I found Melissa Ford while perusing the internet one day. (Because that’s what I do – I look for books and authors and women’s fiction info.) And with Mel I hit the jackpot. I purchased Life from Scratch immediately for my Kindle. Mel is incredibly diverse in her writing — and very generous with her thoughts and advice. You’ll read below that Mel wrote the book she felt like reading. Lucky us!
Please welcome Melissa Ford to Women’s Fiction Writers!
Interview with Author Melissa Ford
ASN: Your novel, Life from Scratch, is about a non-foodie who learns to cook (ok, that’s oversimplifying). We’ve talked a lot on the blog about making fiction out of facts. I know you’re an amateur chef, so how much of your main character, Rachel, is you or someone you know? Where did you get the idea for this novel?
MF: I’m happily married and (I think) a decent chef, but Rachel and I share in the “blog explosion” phenomenon. One day, my blog was read by a couple hundred people. And the next day, the Wall Street Journal named it one of the top ten parenting blogs. The bizarreness of being thrust out there, of not knowing who is reading (or knowing that people in your face-to-face world suddenly know about your semi-private space on the Web), of the opportunities that come out of it – all of that is first-hand knowledge.
The idea for the book literally came to me as I was crossing the library parking lot with an armful of cook books. I wrote essentially what I felt like reading.
ASN: Many of this blog’s readers are in the beginning stages of their women’s fiction publishing journey. Can you share with us the story of how you went from unpublished to published?
MF: I have an MFA, so that helped with my road to publishing. I use my blog as a receptacle for my thoughts and a way to connect with others, but it’s also an ongoing writing exercise – my stretches before I sit down for the day to write a book. I write almost daily even though I don’t necessarily hit publish daily. But I think reading and commenting on other people’s blogs is just as important as writing my own, especially if you want to be part of a community.
ASN: As much as I try to join the plotters club, I’m a diehard pantser. What works for you?
MF: It actually depends on what I’m writing. Non-fiction and my new YA novel – definitely plotter. But Life from Scratch as well as the upcoming sequel – pantser all the way.
ASN: What are you working on now — can you (will you) tell us?
MF: I’m finishing up the sequel to Life from Scratch. Most of the same characters are there as well as a few new ones. It’s exploring relationships as well as where we draw our lines – and what happens when we cross them. I’m also finishing a final edit on a YA novel that I hope to finish this winter. I describe it as a non-graphic comic book – sort of the opposite of a graphic novel.
ASN: What is your definition of women’s fiction?
MF: I think it’s fiction that appeals to women and/or challenges women. Which is a pretty slippery definition. After all, Charlaine Harris’s books appeal to me, therefore they would fit my definition of women’s fiction and I think that many would classify her as such. But Neil Gaiman’s books also appeal to me, though I’d hardly call Coraline women’s fiction.
I think that women’s fiction is like finding a friend in book form. Gaiman’s books are nice to hang out with, but I’d never describe them as comfortable as hanging out with a friend. Whereas I could see myself grabbing a cup of coffee with Sookie Stackhouse.
ASN: What is your best advice specifically for aspiring authors of women’s fiction?
MF: Love your characters. If you love your characters, you’ll want to spend time with them and you’ll treat them well. If you don’t love your current characters, shelve them and find characters that are a better match for your mind and heart at this moment.
Melissa Ford is the author of the award-winning website, Stirrup Queens (http://stirrup-queens.com), as well as two books; Life from Scratch (BellBridge, 2010), a novel about a blogger finding her voice after a divorce, and Navigating the Land of If (Seal Press, 2009), a guide to infertility and pregnancy loss. Melissa completed her MFA at the University of Massachusetts. Ford lives in Washington, D.C. with her writer husband, Joshua, and their twins.