Today and tomorrow we converse with novelist Melanie Wells, author of the spiritually charged mystery/thrillers When the Day of Evil Comes and The Soul Hunter (Multnomah). The child of musicians, Melanie attended university on a music scholarship (she's a fiddle player), and later completed graduate degrees in counseling psychology and Biblical studies. She is founder and director of LifeWorks Counseling Group in Dallas, Texas, a collaborative community of creative therapists.
* * *
WHAT ARE YOUR WRITING HABITS?
Hm. Habits. That implies some sort of regularity and routine. The closest I can get to that is that I’ve set aside two days a week to write. On those days, I intend to have breakfast and go upstairs and get to work, break for lunch and possibly a workout and then get back to work, churning out thoughtful, cogent fiction.
What really happens is that I get up late, listen to NPR, have breakfast, read the paper, go upstairs and check email, check email some more, rearrange the items on my desk, check email again, work out halfheartedly, check email again, make phone calls, have lunch, and then do the whole thing over again.
Today I wrote for exactly two hours out of a 10-hour day. Unfortunately, that is the closest I can come to a habit.
ARE YOU AN "OUTLINE" OR "MAKE IT UP AS YOU GO" WRITER?
Definitely a “make it up as I go” writer. I have a friend that took a YEAR to write the outline of her book. I can’t hang out with her anymore. She gives me hives.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ANYONE SAID ABOUT YOUR BOOKS?
The Dallas Morning News reviewer told me once that my main character made spirituality seem as normal as a woman carrying her purse. Also, I love it when people say my books are both funny and thought-provoking. That’s the gold ring for me.
WHAT IS THE WORST THING ANYONE SAID ABOUT YOUR BOOKS?
I got a terrible review in D Magazine last year, but happily I’ve blacked the entire thing out of my memory. I have no idea what the man said, but I do remember it being obvious that he hadn’t read the book. I refrained from egging his house. I found out where he lives, of course.
HOW MANY BOOKS DO YOU READ A MONTH?
I have 10 on my nightstand right now, all of which I’m reading. I just won’t finish any of them. The last book I finished was called Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America’s War with Militant Islam. It’s about the Iran hostage crisis, and it’s written by Mark Bowden, the dude who wrote Black Hawk Down and Killing Pablo. Gripping. Couldn’t put it down.
AS A READER, WHAT MAKES A BOOK INTRIGUING TO YOU? (WHAT DOES A BOOK NEED FOR YOU TO PICK IT UP?)
I read mostly non-fiction, so the subject matter is usually the thing for me. I’m a very curious person. I like books that teach me something, that are well-written, and that will pique my understanding of the world around me. Freakonomics, Blink, Madeline Albright’s memoir, Madame Secretary—these were fascinating books.
* * *
Come back tomorrow for the second half of our Q&A with novelist Melanie Wells. Find her online at MelanieWells.com and MultnomahBooks.com. For more about her dayjob at Lifeworks Counseling Group, go to WeFixBrains.com.
Related link: Q&A: MELANIE WELLS, PT 2
More mystery/suspense authors:
Q&A: SUSAN MEISSNER (Widows & Orphans)
Q&A: COLLEEN COBLE (Fire Dancer)
FIRST Day, Aug 1: FULL TILT by Creston Mapes
Q&A: ALTON GANSKY (Director's Cut)
Q&A: WANDA DYSON (Abduction)