A Yorkshire lass first and foremost, Melanie left her native county in 1994 when she joined the Royal Air Force as an Air Traffic Control Officer.
Melanie enjoyed the nomadic lifestyle awarded by her military career. In addition to working at several air stations throughout the UK, she experienced an operational tour in the Balkans during the Kosovo Crisis in 1999, and served as air liaison officer with the British Army during their insurgence into Iraq in 2003.
In May 2004 she transferred to the Royal Navy Air Traffic Control Specialisation, the highlight of which was an exhilarating stint in HMS Invincible. Melanie had a son in 2007, before retiring from military life in 2010, after which she moved to Dubai temporarily where she finally found the time to pursue her passion for writing. She wrote the majority of her first novel, The Wedding Cake Tree, while sitting in a Japanese tea shop overlooking the Burj Kalifa. Melanie now works for a charity that provides adventurous breaks for those with disabilities, and lives on a nature reserve with her family, which includes a manic sheepdog, five chickens and an optimistic fox.
Melanie is happiest when wandering in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands (pretending to be all mysterious and romantic).
The Wedding Cake Tree is about really living life to the full, not just watching it go by - for a little while, at least.
At the reading of her mother’s will, Grace - a thirty-something London based photographer - is instructed that in order to inherit her childhood home, she must go on a journey to four places that were significant in her mother’s life. At each location she reads a letter from her mother (Rosamund, who wrote the letters just before she died) and scatters a little of her ash. Rosamund reveals through the course of the letters the life she lived before Grace was born, a life which was kept secret from Grace for a variety of reason.
Grace isn’t travelling alone (that would never do). Rosamund insisted (as part of the will) that Grace travels with an old friend – the ridiculously handsome, chiselled (rip your knickers off the moment you meet him) Royal Marine, Alasdair Finn (who has his own demons that need to be tackled during the trip).
The Wedding Cake Tree is a fast-paced, romp of a read. It’s a love story – but it is about the different kinds of love; love for your child, romantic love, and the love for one’s country. It considers the intricacies of the mother/daughter relationship and, during the journey, Grace wonders if she ever really knew her mother, which leads her on to wonder if a person ever really knows – truly knows - the people in their lives. Primarily, The Wedding Cake Tree is about living life in the moment; it’s about the joys of falling in love, and ultimately about taking responsibility for the consequences of your actions – it’s also a blooming good laugh! The British landscape plays a vital role in the story too; you could almost say that it is one of the characters. It’s a physical and metaphorical journey for two people who have reached a crossroads in their lives, and, as her parting gift, Rosamund reveals her own past, in the hope that she can shape Grace and Alasdair’s lives into a brighter future.
I hope the reader to laughs a lot, cries a little bit, and closes the final page with a smile on her/his face.
Have you got anything exciting planned for publication day?
A nice bottle of wine with friends.
Are you going to treat yourself to something nice to celebrate?
I hadn’t thought of doing so, but yes, why not?! There’s a nice little boutique in Bideford so maybe I’ll treat myself to a nice new bracelet or something.
Are you currently working on a new book? If so, are you able to tell us anything about it?
Yes! I’m obsessed with it. The characters are always with me (especially when I’m driving, for some reason). It’s called Indigo Starlight - a romantic comedy. There is a female Royal Navy helicopter pilot, a woodsman, a hedge witch and an artist (who is losing his sight). The story is based on and around the North Devon coast and, in very basic terms, it’s about finding your ‘inner Indigo’ (the goddess that lies within) – I’m having a lot of fun with it.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
Yes … and no. First, I wanted to a ballet dancer, but that didn’t work out. Despite begging my parents, I was never sent for ballet lessons and, to this day, I have never worn a tutu. And then I wanted to join the RAF and travel the world and pretend to be terribly important – that did work out, although I was never in the least bit important. It was only on retirement from my military career at the age of thirty-nine (four years ago) that I started to write. Somehow though, I always ‘just knew’ that I would write fiction when the time was right. Teachers at school suggested that I had a talent for creative writing and encouraged me to pursue a career along those lines - which gave me confidence later in life, I suppose. But I’m glad I lived a completely different life first. I’ve had lots of excitement – it’s given me something to write about!
Where would be you idyllic location for a writing retreat?
The West Coast of Scotland, no question. Although the more beautiful the location the less writing would get done. The best place to write for me would be in a completely white room with no windows, sparsely furnished with a desk, a chair and my laptop and perhaps a bit of music (I’ve just described a padded cell, haven’t I?).