Melody Carlson is the best-selling author of more than 100 books for adults, children, and teens, including On This Day, Finding Alice, the Notes from a Spinning Planet series, and Homeward, which won the Rita Award from Romance Writers of America. She and her husband, the parents of two grown sons, make their home near the Cascade Mountains in Central Oregon. Melody is a full-time writer as well as an avid gardener, biker, skier, and hiker.
Favorite Bible verse: John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." It’s the “whosoever” part that gets me. That’s who I write for – “whosoever” and to me that means everyone and anyone.
Our interview with Melody Carlson
Where did you get your idea for the concept, I Heart Bloomberg?
I think that it’s tough to be a 20-something these days and because I’ve written for teens for close to a decade, I realized a lot of my readers were in their mid 20’s now and so I decided to create something new for them. What could be more fun than a houseful of totally different young career women, their romances, relationships, job challenges, fashion dilemmas, and personal problems? It’s like a recipe for fun or disaster—and either one can add up to an interesting story.
Is any part of I Heart Bloomberg based on friendships and roommate situations in your own life? Or perhaps a recent move?
Everything I write probably has some roots in reality—whether it’s my life or someone I know, but a lot of times it doesn’t hit me until later. For instance, I did share a house with three very different women when I served as a short-term-assistant with Wycliffe in Papua New Guinea. And, trust me, there were some challenges—and it wasn’t the “deprivations of living in a third world country” as much as learning to get along with one of my difficult roommates. Not only that, but I grew up in a completely female home—lots of good material to pull from there too. But when I’m writing, I’m not cognizant of those memories—mostly I’m just creating as I go and the story is as surprising to me as I hope it is to my readers.
How long did I Heart Bloomberg take you to complete?
I write extremely fast—it’s just the way I work. When I try to slow it down, I drop threads, forget names, or just get bored. Maybe I’m an ADD writer. But every writer has her own pace and for that reason it’s hard to admit how quickly I write (if I told you I’d have to...not really). But let’s just say it took less than a month and leave it at that, okay?
What is the symbolism for the title I Heart Bloomberg?
Good question. I wish I had a good answer. The truth is the titling committee came up with it, and I thought it was fun and quirky and a great way to introduce what I hope is a fun quirky series. And I have to say, I love the covers—they really capture the spirit of the books.
Do you have a favorite character in the story? Why?
Megan is probably most similar to me and I like her a lot, but I don’t think she’s my favorite. And Lelani is interesting and her past is tormenting her—I honestly don’t know how I’m going to resolve it. Anna is fun in that she takes herself a bit too seriously, which is a great setup for humor. But I really think I like the ditsy self-centered Kendall the best. As much as she blows it and as shallow as she seems, I think something amazing is going to happen to her before the series ends. And I really mess with that poor girl in book two.
How much research did I Heart Bloomberg take?
Most of the “research” is derived from life experiences. For instance, like Megan, I worked for an interior decorator. And like Anna, I was an editor with a publishing company. Probably all I have in common with Lelani is that we love to vacation in Maui and I’m fairly familiar with that island. And Kendall...well, that’s just my crazy imagination—oh, yeah, I do have to some research for her. I go online to learn about very expensive designer clothes—which I do not actually buy or wear myself.
How many books will be in this series?
We have four planned. One for each season. The next one is called Let Them Eat Fruitcake—and it was very fun to write.
What do you do as an author to keep your writing fresh? Do you belong to any organizations?
Wow, I sure hope it’s fresh. Because I also write for teens, I have to stay somewhat connected to popular culture (TV, movies, books, internet...) and I try to keep a somewhat “youthful” perspective. But, perhaps more important than that, I am an “observer” of relationships. I think if I wasn’t a writer, I’d want to be a sociologist because I love to study people and to try to figure out relationships and what makes them work. Human nature just really intrigues me.
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
I need to be careful not to over commit myself to writing projects. And that’s tough when you write for teens—because they are voracious readers and can’t seem to get enough. Still, that’s a good problem. One of my personal challenges might be that I tend to get holed up in my office—and I really need to make sure that I’m out there experiencing life so that I can continue to gather up new things to write about. Fortunately, we like to travel and that provides lots of opportunities for collecting story fodder.
What new projects are on the horizon?
As far as chick lit goes, I have a new stand-alone title coming out in June 08. It’s not related to These Boots Weren’t Made for Walking (WaterBrook) but it does involve shoes. It’s called A Mile in My Flip-flops (about a young woman who decides to flip a house for profit). Then I have a contemporary Christmas novella, All I Have to Give (Baker) releasing in fall 08. Besides that, I have a fun new chick lit series for teens called The Carter House Girls (Zondervan) releasing in Spring 2008.
What advice would you give to a person trying to become a fiction writer?
First of all, read lots good books in the genre you want to write for—consider it research as well as fun. Also read some books on writing fiction, take writing classes, attend seminars, join a critique group. Finally, and most importantly, write-write-write! I wrote three books before contracting one. I wrote because I loved to write...publishing came later.
What is your greatest achievement?
You mean besides giving birth twice and remaining happily married for a long time? I’ll assume you mean greatest writing achievement. I’ve won some pretty cool awards (Rita, Gold Medallion...) but that’s not it. I’ve optioned a book (Finding Alice) for a Lifetime movie which looks like it will happen sometime this year. But that’s still not it . Honestly, I think my greatest achievement is that satisfaction I get when readers write to say that my books have changed their lives. And, okay, I don’t think I can even claim that one because God can use anything to change anyone. I just hope He continues to use me and my writing.
What message would you like your readers to take away from I Heart Bloomberg?
The main thing would be that we need to forgive each other—again and again. When you live with people, like most of us do, you can either forgive them when they step on your toes or just be miserable. Besides that, I hope the readers will just have a fun lighthearted enjoyable read—that they will feel encouraged in their own lives and be willing to do something new and challenging.
What is your goal or mission as a writer?
To be honest, I want to continue to enjoy writing. I mean if I’m not having fun, how can my readers have fun? Besides that I hope that my stories will be reminders to readers that everyone has a “hidden” story and we shouldn’t be quick to judge based on what we see on the outside. If there is one common thread in all my books, I hope it is grace. God is so incredibly gracious with us, I don’t think we can give away too much to others.
What do you do to get way from it all?
For starters, I live in a cabin in the woods. We do have neighbors, but it also feels like a getaway. Besides that we have a fully outfitted motorhome—we like to hit the road and explore new horizons. We’re also working on a little beach bungalow (about three hours away) which will provide a writing retreat and getaway. But, honestly, there is nothing like a good walk to clear the cobwebs out of my head. I think nature is God’s gift for renewing our spirits.