In a corner of her bedroom, Melinda Leigh has carved out space for her budding career as a novelist. Replete with a computer and a whiteboard she uses for plotting, the area is home to the creative activity associated with Melinda’s debut novel, SHE CAN RUN. That the action is all within the computer is verified by the way the two dogs and a cat find the same space very agreeable to a favorite pastime – napping.
In SHE CAN RUN, Melinda crafted a main character, Elizabeth, who is abused by her husband, a powerful politician. Once she learns one of his secrets, it appears he would like nothing more than to see Elizabeth dead. She hides but her refuge is torn apart by the extremely vicious murder of a local woman, the work of a serial killer.
According to Melinda, the story came easily. What didn’t come so easily were the skills required to get the story out of one’s head and into the computer, the actual structuring of the novel. Melinda assumed when she started writing that she would “simply follow [her] rough mental outline.” Instead she was surprised by the insistence of her characters to develop their own personalities – a process that brought more fluidity to her plot and characters who had “better ideas.”
“It took a few years of self-education through writing organizations such as Liberty States Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America before I could get the story in my head onto the pages in a way that was meaningful and effective for readers,” Melinda said.
“I have a general idea of the story’s beginning and end before I start writing,” she continued. “Then I let myself go for the first three chapters, which should take me from the opening incident to the first turning point.” From there the beginning is refined and rewritten multiple times before she writes and plots together as she moves forward through the book. Included in this forward process is conducting whatever research is needed, although she admits research is “a dangerous process that would consume large chunks of time.”
As with most writers, Melinda is an avid reader and while her list of favorites is too long to list, she shares what she has enjoyed recently. “I’m hooked on Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files (a blend of mystery and sci-fi), Lisa Gardner has been a long-time favorite. Her thriller, THE NEIGHBOR, kept me up until 3am! I’m also a Nora Roberts/JD Robb fan. I’ve read all of JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood paranormal romances. No one makes me sleep with the light on like Stephen King. The next book in my TBR pile is THE NIGHT ETERNAL, the third book in The Stain horror trilogy.”
In January, Melinda will have her paranormal romance novella, AMAZON HEAT, available as an e-book. She co-authored the book with Rayne Vause and says “it was refreshing to have another person to brainstorm with who is equally immersed in the story.
While the family pets might find time for napping, Melinda is far too busy plotting the twists and turns in her next novel where a reopened 25-year-old cold case seems to be related to the present day stalking of a feisty horse trainer. While not the second in a series, Melinda’s next book will have characters from SHE CAN RUN making guest appearances.
For now, Melinda feels like she is still learning the process and her writing gets better, so “who knows where my imagination will take me.” For the immediate future she’ll be challenging herself with paranormal romances and romantic suspense with plenty of thrills.
You can find Melinda on Facebook and Twitter. Her website with an excerpt from SHE CAN RUN will keep you informed and up-to-date on her appearances and releases. She also co-hosts a blog, AttackingThePage.com, which combines two of her passions – action-packed fiction and martial arts.
Melinda Leigh left banking to raise her children and never looked back. She started writing when her youngest child entered first grade as a way to preserve her sanity. Melinda holds a 2nd degree belt in Kenpo Karate, studies Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and teaches women’s self-defense. She lives in a messy house in the suburbs with her husband, two teenagers, a couple of dogs and one neurotic cat with an inexplicable fear of ceiling fans. With such a pleasant life, she has no explanation for the sometimes dark and disturbing nature of her imagination.
To learn more about Melinda, please visit her website.