Melody Carlson is the author of more than six and a half million books in print and has won a number of prestigious awards—from the Romantic Times’ Career Achievement Award, to the Romance Writer’s of America Rita and the ECPA Gold Medallion. Several of her books have been optioned for film and/or television.

Her novels deal with a range of topics, from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter ones like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops). Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors) appeal to teenage girls around the world.

Melody and her husband, Chris, live in the Pacific Northwest and have two grown sons.

You’ve had 200+ books published since you began writing. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself during that journey?

That’s a good, but tough, question. But I think the most important lesson (related to my career) is that I enjoy writing for a variety of genres and age groups, and I never want to limit myself to just one section of the bookshelf. What I love most about writing is that I’m constantly exploring and learning (I just wrote a teen fairytale—a first for me). And, although I hope to improve my craft with each book, writing is something I will never fully master.

Sometimes God sends us down an unexpected path—one that ultimately blesses us despite it being different than what we had planned. Have you ever experienced such a “divine detour”?

Absolutely! I think a “divine detour” is actually the difference between thinking I can control my destiny (ha!) and realizing that I need God to direct my path. Fortunately, I discovered relatively early on (in my Christian walk) that God’s plans are far better than anything I can dream up. Even right now, we’re at what feels like a crossroads in our lives (our house is for sale with an interested buyer) but other than hoping we will simplify our lives, we honestly don’t know what’s around the next corner. And yet that’s exciting—we get to trust God and know that whatever lies ahead, it will be good—as long as God’s doing the leading.

How does your faith play into your work?

Faith is such an integral part of my life that, even when I write a story that doesn’t seem particularly ‘spiritual,’ it’s still in there. Sometimes, especially with some of my adult novels, my faith is simply ‘between the lines.’ Other times, like with an edgy teen novel, it is explicitly obvious. But I ask God to bless every story I write, always inviting Him to “breathe” His own life into it for the reader. And I’m often surprised by what part of a story touches a reader—often it’s not anything I planned. That tells me that God really is at work.

Let’s talk about Once Upon a Winter’s Heart (Center Street, January 2014). Please tell us about it.

Emma Burcelli concludes that love is dead when her grandfather Poppi passes away—she’s certain he was the last of the romantics. Emma returns to her hometown to help her widowed grandmother and assist with the family bookstore. Of course, her first assignment (to honor Poppi’s wishes) is to decorate the bookstore for Valentine’s Day. Feeling like the V-Day Scrooge, she discovers that hanging cupids and hearts is more fun with a box of chocolates, Dean Martin music . . . and a handsome thoughtful guy. But the story is about more than just love and romance—it’s also about families and relationships and grace.

You’ve said you often write based on a familiar setting and/or a real life experience. What was the inspiration for Once Upon a Winter’s Heart?

It was one of those tales that seemed to be spun of pure fancy. Although I’m sure that I incorporated bits of reality because I do know some disenchanted women (in the romance arena) and I’m aware of how Valentine’s Day can be hard on them. And I suppose the small town setting (which I love) could be inspired by the two small towns we spend most of our time in. And, yes, now that I think of it, I’m married to a guy similar to Lane Forester, because my husband is a true romantic too. So, I guess a lot of it was inspired by real life. Go figure!

A few fun questions…

When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?

I actually tend to gravitate toward healthy foods and don’t even have much of a sweet tooth—a good thing since my work is so sedentary! But my favorite comfort food would probably be margarita pizza (with mozzarella, parmesan, tomatoes, basil) with a really crispy crust. Or maybe pasta with seafood. Hmm . . . now I’m getting hungry.

This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?

I’m a “secret” songwriter. I love to make up songs in my head. But I never do anything with them. Well, except I did put lyrics in four of my Diary of a Teenager Girl books (Chloe series). I used to play guitar, but not in the past twenty years. I keep threatening to take up the ukulele. : )

If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?

Well, because of my name, I like to think (and I hope) I’m a song of praise to God. But the style might be bluegrass and it would be a ballad.

In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?

All of them, of course! Remember I like diversity—and variety is the spice of life.

I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.

I have a six-year-old yellow Lab named Audrey (re-homed with a sad past). She comes to work with me every day (my office is separate from our house). She keeps me company, tries to get me to walk more, and barks at the UPS man.

Thanks, Melody! It’s nice to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.

Thank you—and Happy Valentine’s Day to all! And remember romance is a state of mind that doesn’t always require a “love interest”—a romantic takes time to smell a rose, relish a sunset, savor a chocolate, laugh with a friend . . . and just live well!

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For more information about Melody, visit her website.

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