Tuesday, January 29, 2013

TBR welcomes Melanie Robertson-King

TBR: Welcome to TBR, Melanie. Will you share a little bit about yourself?
Melanie: I’m Canadian born. My father was a Scottish national who was sent to Canada in 1930 through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland. I love Scotland and all things Scottish and have traveled there many times. On one of my trips, I met Princess Anne.

TBR: Tell us about A Shadow In the Past and where it's available.
Melanie: My debut novel is entitled A Shadow in the Past. It launched at the Kansas Book Festival on September 15th. It can be purchased directly from my publisher 4RV Publishing, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk at the following links:

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Melanie: I’ve got both for you beginning with the story blurb and a short excerpt from chapter 3.

When nineteen year old Sarah Shand finds herself in Victorian Era Aberdeenshire, Scotland, she has no idea how she got there. Her last memory is of being at the stone circle on the family farm in the year 2010.
Despite having difficulty coming to terms with her situation, Sarah quickly learns she must keep her true identity a secret.
Still, she feels stifled by the Victorians’ confining social practices, including arranged marriages between wealthy and influential families, confronts them head on and suffers the consequences.
When Sarah realizes she has fallen in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, she faces an agonizing decision. Does she try to find her way back to 2010 or remain in the past with the man she loves?

Excerpt from Chapter 3:
When Sarah’s eyes flickered open, the young girl and her wrecked car were nowhere to be seen. Instead of the asphalt surface of Kendonald Road, Sarah lay sprawled out on a narrow gravel lane.
Sarah’s chest felt like the family’s herd of cows sat on it and she gasped for air. Stones gouged her elbows as she tried to prop herself up.
Using her last ounce of strength, Sarah hauled herself to her feet. Her head throbbed as if it were about to explode, and something wet and sticky ran down the back of her neck. Dirt and blood covered her rugby shirt and jeans, and her trainers were gone. Sharp gravel bit into her stocking feet as she staggered, trying not to fall. Sarah was surprised she was able to stand. She was certain the impact with the car had broken her legs and maybe even her back.
She wiped her hands on her shirt and cried out in pain. Dirt and blood covered her palms, and her knees felt like they’d been scraped with sandpaper. Her chest hurt with every breath, and she wondered if her ribs were broken. Where were the terrified driver and her wrecked car? They seemed to have vanished into the mist.
Sarah barely made out a faint light shining in the distance, and she stumbled toward it, thinking it was the yard light near her father’s barn. She clapped her hands over her ears in an attempt to block out the incessant ringing, but it didn’t work. Taking those pills had been a huge mistake. No matter how badly she wanted to hurt Blair and Niamh, she realized that she didn’t want to die. She couldn’t do that to her family.
Sarah blinked and stared at one of the ghostly trees lining the roadway. The trunk expanded and contracted before her eyes as if it were breathing. A gust of wind rasped through the branches and a sudden cry of a long-eared owl made her jump. Shivering, Sarah crossed her arms and rubbed, but pain shot all the way down to her fingertips, forcing her to stop.
At the narrow stone bridge, she stopped and rested. As she stood there trying to catch her breath, the bridge began to vibrate and black smoke filled the air. A shrill whistle pierced the silence, drowning out the ringing in her ears. Sarah wheeled around and gasped. Off in the distance she saw the tiny speck of a headlight. It grew larger and brighter as the train drew closer and thundered beneath the bridge. Sarah watched the disappearing train and tried to understand what she had seen. There was no railway line near her house, only a flat dirt trail leading to the village.
Soon the smell of freshly cut hay, manure, and farm animals replaced the lingering aroma of the train’s oily coal smoke. If the barn was this close, she was almost home. Drawing closer, she heard the sounds of hooves pawing at stall floors and horses snorting. Her parents did not own horses. Beef cattle, sheep, and a few barn cats were the only livestock on their farm.
Confused, Sarah stumbled away from the barn and turned to face a sprawling three-storey building. It looked like Weetshill but it couldn’t be. The Weetshill mansion Sarah knew had no roof, and trees grew within the confines of its crumbling walls. The slate roof of this building shone in the moonlight as if it had been installed yesterday, and glass sparkled in enormous windows that should have been gaping, dark holes.
Sarah touched the heavy oak door and jerked her hand back as though she’d burnt it. She reached for a thick cord hanging from a bell by the door, but her head began to spin and she lost consciousness.

TBR: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Melanie: Years ago, I loved watching Doctor Who and watched many an episode of Star Trek, so the time travel seed was well and truly planted from a long time ago. More recently, I discovered the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon and the time-travel seed germinated and sprouted.

TBR: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Melanie: I do a bit of both. I need to know how the story will end before I start and usually write the ending first. It’s an adventure getting there, especially when the characters decide they’re taking over and have to be reigned in… or not.

TBR: How do you develop your characters?
Melanie: I take the qualities, appearance from people I know and admire, put them into a blender to create a composite of a number of people for each character. The hero and heroine in my novel – their appearance – came from an old photograph.

TBR: Which of your characters would you most/least like to invite to dinner, and why?
Melanie: Of all my characters, the one I would least like to invite to dinner would be Horatio Christie. He’s an arrogant, blustering galoot and an interesting character but definitely not my idea of an ideal house guest.

TBR: What's next for you?
Melanie: My next project will be the sequel to A Shadow in the Past. Originally, it was part 2 of my novel but I decided it could stand on its own merits.

TBR: Any other published works?
Melanie: I’ve had a number of non-fiction articles published here in Canada but have also been published in the US and the UK. My short story “Cole’s Notes” is under contract to Carrick Publishing for their cross-genre anthology.

TBR: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Melanie: My biggest challenge has been the distance between where I live and Scotland where I set my novel. Luckily I’ve traveled there and have loads of photographs of the specific area. The most rewarding has been holding my finished novel in my hands.

TBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Melanie: I read a variety of genres, no one favorite though. I mentioned Diana Gabaldon earlier so her and her series, Stephen King, Stuart MacBride, and my friend (and 2009 Dundee Book Prize winner) Chris Longmuir, Janice Horton, Juliette Sobanet, and Harper Lee (I loved To Kill a Mockingbird).

I’m currently reading The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder by Mary Jane Maffini.

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?
Melanie:  I have a website and blog and am active on social media as well. My readers can find me on any of these links:

TBR: Thanks for visiting TBR, Melanie. All the best to you.


  1. Visting the country your book is set in is thorough research indeed, Melanie! I do love that excerpt! Also like your character development process. I can think of a few people I'd like to throw into the blender!

    Best of luck, sweetie! :) xx

  2. Thanks Sheryl! A life-size mix-master - virtual, of course - and toss a number of people in and see what comes out. Great to have you following me around, especially as you're into your A Little Bit of Madness tour.

  3. A very interesting post and great to learn more about Melanie. I really enjoyed reading A Shadow in the Past and look forward to reading more books by Melanie in the future x

  4. Welcome to TBR, Melanie!

  5. Thanks for having me here at TBR, Cate!

  6. Thrilled to know you enjoyed reading A Shadow in the Past, Nikki and that you're looking forward to more from me. I'm currently working on the next one so hopefully, not too much longer for you to wait.

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  8. Hi Melanie ! Its always great to know more about you. I really enjoyed reading your debut novel and hope to more of such novels from you !!


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