Melodie Campbell’s writing has been compared to Janet Evanovich’s.
She got started writing comedy (stand-up and columns.) In1999, she opened the Canadian Humour Conference. She’s had over 200 publications including 100 comedy credits, 40 short stories and four novels. She has won six awards for fiction, and was a finalist for both the 2012 Derringer and Arthur Ellis Awards.
Melodie is the Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada. She writes a humour column, ‘Bad Girl,’ for The Sage.
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Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Rowena and the Dark Lord. What was your inspiration for it?
This is the second book in the Land’s End comic fantasy series. I started out by wanting to write a rollicking adventure story for women – something not predictable. It had to be comedy (because that’s what I do) and it had to be fun to write. I ended up with whacky time travel back to a medieval world where a modern woman was definitely “Girl out of Time.”
Several reviewers have called this series “Game of Thrones Lite,” and also “The Princess Bride with sex!”
So I start out writing one thing, and then found that I was picking up an audience that loved sword and sorcery fantasy. In fact, I have a fan base in Florida of retirement age men! Great fun. I think they like the sex.
Tell us something about your protagonist that my readers won’t be able to resist.
Rowena is definitely a “Girl out of Time!” Take a modern college teacher, have her fall through her classroom wall into a medieval world where women are scarce, and watch the fun! It helps that she’s a veterinarian and animal whisperer…although she can’t seem to tame the men in that world AT ALL.
How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?
Six months to complete. Not a single bump, because I couldn’t wait to get this story out. This is the second in the series, so I had already established the fantasy ‘world’ and many of the main characters. And I had a cadre of fans from the first book who were pushing me to get it done.
How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel?
I work on the principle of “WORST thing.”
When Rowena falls through her classroom wall, what is the worst thing that could happen? Or what is the funniest?
All through the book, I put that poor girl into situations, and then make everything go wrong. I’m NEVER easy on my protagonists.
What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?
Here’s what I tell my writing students: if you are going to write, you are going to have to give up something. I don’t go to the gym anymore (that’s obvious.) I hardly watch television. Instead, I’m at the computer, messing with characters.
My family is long-suffering. I’ve been a professional writer since 1992.
How do you define success?
I used to think all the usual things…winning awards (I have six)…making big sales. And then something happened two months ago that changed everything for me. A reader found my email address, and wrote to tell me that Rowena through the Wall was the best book she ever read. I actually cried. It may be a quiet little interpretation of success, but it meant more to me than anything.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?
Many of us don’t have a choice re writing – we are miserable if we don’t. But I think it’s important to point out to family members and friends that this isn’t ‘a nice little hobby.’ Writing is work. Hard work. We all think it should be easier, somehow. And sometimes – in those magic moments – it may not seem like work. We live for those moments.
Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
A dubious claim to fame. I got my start writing comedy. In 1993, A producer saw my play Burglar for Coffee, pronounced it ‘completely nuts’ and offered me a spot writing pilots for HBO, which I turned down. This is possibly the worst mistake ever made by a person not legally insane. I mean, who had ever heard of HBO??