December 1, 2011

Spotlight On...Melinda Leigh

**WINNER: Christine Warner - see Melinda's msg for you in comments**

My special guest today is award winning author Melinda Leigh. Melinda is here to tell us about her thrilling new romantic suspense, SHE CAN RUN. Make sure you leave her a comment as she's decided to give away a copy of her book to one lucky commenter!

Welcome, Melinda. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hi, Sarah, and thanks for inviting me to your blog today.

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom since my kids started school full time years ago. I love spending time with my family. Cooking and cleaning, not so much. My favorite clothes are my pajamas. I wear them whenever possible. When my butt is not in my office chair, I try to stay active with karate, yoga, dog-walking, and regular but reluctant trips to the gym.

Tell us about SHE CAN RUN and where we can find it.

SHE CAN RUN is my debut romantic suspense. Here’s the official blurb:

Ten months ago, Elizabeth Baker uncovered a dangerous secret about her politician husband—a secret that nearly got her killed. Now she and her children are running for their lives. When Beth is hired as the caretaker of a remote Pennsylvania estate, she dares to hope she has found a corner of the world where Congressman Richard Baker can’t find them. But when her new boss dies suddenly and his nephew inherits the estate, Beth is faced with outwitting a former homicide detective who is very smart, very suspicious—and very attractive.

Forced into retirement by an injury and grieving the loss of his uncle, Jack O’Malley is unprepared to share his new home with a strange woman and her two kids. He is even less prepared for the instantaneous attraction he feels whenever Beth enters the room. She is beautiful, intelligent, kind…and obviously terrified of someone or something. As Jack’s investigation uncovers the shocking details of Beth’s past, the rural community is shaken by the murder of a local woman. Driven by instinct and desire, Jack is determined to keep Beth and her children safe, even if doing so means putting his heart—and his life —on the line.

You can find out more about it on my website,, and you can buy it on Amazon in Kindle or paperback. The paperback is also available through other booksellers.


What is the hardest scene you had to write in this book?
I don’t think there was a particular scene that was the most difficult, but I find the murder and mayhem bits of a romantic suspense much easier to write than the emotional elements. I grew up reading my mother’s extensive collection of Agatha Christie mysteries, and in high school I discovered I preferred Stephen King to the classics. 


Who would you cast to play your hero and heroine in a movie?

This is a tough question. I watched the movie, The Losers, last weekend, so I’m casting Jeffrey Dean Morgan to play Jack. He’s big, rugged and hot, with that all-important sense of humor. For Beth, I’d pick Ashley Judd. She has the perfect mix of beauty, wholesomeness, and smarts for the role. 


I love Jeffrey Dean Morgan! How did you start writing? 

I love being a stay-at-home mom, but when my kids went to school, I needed some sort of mental stimulation beyond playing name-that-stain. Being a writer had always been a secret fantasy, and suddenly (if I ignored housework) I had a few free hours every day. Once I began the process, I was hooked. Writing a book became my ultimate challenge, with flexible hours and an awesome commute: coffee machine to desk. Doesn’t get much better than that. 

Which comes first, plot or characters?
I develop the plot and characters together. I start with a situation, an incident, and then throw a few characters into it. From there, I determine the first turning point and write to it, developing the characters as I go along. This usually give me somewhere around 50 pages. That’s where the work really begins, and I start laying out plot points. 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

After I finished the first draft of SHE CAN RUN, which took nearly two years, I didn’t know what to do with it. I found the Romance Writers of America on the internet, joined the New Jersey chapter, and submitted the manuscript to their Put Your Heart in a Book Contest. Much to my surprise, I won. As I learned more about writing, I found out the book still needed a lot of work, but at least I knew I had the potential. I hadn’t spent the last two years writing total jibberish. 

Putting my work out there, letting someone else (besides my husband) read it was the biggest and most difficult step in the whole journey. Submitting my work to professionals for criticism was the thing that made me feel like a writer, not just a mom with a geeky hobby. Until that point, no one outside of my immediate family knew I’d been writing a book.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you began your writing career?

  1. There are technical elements to writing a book. SHE CAN RUN wouldn’t have gone through so many revisions if I’d have learned some of them before or while I wrote it.
  2. There are professional groups that will help you learn the process. Romance Writers of America is a great resource for both aspiring and published writers. Also, smaller organizations, such as the Liberty States Fiction Writers, provide both information and support at monthly meetings. I can’t express the importance of making time every month to come out of your cave, blink at the sun, and mingle with other writers.
  3. Publishing is the slowest process on the planet, right up there with forming glaciers. It takes a long time to get a book published. Sheesh, even after it sells, there’s still at least another year to the process. Persistence I have in abundance. Patience is not one of my virtues. 

It's not one of mine, either. lol  What’s next for you?
I have a paranormal novella, AMAZON HEAT, co-written with my awesome friend Rayna Vause, releasing on January 12, 2012 from Carina Press. Right now I’m working on another romantic suspense, featuring some of the characters from SHE CAN RUN. So far, Police Chief Mike O’Connell is frustrated by a crime spree, a feisty horse trainer, and her vicious stalker. 

Where can we find you on the web?

Readers can learn more about me and my books at They can also connect with me via Facebook and Twitter. I also run a blog with my writer friends, Rayna Vause and KM Fawcett: Attacking the Page, a blog about martial arts and action-packed fiction.

Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
What is your favorite theme in romance fiction? Are you a closet secret baby story addict? Or does a wounded hero melt your heart?

Thanks for joining me today in the celebration of my debut release!

Thanks for visiting with us today, Melinda. To answer your question: I have a soft spot for wounded heroes.

Readers, don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of SHE CAN RUN!

Melinda Leigh started writing when her youngest child entered first grade as a way to preserve her sanity. Her paranormal romance and romantic suspense fiction has won writing awards across the country. Melinda holds a 2nd degree belt in Kenpo Karate, studies Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and teaches women’s self-defense. She lives in a messy house in the suburbs with her husband, two teenagers, two dogs and a neurotic cat with an inexplicable fear of ceiling fans. With such a pleasant life, she has no explanation for the sometimes dark and disturbing nature of her imagination.

Find out more about Melinda at
Order SHE CAN RUN on Amazon


Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Great interview, Melinda and Sarah. I love your household description. A cat with a fear of csiling fans? I have a cat with a fear of an empty feed bowl. He jumps up on the arm of my chair and smacks his lips when the bowl's empty. cats have lips??? Well, you know what I mean. Your book blurb sounds very interesting. I love stories of women on the run, in hiding. Don't know why, but I do. Wishing you great sales, hon.

Melinda Leigh said...

Hi Vonnie,

My crazy cat is also greedy. I'm glad you like my blurb. Women on the run stories are entertaining to me, too. Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a great book, Melinda! It should keep the reader glued to the page, just to find out what is going to happen! Nice interview, Sarah.

Nancy Jardine Author said...

Sounds like the situation any woman with young kids wants - not the danger but the man to help!

christine warner said...

Hi ladies! Wonderful interview :)

As for an answer to your question, I like fast paced reads with a wounded hero....and of course he must be the ultimate in sexy and good looking :)

Your book sounds like a great read and I wish you much success with it and your writing.

Melinda Leigh said...

Patricia, thanks!

Nancy, all moms want is a good man, right?

Christine, I'm a sucker for a wounded hero, too.

Thanks for stopping by, ladies.

Wicked Leanore said...

Nice spot! I really like the cat story! Great blurb as well!
Aka Bonnie Lea from RNJ

Melinda Leigh said...

Thanks, Bonnie. My cat is nuts. I'm glad you could join us today.

Melinda Leigh said...

And the winner is...

Christine Warner.

If you email me with your address I'll send you book out right away!

Melindaleighauthor (at)

Congratulations and thanks for reading!