Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed Amber Skye Forbes’ character on November 25th and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Carole McKee, the author of Second Chances, on my author journey and I asked her if she’d let me borrow one of her main characters, Melanie Thomas, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Carole in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Melanie Thomas!
Marie Lavender: Hello, Melanie. Please have a seat.
Melanie Thomas: Hello. Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Marie: We’re going to start out with some simple questions, okay?
Character Melanie: Sure.
Marie: So, Melanie, what is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?
Melanie: I run a T-shirt printing shop. It’s called “Do-a-Tee.” Well, I started the company to give people who were down on their luck a second chance to pull themselves up. I hire the homeless–the ones who are hurting. Those who want to better their lives. I love it. Every time I see one of my employees better their lives, my heart swells.
Marie: Great! So, what is your family like?
Melanie: My parents were killed in a plane crash a few years ago. I have a brother who lives in upstate New York. He does the same thing I do, except he runs a tool and die shop.
Marie: What did your childhood home look like?
Melanie: Well, I still live in it. It’s a big house in an upscale neighborhood. Lots of rooms. I still keep my parents’ housekeeper since the place is so big. Besides, given my mission, I could hardly let the housekeeper go. Anyway, it’s a really pretty house.
Marie: Do you have any hobbies? What do you enjoy doing?
Melanie: I enjoy running the T-shirt Printing shop. I love making those people happy. Other than that, I read. In the summer, I keep a small garden.
Marie: So, what is your greatest dream, Melanie?
Melanie: To see everyone healthy, happy, and comfortable with a roof over their head. And of course, I would love to fall in love.
Marie: What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
Melanie: I believe I am the person I want to be. Caring, compassionate, and helpful to others. My parents left both my brother and I very well off. There was also a huge insurance policy they took out before they got on that plane. Neither one of us will ever have to work, and there’s plenty of money to make a difference in others’ lives.
Marie: I’m going to throw another random question at you now. Who was your first love?
Melanie: I have to laugh here. I was a terrible romantic in high school. I fell in love with a boy in my French class. His name was Kurt and he spoke French very well. I just figured anyone who spoke the romance language that well had to be a great guy and a great kisser. Wrong on all counts.
Marie: Oh (laughs). All right…this one is going to be a bit more serious.
Melanie, what’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Melanie: Of course, losing my parents. That was definitely the most terrible thing that ever happened to me and my brother, Matt. But the fire at the shop was also devastating, to more than just me. Everyone who worked there was out of work for awhile until we could rebuild.
Marie: Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. Let’s move on to something a bit lighter, shall we?
Marie: What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Melanie: I wanted to marry and have four kids. That’s all I ever talked about, growing up. I even had their names picked out. As of yet I have not achieved that dream, but there’s still time. Of course, I also wanted a career as a female executive. I sort of reached that dream, in a way.
Marie: Well, that’s great! I also have one of my kid’s names picked out.
So, who is your role model?
Hands down–my Mom. She was everything I could ever hope to be. I loved her dearly. And I miss her.
Marie: I know you do (pats Melanie’s hand).
Well…you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question. Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Melanie: NO. If I don’t like someone, they know it. I like everybody I am in contact with.
Marie: So, what is your deepest desire?
Melanie: To have a loving husband and children. Maybe not four of them, though. I think I may have found the one. No, I’m sure I’ve found him. Tim. We got off on the wrong foot, but oh boy! The shoe is on the right foot now. I’m in love.
Marie: That’s great! So…let’s switch to another question. What is your greatest fear?
Melanie: Probably losing my brother. He’s all I have left. We are close.
Marie: Well, thank you for visiting us today, Melanie. (Waves goodbye to her guest.)
Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective. We have Carole McKee on the stage today. Hi, Carole!
Author Carole McKee: Hi. Thank you for having me here.
Marie: My pleasure! We just got to talk to the heroine of your story, Melanie. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?
Carole: I based her character on myself if I suddenly came into a lot of money. She is doing exactly what I would do. She’s kind, caring, and she gives her all to make a better life for the people who work for her. In return, they are loyal and they all love her.
Marie: (Nods.) So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?
Carole: Definitely her compassion and caring about others. She knows she grew up as a very lucky girl, and she just want to make life better for others who did not.
Marie: Great! Now let’s take the opposition on that.
What, do you feel, are her greatest weaknesses?
Carole: She probably doesn’t do enough for herself. Caring about the employees at the shop, her dogs and cats at home, her brother, and her best friend, Jack doesn’t give her much room to care for herself.
Marie: I see. What are some of her favorite foods?
Carole: Italian, and — believe it or not–Deli food. Club sandwiches are high on her list as well.
Marie: What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
Carole: She’s beautiful, but she has no idea.
Marie: Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Carole: There shouldn’t be any reason to dislike her. She’s a terrific person. She’s kind and caring and she’s resourceful enough to help everyone with whom she comes in contact. She’s a beautiful woman who grew up in a wealthy household, and she believes in reaching out to others.
Marie: Great! Well, now that we have a real taste of Melanie Thomas, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.
What first gave you the idea for Second Chances?
Carole: Well, doing what Melanie does has always been a dream of mine. In many ways she is like me, except for the beautiful and wealthy part.
Marie: She definitely seems like a very special person, and from my own experiences with you, I know you are too.
So, what is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Carole: My writing is character driven. I build my stories around the particular character I want to develop. I have a degree in Behavioral Health, so I tend to explore the psychological aspect of my characters–especially the bad guys.
Marie: That’s great! I can see how having that background would help flesh out your characters.
So, I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Second Chances or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Carole: No, not really. I did a lot of research, but it really wasn’t anything that held me back. I did my own cover. Since I’m not a computer wizard, I probably should have paid someone to do the cover. As far as the actual book goes, I am happy with it. I might consider publishing it in paperback now that I have a bricks and mortar store that carries my books.
Marie: It’s definitely something to think about.
Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog. And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Second Chances appears to be. Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this awesome book by Carole McKee, a very talented author!
Here is the blurb for Second Chances:
And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Carole McKee, here are some of her author links:
Amazon Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/Carole-McKee/e/B0082D3810/
Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Melanie Thomas, the female main character of Second Chances, and Carole McKee, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by! It was so fun to have you here! 🙂