We’re delighted to have as our guest today the irrepressible Melodie Campbell. Melodie can always make us laugh so sit back and enjoy hearing from Ontario’s answer to Lucille Ball.
Pam: Writers are a multi-faceted group with their finger in every pie.
What’s your favourite pie? Writing novels, college instructor, housework, walking the dog, stand up comedian or the (top staff thingy) you do for Crime Writers Canada?
Melodie: Meeting the imaginary men who appear in my novels. (What – that wasn’t a choice?) I like writing novels. No, that’s a lie. I like having the novel written. The process is darn hard work.
But mainly, I love writing comedy. It’s my default, always. For instance, today I was feeling rather delinquent. You know that feeling you got in high school, when you were so antsy, you couldn’t settle to anything? That’s the way I was this morning, so naturally I wrote a comedy column.
Pam: ‘Social Media’? Is it helpful or a hindrance to writers, and is a platform really necessary to sell a book?
Melodie: It’s absolutely essential, whether we like it or not. All publishers want you to be hooked up with websites, blogs, Facebook and twitter, and often write it into your contract. The 90s are over, alas. I miss them. Now authors are expected to do a lot of marketing, and social media allows you to do that with little to no cost.
Look at it this way. If you get with a traditional publisher, your book might be in Chapters for two months. If you’re selling well, maybe six. (I’ve been there six and am biting my fingernails now.) So how will you sell books when you novel is off the shelves?
Amazon and the other online sellers allow our books a much longer lifetime. By promoting on social media, we can reach a large audience that buys books that way.
Pam: With the changes in the publishing world today many writers have added their books to the eBook format. Do you believe the e book business will take over traditional books or is there room for both?
Melodie: Room for both. All my books are both print and ebook. Personally, I love the feel of a real book in my hand. I love the scent of the glue (you’ll delete that, right?) I’m very tactile. I guess that is evident from my Rowena series (say no more, say no more.) But I am grateful for ebooks because they allow my work to be read by a much larger audience. The price difference is substantial. If given a choice, I will always pick a real book. I decorate with books. They are in every room in my house.
Pam: I have only one question about this book. Do they have a contract out on you yet?
. THE GODDAUGHTER! (Orca Books)
"Hilarious" (Ellery Queen Magazine review)
"Campbell's comic caper is just right for Janet Evanovich fans. Wacky family connections and snappy dialog make it impossible not to laugh." Library Journal review of The Goddaughter
Melodie: No need. They already know me well. My family is Sicilian. I had to wait for some of them to die before I could write this series.
Pam: Joking aside, it’s a very funny book and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel “The Goddaughter’s Revenge” when it’s published in the fall. What comedian do you most admire?
Melodie: So many. Of the old masters: Lucille Ball, Phyllis Diller. Women who were willing to make fools of themselves in public to get a laugh – I can so relate to them. These women paved the way for my generation.
Columnists: Dave Barry, Erma Bombeck
Of the fiction writers: Janet Evanovich, Lisa Lutz, Douglas Adams.
Let me explain: We moved a lot when I was young. I was in four different high schools. Being a smart-mouth was the way I coped. I found that being the class clown got you liked. So it was really a means of self-preservation.
Even as a pre-teen, I always looked for the funny. I listened to what others would say to see if I could find a way to make a good-natured joke out of it. Never sarcasm. Sarcasm hurts. I went for self-deprecating humour mostly. People love to laugh with you.
Pam: Melodie, your dog is called Frankenpoodle. You have written of his exploits on FB; how he would like to play with a coyote on the other side of the fence in your backyard etc. How did he come by his name and does he have a death wish?
Melodie: This is a dog that wouldn’t stop growing. Standard poodles must be at least 15 inches at the shoulder. Frankenpoodle is double that. Obviously, if Dr. Frankenstein were creating a poodle, this is what he would have come up with. We call him a giraffe in a dog suit. Other people have asked if he was crossed with a great dane. A dog this big is rather intimidating. Luckily, he’s a gentle giant with really big teeth.
Pam: “A Purse to Die For” (Imajin books) was co-authored with Cynthia St-Pierre. Tell us about that experience. Do you mind sharing control of your work and will you collaborate again?
Melodie: Yes and Yes.
I don’t think I could share my other two series, Rowena
and Goddaughter. They are vehicles for my comedy. But Cindy and I came up with the Fashionation series together, and developed the characters together.
We wrote sequentially. It was great fun seeing what Cindy would come up with, and then figuring out how I could carry it on. Then we had the hard work of making it seamless. But we’re starting another novel, with the working title of A Killer Necklace. So it was a good experience we want to repeat.
Pam: Your time travel book “Rowena Through the Wall” is a romantic comedy. It has been so well received you’ve written a sequel “Rowena and the Dark Lord” to be released in April. What gives you the most pleasure to write? Time travel or comedy/farce, by yourself or with a co-author?
Melodie: All of it. Anything that has comedy in it. Oh, and sex. Did I say that out loud?
Pam: You have been teaching writing for many years. What is the most important lesson for aspiring authors to learn?
Melodie: That writing is hard work. I can’t emphasize it enough. We all think it should be easier. But it can’t be easy to create something new that the world has never seen before.
I tell my students to expect this to feel like work. And maybe on some days, it won’t seem like work. Those are the grand days.
Pam: With two books coming out this year, your work with Crime Writers of Canada, teaching and other projects, what do you do for Melodie when you find some time?
Melodie: I like eating. And drinking coffee. And Viking Warlords.
No, seriously. The most fun of all is meeting with other writers. They are the most interesting people in the world because they are always using their minds.
Thanks Melodie. We‘ve enjoyed speaking with you today. As you are my neighbor in Oakville I’d appreciate a heads up on the coyote situation. Anytime Frankenpoodle has his sights on one I’d like to know about it!
Good luck with your books and come again soon.
Pam and Liz
Melodie Campbell experienced a personal best this year when Library Digest compared her to Janet Evanovich.
Melodie got her start writing comedy (stand-up and columns.) In1999, she opened the Canadian Humour Conference. She has over 200 publications including 100 comedy credits, 40 short stories and 4 novels. Her fifth novel, a mob caper entitled The Goddaughter’s Revenge (Orca Books), will be released Oct. 1. She has won 6 awards for fiction, and was a finalist for both the 2012 Derringer and Arthur Ellis Awards. By day, she is the highly proper Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada.
THE GODDAUGHTER (Orca Books)
“Impossible not to laugh” Library Digest
ROWENA THROUGH THE WALL (Imajin Books)
“Hot and hilarious!” Midwest Book Review