Author Interview with Melinda Leigh

20 Questions 
(Author Interviews)

Brought to you by
Debby P. 

1.Tell us about your current project.  
I'm currently finishing edits on Say You're Sorry, the first book in my new Morgan Dane Series.  Morgan is a single mom and former assistant district attorney who gave up her career when her husband was killed in Iraq.  In the opening of Say You’re Sorry, Morgan has just taken a job with the local DA’s office. She’s determined to shake her grief and get her life back by returning to the workforce. But when her teenage babysitter is brutally murdered, and her neighbor’s son is accused of committing the heinous crime, Morgan doesn’t believe he’s guilty. She risks everything—being ostracized by her community, losing her career, and becoming a target of the real killer—to prove the young man is innocent. 

2. What sparked the idea for this project?  
I’ve wanted to write a series with continuing characters for some time. Morgan is introduced in Seconds to Live, and the series will take place in the small town of Scarlet Falls in upstate NY. So everyone in love with the town and characters of the Scarlet Falls series might see some of their favorite characters make cameo appearances. 

2a: When can we expect to see this project?
 I'm hoping Say You're Sorry will release in May 2017, with a second book, Her Last Goodbye, following in the fall of 2017. 

3.  How do you choose your book covers? 
My publisher takes care of the covers for my books, but I'm lucky because they do ask for my input.  Mainly, I want a vibrant, eye-catching cover that captures the theme of the story. It’s also important that the covers clearly indicate if the book is part of a series.  This is why I was thrilled when my publisher offered to recover the first two books in my Midnight Series.  The new covers are edgy and the reader knows immediately that they belong in the same series.

4. Music seems to influence a lot of authors, what are your musical influences, if any? 
I love music to help me capture a character or emotion in a scene. Songwriters are brilliant with words, conveying a story using so few. When I was writing Conor Sullivan's scenes in Midnight Betrayal and Midnight Obsession (Jan 2017), I couldn't get enough of The Black Keys. Say You’re Sorry seemed to involve listening to a lot of broody Coldplay songs.  

5. How do you handle "writers block"? 
I force myself to write a minimum number of pages every day. Something on the page is better then nothing. When I finished Say You're Sorry, I had to delete roughly 10,000 words from the first half of the book. It often feels very inefficient to write words you know won't end up in the finished book, but the only way I can break writer's block is to bulldoze through it the hard way. I know that if I stay with my characters long enough, they’ll speak to me. 

6. Who has been your greatest influence? 
The greatest influence in my life is my grandmother. She was the strongest woman I ever met. As an artist, she could do anything. She worked in a machine shop during WWII. She could sew, paint, cook, bake. She sparked my love of reading and mysteries with her huge collection of Agatha Christie paperbacks. As my biggest fan, she was so proud of me; the last book she read before she died was Midnight Sacrifice. During her last few weeks, I sat by her bedside, writing She Can Hide and reading sections of the draft to her when she was awake.  I can’t believe she’s been gone for three years. When I get some good news, I still reach for the phone to call her. 

7. Do you or have you ever had a muse? 
No. I've never thought about a muse. I have a very active imagination and busy subconscious. I was born with stories in my head and my nose in a book.  

8. What one subject is TABOO in your writing? 
I will NEVER, ever kill the dog. Human characters get no such guarantee. 

9. What do you do when you aren't writing? 
I love to spend time with my family, furry members included. I enjoy martial arts and yoga, two activities that require 100% of my concentration.  It’s hard for me to shut off my brain. It’s always running. So these two sports are great for clearing my head. If my mind wanders in yoga, I fall on my face. In karate, I could end up with a mitt to the face. 

10. If there was one book you wish you'd written, which would it be?  
There are too many to list just one.  Some of my favorite authors are Harlan Coben, Lisa Gardner, and Stephen King.

11. What is your greatest passion?  
Innocents who can’t stand up for themselves: such as rescue dogs, bullied/abused kids, and women caught in domestic abuse situations. I cannot tolerate a bully.  This is a strong and recurrent theme in my novels. 

12. What one word best describes you?  
Determined. That single quality has carried me through some very difficult times in my life. 

13. If you could change places with one of your characters, would you? 
None of them. 

Which one and why? 
Have you read my books? 
I do terrible things to my characters. 

14. Is there one, current, tv show that is "can't miss" for you? 
While I’m not a big TV watcher, I am currently hooked on Lucifer.  The concept is fresh and the writing is sharp. 

15. Money is no object, where do you go?  
If money weren’t an object, I’d rent a yacht and tour the Caribbean. The beach has always been my happy place. 

16. Tell me, please, the first two books on your TBR list.  
The next two books on my kindle are Crash & Burn by Lisa Gardner and Call the Nurse: True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle by Mary J. MacLeod. Obviously I have eclectic taste in reading material.

17. How do you choose character names? 
This is soooo hard.  I try not to reuse names, so coming up with fresh ones it very difficult. I use online name generators and I keep an old phone book in my office.  I also have spreadsheets to keep track of character names. 

17a: Are you any of your characters inspired by someone you know in "real life?" 
I probably shouldn’t answer this one.  hehehe

18. Tell us one thing we may not know about you.  
I have terrible insomnia. No matter how tired I am, my brain will simply not shut off. 

19. What do you want to be when you grow up? 
Luckily, I figured this out at age 38.  

20. Of the 7 Deadly Sins, which one have you committed most recently?  
Ha! Gluttony.  I was recently in New Orleans. Never have I experienced food that amazing in my life. Every single restaurant was better than the last. Despite gorging on delicious entrees like Jambalaya and barbecued shrimp and grits, I made room for dessert every single night. There was a pecan pie with bourbon ice cream  . . . 
Let’s just say it took me three weeks to nudge the scale back to normal. 

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh is a fully recovered banker. A life-long lover of books, she started writing as a way to preserve her sanity while raising her kids. Over the next few years, she learned a few things about writing a book. The process was much more fun than analyzing financial statements, and she decided to turn her hobby into a career. Melinda's debut novel, SHE CAN RUN, was nominated for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers. She is a RITA® Award Finalist and has earned three Daphne du Maurier Award nominations, Two Silver Falchion Awards, and Two Golden Leaf Awards. 
Melinda holds a 2nd degree belt in Kenpo Karate. She's dabbled in Arnis stick fighting, studied Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and taught women's self-defense. She lives in a messy house in the suburbs with her husband, two kids, a couple of shelter dogs and two rescue cats who clearly run the show. With such a pleasant life, she has no explanation for the sometimes dark and disturbing nature of her imagination. 

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