I’d like to welcome Melissa Bennett to Daring Debuts ’18. Her new inspirational romance novel, HIDDEN THORNS, was released on January 22 from 50/50 Press.
Here’s the blurb: Lil Edwards is divorced after thirty years of marriage. When her new found independence is interrupted by a stalker, a second chance of love, her faith, and even her life are threatened.
And now for a teaser:
Lil recoiled to the other side of the bed drawing her knees close to her chest. Her face contorted with fear and dread. It felt as if all the blood were rushing from her head, like she couldn’t tell the difference between the floor and ceiling. Gracie, startled awake by Lil’s sudden movements, sauntered to the bedside and laid her head near Lil’s feet. Lil didn’t respond, she was frozen with fear. Gracie pawed at the sheets and whimpered. Still getting no response, she let out a bark in frustration. Lil finally came to. She looked at Gracie and patted the bed to have her jump up with her, something she never allowed the pup to do. This time was different.
“Come girl, please,” Lil pleaded. Gracie complied and greeted Lil with a slobbery kiss. Lil wrapped her arms around the dog burying her face in her chocolate colored fur.
SW: Welcome, Melissa! Where did you get the idea for this story?
MB: It started as a cathartic exercise. I’ve been married a long time, and anyone who’s been married for any time understands that it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. (I love you honey!) From there, I had a dear friend encourage me to keep going. The story unfolded organically.
SW: I love it when that happens! What’s the story behind the title?
MB: Life is a mixed bag. Much like a rose with it’s thorns. Initially, I titled the book Roses and Thorns. LOL. But one Google search and I knew it needed to change. Megan, my publisher helped to find the current title.
SW: Tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.
MB: Lillian is named after my great-grandmother. I have an old sepia toned picture of her that I’ve always admired. She had a mischievous grin in a time when people didn’t smile for the camera. I loved that!
SW: How wonderful! Are your character based on real people, or do they come from your imaginations?
MB: I think in some respect, all of our characters must be loosely based on people we know or have met. They are definitely from my imagination, but bits and pieces of people I know are in them.I think in some respect, all of our characters must be loosely based on people we know or have met. They are definitely from my imagination, but bits and pieces of people I know are in them. - Melissa Bennett Click To Tweet
SW: How long did you take to write this book?
MB: By the time the book actually goes to print, it will have been three years. I finished the first draft in roughly nine months, but life got in the way of pursuing it seriously for a while.
SW: What kind of research did you do for this book?
MB: There was a great deal of research about roses since they feature in the book. There was also research about firearms, police equipment and procedures, and psychosis.
SW: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
MB: For this book I was a textbook pantser. Though I must admit, I’m learning to plot – slowly.
SW: It’s hard to change from a pantser to a plotter, but it’s worth it. Can you tell us about your favorite character?
MB: Gosh, this is difficult…. My favorite character to write in this book was probably Katie, Lil’s best friend. She’s southern, sassy, and has and ‘as of yet’ unplumbed depth to her. We’ll see much more of her in book 2. 🙂
SW: What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
MB: I love when the characters do something unexpected. That happened a lot when Katie was in the scene.I love when the characters do something unexpected. - Melissa Bennett Click To Tweet
SW: I totally understand characters with a mind of their own! If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
MB: You can do whatever you decide to do. Don’t let your doubts keep you from starting!If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? You can do whatever you decide to do. Don’t let your doubts keep you from starting! - Melissa Bennett Click To Tweet
SW: Love that! How did you get into writing?
MB: I’ve always loved writing. Even when I was young. As an adult, I journaled, mostly prayer typer journals. Like Abeline in “The Help”, I talk to God by writing things down. I’ve shared a few things with close friends who encouraged me to pursue it. That’s how the book started.
SW: What are you working on right now?
MB: Currently, I’m working on the book that follows HIDDEN THORNS. It’s working title is Veiled Blessings and it’s Katie’s turn to be front and center.
SW: What’s your favorite writing advice?
MB: You can’t edit what’s not on the page.What’s your favorite writing advice? You can’t edit what’s not on the page. - Melissa Bennett Click To Tweet
SW: Great advice. Now, for my last question, did you pick your genre or did it pick you?
MB: Romance is in my bones, so that part was easy. The inspirational part was a personal conviction. I wanted to write something that my high school self could read openly.
SW: Love it! Thanks so much for joining us today.
Melissa Bennett, is a die-hard romantic, and credits that to her southern upbringing. Her debut novel, Hidden Thorns, is a romantic suspense story, strongly influenced by her Christian faith.
A cookbook collector, she loves to tinker in the kitchen, and has grand delusions of one day opening her own café.
Today, she lives in the suburbs of Kansas City with her husband of 30 years, and two lazy Miniature Schnauzers. She’s the proud mama of four fantastic children, and thankful to have her Dad living nearby
Sharon Wray is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes novels of suspense, adventure, and love. The author of the Romantic Suspense Deadly Force Series, her debut book Every Deep Desire releases on March 6, 2018 and is still available for pre-order.