The Who, What, When, Where and Why with Melissa Hill

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By Jade Craddock

Melissa Hill has been a published author for nearly two decades, with her books regularly topping the charts. Her latest novel, Keep You Safe, is out now and Melissa has popped by to respond to our who, what, when, where and why questions. ♥

1. Who has been the most important person in your writing journey?

My agent, Sheila Crowley. Our relationship goes beyond the professional; we’re also very good friends and share a real love for the business side of publishing which we often spend many a happy hour discussing.

And because we are friends as well as business partners, I trust her judgement implicitly; she’s usually the first one to read a new draft and she’ll always tell me straight if something isn’t working, or if I’m in danger of steering off course. She’s a real force of nature and I’d be lost without her.

2. What motivates you to write?

First and foremost, I love telling stories, and when a potential idea for a novel pops into my mind, I can’t think or concentrate on anything else, and have no choice but to sit down, start writing and see where the idea goes. It may well be nowhere but I still have to scratch that itch.

For the most part though, I write for readers. Every book I finish is written in the hope of satisfying existing readers and also potentially finding new ones. I’ve never had any interest in literary validation, media acclaim or any such concerns, once readers are happy all’s right with my world.

3. When did you first start writing?

I’ve been writing little bits and pieces here and there since my school days, as I’ve always loved escaping into my own imagination, but I started my first novel in 2002. It was accepted for publication that same year and came out in 2003. In hindsight, I had no idea how lucky I was.

4. Where do you write?

For many years, I wrote in tight corners in spare rooms, on chairs and when I first started, in bed on my laptop. But a couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to design my own writing space in a house my husband and I were renovating. It’s a big light-filled room with a huge double-height floor-to-ceiling window looking out over views of the surrounding forest and mountains.

My office is situated on an elevated glass-fronted mezzanine directly overlooking this view, and I’ve filled the workspace with lots of little knick-knacks that make me happy; family photos, scented candles, glitter balls, flamingo & pineapple-themed stuff etc). There’s also a treadmill desk (which I don’t use often enough) alongside my regular desk.

Then the space beneath the mezzanine consists of wall-to-wall bookshelves – filled with every book I own, with one entire wall consisting of copies of my own published titles and translations. There’s also my 90s vinyl record collection and player, well as a couple of funky reading chairs and a feature ‘Bookworm’ shelf that I adore. The room is a riot of colour and light, and every morning, I walk in and upstairs to my desk with a spring in my step.

5. Why did you write this book?

The idea for Keep You Safe was initially sparked by my own concerns re MMR vaccinations for my daughter as a baby. I did vaccinate her in the end, deciding that the risks far outweighed any misgivings, but I was intrigued by the hostility expressed toward anyone who does refuse the vaccine.

When my daughter started school I recalled this overwhelmingly negative sentiment, and figured such feelings would be even more heightened amongst parents of school-going children – especially if an unvaccinated child happened to become ill.

Melissa Hill lives in Co. Wicklow with her husband and daughter. A USA Today, and No 1 Irish Times and Italian best-seller, her books are translated into 25 different languages. One of her titles has been optioned for a movie by a major Hollywood studio, and another is currently in development for TV with a top US production company.

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