Blogoversary Day 9: Melissa Jarvis

Jen:  Please help us welcome Melissa Jarvis to Romancing the Book as we continue our blogoversary celebration.  And we do have a contest if you read through the interview.  Now on to that interview… Melissa, will you share a short bio with us?
Melissa: I’m a native Texan who somehow wound up in Southern California—probably due to meeting my husband here. I have one five year old who dreams of world domination, and two labs who dream of chewing up the house. In my day job, I’m a publicist, and have worked in entertainment and non-profit. And yes, one of my clients was Playboy. I have been to the Mansion, and the infamous grotto. Alas, not as a playmate.

Jen: Tell us about Past Her Time and where is can be purchased.
Melissa: If I had to describe it as a movie, I would say it’s the Scarlet Pimpernel meets Time Cop. In Past Her Time, a play on words, my heroine Alex works for the time travel organization the Lineage, which fixes problems in the timeline. She is assigned to 1793 France during the revolution, and encounters one very annoying, women can’t do anything for themselves hero, Gabriel. Except that he isn’t what he seems, just like my heroine. They both get caught up in a game of cat and mouse, disguise and deception, and eventually fall in love, which could prove fatal to the world as we know it. Past Her Time is currently available through BookStrand Romance’s website (http://www.bookstrand.com/past-her-time) and will soon be available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It also comes out in print later this year.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing? When where you first published? Tell us your call story.

Melissa: I discovered writing in seventh grade, around the time I found writers like Anne McCaffrey of the Dragonriders of Pern series and Robert Asprin, of the Myth Adventures series. I wrote fan faction based on both of those, although if the writers were to see it, I’m not sure they’d think I was a fan. I was “officially” published last year, with a short story called All Hollow’s Eve, a twist on the headless horseman legend. My call story was actually an email, and I had just gotten a rejection on another book the day before, so I was in complete shock. It still hasn’t sunk in.

Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?

Melissa: My mother is a writer, and was part of several local romance critique groups in Dallas for awhile. She hasn’t written any books, but is very good as an editor. Both my parents instilled a loved for books, and one of the first books I remember reading was Robert A. Heinlein’s Have Space Suit Will Travel. I think I was six.

Jen: Do you have a writing routine?

Melissa: I write mostly at night after the nut has gone to bed. Or I try to write during the day, but it’s hard writing romance when your child is constantly nagging you for juice or potty or trains. Sometimes that stuff winds up in a scene—whoops!

Jen: Do you have a theme, object or person that appears in all of your stories?

Melissa: Paranormal. Everything I write has a bit of the unusual in it. I like to twist things. In Past Her Time, I poked fun at the white knight to the rescue. Past Her Time is also the first book in a series, so you will see more of the time travel organization the Lineage, as well as secondary characters who get a chance to play the hero or heroine. I approached the time travel part from a scientific aspect, which hasn’t been done a lot in romance before.

Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?

Melissa: I love research, and especially love to get a feel for the places and times I write about. Since time travel has not been invented yet, I have to settle for visiting some of the settings that still exist. I did go to Paris, and saw the Place de Concorde and Conciergerie Prison where Marie Antoinette was held before she was executed by the guillotine. I also tried to see the Bastille, which almost got me laughed out of the French consulate, since it was the fall of the Bastille that started the French Revolution. I actually knew that when I asked; it was a classic brain freeze moment. I also have a magazine from 1793 that my hero might have read, which I incorporated into the story. For the time travel aspect, I studied quantum theory and other scientific laws regarding time, such as the Butterfly Effect and Law of Strange Attractors. Since math and I don’t get along, it was very challenging. And of course, there is the wonderful world wide internet, which is full of fun, fascinating and esoteric Jeopardy facts.

Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest? Most rewarding?

Melissa: Research and world building are both the most challenging and rewarding. I sometimes write myself into a corner because I have to abide by the rules I’ve set up for time travel, and certain things I want my characters to use haven’t been invented yet. But imagine if you had a machine gun to ward off the Mongol Hordes!

Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with?

Melissa: I identify a lot with Alex, who in addition to having my hair color, also has some of my insecurities about not fitting in, except hers are magnified, since she is a twenty-first century woman trying to blend into the eighteenth century. She also has my sense of humor. I wish I had her fighting skills though, but I’m just not coordinated enough.

Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?

Melissa: Kelly Armstrong, Kim Harrison, Sherrilyn Kenyon, D.D. Barant, Harlequin Presents (I love the titles like the Billionaire Italian’s Secret Love Child, juicy reading) Steve Berry, James Rollins, Rick Riordan…I could go on and on. I like to read a wide variety. I am currently reading Primeval by David Golemon and Dreadfully Ever After, a sequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. We are ready for the zombie invasion!

Jen: Do you do anything to celebrate a sale, new contract or release?

Melissa: I have an addiction to jewelry, which I think stems from being a rock hound as a child. Yes, I was the one on school field trips looking for rocks by the side of the road. I generally like to find a new or old piece of jewelry, such as a ring with a rare stone like Lune de France amethyst or an antique cameo.

Jen: What’s next for you?

Melissa: I am working on the sequel to Past Her Time, which is mostly set during the California Gold Rush and features agent Banderan’s story. I also have another book, She Must Be Possessed, with a female ghost heroine whose job is to possess people. I’m about to start looking for a loving home for it.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?

Melissa: www.melissajarvis.net

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

Melissa: Do you like books that cross genres?

Contest details:

  • One winner will get their choice in prize.  The first is an ebook copy of Past Her Time and the second is an original copy of the newspaper Placer Herald (California) dated May 12, 1900, in nearly mint condition.
  • The contest is open to everyone, international readers included.
  • You must leave a comment for entry.
  • A valid email address needs to be included in your comment.  If you’re worried about spam, please modify your address, such as admin.bookblog AT gmail.com.  You can also send a message to this email after your comment has been posted.
  • While following the blog isn’t required, it is appreciated.
  • The contest ends on Friday, July 15.
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