Melinda Curtis - When Characters Grow and Change, as We All Do
Prior to writing romance, award-winning USA Today bestseller, Melinda Curtis was a junior manager for a Fortune 500 company, which meant when she flew on the private jet she was relegated to the jump seat―otherwise known as the potty. In addition to her Sunshine Valley series from Grand Central Forever, she’s published independently and with Harlequin Heartwarming, including her book Dandelion Wishes, which is an upcoming TV movie starring Amber Marshall. She lives in Central Oregon with her husband―her basketball-playing college sweetheart. While raising three kids, the couple did the soccer thing, the karate thing, the dance thing, the Little League thing, and, of course, the basketball thing. Between books, Melinda spends time with her husband remodeling their home by swinging a hammer, grouting tile, and wielding a paintbrush. As our Author of the Day, Curtis tells us all about Thankfully in Love, a Thanksgiving anthology she participated in.
Please give us a short introduction to what Thankfully in Love is about.
Thankfully in Love is a collection of Thanksgiving-themed romances by four different authors – Anna J. Stewart, Kayla Perrin, Cari Lynn Webb and myself.
What has the experience been like, writing an anthology with a group of authors?
This project was easier because the unifying element was the Thanksgiving holiday rather than sharing the same location or having our heroines be friends. We saved that challenge for a follow-up collection - a Mother’s Day themed set of novellas releasing in April 2021 that is set in the same town with each of our heroines being friends.
How did you go from being a junior manager for a Fortune 500 company to becoming an author?
I sold my first romance to Harlequin about four years before I left corporate life to be a marketing consultant. During the hey-day of my consultancy, I was still only writing about 3-4 books a year. But that allowed me to develop my craft. Now I write full time and only take the occasional consulting gig.
Your book, Dandelion Wishes is an upcoming TV movie - how did that come about?
That was totally Harlequin’s choice. I believe the production studio/film producer was looking for a romance set in a winery, as winery stories are popular. Harlequin proposed Dandelion Wishes. It’s now a TV movie (Love in Harmony Valley, starring Amber Marshall), also available on DVD and limited streaming services. I anticipate its release to Netflix in 2021.
Why romance? What drew you to the genre?
I’m a firm believer in closed-end stories – a happily-ever-after, a crime being solved, villains and such getting their just desserts. I really enjoy romance because characters grow and change, as we all do. But without that change, they wouldn’t have found true love.
Which part of the anthology did you write? Tell us more about this story.
I wrote Dog-Gone Holiday, which features a chef trying to put on a perfect Thanksgiving for someone he hopes will invest in a restaurant venture. The heroine is the woman his best friend jilted at the altar the Thanksgiving prior to this one. Together, they learn to focus on what’s important in life – family, good friends, and love.
Which character was the most challenging to create?
There is a St. Bernard in the story. He’s being dog-sat in the home where the Thanksgiving party is going to be held. He comes with a canister of dog cookies that look like gingersnaps. Whoever eats one (because they look and taste like regular “human” cookies) can hear the St. Bernard’s thoughts. The challenge in writing this rom-com is to make the dog sound like he’s intelligent but still a dog and make noises that those who haven’t eaten the cookies can translate from dog-speak to people speak.
Do any of your characters ever take off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?
Is it bad to say all the time? Sometimes it’s a good thing though and reveals an aspect of the story that readers really enjoy.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I’m only mentioning this because we’re in the midst of a home remodel. I am the family caulker. I can calk wood trim, door trim, baseboard, bathroom faucets, toilets. I make a very fine line whereas my husband and kids make a huge smear.
Apart from your own, which other story in Thankfully in Love is your favorite?
I really enjoyed Cari Lynn Webb’s story about a heroine that is facing blindness. Very touching.
When starting on a new book, what is the first thing you do?
I try to create character names that speak to me. For example, Roxy has more spunk to me than a Mary. Preston might be a stuffed shirt. Chad might be a bad boy. Of course, those might create different impressions to you, too. And that’s okay.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
For me, writing is like dieting. You have to try whatever works for whatever place in life you’re in. My most consistent habit is drafting a few scenes in a notebook before I go to bed and then writing those scenes the next day. I like to think it allows my subconscious to get on board with where I want the story to head.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently editing a June release for Harlequin – Caught by the Cowboy Dad – and drafting an October release for them – Betting on the Cowgirl.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Newsletter (with 2 free reads): https://www.melindacurtis.net/signup