1. Did you pick your genre or did it pick you?
REALITY BOULEVARD definitely found its own genre….which I’ve defined as “The Hollywood Novel” (meets social satire). Once I began writing and saw the style and genre that was unfolding as I told the very specific story I wanted to tell, I began reading novels that I thought raised the bar on both genres – Tom Wolfe, Carl Hiasson in the social satire genre, and all the great Hollywood novels for the other part of the equation – “What Makes Sammy Run?”, “Day of the Locust”, “The Player”, “Queer People”, and of course, the one great film that crosses both genres brilliantly, “Network” by Paddy Chavesky.
2. Do you write in multiple genres or just one?
My second novel is a completely different genre, a psychological thriller, as is my planned third. The thriller category attracts me the most, but generally I think literary fiction would be my holy grail. I’d also like to write a YA novel or 2 someday.
3. How much time do you devote to writing per day?
I go for word counts, usually about 2000-3000 minimum. Generally that’s about 3-5 hours. When I get deeper into writing, however, I become obsessed and spent as much as 8 hours a day at the computer with a much greater word output. When I rewrite, I get back to the discipline again.
4. What have you published so far?
REALITY BOULEVARD was published by a boutique eBook house in London, but sadly did not get a print release. I have however published a number of hugely popular non-fiction titles – all 5 of the Cesar Millan (“Dog Whisperer”) books (Random House) which were all NYT bestsellers; and an amazing pregnancy guide called “The Mommy Doc’s Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy and Birth” (Capo) which I co-wrote with the three incredible OBGYN’s from the series ‘Deliver Me’ and which we think far surpasses “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” – especially in terms of reliable and accurate science. I also recently ghost wrote a pop medicine book for Newsmax. The vast majority of my work – 20 years worth – has been in television, primarily in non-fiction/documentary TV (winning me 2 Emmys, a Humanitas & a Peabody plus several Writer’s Guild nominations) with a couple dramas in there.
5. Has your method of writing changed over the course of publishing your books?
I’m more disciplined now and less afraid of the blank page. When I was first writing both longform non-fiction and longform fiction, I was afraid to leave a chapter unless I felt it was perfect – since I’m very confident in my rewriting craft but less confident in my early efforts (especially fiction.) I’m certainly more willing now to let myself write a really terrible first draft just to get what’s in the subconscious down on paper and then refine from there.
6. Where do you see yourself a year from now?
I’m hoping to have finished my second novel – goal, secure a print release for this one! – and to have a drama series developed with my husband picked up by a network.
7. Did you self-publish, go the traditional way, or do both?
Hybrid – my nonfiction books were all major publishers; my novel was an eBook published by a boutique house but self-promoted.
8. Which method did you prefer?
I have to say, having major bestsellers with a major publishers was a cake walk in terms of promotion and services. But my novel was MINE. So there was a lot of satisfaction there too.
9. Of the books that you have written, do you have a favorite? Why?
I’m proudest of my novel because it was my voice, not someone else’s, even though there was a lot more money in the latter.
10. Why did you become a writer?
I really didn’t have a choice. I was born a writer. I’ve done many other things, but it always comes back to writing, which I was blessed to have been born with as a gift. The basic gift/ability was given me by God and genetics, but the craft is what I have to develop. I never take that for granted and am always working to improve it. I’m fortunate to consult/work with other writers and by helping them, I learn how to become a better writer myself. I’m also married to an amazingly gifted screenwriter, and I’ve learned so much from him – particularly about clean dialogue and seamless and graceful exposition.
11. Who is your target audience?
Readers who want to pick up and book and have a new perspective on life and the human condition after they finish the book. Readers who like to feel deeply and think outside the box.
12. What makes you different from other writers in your genre?
As a craftsman, I study genre intensely, but I’ve always been a “form follows function” thinker in my film work as a director and I think of genre in the same way. Genre conventions are our friends, but I believe every individual story needs to find its own ideal form. All the greatest novelists have worked this way, and raised the bar high for the rest of us.
13. What are you working on now?
A psychological thriller.
Melissa’s Novel “REALITY BOULEVARD” is available at Amazon and I enjoyed her perspective’s ability to portray a story I could easily buy into. Thank you Melissa for sharing this interview with us. Below we provide some tidbits about Melissa.