More than ten years ago, Melinda Leigh abandoned her career in banking and never looked back. Since then, she has won numerous writing awards for her paranormal romance and romantic-suspense fiction. When she isn’t writing, Melinda is an avid martial artist: she holds a second-degree black belt in Kenpo karate, studies Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and teaches women’s self-defense.
She lives in a delightfully messy house with her husband, two teenagers, a couple of dogs, and one neurotic cat. For more information about Melinda and her books, please visit her website.
Beth Baker thought she was getting a fresh start at life when she married Congressman Richard Baker. Handsome and wealthy, with a sparkling public image, Richard seemed like the perfect man to provide the security Beth, a widowed mother of two, was craving. But shortly after tying the knot, Beth realizes she’s made a huge mistake. Richard is not the upstanding gentleman she thought he was—rather he is an abusive manipulator. And when Beth uncovers a dark secret about her new husband, she knows Richard will go to great lengths to defend his image and keep the secret closeted. To protect herself and her children, Beth must flee, and fast.
Melinda, welcome to Marilyn’s Romance Reviews. Is there a back story to She Can Run?
Thanks for having me, Marilyn! I’m so excited to share the release of She Can Run with other book lovers.
She Can Run was rewritten multiple times. The plot was an evolution of many ideas. But my starting point was high-emotion. I wanted a heroine whose back was to the wall and who had more at stake than just her own safety. With young children at home, I couldn’t imagine a situation more terrifying than unintentionally putting my children in danger. Through all the revisions, Beth’s character was the one who didn’t change. Probably because I identified so strongly with her.
What is your routine?
I do most of my writing while my kids are in school. I like the house quiet while I work. No TV. No music. If I’m really behind schedule or I can’t get a story out of my head enough to sleep, I’ll work after the family goes to bed. On the weekends, I write before the kids get up. While getting a first draft complete, I work seven days a week to keep the multiple plot lines fresh in my head.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
We have a saying in karate: a black belt is a white belt who never quit. I think this attitude applies to all aspects of life. Don’t give up. Hone your craft. Keep writing and submitting. Persistence is a big part of success in this industry. I’d also advise all writers to join a writers’ organization. The support and information provided by these groups is invaluable.
How did you start your career? Who was your first publisher?
I decided to write a book when my youngest went into first grade. With two children, two years apart, my brain felt like it hadn’t been used in years for anything besides identifying stains and scraping hardened clay off surfaces. Yet I still wanted to be home with my kids. I was a rabid reader and had always wanted to write a book.
The first draft of She Can Run took two years to finish. Then I joined the Romance Writers of America and learned that writing a book was much more technical than I’d imagined. The book went through five major rewrites over the following two years. Each round of revisions brought the manuscript closer to being ready for publication. Finally, I signed with my agent, who sold the book to Montlake Romance.
She Can Run is my debut novel, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be among Montlake first authors.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on another romantic suspense, loosely related to She Can Run. The book is still in the initial stages, but so far, Police Chief Mike O’Connell is frustrated by a crime spree and his attraction to the one woman he absolutely can’t get involved with: a feisty horse trainer with a vicious stalker. Mike is about to make a shocking discovery.
What news would you like to share with your readers?
I’m thrilled to have received great reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and RT Book Reviews. Readers can find details on my blog tour and other author events on my website’s EVENTS page.
How do you build the relationship between these two characters so that it feels real?
I find that developing the romance is the hardest part of bring the story to fruition. In my head, the characters are already together. I feel the romance before I write page one. Early scenes require more editing than later sections to make sure I’ve brought the reader along with me on each stage of the romantic journey from the first spark to the happily ever after. Sometimes I want the couple to be together so badly, writing the scenes that deepen the romantic conflict is torture.
The scary parts are much easier to write. Clearly, my high school addiction to Stephen King novels paid off.
Do you identify with the characters you write about?
This is a solid yes! If I can’t identify with my characters, my readers certainly won’t. I think about what it would be like to be in their situation. What would I feel? How would I react? What would I do? In She Can Run, Beth lives every parent’s nightmare. She inadvertently puts her children in danger. Throughout the book her fear and guilt are ever-present. I need to relate to the male characters as well. Jack is a former cop who is forced to retire because of an injury. I’ve spent years learning to be a writer. It’s all too easy to imagine how it would feel to have that taken away from me.
Tell us a little about your favorite “hero” type guy.
First of all, my ideal hero is a nice guy. Being kind is an underrated quality in a society that values appearance, athleticism, and success. A hero is honorable, too. He can be flawed, and he can make mistakes, but he does what’s right when it matters. Sense of humor is important. There’s nothing appealing about a man who takes himself too seriously. He must like dogs and kids, and once he falls in love, it’s for keeps.
Would you please describe the heroines you love to write?
I love to write heroines who are everyday people thrust into circumstances that force them to dig deep for extraordinary courage. Intelligence and emotional strength are as important as big muscles. I teach women’s self-defense, and one of the concepts I try to import to my students is that the brain is the most important weapon at a women’s disposal.
How would you describe your life in only 8 words?
I live in chaos, and I love it.
What is your motto?
Don’t give up!
How would you describe perfect happiness?
I’m a basic person. I have a healthy family and a strong marriage. (Yes, he’s a nice guy with a wicked sense of humor, and he loves dogs.) My kids are growing up to be good people. Become a published author is an awesome bonus that I never would have predicted ten years ago.
What’s your greatest fear?
Being a parent is the hardest job in the world. My biggest fear is that I’m going to mess that up. Parenting isn’t like writing a book. There’s no going back and editing mistakes.
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
Right here. I’m a pretty happy person.
What are your most overused words or phrases?
When I’ve finished a manuscript, I always search for the word “just” and delete 99% of them.
What do you regret most?
Nothing. Every decision I’ve made in my life, even the painfully bad ones, have landed me where I am today, and I’m in a very good place.
If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
I’ve always wanted to be a musician. My brother, my nephew, and both my children have been blessed with innate musical ability. I played piano for years as a kid. I learned to hit the notes, but the music eluded me.
What’s your fantasy profession?
When I was a teenager, I wanted to be on the US Equestrian Team, but being a writer is my adult dream.
If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
Assuming coffee is still up for grabs, because I can’t imagine life without it, I have to go with ice cream. It’s my ultimate weakness. I’ve been known to consume a half gallon in a single, indulgent weekend, especially if I’m having difficulty with a manuscript.
Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?
Writers’ organizations like Romance Writers of America or Liberty States Fiction Writers provide new writers with the support and education they need to turn their dreams into reality. Writing is solitary. Authors need the company of other authors.
What comment do you hear most often from your readers?
This is my first book. I can’t wait to have some answers for this question!
Where can readers find you?
I love to hear from readers. They can find me on my website on Facebook, .
Thanks for joining me today!