Today I’d like to welcome Melissa A. Volker and her debut novel A FRACTURED LAND to Daring Debuts.

– “Fabulous romantic suspense. [The author’s] great sense of humor and passion for the environment shine through in this eco-thriller. I really enjoyed it.” Pamela Power author of Delilah Now Trending, Things Unseen and Ms Conception.

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When Texan geologist Carter O’Brien comes to the Karoo with an exploratory fracking license, the farmers protest and the hotels turn him away . Except for one innkeeper, Lexi Taylor, who needs his dollars to pay her bills. But when Carter digs up someone else’s secrets instead of shale gas, violence escalates, and Lexi knows she should back away from the dark and enigmatic stranger. But soon they find themselves hunted by madman over the arid koppies of the Karoo and Lexi must decide, if she survives, whether she has future with a man who has the power to destroy the land she loves.

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Sharon: Welcome, Melissa! Can you tell us what your book is about?

Melissa:  Lexi Taylor returns to her small South African home town to patch up a broken heart and rescue her rocky finances. Texan geologist, Carter O’Brien ignites the town’s hostility with an exploratory fracking license and a short temper. Lexi decides to risk village ire and help him out. But when his fracking survey turns up a hidden crime, being close to him puts her in danger. Then she discovers that, while his career is at stake if he fails to complete the geological survey, he stands to gain much more than he initially revealed, if he succeeds.

While Carter and Lexi are hunted by someone desperate to stop the survey, she must figure out, if she survives, whether she has a future with this dark and complex man who has the power to destroy everything she holds dear.

Sharon: Wow! It sounds amazing. Can you share a teaser?

Melissa: 

The bats ducked and dived over the acacia trees and under the eaves around the farmhouse as the dusk settled in. Rebecca was serving lamb curry to the guests up at the house. She could manage on her own, since it was only Carter and a British couple. If they were busy, Lexi would have relinquished the night off and taken it another time, but she was quite sure that Carter had enough of her for one day.

She curled up on the porch sofa, enjoying the soft light of the gloaming. She was warm from her shower and the throw blanket she brought with her kept off the evening chill. She saw him leave the veranda after dinner and the lights flick on in his room.

“Am I becoming a stalker?” she asked Joni Mitchell. Joni Mitchell was a farm cat who had recently adopted her, and had a particularly theatrical style of prancing about when she wasn’t languishing on inappropriate surfaces.

Lexi closed her eyes and covered them with her hand to stop looking across at Carter’s window, but all she saw were visions of the day. A blur of him striding ahead of her in the scrubland, his slim hips in his faded jeans, and the stretch of his T-shirt across his shoulders as he bent to remove and replace probes.

Then she remembered his stern, angry face and his sparse, but cutting conversation replayed in her head.

She opened her eyes again in time to see a bat swoop down. She pulled the blanket over her head. Everyone knows bats don’t fly into your hair, but she stayed there for a while, just in case.

“Go get them, Joni Mitchell,” she said, poking the shape of the cat through the fabric.

Sharon: Thanks for sharing that. It’s such an original idea. Where did it come from?

Melissa: I grew up near the Karoo and am interested in writing about environmental issues, like fracking, in a way that creates awareness through entertainment.

[bctt tweet=”I grew up near the Karoo and am interested in writing about environmental issues, like fracking, in a way that creates awareness through entertainment. ~ Melissa A. Volker” username=”sharonbwray”]

Sharon: Is there a story behind the title?

Melissa: I thought of it because Fracking not only fractures the literal earth, but also divides people. South Africa is historically a fractured land, and although it is united now, in way, it also is not. I wish it was not a fractured land but it is.

Sharon: It’s such a compelling premise. Can you tell us about your favorite character?

Melissa: My favorite character is Carter O’Brien, the Texan Geologist. He is a strong character with an abrasive exterior, but a good heart.

Sharon: I love all my heroes too. If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?

Melissa:  I would go to Austin to hear Carter and Lexi perform in their future band.

Sharon: As a wife a a man in a band, I approve! What kind of research did you do for this book?

Melissa: I did a lot of research on fracking. For example, how it works, how it would effect the Karoo, what type of rock is involved, how the real life anti-fracking movements operated, how it effects employment rates in the rurals and where fracking occurs in the USA. I also researched the Austin music scene quite a bit and I had to Google Earth tour a few places for geographical accuracy.

[bctt tweet=”My favorite character is Carter O’Brien, the Texan Geologist. He is a strong character with an abrasive exterior, but a good heart. ~ Melissa A. Volker” username=”sharonbwray”]

Sharon:  Hopefully you’ll have a chance to visit Austin. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Melissa: I am a light plotter, but a lot of the story grows while I write, so the plotting is a skeleton, really.

Sharon: What is your favorite part of your writing process?

Melissa: I love to edit, polish and improve.

Sharon: Me too! And the most challenging part?

Melissa: Getting new work down. I have to really concentrate and it is hard work.

Sharon: We must be twins. LOL. Have you ever gotten writer’s block?

Melissa: I don’t believe in writer’s block. You just have to keep clocking your card at the desk. It’s like hiking. Each step will take you closer to the top of the mountain, even if it is weak shuffle.

[bctt tweet=” I don’t believe in writer’s block. You just have to keep clocking your card at the desk. It’s like hiking. Each step will take you closer to the top of the mountain, even if it is weak shuffle. ~ Melissa A. Volker” username=”sharonbwray”]

Sharon: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Melissa: My younger self was a reader more than a writer. I would tell her to keep reading, and read widely.

Sharon: Great advice. Do you have any writing quirks?

Melissa: I need a mug of tea and a rusk to get going when I write. (A rusk is a traditional South African snack, that is like a huge biscotti. It’s so hard you can’t really bite into it unless you dip it in a hot beverage.)

Sharon: I love biscotti so I’m sure I’d love a rusk. Can you tell us about yourself?

Melissa: I am a wife (of a surfer, who does Cross Fit and reads a lot) I am the mother of his children (who also love water and reading) and the slave of a presumptuous cat (who does not love water but likes it when I read on my bed.) My day job is beauty therapy.

Sharon: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Melissa: I surf a 9 foot stand up paddle board. The beach is ten minutes away and I love the feeling of my hair blowing back when I ride a wave.

[bctt tweet=” My younger self was a reader more than a writer. I would tell her to keep reading, and read widely. ~ Melissa A. Volker ” username=”sharonbwray”]

Sharon: How wonderful to live near the water. I’m jealous! Can you share something most people probably don’t know about you?

Melissa: I play a mean game of garden croquet.

Sharon: So does my husband! Which book influenced you the most?

Melissa: Alexandra Fuller, Bill Bryson, Stephen King and Nicholas Sparks are writers who’s style and methods of writing I admire and try to apply to my own. But I am more influenced by the collective mental fingerprint of all the books I have read.

[bctt tweet=”Alexandra Fuller, Bill Bryson, Stephen King and Nicholas Sparks are writers who’s style and methods of writing I admire and try to apply to my own. But I am more influenced by the collective mental fingerprint of all the books I have read. ~ Melissa A. Volker” username=”sharonbwray”]

Sharon: Those are some of my favorites as well. What are you working on right now?

Melissa: I am working on a love story that includes sharks and surfing. An anti-Jaws book. I want to bring the sharks back from the dark place Peter Benchley’s writing put them.

Sharon: Sounds great. Although I have to admit that I love Peter Benchley’s books. 🙂 What’s your favourite writing advice?

Melissa: Sit down and write. It doesn’t matter if it is bad just spew it out. You can fix it later. But you can’t fix nothing.

[bctt tweet=”Sit down and write. It doesn’t matter if it is bad just spew it out. You can fix it later. But you can’t fix nothing. ~ Melissa A. Volker” username=”sharonbwray”]

Sharon: Thanks, Melissa, for spending the day with us and I wish you great success on your debut!

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Melissa A. Volker lives in Cape Town with her husband and two daughters. When she is not writing, she is surfing her stand up paddle board in the cold, sharky waters of False Bay.

You can find Melissa: Website | FacebookTwitter | InstagramGoodreads

 

 

 


Sharon Wray is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes about the men in her Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets and their smart, sexy heroines retell Shakespeare’s greatest love stories.

Her debut book EVERY DEEP DESIRE, a sexy, action-packed retelling of Romeo and Juliet, is about an ex-Green Beret determined to regain his honor, his freedom, and his wife.

It’s available on: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | IndieBound | Kobo.

And adding it to your Goodreads TBR list is also always appreciated!

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2 Comments

  1. Great post! Really enjoyed the interview and getting to know Melissa. I especially like your last tweet quote, so true!

    1. sharonbwray@verizon.net says:

      Thanks so much, Jacquie! I really enjoyed this interview and that last tweet too!

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