Kelly: Hi Melody, thanks for participating in an interview and book giveaway for your novel Seeking Sophie.
First let me say that it's been fun getting to know you through the ACFW Pennsylvania Chapter. Along with Cindy Noonan, we were able to meet at a diner nearby and share some of our writerly aspirations.
I'm fascinated by your book Seeking Sophie. Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to write an historical novel about the antislavery movement?
Melody: Hi Kelly, thank you for having me on your blog. I love the way God brought Cindy, you and I into such wonderful fellowship so quickly. I’m grateful for our connection through ACFW PA Chapter.
Since childhood, I’ve had a keen sensitivity to injustice, particularly in the case of discrimination based on race, sex or socio-economic factors. Having said that, it may sound very strange that not one aspect of Seeking Sophie was intentional, including the subject of indentured servitude. Other than a rare whimsical notion of being a writer (doesn’t everyone???), I had no real aspirations of actually becoming a published author and the only apparent qualification I had for writing a novel was being an avid reader. The character of Sophie and the general plot took form in my mind to the extent that I was compelled to record it. I worked on it off and on for the next seven years. Again, on a whim, I sent it to CrossRiver Media for consideration and they offered me a contract. I knew God was calling me out. Although my being an historical novelist was not apparent to me or anyone else before then, it was obvious to God. I believe He was quite intentional about my subject matter!
Melody: The best part of the process, for me, is the creative flow. I enjoy the initial free-writing phase when I’m in the scene and just letting it roll along without overthinking it. I’m seeing, tasting, smelling and feeling everything in the moment and it’s fresh. The editing and proofreading is not a highlight.
Kelly: While we were at lunch you told me that you have actually gone sky diving...I'm intrigued! What was that like?
Melody: To me, skydiving was a variety of the most extraordinary sensations I’ve ever experienced in the shortest span of time. I’ve never been so aware of the Presence of God as I sat calmly on the floor of the plane during the ascent. I sensed God was in the process of delivering me of fear and revealing Himself in a big way. Perched at the open door at 13,500 feet was extreme anticipation, adrenaline rush of heart-pounding fight-or-flight reflex. A somersault into the clouds launched me into a sixty-second free fall, aptly named terminal velocity, and the most exhilarating physical intensity of my life! The chute then deployed, jerking me back to some semblance of reality only to be rendered breathless by the landscape at a 6,000 foot vantage. Gliding gently back to earth through wispy clouds, I ended up lying on the grass, shaken and ecstatic. I had the whole experience video taped so I can relive whenever I want.
Kelly: Sounds awesome~ how would you compare writing a novel to that sport?
Melody: Intensity, adventure, conflict, risk and fear are all facets of great novel writing!
Kelly: I notice you highlight lighthouses on your author page, can you tell us why you have chosen that particular object for your "brand"?
Melody: Although I didn’t choose lighthouses as branding per se, I do identify with being a Light bearer. As a Believer and writer I bring the illumination of Jesus into the darkness. It’s also a great way to make people more aware of the history of lighthouses and the need for preserving of them.
Kelly: What are you working on for your next project? Can you give us any hints?
Melody: I’m working on my second novel, Chasing Clare, in what I hope to be the Drawn to the Light series. Chasing Clare will be a continuation of the story in Seeking Sophie with an emphasis on Sophie’s best friend, Clare. She’s a sassy Irish lass with an adventurous spirit who finds herself heading in the direction she so adamantly condemns.
Kelly: You were kind enough to share a great opportunity for a book signing with me in Hawley Pa this past winter. I thought that the proprietor of the Hawley Silk Mall did an excellent job showcasing the authors and their books for Authorfest 2015. What was your take away from that experience?
Melody: The Hawley Silk Mill and Cocoon Coffee House have such rich history and now it’s a beautiful space for shops, education and the creative arts. I was blessed to be involved with Authorfest 2015 and enjoyed getting to know you more, connecting with the other authors, and chatting with the public. It’s very easy to get caught up in what I should be doing in comparison to what “everyone” else is doing. However, I was very encouraged by the variety of writing and the different ways of approaching the publishing business. My takeaway was a big sigh of relief that I can be Melody Balthaser and take this journey however God leads ME. :-D
Kelly: Finally, having published your first novel, what advice would you give a new writer who is just starting out in the publishing business?
Melody: I guess my takeaway from the Authorfest would sum it up. Be who God made you to be and don’t think that someone else’s formula is going to work for you. God made each of us unique and our writing is also one of a kind. No one else can write your story. Spend time in God’s Presence listening to what He speaks to you and then be obedient and go out there and do it! Be courageous in Jesus!
Kelly: Thank you for sharing...what an amazing story you have Melody~ you've inspired me to continue the hard work of editing a novel :-) And, I'm sure have encouraged others to walk in the calling God has placed on their lives.
Leave a comment at the bottom of this post and Melody will give a randomly picked winner a free autographed copy of her novel! Be sure to leave a website or email address so that we know where to contact you if you win!
Back Cover Copy Blurb:
In 1858 New England, orphaned, indentured servant Sophie Stalz stabs her master to protect herself from rape. Now she must rely on her brother and his friends to protect her. Escaping through the Underground Railroad, Sophie finds herself stranded on an island in the hands of a stranger.
Surrounded by the sea and occupied with the duties of a lighthouse keeper, Jackson Scott just wants to be left alone with his memories. His fortress is about to crumble when his friend deposits Sophie on his doorstep. An old debt needs to be paid and the cost is dear.
As her master is Seeking Sophie, will Sophie and Jackson find a life together free from their past?
MELODY BALTHASER lives in rural Pennsylvania with her husband and their three children. She has traveled to Africa to help orphans in Zambia and worked in children’s and women’s ministry. She enjoys traveling, hiking, camping and canoeing, but when winter settles in she heads indoors to sit in front of the wood stove, while a classic chick-flick plays on the T.V. and homemade soup simmers on the stove. Melody’s passion is to encourage people to let God’s love free them of fear and rejection to live the adventurous life their Creator intended.
Click on the links below For more information on Melody and her writing~