Saturday, 17 June 2017

Close To Home ~ Melinda Hammond




As a book reviewer I have made contact with authors from all across the globe and feel immensely privileged to be able to share some amazing work. However, there is always something rather special when a book comes to my attention which has been written by an author in my part of the North of England. So with this in mind I have great pleasure in featuring some of those authors who are literally close to my home. Over the next few Saturdays, and hopefully beyond, I will be sharing the work of a very talented bunch of Northern authors and discovering just what being a Northerner means to them both in terms of inspiration and also in their writing.


Please welcome Northern Writer







A very warm welcome to Jaffareadstoo, Melinda. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started as an author?

I am a storyteller, it is something I have done since a child, keeping school friends entertained, even before I knuckled down to the long haul of writing a whole book! I have been published since the 1980s and now have over 40 books published. I began writing Regency romance as Melinda Hammond and still publish historical novels under this name, and I also write historical romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon as Sarah Mallory.


Your books are written in Northern England, but not always set in the North. Have the people and the northern landscape shaped your stories in any way?

Confession time – I am a West Country girl who moved to the Yorkshire Pennines nearly 30 years ago and absolutely love it!


Yorkshire Pennines

I have written several books set in the North, including my latest ones for Harlequin, The Duke's Secret Heir (out now), which is partly set in Harrogate, and Pursued for the Viscount's Vengeance (published in September 17).


Harlequin

The moors where I live have been used for the settings for two of my earlier novels, although I changed the location names to give myself a little artistic licence. They are still two favourite books.

One is the Melinda Hammond novel, Winter Inheritance (first published as The Highclough Lady) and the other, writing as Sarah Mallory, The Scarlet Gown.

  

I think the cover of Winter Inheritance might be of interest, because I took the background photo myself and it is literally yards from my front door.

Since moving to the north I have become much more interested in the Industrial Revolution, and I even wrote one Sarah Mallory novel which involved a southern lady marrying a Yorkshire mill owner (To Catch a Husband). It is a romance, of course, but it does touch upon the harsh reality of factory life.


Harlequin


In your research for your books, did you visit any of the places you write about and which have made a lasting impression?

Oh, lots of places, including a couple of trips to Waterloo! Thinking specifically of the North of England, the old mills and factories here are a constant reminder of the country's industrial heritage. I spent some years working in what had once been a cotton mill, and it was easy to imagine how busy and noisy it must have been – and the hard lives of the factory workers. I also have a book set on the Northumberland coast, all empty beaches and brooding castles, which has yet to be published. It is there, nagging away and I hope before too long to publish it.


If you were pitching the North of England as an ideal place to live, work and write – how would you sell it and what makes it so special?

You are never far away from huge tracts of emptiness! That is what drew me to the North in the first place. As a writer I love the wide open spaces, the ability to step outside and walk the moors with just the curlews and lapwings for company. It is also wonderful in dead of winter, when everything is covered with snow. There is a timelessness about the North, perfect for a historical novelist to imagine what life was like centuries ago. The people, too, are pretty special, very friendly and welcoming.



North of England


Writing is a solitary business - how do you interact with other authors?

I am a member of the Romantic Novelists Association (the RNA), which has several northern chapters. I am also a member of the Society of Authors and a patron of the Lancashire Authors Association, although I can't attend as many of their events as I would like. With the internet it is much easier for authors to keep in touch, and I have friends all over the country. However, it is also good to meet up and have a good natter from time to time, so I try to get to some of the RNA's local chapter meetings as well as their annual conference. There is also a group of authors around West Yorkshire who gather in Hebden Bridge occasionally for a lunch, which I really enjoy. One of the problems is balancing the desire to socialise with the need to write – it would be very easy to spend all my time lunching or meeting up with authors and not doing any work at all!


How supportive are local communities to your writing, and are there ever any opportunities for book shops, local reading groups, or libraries to be involved in promoting your work?

There are a number of writing and reading groups locally, and I am always happy to talk to them. I have spoken to local WI groups etc, and of course libraries are amazingly supportive, running workshops and talks. There aren't many bookshops around here, but even the local Tourist Information Centre has held book signings for me in the past.


As a writer based in the North does this present any problems in terms of marketing and promoting your books and if so, how do you overcome them?

I have never really considered living in the North a drawback as far as marketing is concerned, mainly because so much is done online these days. All my Melinda Hammond books are sold as e-books these days, so online promotion is the way forward – although having said that, many of the hardback editions are still available in libraries. Mills & Boon do run library-based initiatives, and I have run several workshops on romantic and historical fiction.


If someone is new to your work, which book do you think they should start with?

Oh heavens, there's a question! My Melinda Hammond novels are what can be terms "sweet" romances, The Sarah Mallory books a little hotter! Readers might like to start with the books I mentioned that are set in the north, or if someone likes a little more adventure then my Sarah Mallory novel, A Lady for Lord Randall, features scenes from Waterloo that I absolutely loved writing.


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Harlequin


You can find out more about Melinda:

On her website
Follow on Twitter @SarahMRomance
Visit on Facebook
Find on Amazon




Warmest thanks to Melinda for being our very welcome guest today and for talking about her writing and sharing her love of  the North with us.


I hope that you have enjoyed this week's Close to Home feature


Coming next week : June Francis



~***~


4 comments:

  1. Lovely to find out more about you, Melinda, and to see your gorgeous photos. I didn't know there was a Lancashire Authors Association, so thanks for mentioning that. Hope to see you in Hebden Bridge again soon! x

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  2. Thanks for dropping by, Kate. Yes, Lancashire Authors Association is going strong - you can find them on FB etc.

    Glad you liked the photos, this is a stunning area in which to live.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Melinda, thanks so much for sharing your love of the North with us. Your photographs are lovely :)

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Thanks for taking the time to comment - Jaffa and I appreciate your interest.