Melanie – Thank you for this opportunity. You posed some really good questions that really got me thinking.
Alison – I’m very much looking forward to hearing what you have to say. Perhaps you would start off by telling us a little about yourself.
I can be contacted directly on firstname.lastname@example.org
I live near Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, with my husband Colin and two children Charis, 18 and Josh, 12. We love living where we do. It is close enough to London to spend days out there, which we enjoy, but also far enough away to be quiet and not too built up. We feel like we have the best of both worlds, and The Elephant Tree is loosely based on the local area. My Passions are reading, writing, listening to all types of different music and walking. It was while out walking one day I came across a tree that for me strongly resembled an elephant, and I thought elephant tree what a good title for a book.
Alison – We appear to have very similar interests. Reading, writing, music, walking; yes, I love all of those too. What a great way to find inspiration for your book title! Do tell us more about The Elephant Tree.
Melanie – The story is about two girls of the same age growing up in the same house but at different times. One (Jessica) lives in present day and the other (Peggy) lives during the Second World War. It is a tale of discovery and friendship which brings together two generations.
It is for children aged 8-12 years old and was published on the 25th July.
There is a 5/5 star review on www.whatsgoodtodo.com. The reviewer said it is well written and she couldn’t put it down. I was really chuffed to have received this review as this is my first book, and at the time it hadn’t been published so the only people to have read it is apart from Book Guild were my husband and daughter.
Alison – A five star review before you’ve even been published, that’s fabulous. No wonder you were pleased! What made you decide to become a writer?
Melanie – Up until three years ago I worked as a teaching assistant. Then on my way to work one day I had a car accident which meant due to my injuries I had to take time off work to recover. It was then I finally had the time to sit down and do what I had always wanted to do and write. So I decided to put pen to paper. I’m so glad I did.
Alison – I bet you are. Writing is such a satisfying career, especially for a life long book lover! Are you reading anything good at the moment?
Melanie – I have just finished reading The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen. It is a story told from the perspective of a ten year old girl growing up with a deeply religious father. The story is beautifully written and totally captivated me to the end.
I have just begun The Last Weekend by Blake Morrison which already looks intriguing.
Alison – What made you decide to write for children?
Melanie – A couple of years before my accident I had wanted to write some thing that my daughter would enjoy and to encourage her to read. Then while I was off work recovering decided to dig out those original ideas and develop them. The result was The Elephant Tree.
Alison – Do you plan out your story before writing, or do you see where the story takes you?
Melanie – I like to plan the basic outline for the story but then find when writing that my characters/imagination often takes me off in different directions. I’m constantly asking myself would he/she do or say that and then just go with my gut instinct.
Alison – Will you continue writing for children in future, or would you like to experiment with other genres?
Melanie – Although I am currently working on another children’s story for probably the same age group, I just love to write and have lots of ideas for both adults and children’s stories so I would definitely like to experiment with different genres.
Alison – What about other writing work, such as editing or book reviewing? Would they interest you?
Melanie – I would love to get into book reviewing as I love to read all different kinds of books and then share my thoughts with others. I think to be a good book reviewer you need to be open minded to new and original ideas/styles of writing. Whilst still being able to find fresh ways of reviewing established authors and give constructive criticism where needed.
Alison – It’s interesting the range of answers I get to that question. A lot of people shy away from reviewing, personally I rather enjoy it. Like you, I love to read a wide variety of books, and have been introduced to some I would never otherwise have read thanks to the reviewing I’ve done for Everything Books & Authors. Let’s talk about becoming an author in the first place. Is there any advice you’d give to an aspiring author?
Melanie – I truly believe reading is a must as it gives you an invaluable insight to different kinds of writing. For me reading all types of books really helped to inspire me. Also never give up on your dream.
Alison – A friend recently told me about a book she had read which was truly awful. When asked what she liked to read, the author actually said that she’d never read a book, so your advice is certainly very good! Of course, once a book is written and published the next step is marketing. Do you plan to visit any schools or children’s groups to promote The Elephant Tree?
Melanie – I am aiming to visit some schools in the autumn to do some workshops which I am currently planning.
Alison – Would you like The Elephant Tree to be made into a film?
Melanie – Yes. I think it would be good as a television drama though rather than a film. However, if there are any film directors reading this then I wouldn’t say no. I don’t think it would lend itself to an animated film however.
Alison – What made you decide on the setting for The Elephant Tree?
Melanie – I have always had a keen interest with the 1930’s and 1940’s from the war to 1930’s houses, fashion/style, films and music.
Alison – One final question, a general book related one. What are your five favourite books?
Melanie – Difficult question as I have so many however at the moment and in no particular order
- Taliesin – Stephen Lawhead (where I first came across my daughters name Charis)
- The Secret of Crickley Hall – James Herbert
- I’m the King of the Castle – Susan Hill
- Before I go to Sleep – S. J Watson
- The Store – Bentley Little
Thank you very much for chatting today Melanie. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you and your work, and all the best for your work in the future.