Friday, December 9, 2011

Around the Globe with MELODIE CAMPBELL

Well, my part of Iowa received about two inches of snow last night, reafffirming my loathing of winter. The temp is sitting at a crisp (ugh!) 12 degrees. So, I hop in my transporter, pick up this week's featured author and it's off to England...where I think she forgot it's still winter.

Anyway, we land in Shropshire at an old Norma castle with the traditional turrets and crenalations and merlons (whatever the hec they are) and I'm still cold the castle is cold, but, the Ms. Campbell thought enough to bring wineskins. But this is a fascinating place because it's used in one of Melodie's books. Let's interview!

1. Who is Melodie Campbell and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

Nix the fascinating, but I am probably one of the silliest. I’ve written comedy for years and opened the 1999 Canadian Humor Conference. Way back in the early 90s, a producer from fledgling HBO saw my play ‘Burglar for Coffee,’ labeled it “completely nuts” and offered me a spot writing pilots, which I stupidly turned down. This goes on record as one of the worst decisions ever made by a person not officially insane.

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

I love sportscars. My first car was a Triumph Spitfire. Dang, I loved that car. Second was a Lotus Europa. I now own an older Porsche Boxter. One person I really envy is Jay Leno. I want his garage…and the contents.

3. What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as becoming an astronaut?

Well, I’ve already been a bank manager, marketing director, college instructor, association executive, and possibly the worst runway model ever. (Never could get the hang of high heels.) You could say I’m running out of professions.

Okay, to be honest, I was the class clown in high school, always getting in trouble for being a smart-ass. So the progression to writing humor was natural.

I’ve been writing professionally since 1991, when I won my first short story contest, and then snagged a humor column contract.

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

Janet Evanovich. Charlaine Harris. Lisa Lutz. All the first ladies of comedy. How I would love to be counted in their number. Andrea Camilleri and Donna Leon from Italy. Also Douglas Adams (but he’s dead, so it might be more difficult).

5. If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?

I write escape novels! Escape with me into a grand adventure for a few hours, Stephen! Pretend to be someone else for a while, in a different world, with different challenges and delights. Let me take you out of your real world, be it the airport or that blasted island. When you need a laugh the most, pick up Rowena Through the Wall. It’s funny, sexy, and totally free of any messages.

6. Share the Campbell process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.

I am the General Manager of Crime Writers of Canada, so my days are rather full. I write at night, for breaks and on weekends. I watch very little TV, because you have to give up something to get time for writing. Oh, and I gave up exercise.

Now the process: I was trained as a mystery writer, and cut my fiction teeth on short stories. In writing mystery, you always start with plot. You don’t start writing until you know the ending. So…when writing mystery or crime, I always know the ending before I start writing.

When I write fantasy, it is a teeny bit different. But I still start with plot, and then figure out what sort of characters I need to make the plot work. In Rowena Through the Wall, I needed a character who had the guts to walk through the wall into an unknown world. The plot needed a character who was spunky, who was smart, and who would be the cause of a lot of hot passion among the guys on the other side of the wall. Rowena was born.

Research? I write what I know. I know what Norman castles look like; I have relatives in England and have been there many times. I know something about the medical field (I was a hospital director). I know about the life of college instructors and students, and I ride horses. For ‘Rowena Through the Wall’, I had to research medieval weaponry and satanic weddings. For the most part, I lean on my personal experience, and do research for secondary aspects of my fiction.

Number of edits or rewrites? I’ve written professionally for 20 years, so my work is very clean from the start. But even then, I’ll go through 4 complete edits on my own, before it hits the publisher’s desk.

7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

Just start writing! By this I mean, start writing anywhere in your story, to see if you actually like writing. I find a lot of my writing students want to be authors, but discover the process of writing is too much like work. It is work. No excuses – get in there and get your hands dirty! You’ll find out soon enough if you are one of us.

8.I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

My most commonly quoted quote is: “Recent studies show that approximately 40% of writers are manic depressive. The rest of us just drink.”

Philosophy? Guh - I was a business major, Stephen! “When in doubt, Integrate” was as close as I came to philosophy.

9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

‘The Goddaughter’ has been bought by Orca Books and will be out in mid 2012. It is a comic mob caper.

“Stolen jewels, smoggy Steeltown and a reluctant mob Goddaughter make for a whole lot of laughs!”

(Again, write what you know. My mother’s family is Sicilian, and I live on the outskirts of industrial Hamilton…)

Also, the second in my comic time travel series, “Rowena and the Dark Lord” is well underway.

Stop writing? Ask me to stop breathing. Or eating. Pass the wineskin.

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

I have a comic blog, where I am currently featuring previously published humor columns.

More information is available on my website, where you can view trailers and read opening scenes:

You can reach me by email at


Do you like comic time travel?
Meet Rowena Revel!

“Is that a broadsword on your belt, or are you just glad to see me?”

When Rowena falls through her classroom wall into a medieval world, she doesn’t count on being kidnapped – not once, but twice, dammit. Unwanted husbands keep piling up; not only that, she has eighteen-year-old Kendra to look out for, and a war to prevent. Good thing she can go back through the wall when she needs to…or can she?

“Hot and Hilarious!” Midwest Book Review
“Jack Sparrow meets Stephanie Plum” Former editor, Distant Suns Fantasy Magazine
Rowena Through the Wall (Imajin Books) is available at,,,, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.

Short bio:
Melodie Campbell has been a bank manager, marketing director, comedy writer, college instructor and possibly the worst runway model ever. Melodie got her start writing comedy, so it’s no surprise that editors have called her fiction “wacky” and “laugh out loud funny”. She has over 200 publications and has won five awards for fiction. She is the General Manager of Crime Writers of Canada, and has taught fiction writing for ten years.


Patricia Gligor said...

I read "Rowena Through the Wall" and, when Melodie says that it will take you into another world and immerse you in it, she's not kidding!
Rowena is a fascinating character and the book was a great adventure - a wonderful escape from everyday life.

don helin said...

What a great blog. I enjoyed learning more about Melodie and her writing process. You two make for great blog mates.

Melanie Jackson, author, editor, piano student said...

I love your humour, Melodie. Being a Janet Evanovich fan, I'm betting I would enjoy your books. I will check them out!

Stephen L. Brayton said...

Thanks for the coments and thanks for Melodie for being a guest.