Author Spotlight Interview: Melissa Foster
Every few weeks, Hidden Gems tracks down an author to try and gain some insight into their career, inspirations and plans for the future. Today we’re thrilled to be interviewing the inimitable Melissa Foster – a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with an incredible catalog of books to her name, and a fiercely loyal following of fans. In addition to being a brilliant writer – we even cited her in this article on using locations in your writing – Melissa is funny, sweet and interacts with her fans to create an even closer bond between writer and reader.
HG: So, who IS Melissa Foster? Where do you come from and how did you get into writing?
MF: When I think of myself, what I see is probably different from what others see! I’m a wicked tomboy, raised with six brothers, some of whom are very protective. I’m fiercely competitive with them – in a good way, haha! I generally live life in a bubble of happiness, shying away from negative influences. I speak my mind, always try to share positivity, and I hear I’m a softie when it comes to my closest friends. I am in love with love, and try to spread it wherever I can. I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and recovering chocolate addict.
I was struck with the urge to write in 1991 and it’s never faded. It’s a calling, but with six kids, I had to wait 15 years before I could focus on this career. I’m lucky to do what I’m passionate about, creating deeply emotional love stories and wonderful worlds in which I’d like to live.
HG: One of the really fun things about getting into you as an author is how you’ve created whole families and shared communities. Where did the inspiration for doing this come from? And where do you find the inspiration for the awesome and vivid settings you have for your stories, like the town of Trusty and Peaceful Harbor?
MF: I am a very visual person. I see words in pictures, scenes as movies, and when writing I do the same thing. I put pieces of places I’ve been in my settings, but really, I create the towns in which I’d like to live.
HG: Although you have a very distinctive ‘brand’ you’ve written in different genres over the years – including mystery. What appeals to you about the different genres? And what made you focus more on one rather than the other?
MF: I started my career with literary and women’s fiction, then branched out to suspense, thrillers, and historical fiction. After those, I was dared to write something that didn’t tear out my friends’ hearts, and that’s when I dove into romance. I fell in love with the genre and continued on, but my romances deal with real life issues, and they always have a low-angst feel. It’s the best of both worlds, but I’m not done writing in the other genres. I just need more time!
HG: You also make no secret about writing under another pen name, as Addison Cole. Why a second pen name? And what’s different about Addison’s stuff?
MF: For years my fans have been asking for the love stories they adore in my Love in Bloom big-family romance collection to be written without harsh language or explicit scenes so they can share them with their sweet-romance reading friends. I finally found the time and moved forward with the project. I’m glad I did. Readers love them!
HG: You have written a LOT of books. What’s your publishing schedule like? How do you keep so productive?
MF: In one word, my publishing schedule is insane. Lol. I publish about 12 books a year, but I’ve published 15 in a year before, too. I am happiest when I’m writing, and I have many characters in my head waiting for their own stories to be told. I also don’t like to keep readers waiting for the stories they’re hoping to read. It’s a crazy schedule, and at some point I’ll slow down. But I truly am happiest when my fingers are on the keyboard. I don’t write to live. I’m one of those odd ducks that lives to write.
HG: What’s your writing routine like? Do you have a process? A writing cave? What do you write on?
MF: I write only in my home office. I need textures, colors, and positive influences in my life, and I fill my office with those things. I have a bike desk and a treadmill desk, and they’re part of my daily routine. I do administrative work for an hour or two in the mornings while on that exercise equipment, then I dive into writing for about 8-10 hours, 7 days/week. Lately I’ve been taking more time off on the weekends, but I still write until about 2pm.
HG: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as an author?
MF: Hire professional editors and more than one proofreader for each book.
HG: Who are your favorite writers, and what’s your favorite book?
MF: I love the elegance of Thrity Umirgar and Lisa See’s work, and the smooth storytelling of Jennifer Probst, but I have many favorite authors and books.