Friday, August 07, 2015

GETTING TO KNOW YOU – Melinda Hammond

Hi, I am Melinda Hammond, but if you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that I also write as Sarah Mallory, so first of all let me answer a question I have been asked many times… why do I use two names?

I started writing my romances many years ago as Melinda Hammond but when I began to write for Harlequin Mills & Boon I needed another name, a separate brand, if you like, for the fast-paced passionate historical romances I write for Harlequin. As Melinda Hammond I have published a much more varied selection, from the sweet traditional Regencies such as the award-winning DANCE FOR A DIAMOND to my WWII time-slip AND THE STARS SHINE DOWN and dual time novels like MOONSHADOWS and CASTING SAMSON (an e-book that is best described as Ivanhoe meets the Vicar of Dibley!)

As a child I used to make up stories and by the time I went to secondary school I was telling stories to my friends in the playground and beginning to write down the odd tale. My very first "commercial" success was when I was about ten. We had a visit from the Cadbury's educational team telling us how chocolate was made and there was a competition to write an essay about it. I won and the prize was several bars of chocolate. Unfortunately I have never been paid in chocolate since!

Georgette Heyer
I scribbled away, writing short stories, adventures, anything and everything, but inthose early days I never considered that I might get published, but it must have been there, deep down, because one of the reasons I went into secretarial work was for the typing skills, I knew they would be very useful for my writing!  I continued to write, and gradually found my direction - I had discovered Georgette Heyer's novels when I was a teenager and I don't think there has ever been anyone to match her for the mixture of story-telling, historical detail and witty light comedy.  She virtually invented the Regency novel and when she died in 1974 I was bereft – what was I going to read now?  It seemed logical to try and write my own. So that was when I began to write Regency romance.

However, although I had always read a lot I knew nothing of the publishing world and it was not until I gave up a full time job to have my first child that I even considered sending something to a publisher. In blissful ignorance I bought a Teach Yourself to Write book, typed up my manuscript and posted it off. I was incredibly lucky – the third publisher I approached actually made me an offer. I wrote two more books in quick succession but then the birth of my twin boys put an end to any spare time. This was coupled with a downturn in the publishing world, my publisher was not taking so many historical novels and although I kept on scribbling, my growing family were taking up most of my time and I decided that the writing would have to take a back seat. I didn't have anything else published for several years.

Then in 2000 I had a stroke of luck (!) – I stepped off a kerb, broke one ankle, badly sprained the other and was confined to a sofa for 12 weeks.  I was soon very, very bored. I decided to use the time to dig out an unfinished manuscript and have another go at it. By the time I was back on my feet the book was revised, I sent it off to the publisher and was thrilled when it was accepted. That was MAID OF HONOUR and since then I have never looked back.  I have now published over a dozen books as Melinda Hammond and June this year saw the publication of my 20th book for Harlequin Mills & Boon.

The Chaperon's Seduction, my 20th book for Harlequin Historical

I love writing historical novels, but I also like my books to have an element of adventure. I grew up in a street full of boys, with three older brothers and no sisters, so I was a bit of a tomboy.  My dad was a reader, and I read the books that were in his bookcase, The Three Musketeers, The Scarlet Pimpernel plus all the Jeffrey Farnol novels, which were historical romances. Oh, and I fell in love with Biggles, so much so that for my birthday a couple of years ago my family bought me a flight in a  1940'sTiger Moth – complete with WWII flying jacket, helmet and goggles!

As a writer of historical fiction, and especially writing about the Regency era, I couldn't miss out on the bicenennary events to mark the Battle of Waterloo so in June I joined a small party of enthusiasts to visit Waterloo.  We have the most fantastic time, so many re-enactors living under canvas for the duration, it was living history!  There isn't room here to tell you all about it, but you can read it on my own blog here  One Belle's Strategy

So that's it, a brief introduction, which I hope you have enjoyed. Now, with the family grown up, I am back to writing full time and I love it. There are so many stories I still want to write and as soon as one if finished I can't wait to get on to the next!
Happy reading!

Melinda Hammond / Sarah Mallory


Elizaqbeth Hawksley said...

I enjoyed this, Melinda/Sarah. Who are the drummers in the photo? I know you visited Waterloo for the bicentenary and I was wondering, if they were part of that.

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

Glad you enjoyed this, Elizabeth. Sorry, I can't help you with the drummers. It was at Waterloo and they were part of the bicentenary re-enactment - they are a French company, that's all I know. When I took this picture they were marching back to their bivouacs and we all had to jump out of the way! I have no idea which regiment they were, unfortunately.