Sunday, November 6, 2011

Meet Melodie Campbell!

Greetings, fellow writers. Today it’s my pleasure to introduce you to a Canadian writer with great style and a gift for making readers laugh.

Melodie Campbell got her start as a comedy writer, so it’s no surprise that editors have called her work ‘wacky’ and ‘laugh out loud funny’.  She has over 200 publications, including 100 humour columns, 30 short stories and one novel.  She has received five awards for fiction, and is the General Manager of Crime Writers of Canada.

I sent Melodie a list of questions and topics to think about and discuss, and she took the challenge seriously. Seriously? Well, in a sense. As you’ll see, she also took these questions with a large dose of laughter. Get ready...

John: What is the relationship between fiction and truth?
Melodie: John darlin’, I write sexy books.  If I were to answer that…well the bag would not be holding the kitty, so to speak.

John: We’re often advised to write about what we know about. How does this work for the mild-mannered mystery writer who never saw a corpse or has never been hassled by the cops?

Melodie: Ah.  I’ve spent half my career as a health care executive, so the former is something I can write from experience.  And we have cops in the family.  This is something I highly recommend: make sure your family has cops.  Or find a new family.

Are you proud of your style? If so (and let’s hope so!), why?
Melodie: My style is fast and funny.  (Oops – did you mean writing style?)  I got my start as a humor columnist and comedy writer (stand-up) and my novels reflect this bent.  My goal in writing is to give readers entertainment – an escape from life’s pressures for a few hours.

John: What’s special about the way you use language?

Melodie: I’ve tried to write straight, but the gremlins take over and twist the words. Back in the early 90s, a producer from fledgling HBO saw my play ‘Burglar for Coffee’ in Toronto, labeled it “completely nuts” and offered me a spot writing pilots, which I stupidly turned down.  This goes on record as the worst mistake ever made by a person not officially insane.  But it gives you an idea of what I do to language.  Generally, I beat it into submission.

John: Can you name six essential ingredients of mystery plot that begin with C? (Extra credit for more C’s.)

Melodie: character, conflict, climax, conclusion, clues, cunning, crafty, coffee.  Good coffee.

John: What are your feelings about love and sex in fiction? Are they essential to plot and character development?
Melodie: I use love and sex as motivation.  My novels are not big R romance novels, but I use love or desire to motivate the characters to act in a ‘criminal’ fashion.  Love, money or revenge – those are the main motivators.  I am partial to the first two. 

John: Are there accepted rules of good writing that you enjoy breaking?
Melodie: My writing students smile when I say “Here are the rules – now that you know them, you can decide when to break them.  But recognize that you will lose something when you do, so it better be worth it.” The one rule I never break is viewpoint.  It drives me crazy when writers bounce around from head to head.  There is no need to show more than one viewpoint in a scene.  A good writer can make clear the emotions of anyone else in the room by the way they look, speak, and react to the words of others.

John: Who is your favorite writer? What book made you want to be a reader? What writer made you want to be a writer?

Melodie: What single book? Ivanhoe.  I read it when I was 17, and I was enthralled by the magic of history and high adventure.  I still remember lifting my head in the school library, and for a moment, being bewildered by my location. What writer? Probably Agatha Christie.  I love the twists of unpredictable plot.  All my fiction is plot-driven.  Wish I could write like her.  Instead, I write comic crime and fantasy.  But I strive to make it unpredictable.

And now a word from our sponsor—


ROWENA THROUGH THE WALL (No. 2 on bestseller list, Aug 2011! (fantasy, futuristic)

Do you like comic time travel?
Meet Rowena Revel!

“Is that a broadsword on your belt, or are you just glad to see me?”

When Rowena falls through her classroom wall into a medieval world, she doesn’t count on being kidnapped – not once, but twice, dammit. Unwanted husbands keep piling up; not only that, she has eighteen-year-old Kendra to look out for, and a war to prevent.  Good thing she can go back through the wall when she needs to…or can she?
“Hot and Hilarious!”  Midwest Book Review

“Jack Sparrow meets Stephanie Plum”  Former editor, Distant Suns Fantasy Magazine

Rowena Through the Wall (Imajin Books) is available at,,,, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.

Follow Melodie’s comic blog at

View trailer and read opening scene at

And now, as a teaser, here is an excerpt from Chapter Sixteen of Rowena Through the Wall

“How did you do that?”  Kendra gasped.
         “Do what?”
         “I just saw you walk right through that wall!”
         “Oh that….” I said, brushing myself off.  “Look sweetie, not to change the subject, but I don’t have a whole lot of time—”
         “And who is that?”
Kendra gaped at Logan, who stood at least a foot taller than her.  He, in turn, gazed down at her as if he had just discovered the meaning of life, the universe and everything that might possibly be in it.
         “Damn,” I mumbled.  “Kendra – Logan, Logan – Kendra.  Now that we’re all introduced, I really have to hustle.”
         Kendra’s eyes widened.  “Is he for real?”
         “Yes, yes, he’s real,” I said, lowering my voice. “ Kendra, I have to whip home for my vet bag.  It would be easier without him along.  Can you keep him here? I’ll only be twenty minutes.”
         “Sure, but how?”  She could hardly take her eyes off him.
         “I don’t know…flirt with him or something.  But don’t let him leave this classroom.  Got it?”
         She gulped.  “Okay.”
         I ran to the desk and grabbed my car keys.  Just as I reached the exit, I heard Kendra say, “So…is that a broadsword on your belt or are you just glad to see me?”

Want a half price coupon for the ebook version of Rowena Through the Wall? Leave a comment on this post, with your contact info!


  1. Nice interview!
    Some more "C" plot ingredients: covetousness, conscience, conviction, criminality, counterpoint, and perhaps too often, cretins.

    William Doonan

  2. John,

    Great interview, love your questions too. Melodie, if you can't find a family with a police officer, have one, two or three family memebers become the terrors of the town. Me, I like to date them(what can I say? Uniforms). As for seeing a dead body....

  3. When I first read a brief synopsis of Melodie's novel, it reminded me of "The Narnia Chronicles," which I read and loved as a child. "Rowena Through the Wall" is going to the top of my "must read" list.

  4. John and Melodie, i loved the interview...augie

  5. Hasn't John got a flair for bringing out the 'fast and funny' side of a girl! This was a delight to do. Thank you, William, Kat, Patricia and Augie, for your great comments!

  6. Thanks to all of you who have commented. Melodie was a pleasure to interview, and I thank her for taking over my blog while I was away on vacation. Her laugh is infectious!