Melissa Hill is a bestselling Irish author of women’s fiction, her latest book Something From Tiffany’s went straight to No. 1 in Ireland on its release and remained there for five weeks. I was fortunate enough to read and review the book and I can understand why.
Her books have been translated into 19 different languages, the most recent being the German release of Something From Tiffany’s this week.
We took the opportunity to interview Melissa and find out a little more about the lady behind the little blue book, this is what she had to say.
How did you get started as a writer?
I was one of those weirdos at school who actually looked forward to going home and writing the English essay! From an early age I enjoyed reading and writing stories and I think everyone who enjoys reading will always secretly wonder if they have the ability to write.
When I eventually made a stab at it, I wanted to come up with the kind of stories that I myself liked to read. I particularly enjoy novels in which there are underlying mysteries to be solved and are full of shocks and surprises, so I used these aspects in my books right from the beginning.
What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t writing?
Definitely something to do with animals, mostly likely dogs. A guide dog trainer, perhaps as I would imagine it is an extremely rewarding profession. Plus I adore dogs.
Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when you found out your first book was going to be published?
Yes, it was the Friday of a bank holiday weekend and hubby and I were just about to head away for a weekend break to Liverpool. We were literally on our way out the door when I got the call from my agent to say that I’d been offered a three book deal. You can imagine the celebrations that went on that weekend!
How difficult did you find it to get that first book published?
I started writing my first book Something You Should Know in 2003 and was extremely lucky in that I found an agent about a month after I sent it out, and then she found me a publisher within another couple of months. Looking back, this all seems very straightforward and at the time I didn’t realise how fortunate I was. Ignorance is bliss and had I known how difficult it is to get published, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to try!
What is the last book you read?
Jeffery Deaver’s Edge. His twisty corkscrew plots leave me scratching my head trying to work out the clues but still he gets me every time.
I hear you have a young daughter, is she carrying on the family tradition and loving words and books?
She’s just turned one, so she’s not able to read yet, but I’ve been buying her picture books for as long as she’s been able to hold things, and she adores pointing out pictures and matching them to the words we’re trying to teach her. She’s also fascinated by all the books on the shelves in my study, so I’m pretty certain she’ll be a big reader too.
Do you find there is one book that is a must read – over and over?
Stephen King’s The Stand. It’s an incredibly broad and all-encompassing work of fiction, and every time I read it I discover something new, another layer to the story that I hadn’t noticed before.
You also write forensic thrillers under a pseudonym which seems like one end of the scale to the other – how do you find that writing the two genres compare?
When I first began writing, I knew absolutely nothing about genres, and just wanted to write stories that I myself liked to read. I particularly enjoy novels in which there are underlying mysteries to be solved and are full of shocks and surprises, so I used these aspects in my women’s fiction right from the beginning.
Much of these same elements are used in crime writing so I suppose it doesn’t feel like that much of a leap really. The aim is still the same; create a story with strong identifiable characters and a compelling plot that hopefully readers won’t be able to put down. But I suppose the one major difference is that you can murder those characters at will, (usually in a sick and satisfyingly gory manner) without having to worry about upsetting readers.
Do you have a favourite character?
This might sound weird, but my favourite fictional character of all time is Hannibal Lecter – I don’t think there has ever been a more vivid (or enjoyable) rendering of a true psychopath.
Can you tell us what’s next for Melissa Hill?
The paperback of SOMETHING FROM TIFFANY’S will be out in the UK and Ireland for Christmas (and in Oz too I think). Hubby and I have just finished writing the next Casey Hill thriller which will be out in spring 2012, and I’m currently working on my eleventh novel, called THE BEACH WEDDING, due for publication in summer 2012.
How do you celebrate one of your books achieving Number 1 or making the New York Times Bestseller list?
It’s changed considerably over the years. Before our daughter’s arrival, hubby and I would typically go out and celebrate over dinner and champagne before booking a relaxing holiday in the Caribbean or something similar. These days while we still celebrate with champagne, it’s a lot more muted, and usually in our living room while the baby sleeps upstairs!
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us Melissa, I will certainly be keeping my eyes open for The Beach Wedding.