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Guest author - Melandra Anne Ford

January 7th, 2014 (01:43 pm)

I came across Melandra via my old mucker stevie_carroll, who was squeeing about "Track Limits", which is set in the world of motor racing, which we both love. Anybody who writes about that needs to be invited here!

So Melandra, what inspired you to start writing?

About 25 years ago, I was at home with a new baby, away from family and friends, in a new house and town, with my husband working away from home, so I was looking for a new challenge, and something to fill the time. The other initial push was more fundamental – I discovered fandom and fanzines. And in those pre-Internet days, with horrendous postage costs and the complexity of international money orders, having a story published in a fanzine, and getting a complimentary copy, was the only way I could realistically manage more than a couple a year. Back then, I did write some original things, but found it rather frustrating, as there was no ‘market’ for it, so for a long time I concentrated on fandom. When I fell, almost by accident, into motorsport, I gave up on writing fiction for many years, being too busy with press releases, interviews and other factual stories. But then, two years ago, when I stopped writing creatively at work, I needed another outlet…

Do you have another job (paid or otherwise) apart from being an author? If so, how do you juggle your time?

I’m freelance, working in motorsport, but most of the year it’s pretty much a full-time job. I write in the evenings and on rare weekends off, and find it a good way to relax and forget about work for a while. It’s also great on long flights or stopovers, and I find that I can plot out stories best when I’m driving long-distance, heading for a race circuit…

What does it feel like watching your first book fledge and leave the nest?

To be honest, it’s been rather scary at times. I’d written it the book almost for fun, and to prove to myself I could do it. So when I received the contract, I began to worry about everything I’d written, and whether anyone would think they saw themselves in the characters I’d written about, whether anyone would be offended. I have to admit I felt rather like Phoebe in Georgette Heyer’s ‘Sylvester’ … I also have to say I’d never realized quite how much work went into the editing process, or all the details such as the cover, bio, blurb… As for what it’ll feel like when it is actually launched, I’m not really sure yet. It’s exciting, but scary too.

Are you character or plot driven? What do you do if one of your characters starts developing at a tangent?

I’m more character-driven, but within reason. I tend to have a few images that are very clear in my mind, and that I am working towards. But how I’ll actually get there is a bit of a mystery. Luckily the characters seem to know the way… But I am well aware of the danger of letting things get too far out of hand – I was well into a fantasy novel many years ago when one of the main characters ‘accidentally’ got himself killed. I couldn’t make myself delete the chapter, and I never recovered from it… the book is still there, in the state it was that night, many years ago. I don’t want to go through that again.

If you were in a tight corner and had to rely on one of your characters to save you, which would it be and why?

That would have to be Mark Hunter. Team manager and driver, he’s sensible and resourceful, and even if he didn’t know what to do, he’d be able to round everyone else up to get the job done. He’s definitely my hero.

If you had no constraints of time and a guarantee of publication, what book would you write?

Add talent and research ability, and it would be something about Alexander the Great written from Hephaestion’s point of view. I fell totally in love with him as a historical person (and fictional character in various novels) when I was around twenty, and read everything I could get my hands on. My main criteria for judging a book on Alexander was how many references there were to Hephaestion in the index…

Is there a classic book you started and simply couldn't finish?

Ouch… I’m not very good with the classics. Going back to my school days, we were given a number of books to read each year, to be tested on, and although I read almost non-stop, I found that being told I had to read a book almost guaranteed that I wouldn’t be able to get through it. Madame Bovary, Le Rouge et Le Noir, La Peste, Germinal… the list goes on. I relied on those little summary books to get through the tests, and still feel vaguely guilty about it. As I changed school systems a number of times, I missed out on the English classics and with so many other books to read, I’ve never actually caught up

What’s your favourite gay romance/other genre book? And why?

I find that such a difficult question, as my favourite depends on the way I am feeling. However, I re-read books a lot, and so I’ll go by the ones that look the most dilapidated. The first would be ‘The Catch Trap’ by Marion Zimmer Bradley – I’m on my third copy. This was one of the first books I read focusing on a gay relationship which wasn’t fantasy or historical, and I read it over and over. I loved the circus background, and it reminded me of a TV series I’d adored on television back in the 1970’s, which was called ‘Salto Mortale.’ The other book that looks very much the worse for wear is ‘The Dreyfus Affair’ by Peter Lefcourt, which I found fascinating despite not knowing a thing about baseball, and which might have subtly influenced my book.

What's your next project?

I’m working on two more ‘Tales from the Pit Lane” books, the first of which is a continuation of the story told in Track Limits. The second is with different characters, based on single-seater competition at Formula 3 level, and which is a story I started writing years ago. They are both at the half-way mark.

TrackLimits_postcard_front_DSP

Comments

Posted by: Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll)
Posted at: January 7th, 2014 07:41 pm (UTC)
Books Not Read Yet

It's a jolly good book too!

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: January 7th, 2014 09:32 pm (UTC)

I'll be adding it to my TBR list.

Posted by: rapidess (rapidess)
Posted at: January 8th, 2014 06:49 am (UTC)

Thank you for sharing :)

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: January 8th, 2014 10:55 am (UTC)

My pleasure!

Posted by: a geek in such the wrong way (haldoor)
Posted at: January 15th, 2014 09:06 am (UTC)
misc-rainbow books

Wonderful interview! Thanks for sharing with us. Like you, I'm fascinated by Hephaestion and his relationship with Alexander, so I'd love to see your take on him if you ever did get to write about him. Also, I actually cheered when I read that 'The Catch Trap' is one of your favourite m/m stories! I love this book and have a well-worn copy of my own. ;-) Good luck with your book - I hope to hear it's doing well, and hope to get the chance to read it myself one day. ;-)

Thanks, Charlie, for another great interview.

Edited at 2014-01-15 09:07 am (UTC)

Posted by: charliecochrane (charliecochrane)
Posted at: January 15th, 2014 01:20 pm (UTC)

My pleasure to host such lovely guests. BTW, they're repeating the dramatic adaptation of Alexander's life on radio 4 extra. Not sure if you can access it.

Posted by: a geek in such the wrong way (haldoor)
Posted at: January 15th, 2014 05:56 pm (UTC)
amusement-make it so

Hmm, I must look into that, although I'm not sure it reaches our shores. Perhaps there's something online. Thank you!

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