BIOGRAPHY: Author Marliss Melton has spent a lifetime in military and intelligence communities. She grew up overseas, attending American and International schools, becoming a foreign language teacher, and marrying a U.S. Army Captain. Ten years later, following his sudden death, she published her first historical romance which became a RITA finalist for Best First Book. Then she found her soul mate: a twenty-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, who she married and who adopted her two sons. Other titles include: Too Far Gone, Don’t let Go, Next To Die, Time To Run, In The Dark, and Forget Me Not.
Thanks for being here, Marliss. It’s a pleasure.
#1- Tell us a little about yourself outside of your writing career… I’m pleased to be here, Kelly. Apart from my writing, I am a busy mother of many children. While writing my Navy SEALs series, I was busy raising five children—four teenagers and a new baby, whom I finally sent to Kindergarten last year. Finding the time to write wasn’t always easy. In addition to writing, I was a visiting professor of Linguistics at the College of William and Mary. I like to work out as much as possible at the gyms on the Navy bases near my home. Plus, I sing soprano in my church choir. I love spicy red wine, reading, boating, and fishing.
#2- You grew up in a military background, married into military, and now write about it. Can you share some of those experiences and inspirations with us? I’ve always been attracted to the military male. My own father, while a JAG in the Air Force for just a little while, embodied the typical military leader. I imagine it was he who drew me to “the man in uniform.” There is something so noble about individuals willing to sacrifice their time, their energy, even their life to protect us lesser mortals. As the wife of an Army officer, I endured the one-year separation while my then-fiancé was stationed in South Korea. Later, as the wife of a Navy petty officer, I gave up months with my second husband while he went out to sea. I’ve experienced the lifestyle that so many military families experience, and that’s what makes my stories realistic, I think.
#3- As you know, I reviewed your title SHOW NO FEAR for Bookpleasures and loved it. But how do you handle the negative reviews and critiques you receive? Well, the longer you write, the more thick-skinned you get. Honestly, I’ve learned that if the majority of people love your books, then you’re on the right path. The handful of negative reviews I get take immediate back seat to the many more glowing commentaries, not to mention the heartfelt letters I receive from my readers. I’ve learned in my career that there is, realistically, no way to please everybody. I’m also my toughest critic, so negative comments don’t usually bother me. I don’t dwell on them much.
#4- Your first book was a historical romance and now you write romantic suspense. What made you change genres and is there any desire to return? I absolutely loved writing medieval romance and I’m sure I would still be writing it today if the publishing industry hadn’t dictated that I reinvent myself. Just ask any author who’s been around for a while. Publishers are the ones who determine the course of a writer’s career. If the publisher isn’t happy with your sales, they take your books out of print and you’re finished. That’s what happened to my medieval romances. Fortunately, there are far more readers of romantic suspense, but at any time a publisher can say, “No more Navy SEALs,” and a writer must either fish or cut bait. This is where I find myself now. There is a certain amount of flexibility required if a writer wants to keep being published.
#5- Assuming you get any time to read, what authors do you like to read, and were there any books that stand out from your childhood as favorites? Having just sent two children off to college, I finally have time to do some reading. While I used to read romance and grew up devouring Victoria Holt’s gothic novels, doing so now feels a bit like doing home work. So, I read outside the genre—mainly women’s fiction. I enjoy discovering how other authors write. I feel I have much to learn from authors like Jodi Picoult and Kim Edwards. However, since my own stories require so much research, I am often restricted to reading nonfiction in my free time. But even that can be fascinating—take Lone Survivor, for instance, by former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell. Now there was an inspirational read!
#6- Are there any upcoming releases we would like to know about, and could you give us your web site so readers can check it out? While I am looking for a new publisher to publish my next series (a Homeland Security Taskforce series) readers might like to check out a Navy SEAL short story of mine coming out in May, 2010. It will be found in The Mammoth Book of Special Ops Romance (edited by Trisha Telep) and will feature short stories by Cheyenne MacCray, Sydney Croft, Shannon K Butcher, Laura Griffin, Marliss Melton, and many others.
Be sure to visit my website at www.marlissmelton.com. There are two book videos right on my homepage that you don’t want to miss! Meet all my characters, explore their personality types, and watch a moving dedication to America’s fighting men and women.
#7- This about concludes it. Thank you again for joining us. Is there anything else you would like to share? Readers ask me all the time if my Navy SEALs series can go on indefinitely. I want them to know I’d like nothing better, but publishers need to make more and more money, and for them to do that, I need to come up with something fresh and new (they say). Whether I am writing about Navy SEALs or a Homeland Security Taskforce, all my heroes will have something in common: They will all be irresistible. I know what a woman wants in a man. I also have a weakness for a certain kind of man—one who takes risks to protect those he loves; one who adheres to his values; one who knows how rare and precious life really is. No matter what I write, my readers will be happy because—remember—I am my own toughest critic!