Chatting with Melanie Dobson, author of Hidden among the stars, was like visiting with an old friend. In a half an hour’s time she shared with us how she came to be a writer, what her process is like, the books and authors that have inspired her, and what her advice is for new writers.

Melanie became serious about fiction writing in 2000, but she has always loved writing, journaling as a child, and even typing out her auto-biography at the age of nine. A high school teacher discovered her love of the written word and insisted she start to journal. This daily practice helped her learn how to start and how to finish pieces — very important to the writing process.

A perfect day for this author is getting her daughters off to school, going to a local coffeeshop, editing what she wrote the day before, writing an additional 2000 words and finishing by 2 pm. Although this is how she structures her days, Melanie is also a night owl and can often be found scribbling in the middle of the night when inspiration hits. When a book is almost completed, she hides away in a hotel to finish it.

One of Dobson’s inspirations is author Francine Rivers and her book The Scarlet Thread. Sarah’s Key was another book that inspired her, as well as many time-slip fiction authors. Dobson’s definition of time-slip: a novel that contains two or more stories with some sort of connection or bridge between the past and present. These books and authors helped her in structuring her own writing.

Melanie’s ideas come from a variety of places, but all are based on true stories. They may have fictional elements but all rely on some facts. Prayer plays a role too — once she was praying, looked out the window and the image in front of her brought her an idea for a novel.

Melanie’s first book was non-fiction and she co-wrote it with her best friend, Tasha Williams. The Love finds you series was written by various authors, including Melanie. Dobson hosts a monthly writer’s group where members support each other by reading and editing each other’s work.

Melanie’s favorite part of writing is the research for her books. She says writing is actually the hardest part of the process, that and carrying the ideas around in her head until the fruition of the book.

Hobson loves to read, particularly historical fiction, although she doesn’t have a lot of time to read novels. When she does it is a rare treat. Most of her reading is non-fiction reading or research for her writing. Francine Rivers’ Masterpiece is one of her favorites. For her own reading, Melanie prefers traditional print books but admits that she thinks the Kindle is great, easy on the eyes.

Sarah’s Key, which was so instrumental in her writing, is one of her favorite books. She says the story has just stuck with her through the years. She appreciates how the character’s life is changed, and how that can often produce changes in the reader as well. Another of Dobson’s favorites is Shadows of Ledenbrook Manor about a little girl on the autistic spectrum and how God uses her disability — truly a story of the heart.

Melanie feels that God has appointed writers to write and that they should use their God-given talents. Her best advice to aspiring authors is just to get your story down on paper. Don’t fear the process — you can always go back and edit.

According to Melanie, “One of my favorite verses is Ephesians 3:20 that says: ‘Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.’ I am so grateful for His gift of words and His gifts of being able to work together—all of us working together- to accomplish more than we could ever dare imagine.”

I asked Melanie about her take on social media for marketing and like many of us she has a love/hate relationship with it. She loves the direct line to readers, loves to pose questions and get immediate responses! The part she dreads is sometimes feeling overwhelmed by the constant influx of information and content. Like most of us, she has to put on the brakes sometimes.

How can you learn more about Melanie and her work? Check out her website, and from there follow her on Facebook and Twitter and sign up for her blog and newsletter. Check it out!


About Ceil Carey

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals.

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