Friday, September 26, 2008

Interview: Melanie Atkins

Morgan O has got a little murder on the brain this week. I can’t blame her! Why, you’re asking yourself? Well it could be because we’ve got the Queen of Romantic Suspense with us this week. None other than Melanie Atkins has graced the TMD offices with her presence. Let me tell you, it’s been nonstop CSI-ing around here since she showed up. She’s frisked me twice and dusted Morgan O for latent DNA. Don’t ask me how, but she found some interesting DNA and Morgan O won’t stop pleading the fifth and quite frankly I’m afraid to find out. Who knew coming home from our kick off world tour could be this exciting?

For those of you who don’t know about Melanie’s work--boy, are you in for a treat. Melanie has brought romantic suspense to new heights with her Southern twist to murder and mayhem. Her books will run you through the whodunit ringer and her heroes will make you do an old fashion swoon they’re so smoking hot. As we all know, southern belles only swoon when they want to.

TMD: Melanie thanks for joining us today. And, no we wouldn’t like to have our fingerprints taken. Let's just talk about you and your books, okay?

MA: I think I can manage that.

TMD: Could you tell our readers a little about your books and what first turned you onto the suspense side of romance?

MA: I write romantic suspense and thrillers--the grittier, the better. I’ve always loved suspense and mysteries, in one form or another. Books, movies, TV shows…doesn’t matter. I love to be on the edge of my seat, and I adore puzzles. So…all of that appeals to me. Forensics, ballistics, police investigations. Romance runs a close second. What’s better than blending the two?

TMD: There’s certainly a buzz about your latest release, Emily’s Nightmare. Mind giving us the rundown on this one?

MA: Emily’s Nightmare is the story of two detectives, Emily Rawson and John Cutter. Emily has always considered Cutter a friend, until she finds herself falling head over heels in love with him. She’s managed to keep her distance so far, even taking the huge step of changing squads so she doesn’t have to work with him. Then she hears he’s following her to her new unit, and they argue. Heat turns to heat, and their passion flames to life—which changes their lives forever.

TMD: When you’re preparing to start a book, how important do you feel it is to get your technical facts right to make the story believable to the readers?

MA: Very important. I do a lot of research, which includes reading about investigative procedures, contacting law enforcement professionals, and attending conferences and workshops on such topics as police procedure, forensics, and poisons.

TMD: How far have you gone to research a book? Police Ride-a-longs? Dressing up like Colombo and invading a police crime scene? Pulling a Jessica Fletcher and killing peeps to get the plot just right? Ms. Atkins, just how far will you go to write a book? Morgan O turn on the spotlight until she answers.

MorganO: Pssst…I thought I was the bad cop and you were the good cop.

Jmo: Just go with it. Can't you see I've got her just where I want her? Ms. Atkins, answer the questions.

MA: Well, for starters, I was once married to a police officer… and that background definitely helps. I also attended my local Citizen’s Police Academy, which was a blast--literally. We spent time on the firing range, learned about investigative techniques from detectives in many different units, studied with the crime scene boys, and went on a couple of ride-alongs--which was my favorite part. The first one was rather low key. We chased a few speeders--which I found incredibly ironic, considering my lead foot--cruised through a neighborhood or two and questioned some kids walking the streets, and basically just patrolled our beat. The second night, which was in a different precinct, was much more exciting. We busted four hookers--on Hooker Street, no less (really!)--hiding in a vacant lot in a Lexus carjacked the day before. One of the girls hid some crack cocaine under the backseat, and then the fun began. The officers put one of the girls in the backseat of the car in which I was watching everything with wide eyes, and she proceeded to bang her head repeatedly against the side window and whine at the top of her voice, “No, sir. Them drugs ain’t mine. You cain’t pin that crack on me. Unh-uh. No way.”

TMD: Now that we’ve settled that, when you’re writing who usually pops up first, the hero or heroine?

MA: The hero. I love my Alpha males with big guns.

TMD: To get that hard edge to a story have you ever based your characters on a real person? Or even a story based loosely on a real event?

MA: No character has been based on a real person so far; more like an amalgamation of several people and/or TV characters. As for a story based on an event--all the time. Many of my story ideas are “ripped from the headlines” just like Law and Order. I got the idea for VOODOO BONES after reading in the paper about a dismembered corpse found in an apartment above a New Orleans’ Voodoo shop.

TMD: As we all know, well, we know from an unofficial search of your house, you’re a rabid cop show watcher. What show really gets your creative juices flowing? Ok, Morgan O asks, which TV cop gets your other juices flowing? Sheesh!

MA: That’s an easy question. Law & Order SVU…and Elliot Stabler (played by Chris Meloni) of course! He makes me tingle.

TMD: What better time to pop our crazy question, a time honored Morgan Diaries tradition, than after that last one. Melanie, you’re well known for crafting strong heroines. So, if we put you and the answer to the question above into an interrogation room alone, who’d be the frisker and who’d be the friskee?

MA: Ooh. I would definitely be the friskee. At least, I hope so. Then I would be the dead friskee, because I would die of cardiac arrest. LOL

TMD: No other subgenre of romance, aside from the romantic comedy, has made the translation from book to the big and little screen like romantic suspense. Most don’t remain true to the original, but romantic suspense seems to be the exception. Why do you feel the jump from print to film is so easy with this genre?

MA: Because of the suspense element. People like to sit on the edge of their seats and bite their nails. They love the adrenaline rush.

TMD: We hate to cut this interview short but several boys in blue have shown up to escort Melanie to her next event. We never knew they did book signings at Chippendales. Uh, Morgan those are police officers, right?

Morgan O: Not in thongs they aren’t. *snicker* So Mel can I go and be your assistant for the night?

MA: Well, sure. LOL

TMD: Before you go, please let our readers know where to find you and your CAPTIVE-ating books on the web. And boys feel free to handcuff Jmo to his chair. Don’t want him following and taking incriminating photos.

MA: Thank you so much for interviewing me! To learn more about my books, go to my website at or to my blog at to find buy links for all of my current releases. Or you may explore my publisher’s website at

No comments: