hospital took in the first foundlings in 1741. Coram seems like one of those genuinely good, compassionate people and he looks so benevolent in his portraits, I would love to talk to him.
If you weren’t an author what would be your next choice of career?
If I'd known then what I know now…. If I'd had the confidence when I was younger I think I would have liked to train as an archaeologist – I love studying old buildings or towns etc and working out just what changes have been made. At the time the idea of having to learn ancient Greek and Latin was just too daunting!
What is the most interesting trip you have ever taken?
Northern Spain, following the route of the British Army's retreat to Corunna in 1809 – our trip was taken as the same time of the year, January, so we were able to appreciate the appalling weather conditions, as well as the difficulties of marching through the mountains.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
Too many to mention.
White wine or red? Red
Coffee or tea? Tea
Cook dinner or order take-out/delivery? Cook dinner
Outdoorsman or homebody? Homebody
City Life or Country Life? Country life
Do you prefer to live in hot weather or cold weather? A mixture (England is great for that)
Dog Lover or Cat Fan? Dog lover
Pancakes or eggs? Eggs
Sleep in or get up early? Get up early
Laptop or desktop for writing? Desk top (or old-fashioned pencil and paper)
COMPETITION – To win an e-copy of NEVER TRUST A REBEL. Which actress (present day or one of the old-time greats) do you think could play my heroine Elyse?