Excerpt from Hidden Thorns
Lil recoiled to the other side of the bed drawing her knees close to her chest. Her face contorted with fear and dread. It felt as if all the blood were rushing from her head, like she couldn’t tell the difference between the floor and ceiling. Gracie, startled awake by Lil’s sudden movements, sauntered to the bedside and laid her head near Lil’s feet. Lil didn’t respond, she was frozen with fear. Gracie pawed at the sheets and whimpered. Still getting no response, she let out a bark in frustration. Lil finally came to. She looked at Gracie and patted the bed to have her jump up with her, something she never allowed the pup to do. This time was different.
“Come girl, please,” Lil pleaded. Gracie complied and greeted Lil with a slobbery kiss. Lil wrapped her arms around the dog burying her face in her chocolate colored fur.
Lil Bratcher is being stalked. It will shake the very foundation of her faith, her friendships, and a second chance at love.
Melissa Bennett's Biography
Melissa Bennett, is a die-hard romantic, and credits that to her southern upbringing. Her debut novel, Hidden Thorns, is a romantic suspense story, strongly influenced by her Christian faith.
A cookbook collector, she loves to tinker in the kitchen, and has grand delusions of one day opening her own café.
Today, she lives in the suburbs of Kansas City with her husband of 30 years, and two lazy Miniature Schnauzers. She’s the proud mama of four fantastic children, and thankful to have her Dad living nearby.
Interview with Melissa Bennett
In the following interview, Melissa Bennett answers a few questions about her upcoming novel, her writing process, and herself. Her debut novel, Hidden Thorns, is due out in 2018.
Q - Please describe what the book is about.
Melissa Bennett - Lil Edwards is divorced after thirty years of marriage. When her new found independence is interrupted by a stalker, a second chance of love, her faith, and even her life are threatened.
Q - Where did you get the idea?
MB - It started as a cathartic exercise. I’ve been married a long time, and anyone who's been married for any time understands that it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. (I love you honey!) From there, I had a dear friend encourage me to keep going. The story unfolded organically.
Q - What’s the story behind the title?
MB - Life is a mixed bag. Much like a rose with its thorns. Initially, I titled the book Roses and Thorns. LOL But one Google search and I knew it needed to change. Megan, my publisher helped to find the current title.
Q - Did you pick your genre or did it pick you?
MB - Romance is in my bones, so that part was easy. The inspirational part was a personal conviction. I wanted to write something that my high school self could read openly.
Q - No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.
MB - Lillian is named after my great-grandmother. I have an old sepia toned picture of her that I’ve always admired. She had a mischievous grin in a time when people didn’t smile for the camera. I loved that!
Q - Tell us about your favorite character.
MB - Gosh, this is difficult…. My favorite character to write in this book was probably Katie, Lil’s best friend. She’s southern, sassy, and has and ‘as of yet’ unplumbed depth to her. We’ll see much more of her in book 2. :)
Q - If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?
MB - Again, I think it would have to be Katie. Of course, Lil would be with us. And I think I’d spend it in the kitchen cooking up all of her mama’s recipes, and talking about her extended family.
Q - Are your character based on real people, or do they come from your imaginations?
MB - I think in some respect, all of our characters must be loosely based on people we know or have met. They are definitely from my imagination, but bits and pieces of people I know are in them.
Q - How long did you take to write this book?
MB - By the time the book actually goes to print, it will have been three years. I finished the first draft in roughly nine months, but life got in the way of pursuing it seriously for a while.
Q - What kind of research did you do for this book?
MB - There was a great deal of research about roses since they feature in the book. There was also research about firearms, police equipment and procedures, and psychosis.
Q - What did you remove from this book during the editing process?
MB - This makes me laugh. There was SO much edited out! Details for one. My most difficult edit was the extent to which Lil’s dog was edited. LOL She was the perfect pet!
Q - Are you a plotter or a pantser?
MB - For this book I was a textbook pantser. Though I must admit, I’m learning to plot - slowly.
Q - What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
MB - I love when the characters do something unexpected. That happened a lot when Katie was in the scene.
Q - What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
MB - The greatest challenge for me is detail. I want the reader to be enveloped in the scene - to feel like they are completely present. But too much of a good thing is just that - too much.
Q - What has been the most frustrating part of the writing to publishing process?
MB - Queries. I once queried an agent who was asking for Christian Romantic Suspense. I received a rejection in under five minutes. How does that happen?
Q - Can you share your writing routine?
MB - My father is in a nursing home near me, so I balance being with him and my personal time. I have three days a week that are “for writing”. If I can get another day in, that’s great. God willing, I will have many years to write. But the time I have left with Dad is a priority.
As far as where, I have a small desk off of my kitchen that I call my own. It faces away from windows and there are walls on either side so there is as little distraction as possible for this ADD riddled brain!
Q - Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?
MB - The nemesis of all writers! I’ve had days, even weeks, where I had no idea where the story was going. Truthfully, at those times I’ve done research - whether that be regarding the craft or something specific to a character or scene.
Q - If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
MB - You can do whatever you decide to do. Don’t let your doubts keep you from starting!
Q - How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
MB - I have two unfinished (WIPs) and hundreds still in my brain.
Q - Do you have any writing quirks?
MB - I know that they say you should write, then edit. I’m working on that, but honestly, if I’m looking for the exact word to make my point, I have to find it.
Q - Tell us about yourself.
MB - I grew up in Waco, Texas, but I now live in the suburbs of Kansas City with my husband of 30 years. We are (finally) empty nesters. Two of our four children are on their own, and two are in college. So my only babies are my two Miniature Schnauzers, Chrissy and Cassie.
Q - How did you get into writing?
MB - I’ve always loved writing. Even when I was young. As an adult, I journaled, mostly prayer typer journals. Like Abeline in “The Help”, I talk to God by writing things down. I’ve shared a few things with close friends who encouraged me to pursue it. That’s how the book started.
Q - What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
MB - I love to cook. I’m a cookbook collector, but I rarely follow a recipe. And if I can find anything creative to do, I will.
Q - Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?
MB - I dabble in poetry. I once tried to write a worship song. LOL I think it was meant only for my ears.
Q - Share something about you most people probably don’t know.
MB - As a child I was very shy. I’ve had to train myself out of that. Now, I’m an ambivert. I may look like an extrovert, but I need my quiet time alone to recharge.
Q - Which book influenced you the most?
MB - When I was in high school (?) I read Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca. I was captivated. Every good book since then has influenced me to write. Especially “The Mark of The Lion” series by Francine Rivers, and The Mitford series by Jan Karon.
Q - What are you working on right now?
MB - Currently, I’m working on the book that follows Hidden Thorns. Its working title is Veiled Blessings and it’s Katie’s turn to be front and center.
Q - What’s your favorite writing advice?
MB - You can’t edit what’s not on the page.
Q – What book are you currently reading?
MB - I’m reading “To Be Where You Are” by Jan Karon, and “Threadwalkers” by fellow 50/50 Press author, Joanna Volavka.
Links to Melissa Bennett
If you’d like to know more about Melissa Bennett, please check out the following links.