By Jaime Rush
I’m sitting down with Melinda Leigh to find out all the juicy details about her new romantic suspense thriller, SHE CAN TELL.
Melinda, how exciting it must be to see your next book come out! Congratulations! Tell us what this story is all about and what drove you to write it.
When a terrible accident abruptly ends her riding career, Rachel Parker returns to Pennsylvania to rebuild her family’s horse farm. But her welcome home is anything but warm. Her sister’s abusive husband and a violent vandal threaten Rachel’s new business and her life. Someone is systematically trying to destroy her. Someone who knows private things about her. Someone who’s been watching her. Now Rachel must face the fact that the sins of her carefully hidden past have returned to haunt her…
Police Chief Mike O’Connell never had trouble drawing the line between his personal life and his job—until he met Rachel Parker. Mike’s investigation uncovers a shocking number of secrets and suspects. But the stalker’s escalating violence convinces him he doesn’t have much time to sort through it all. Whoever is watching Rachel wants her dead. Mike and Rachel race to untangle a web of deceit and lies that stretches two decades into the past—before her stalker strikes again.
SHE CAN TELL is set in the world of horses and horse farms. What kind of research did you do, and do you have personal experience with horses?
No research was required for this setting. As a kid, I was a barn rat. I spent every free second at the local riding stable, cleaning stalls to pay for riding lessons. My favorite book series was THE BLACK STALLION by Walter Farley. I taught riding lessons in college and owned a horse for almost twenty years. With two kids of my own and some tight book deadlines, I don’t have the time for riding these days, but I’d love to get back into it in the future.
You’re an accomplished martial arts artist. Do your skills play into your books?
Being able to practice martial arts gives me an edge when writing fights. I’ve acted out an attack scene on the mat more than once. As a matter of curriculum, martial arts students also learn defenses from typical attacks, how to escape from common grabs, and weapons defense. All of this comes in useful in making an encounter between a large man and a smaller woman realistic.
Is there a theme in your books, a thread you see coming up in your stories? For instance, underdog fighting for justice?
Strong women is a recurring theme in all my books. I love to explore what a teacher and single mom could or would do when faced with danger to herself and/or her children. What is a college student willing to do to survive? How smart and resourceful can she be?
Do you have any writing rituals before you begin a book or start your day?
I am NOT a morning person. I gulp down 3 vats of coffee before I can write anything coherent. The first hour of my day is spent guzzling java, answering emails, catching up on social media, and writing blogs or interviews as necessary. Once I am awake, I jump to the work-in-process and get going. Most of my writing happens while my kids are at school. There’s no music or TV in the background. I like complete quiet when I work.
What does your writing space looks like?
I have a dedicated office. Usually, it’s pretty messy. I clean it between books, but I seem to function best in controlled chaos. My two favorite items are my widescreen monitor and my huge magnetic white board. The big monitor is a blessing late at night when my eyes are tired from 10 hours of staring at it. Instead of writing a formal synopsis, I use color coded index cards to plot my story. I move them around as the story changes. This gives me more flexibility to write what the story wants to be. I used to write a 10 page synopsis, but found that it became a wasted week as the plot often changes as characters develop.
What’s the best way for reader’s to get in touch with you? Do you Tweet/blog/etc.?
Thanks for spending time with me and sharing your exciting story! I wish you all the best with it.
Melinda Leigh abandoned her career in banking to raise her kids and never looked back. She started writing as a hobby and became addicted to creating characters and stories. Her debut novel, SHE CAN RUN, was a number one bestseller in Kindle Romantic Suspense, a 2011 Best Book Finalist (The Romance Reviews), and a nominee for the 2012 International Thriller Award for Best First Book. When she isn’t writing, Melinda is an avid martial artist: she holds a second-degree black belt in Kenpo karate and teaches women’s self-defense. She lives in a messy house with her husband, two teenagers, a couple of dogs, and two rescue cats.