Marliss Melton makes her amazing military romantic suspense debut with Forget Me Not by Warner Forever December 2004. She has previously written medieval romance as Marliss Moon for Berkley.
It is always refreshing to discover an amazing new talent to recommend to all the readers groups I network with nationwide. Marliss, your fantastic military romantic suspense, FORGET ME NOT (Warner Forever December 2004) has a riveting plot, engaging characters and unforgettable love story - making it a pleasure to recommend to readers. Tell us why you decided to write in this romance subgenre?
Military romantic suspense is a perfect fit for me. I grew up in the military community. My father was a foreign officer, so I grew up in Laos, France, and Thailand, attending American and international schools. My first husband was an Army officer. When he died, I married a 20-year veteran of the Navy. I am familiar with military jargon and the lifestyle. I have always found military men attractive. Something about those honed bodies and that short hair, combined with self-confidence that comes with physical training just does it to me.
Forget Me Not, the first book in your SEAL trilogy, is both action-packed as well as highly emotional. Your hero, Lieutenant Gabe Renault has been presumed dead for a year from a mission gone bad in North Korea. When he returns to his family in Virginia, he can't remember the last three years. Why did you choose this time frame for your hero's amnesia?
I wanted Gabe and Helen to have been married before his captivity, long enough for the bloom to wear off. Two years isn't very long, but was long enough for Helen to realize that Gabe refused to invest himself emotionally in their marriage. He would go from quintessential lover to distant warrior over and over, breaking her heart. This is why Helen mistrusts the new Gabe, whose candid desire to connect makes him nothing like the man he was before.
You've already mastered the double love story subplot in Forget Me Not with Master Chief Sebastian and dancing teacher, Leila and this couple's relationship isn't resolved by the end of your novel. Will they reappear as the secondary couple in the rest of your SEAL trilogy and when can we expect their happy ending?
Sebastian and Leila reappear in the next book, In The Dark (June, 2005). Their relationship is as intense and erotic as it was in the first book - perhaps even more so! Happily, they will resolve their differences in this book, leaving the reader satisfied.
You've set yourself up beautifully for the next installment in your SEAL trilogy by leaving bad guys at large in Forget Me Not. Tell us about the next book Into The Dark.
Into The Dark features Luther Lindstrom and the missing DIA analyst, Hannah Geary. When Gabe from FORGET ME NOT is accused of crimes that their commander committed, Luther relies on Hannah to scrounge up the evidence needed to counter Gabe's charges. Luther is fresh out of a relationship and determined to avoid women for a while. However, danger and a common objective have a way of stirring up passions.
Who will the third book in the trilogy be about.
My third book is due for release in 2006 and will be Westy's story. Westy risks more than his career when he rescues Sarah Garret from her abusive husband (the prosecuting JAG in Gabe's trial). When he hides her in his home town in rural Oklahoma, he must also come to terms with his troubled past. As Sarah's husband hunts her down, Westy finds himself falling in love with her and her nine-year-old son. But Westy and Sarah are from two different worlds. How can Westy ever be worthy of her?
Who are your ideal heroes and what characteristics make them one?
This is a tough question. I see and hear of examples of heroism everywhere. I guess my personal hero is my husband, Alan. What makes him heroic is his multi-faceted personality. He can be intrepid and fearless; articulate and intellectual; spontaneous and carefree, gallant and giving, sensitive and sad. But more than anything, he is fervently passionate about me. And that's what keeps me so deeply in love.
Forget Me Not is dedicated to a very special person. Tell us about him?
Chris Nally (whose picture is on my Heroes page on my website) is a disabled veteran of the Australian Special Air Services Regiment (i.e. Special Forces) and a former Master Sniper. He gave the best of himself to fighting terrorism in the 80s and 90s and now lives with chronic fatigue syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic pain. He's had fourteen surgeries from high altitude, low open jumps. Even disabled, Chris fights for veteran compensation, which his government has yet to give. He represents the extreme sacrifice that those in the Special Forces make so that you and I can live free. Chris is a very special hero.
Before your current Navy SEAL trilogy for Warner Forever, you previously published medievals, Danger's Promise (2002) and By Starlight (2003)as Marliss Moon for Berkley. Why did you start with medievals and what made you decide to switch to military romantic suspense?
I've always been a fan of historical romance, specifically medieval romance. As I teach History of the English Language, I am also familiar with the early Middle Ages. Doing research for my teaching gives me material and ideas for writing medieval novels. In addition to historicals, I'm an avid fan of contemporary romance. I had the idea of writing a military romance before I'd ever read one. When I picked up Suzanne Brockmann's Unsung Hero, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I knew that military romance was the niche for me.
What draws you to the medieval period and do you plan to write any more historicals in this time period?
Castles and men in armor draw me to the medieval period. Honestly, is there anything more romantic? I also like that fact that, when writing historicals, I can deepen the colors and exaggerate the intensity of the scenes I depict. Life was so much more intense in those days - bloody battles, extreme heat and cold, deep down misery with nothing to take the edge off but love and passion. Yes, I will definitely be writing more historicals in the near future.
You currently live a "Brady Bunch" lifestyle with children that are yours, your husband's and yours together. Plus you also teach Linguistics at the College of William & Mary. Tell us how you're able to manage a very hectic schedule and make time for your writing?
There is a wonderful institution called "public school." I'm one of the few people who dread weekends and live for weekdays, when all of the children, except for the baby, go off to school. I take my 21-month-old to a sitter nearby, and then I chain myself to my keyboard. I count myself fortunate in that I "adore" writing. Time flies by and before I know it, I have to run to the college to teach. I owe a debt to my husband's military training. Whenever he's around, he puts all the boys to work, and with everybody chipping in - even the baby, who runs the Dustbuster - I somehow manage to be productive without living in filth.
Tell us how you research your writing?
As for researching my books, I check out references at the library and order videos and such, but my favorite way of doing "research" is to read a book of fiction and hope that the author did her research - isn't that awful? Still, to get myself out of the hot seat, I have contacts - actual real-life SEALs - who read my manuscript and verify the accuracy of my work. I'm always looking things up on the internet. I like to be accurate when I describe the steps of a samba or the ingredients in mole poblano. How many miles is it from Guantanamo Bay to Santiago de Cuba? Some reader out there knows the answer and I don't want to disappoint her. Thank God for the Internet that makes research quick and easy!
Who or what influenced you to be a writer and who are some of your favorite authors?
First there was Victoria Holt, who lured me in at age twelve with her gothic romances. At thirteen, my family moved from Virginia to Houston, Texas and, being an ugly duckling among lovely Texan swans, I hid in my room eating candy corn and reading series romances. It was during those reclusive years that I wrote my first novels in long-hand. They're up in the attic gathering mildew.
For the past decade, my favorite authors have been Patricia Ryan (who inspired me to write medieval romance) and Suzanne Brockmann, who is the person I want to be when I grow up.
It's been a pleasure to introduce you to the reading public in this interview. How can readers get in contact with you? Will you be attending any conferences during the next year?
Marliss: I love to hear from readers! Please feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website at MarlissMelton.com and sign my guestbook. I'll be attending Romance Writers of America's national conference this coming summer in Reno, Nevada.
This interview for NewAndUsedBooks.com was conducted by: Pat Rouse, former Romantic Times columnist, who now is a publicist and as part of her business networks with romance readers groups in the U.S., Australia and England. [Rousepat@aol.com]