As I type this intro, I’m trying to come up with the words to sound professional, instead of shouting, “Holy moly, Melissa Brayden is here!”
But … I’m failing.
So, let me repeat, “Melissa Brayden is here!” Notice how I was able to drop the “holy moly.” I think I’m getting my excitement under control. Psst … I’m not, but don’t tell Melissa.
Please welcome Melissa.
Before we begin, thanks so much for stopping by today for a chat.
But of course! I’m so happy we’re doing this. Let’s go!
I read that you’ve always enjoyed telling stories but haven’t always been a writer. How have your acting and directing backgrounds helped you learn how to craft written stories?
Quite true. When I look back at pretty much every job I’ve ever held, there’s always a strong “storytelling” component at play. TV News, Videography, Acting, Directing, and now Writing – it’s all revolving around that common theme. I think those initial jobs were instrumental in solidifying the nuts and bolts of how to tell a good story into who I am as a person. I find myself always looking for that angle, even when out for coffee on a casual day—how to package a given situation so it’s most interesting, succinct, and compelling. I don’t think I could turn it off if I tried (and I have).
I also read you like to come up with creative raps. Care to share one?
Now I have to make a minor correction to that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an enthusiastic rapper. However, my skill set lies mainly in the performance of the piece rather than the writing. I’m a better “material hijacker” than a creative wordsmith when it comes to rhyme. While I do make them up on occasion, they’re normally about dogs, Apple and Ryder, and are really quite simplistic and very, very silly. In terms of performance, my favorite song to rap is Run this Town (JAY Z, Rihanna, and Kanye). Alone in my car, I just go and go.
Are you a pantser or plotter?
Oh, man. I’m a pantser at heart with the lofty goal of transitioning to a plotter. My first handful of books were 100% improvised. I made it up as I went along. I had very little understanding of how to get from one plot point to the next and would randomly decide on plot twists or shake ups. That actually is where I’m most comfortable. However, when I moved from a part-time writer to a full-time one, that meant my deadlines increased. In order to meet them, I needed to learn how to plan a little bit more, which speeds up the writing process. It still feels very “fish out of water” to me, but I’m working on it. Lately, I’ve been keeping a running list of things I know have to happen in the book and add to it as I go. That way I always have a bank of scenes that need to be written so I always have a go-to when I wake up in the morning. No scrapping to figure out what to write. It’s there for me.
Tell us a bit about your latest, Eyes Like Those.
Eyes Like Those is the first book in the Seven Shores Romances (a series of four books). The book is essentially Isabel’s story. She moves to LA as a screenwriter to pursue one dream, and en route meets an amazing woman (Taylor) who she looks up to in addition to being completely taken with her romantically. She also happens to be Isabel’s boss and a very well known showrunner in the TV world. Along the way, Isabel also meets three amazing new friends whose stories we will see in subsequent books. I’m excited for this series, especially since the four books will be released in quick succession. All four will be out within the span of one year. In fact, when we finish our chat, I’ll be off to proofread the final version of Hearts Like Hers (Book Two) right before it heads to press for a February release..
Have you ever developed a crush on any of your characters? (I have a mega crush on Hunter from the Soho Loft series.)
HAHA. Hunter is definitely a name that comes a lot from readers I encounter, as is Jessica Lennox. Those are probably the two I hear most commonly.
For me, I would say the closest to a crush I’ve had, and that’s a lie because it was a DEFINITE crush, was Adrienne from Waiting in the Wings. It was my first book and I wrote my dream girl in Adrienne. She’s been hard to top in my own mind. In fact, I’m not sure it’s possible.
Back to Hunter, please tell me she’s based on a real person and that I actually have a chance. (Don’t worry; my partner never checks the website. At least, I hope she doesn’t.) In all seriousness, how do you create such believable characters?
Sadly, Hunter is not based on anyone I’ve ever met. I truly wish she was! In fact, none of my characters are. I suppose when I come up with them, I have a sense of who they’re going to be, but it’s not until I start writing their dialogue that I get a true specificity to their character. At that point, I find myself going back and coloring in their personality more in the narrative. For example, in Eyes Like Those, I knew I wanted Isabel to be a sharp witted sarcastic type, dry and unapologetic. Once I found a rhythm to her speech, the rest of her started to come into sharp focus. Her insecurities started to emerge and I was able to delve further into what those might be: in her case, anxiety.
Your hatred of ceiling fans … is there a story behind that?
Yes! I deal with some anxiety myself in the form of panic attacks. Nothing major, but I’ve had them my whole life. It’s not so much daily stresses that set me off (like Isabel), but more stimuli around me. Anything that cuts through the air, or causes air to move seems to unnerve me: ceiling fans, swings, flags on a windy day, that kind of thing. I’ve gotten much better about it, having learned tips and tricks to avoid a panic attack setting in. And when they do? You likely wouldn’t even know it’s happening to me. I can work it through on my own. Still, I try and avoid those things if there’s an option to. If there’s a ceiling fan going at a restaurant, I’ll just choose a chair that doesn’t face it.
What’s one of your greatest achievements that not many know about?
Well, I don’t want to brag, but I was the Junior European Bowling Champion when I was 12 and in the sixth grade. I was also a pretty advanced skateboarder as a pre-teen and could hold my own with the boys in my neighborhood. I won a college scholarship for entrepreneurship from Otis Spunkmeyer Cookies (Which are delicious). And more recently, I’m very proud of having read a scene from First Position at the Library of Congress. Oh no! That was more than one! I didn’t follow directions and now apologize.
What’s the one thing you can’t live without? (Phone, coffee, chocolate, Post-it notes…?)
I would say television. I’m pretty much a junkie. It’s a way for me to decompress at the end of a long day. I also think it helps me with my job, especially scripted shows where character relationships are featured. I’m often taking notes.
If you were planning the perfect vacation, where would you go and who would you bring?
While my regular answer is to say a theatre trip to New York City (something I do a lot), lately I’ve been just dying to take one of those Viking River Cruises in Europe! That one has definitely risen on my list. I would take layers of clothes! Scarves, hats, jackets! And of course a handful of really good books and a stellar camera, because I’m a firm believer that memories are everything. I would much rather spend money on an experience rather than a possession.
Thanks so much for chatting today.
Thanks for having me! These were really great questions. I had a blast!
EYES LIKE THOSE
When it comes to love, no one is in charge.
Isabel Chase is reeling. She’s just been offered her dream job as a staff writer on one of the hottest shows on television and quickly trades in the comfort of New England for sun, sand, and everything Hollywood. While stoked for what could be her big break, the show’s stunning executive producer has her head spinning and her feelings swirling.
Taylor Andrews is at the top of her career. Everything she touches turns to gold and the studios know it. Just when she’s on track for total television domination, Isabel Chase arrives in her office and slowly turns her world upside down. Isabel is intelligent, sarcastic, and dammit, downright beautiful. Unfortunately, she’s the one person that can take away all Taylor has worked for.
Will Isabel’s success lead to Taylor’s downfall? Or perhaps Isabel is all she needs…
MEET THE AUTHOR
Melissa Brayden is a multi-award winning romance author with ten novels published with Bold Strokes Books. She is currently hard at work on her eleventh and embracing the full-time writer’s life in San Antonio, Texas.
Melissa is married and working really hard at remembering to do the dishes. For personal enjoyment, she spends time with her Jack Russell Terriers and checks out the NYC theater scene several times a year. She considers herself a reluctant patron of spin class, but would much rather be sipping wine and staring off into space. Coffee is her very best friend.
CONNECT WITH MELISSA
Thanks so much for stopping by today.