Discover more about
and her contemporary romance
Here to Stay
A favourite childhood book?
Well, I’m not sure how old I was when I first read Christy by Catherine Marshall—probably pretty young for that thick of a book. I was nerdy like that. But I read it over and over and over as a kid. I think it was the Appalachian setting that drew me in the most. And something about the book as a whole felt almost magical to me. Plus, even as a kid, I was highly aware of the awesomeness of Dr. MacNeill.
Do you remember the title of the first story you ever wrote? What was it about?
I don’t remember the very first story—though if I had to guess, I’d guess it was probably about pioneers. I was obsessed with pioneers. BUT my sister found an illustrated story my other siblings and I gave to her as a present one year. The story was called “The Real Princess” and um, it’s about a girl who discovers she’s a real princess. According to the book cover, I was the writer, my sister was the illustrator and my brother was “the presenter.” None of us can remember what being “the presenter” actually entailed. Haha!
If you weren’t a writer, what career would you/did you/do you have pursued?
Well, I’ve been a reporter in the past. I worked at a small-town newspaper and it’s amazing how many cool experiences I had. I got to fly a plane, ride in a hot air balloon, interview tons of presidential candidates, etc. And being in Iowa, the rural stories were especially entertaining. There was the time I walked into a shed only to find myself face to face with a buffalo; the time I did an interview in a barn with llamas and goats chewing on my shoes, my notebook, my shirt; the time I turned into a muddy mess (and ruined my favourite shoes!) all because a farmer wanted me to get a photo of this eagle he kept spotting in his cornfield. Good times, for sure. So if I wasn’t writing books, I’m pretty sure I’d be tempted to go back to reporting. OR…the idea of being a professional sleeper is ridiculously appealing.
Why do you write stories?
I love stories. I love them so much! I really think humans are wired to respond to stories. They change us. They make us think or challenge us or get us to ask questions we might not otherwise. They get us to feel things we might not otherwise. And so I can’t help wanting to tell them. That and I’ve got a rather wild imagination, so it was a pretty logical career path.
Blake Hunziker has played nomad for five years and landed in his fair share of trouble too. But now he’s finally returning to his hometown–the Lake Michigan tourist town of Whisper Shore. Counting on a not-so-warm welcome, he’s surprised at not only a positive reception but also a job offer. Determined to settle down and prove himself responsible, he agrees to the catch that comes with the job offer–coordinating the annual Christmas festival–even though he has no idea how he’ll pull it off.
Autumn Kingsley, inn owner and experienced organizer of the Christmas festival, has always dreamed of traveling the world. Now she has a job opportunity in Paris and a surprise potential investor coming to town who just might take on her family’s inn and finally leave her free to go. The only problem is that she has just two weeks to whip the inn into shape.
Their families have a long history of not getting along, but when Blake comes to Autumn for help with the festival, she actually agrees…in exchange for his help with the repairs to her inn. They may have struck a simple deal, but complications are quick to pile on when the guy who’s had enough of running away and the woman who can’t wait to leave join forces.
Describe your novel in 5 adjectives
Witty (I really hope, anyway)
Relatable (again, I hope)
Rooted (in its storyworld, I mean)
Please share a little about one of your main characters
Well, anybody who read my first book, Made to Last, may remember a character nicknamed “Blaze.” His real name is Blake Hunziker and in Here to Stay, Blake is going home to face his past. He’s been this nomadic adventurer for years now—travelled all over the world sky-diving, climbing mountains, hiking the Amazon. And basically it’s all been an attempt to forget a pretty horrific moment in his past. He’s finally ready to stop running…and so he goes home, lands a job coordinating his little tourist town’s biggest event of the year, and meets the girl who’s his opposite in pretty much every way. Blake is…in a word…awesome. And I realize I’m a little biased. But yeah, he’s quirky and funny and not afraid to do crazy things. Readers got a taste of that in Made to Last. But in Here to Stay, I really enjoyed exploring his deeper layers. He’s sensitive and he feels things deeply. He has a huge desire to be someone his family and community can be proud of, but he’s also kind of searching for his own dream. Honestly, he was a huge challenge to write…but I really love the guy.
What spiritual theme or question does your story deal with?
As I started writing Here to Stay, I thought it was a story about finding purpose and hope when life doesn’t go the way you envisioned. And that’s in there. But the more I got into the story, the more I realized this story is really about dreams—the dreams we have for ourselves and the dreams God has for us. At first glance, Blake and Autumn seem to have completely opposite dreams. One wants to discover home and find a place of belonging. The other wants travel and adventure. Too, Autumn finds herself in a quandary when the dream she’s always had collides with a new dream that’s just walked into her life. What does a person do when that happens? Which one do you choose? And what happens when sparks fly between a pair whose dreams couldn’t be more different?
Share a recent movie or tv show that you have loved, and why?
I love this question! Most of the movies I watch are, oh, seventy or eighty years old. (Classic movie lover, yes.) So I’ll go with TV and the show that’s most blown me away recently is BBC’s Sherlock. I love it so much. It’s witty. The dialogue is fabulous. The mystery and plot are great. But it’s really the humor that most entices me. Well, that and Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s just soooo good.
What novel are you working on now?
I’m currently finishing my third book, titled From the Start. It releases from Bethany House in spring 2015. As soon as that’s finished, I’ll write a novella titled Three Little Words that will prelude From the Start. And then later this year, I’ll write my fourth book. Lots of writing happening in my world this year!
Relz Reviewz Extras
Review of Made to Last Character Spotlight on Miranda & Matthew Watch Melissa’s Mad Minute and listen to our audio interview
Melissa’s Author Alert
Visit Melissa’s website
Buy from Amazon: Here to Stay or Koorong