Melody Carlson is a prolific
and versatile writer. I had the privilege of meeting her at the
International Christian Retail Show in Atlanta this past July. Melody
has a quiet voice and a laid-back disposition, but her passion for
writing is evident in everything she says and does. She has a real
burden for today’s teens, saying that they think they can handle
everything in their lives, but when things go wrong, they don’t have
the coping skills to deal with the problems that result from the
choices they make.
I hope you will enjoy spending
time with Melody and that you will look among her many titles for
entertainment and encouragement.
publishing history is pretty awesome! How many books will you publish
in 2011? How many books have you published to date?
In 2011 I will publish ten to
eleven books including women’s fiction and teen fiction. The economy is
so uncertain right now, and I didn’t feel comfortable turning down any
of the projects I was given a contract for.
something that doesn’t hold you in constraint at all! Tweens, teens,
adults, children: you cover them all! What is your favorite genre? One
that really pulls at your heart strings?
Writing for teens has become
really important to me. The response from these readers is like no
other age group. When readers write to tell you that something you
wrote changed their lives, it keeps you coming back to your writing
with fresh ideas. I also like to move between types of projects. When I
write a story that is emotionally heavy, it’s nice to be able to move
to something lighter before I tackle another heavy topic.
briefly about your road to publication.
I’ve always loved writing and
had a great respect for books. In my mid-thirties I had a son who was a
voracious reader, and he didn’t have a lot of books to choose from that
weren’t so very dark. When I picked up some of the books offered to
teens I thought to myself, “I can write this badly!” At the time, I was
running a group-home day care, and I started writing on legal pads when
I had time. I was rejected by all of the publishers who now publish my
work, because at the time I was submitting my work, they weren’t
My first published work was in
1994, a nonfiction book about how to run a day care successfully. I
also worked for a publisher for about two years, and that is where I
received a real education in the writing process and the publishing
industry. As of today, I have a contract for six books with Bethany
House next year.
I could have never planned this.
Only God could do this in my life.
is one of your recent projects, and it covers a lot of areas of
personal growth and change: facing one’s past, overcoming familial
obstacles, moving past your own borders and trying new things . . . I
could go on. Where was the idea for this story born?
was born in my mind early in my writing career. I took many trips on
the Salisaw River, and I became fascinated by the Indian history. The
Salisaw Indians could file for a forty-acre plot of land, but most of
them didn’t know how, and those who did eventually lost the land. So my
imagination said, “What if?” The Salisaw Indians had a matriarchal
society, and I wondered what would happen if a woman was able to keep
this land and pass it on to the women in her family.
There is a lot of pain in the
history of the Indian people, and it took about ten years before I
decided to write the story that is now River’s Song.
of your latest books is Here's To Friends, which
closes out your popular Four Lindas series. How did you come up with
the ideas for this series?
I wanted to do a series about
baby-boomer aged women. I just think we have some interesting elements
going on at this stage of life. Many women are in transition or
reinventing themselves—adjusting to life changes like empty-nest,
health issues, parents who are aging, grown children who are
floundering. There’s a lot to “talk” about. Anyway, one day I was
trying to email a friend named Linda and my address book threw a whole
page of Lindas at me. And I suddenly remembered how it was when I was
growing up—it seemed girls all had names like Linda,
such. And I was stuck with the oddball name of Melody. Then I recalled
how one year I had two classmates named Donna and I thought—what if a
class had four girls with the same first name. So I just went with it.
Each of the
women are very different, yet they all have a common thread that runs
through their lives. What is that common thread?
Besides having been named Linda
and meeting each other in first grade (where they formed the original
Four Lindas club—and started going by their middle names) they had
common roots. They all grew up in the same small charming coastal town
(which I call Clifden, but it really patterned after our second-home,
Florence Oregon). They attended the same schools and had shared
experiences. But like many childhood friends, they drifted apart in
their teens. And beyond high school, they all went some very separate
ways. A New York attorney who’s widowed…a Seattle artist with a failed
marriage…a wannabe actress who’s still glamorous…and the hometown girl
suffering from an empty-next. However, when they meet up again, their
common thread is their age and background and the fact that they’re all
reinventing themselves in their hometown.
Do you find
their struggles to be indicative of the life situations you see today?
Absolutely. I’ve had more women
tell me that this reads like their lives and their friends’ lives! I’m
sure that’s because I pattern it after real life, as well as some of my
own friends. Challenges like parents with Alzheimer’s or children with
addiction problems or marriages that need some work…all are part of the
baggage that comes with “growing up.”
Friends is a book about boomers, do you think life seems more
complicated for this generation of women?
I suppose it’s more complicated
in some ways. For instance, we live in a generation that worships
youth—and we’re dealing with things like wrinkles, sags, bags, gray
hair, and hot-flashes. Also we have issues like aging parents and kids
who don’t grow up as planned. But on the other hand, there’s a sense of
accomplishment in having raised your children, learned a few things
along the way, and perhaps being in a position to make some positive
lifestyle changes—and, of course, there are grandchildren! So I guess
it’s a mixed bag.
What would you
like the reader to draw from this series?
Growing old does come with its
challenges…but with a few good friends by your side, it can be a whole
lot of fun too. I hope that readers will be encouraged by the
friendships shared in the Four Lindas, and that they’ll be reminded to
appreciate and nurture their own friendships. As well as being open to
making new friends along the way! Because, really, who wants to grow
What is the
most exciting thing that God is doing in your life through your
The letters I get from the teens
who read my books mean the most to me. I have a separate e-mail for
mail from teens, and many times my husband will sort through the
e-mails and come to me with tears in his eyes and say, “You have to
read this.” This keeps me encouraged to keep writing for teens, and
gives my writing a fresh momentum. I’ve been writing for teens for ten
years, and now those who started reading my work are now young women
reading my women’s fiction series.
Ford has been a resident of
Alabama for more than ten years. Originally from Georgia, she holds a
Bachelor’s degree in English from Brenau Women’s College. She has spent
the past 9 years in sales and marketing and has been an avid reader of
Christian Fiction for more than 20 years.
A mother of two teen sons and married to a technical writer and Army
veteran, Kim’s life is full and blessed. She and her husband also
volunteer as teachers for a resident rehab program for women with
life-controlling issues. She uses her fiction to encourage the ladies
she teaches. She blogs at: Window
To My World