Diane Radford, M.D.

Melanie Milburne Interview

December 1, 2011

Melanie MilburneMelanie Milburne is a romance writer who grew up on the outskirts of Sydney Australia, and currently lives in Hobart, Tasmania. When she was 17, Melanie read her first Mills & Boon romance novel and vowed to be a romance reader for life. She and her husband, a surgeon, moved to Scotland so that he could continue his studies in surgery. They have two sons, both born in Sydney.

In 2003, she became the first Australian author in ten years to be contracted to Harlequin Mills & Boon Presents. She writes for both the Harlequin Presents/Modern and Medical Romance lines. She writes five to six books per year and has now published almost 50 full-length novels for Harlequin Mills & Boon. Her books are regularly released in several different countries, including Australia, the U.S., and the U.K.

In 2000, Melanie placed second in the Romance Writers of Australia Emma Darcy Award. She is a two-time ARRA finalist and an eight-time CataRomance Reviewers Choice Award Winner. She was the winner of the ARRA Favorite Category/Series Romance for 2008. She is an active member of Romance Writers of America, Romance Writers of Australia, and the Australian Romance Readers Association. She is also the recipient of the Holt Medallion Award’s Award of Merit and the 2009 Booksellers Best Short Contemporary Category.

In 2011 she won the R*BY award (Romantic Book of the Year) awarded by the Romance Writers of Australia for The Doctor’s Rebel Knight in the Sweet/Traditional category.

Diane: What books are you reading now?

Melanie: I am reading The Plot Whisperer- Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master by Martha Alderson, Memo From the Story Dept.- Secrets of Structure and Character by Christopher Vogler and David McKenna, and How to Raise the Perfect Dog by Cesar Millan.

Diane: Are there any books that changed your life?

Melanie: I think every book I have read has changed my life in some way. That’s the power of storytelling. But a couple of standouts would be Mary Stewart’s Nine Coaches Waiting and This Rough Magic. I read them when I was in my late teens and was swept away by the romantic suspense elements and the powerful use of language and wonderful character construction. I reread them just about every year.

Diane: How do you structure your writing routine?

Melanie: I am a very disciplined writer. I use the first part of the morning to answer emails and see to the business end of things, and then I exercise, either swim or walk. It’s the best lead in to writing.  It’s my processing time. I write from lunchtime until dinner most days while I’m working on a book. I need the block time to get into the characters’ heads. I get very stressed when I can’t get that stretch of time. I don’t like working in short fits and bursts. Even the threat of interruption, such as the expectation of a phone call or visit from someone or an appointment will pull me out of the story.

Diane: What inspires you?

Melanie: I find my own life and the lives of other people very inspiring. The highs and lows, the triumphs and tragedies, the dreams and the desperations intrigue and frustrate me in equal measure. It’s only in my books that everything works out all right in the end. If only my life and that of my friends and family were like that!

Diane: Do you enjoy writing one storyline versus another, medical versus Harlequin Presents?

Melanie: I didn’t set out to write Medicals but ended up being talked into it as I was so prolific and my editor was keen to get plenty of my work out there early on in my career. It helped that my husband is a surgeon! However, I feel most at home in Presents because I don’t need to do the same research. But writing Medicals has opened up my husband’s world to me. I entertain people. He saves them.  I think he’s amazing.

Diane: What literature has influenced you?

Melanie: The works of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and the Bronte sisters have all inspired and influenced me.

Diane: How do you find balance?

Melanie: Life is full of compromise, especially for women. I juggle like every other woman but I am kinder to myself than I used to be. I accept that I can’t be everyone’s best friend or the best wife and mother in the world or even the best writer. I just do the best I can.

Diane: Of what are you most proud?

Melanie: I love being a best selling, award-winning author but it’s not what I’m most proud of. At the age of twenty-nine I overcame a lifetime fear of water to learn to swim. I didn’t do it for myself. I did it for my boys, as I was worried I wouldn’t be able to save them if they got into trouble in the water. The strength of my love for them was and still is, the thing I most admire in myself.

Diane: What are your goals for the next 12 months?

Melanie: For the last couple of years I’ve been studying the craft of writing. I have a real hunger to understand everything there is to know about the mystical process of storytelling.  This journey has led me to co-write a romantic comedy screenplay with Hollywood writer Paul Margolis.  I am keen to write another screenplay as well as continue to lift my writing to a new level.

Additional information about Melanie and more Q and A can be found on Melanie’s website http://melaniemilburne.com.au/

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