Tell us your name and then a bit about yourself.
I’m Melonie Johnson, aka #thewritinglush – I’m a former high school English and Theatre teacher turned full time fiction peddler. My main genres are contemporary romance and romantic comedies, and I’ve recently branched out into “seasoned romance” (featuring main characters in their 40s and up). I’ve always been a bookworm, and my love of reading definitely plays into every story I write. I’ve lived in the Chicago area all my life, growing up in the northern suburbs, attending college in the city, and raising a family here as well. I’m a Shakespeare geek and a Star Wars nerd, and have been dreaming up meet cutes ever since Han and Leia first kissed.
When you are writing a book, which is harder? The first book in the series or the others after it?
I think this changes depending on so many factors. The most recent book I finished was the second in the series and the hardest I’ve ever written, but in general, I’d say the first book in a series is harder because you’re starting from scratch and building this world and creating characters out of nothing, and that takes a lot of mental energy and time!
When writing a series how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?
I am constantly jotting down ideas for both current and future projects. The notes app on my phone is bursting with little snippets of stuff to incorporate into my stories, details absorbed from the world around me. It could be a song or a conversation, a news story or an article I read, or just an idea while in the shower or on a walk – inspiration comes from everywhere and as long as I continur to be inspired, things will continue to be fresh!
Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?
This is a tough one, because I’m not great about following my own advice – but it’s very important to make time to refill the well. Step away from the manuscript and spend time with family and friends. Take a mental break from your own story to enjoy other stories via books, movies, TV, etc. Get moving – and get outside when/if you can – I find that to be one of the best ways to relieve stress. Publishing can be a brutal business, I recently contributed to the book, WHAT I WISH I’D KNOWN, a collection of essays from writers meant to inspire other writers, and the focus of my advice was to encourage aspiring authors to “find their island” by connecting with a group of authors who support and encourage each other. It can make such a difference when navigating the challenges of being a writer to have a safe space to decompress, as well as having people who understand what you are going through be there to celebrate the highs and commiserate during the lows.
On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing?
In an ideal world, when everything went according to plan, in a typical day I’d spend about four hours of solid writing, with another two dedicated to “author business” such as connecting with readers on my socials, putting together newsletters, updating my website, etc. Unfortunately, as much as I try to create a regular schedule, I am a “feast or famine” type of author, which means there are days I won’t get any words at all, and then others when I’m on the laptop for sixteen to twenty hours, pounding out chapter after chapter.
Do you have a favorite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special.
Such a hard question! I’m going to have to go with a fan favorite — Theo Wharton – the hero from my second published book, SMITTEN BY THE BRIT. He’s charming and dashing, but also incredibly loyal and kind hearted. From Darcy to Prince Eric, Theo is many of my fictional crushes rolled into one. He is, quite honestly, irresistible.
If any of your books were to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it? What book and who?
This is always a fun concept to think about. I think all my books would make great movies, of course, but my first book, GETTING HOT WITH THE SCOT, would make such a fun film. I can already picture that opening scene at Edinburgh Castle. Logan, the hero, would of course have to be played by a Scot, and I think Richard Madden would be a perfect fit. As for the brown-haired, brown-eyed heroine, Cassie, Zoey Deutch would do nicely.
What is your definition of success?
On the surface, this is something that is constantly changing, the bar always rising higher: more books, more sales, more money, more awards, more recognition… but when I dig down and think about what I truly think success means to me as an author, I’d have to say it is finding a healthy work/life balance that is productive but not exhausting. Writing books I enjoy for an audience who craves them – that is my definition of success.
Do you have anything you want to share that didn’t fit on one of these questions?
As the Writing Lush, I like to say that books and booze are my brand, and while it’s true I love the combination of a great book with a great cocktail, it’s more about embracing a lush life and treating yourself by indulging in life’s little pleasures – escaping into another world through books is definitely one of those, especially when you can do it while relaxing on the beach (or even on the couch) – it’s about carving out time for yourself and savoring experiences.
What are your social links?
List of links to all my socials: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qkl2YzpE5Vq_46bdxwWlaPPt9UxSb6e35CsHJM2E42c/edit?usp=sharing
What are your buy links? (Provide links to your Amazon/iBook’s/Koko/etc Author Home Page if you have quite a few. Also include audible links if applicable.)
Amazon Author Home Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/meloniejohnson
Macmillan Author Home Page: https://us.macmillan.com/author/meloniejohnson
Audible Home Page: https://www.audible.com/author/Melonie-Johnson/B07GTF5CFL
Want tickets to Writers on the River #2023?
They are available starting November 4th at Writersontheriver.com
$45 VIP sell out quickly – 12-1 VIP hour, 1-4 General Admission time. You get a filled VIP bag and admission to the after party is included.
$25 Early Access – 12-1 VIP house, 1-4 General Admission time. You also get a filled VIP bag but NO admission to the after party.
$10 General Admission – 1-4 General Admission time. You can purchase a bag but it is not filled with VIP swag. There is no admission to the after party included.
$35 After party – 7-11 After Party with food and cash bar. Dj with a photobooth is also included in the fun.