Meet the Writer: Melanie Summers

Every once in a while you’re reminded that social media can be a really good thing.

Like when you stumble upon an author you had never heard of because of a writer friend you met on Twitter long ago. Shoutout to Tracie Banister!

Thanks to Tracie, I’ve been introduced to Melanie Summers who writes irresistible rom-coms and women’s fiction. Her latest novel, I Used to Be Fun, had me at the title.

Now get to know Melanie and what inspires her. And because she’s such a generous soul, she’s giving away a signed copy of I Used to Be Fun. Want to be in the running? Leave a comment with your name, e-mail, and what novel you can’t wait to read this summer. I’ll pick a winner on May 31st.

Christa Banister: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? With so many romantic comedies and women’s fiction titles in your arsenal, clearly something about you and writing really stuck.

Melanie Summers: I didn’t have any inkling that I wanted to be a writer until I was 38 and I decided to try my hand at writing a romance novel as a challenge to myself. I gave it a go and LOVED it. And I haven’t looked back since.

Christa: What does a typical writing day look for you?

Melanie: Typically, I get my three teenagers off to school, then dig in, getting straight to work on my current book, whether it’s plotting, writing, or editing. I stop at lunch (and eat with my husband, who also works from home), then walk our dogs, then get back to work, either writing or doing marketing/businessy-stuff (boo, businessy stuff). Then the kids come home and I either keep working or hang out with them, depending on whether they scatter to different parts of the house or if they seem to need some mom time. I take evenings and weekends off for the most part, so I can rest my brain. :)

Christa: Tell us a little about your road to publication and how you landed where you are.

Melanie: I put out my first book in November 2013. It was a super spicy cowboy romance. My husband helped me make the cover and somehow the stars aligned and it sold. Like really sold. A LOT. After a few weeks, I had an offer from a German publisher for translation rights, at which point my husband called every agency in Canada to see if he could talk someone into working with me before they could hang up. It worked. I landed an agent, got a four-book deal with two publishers (HarperCollins Canada and Piatkus Entice). After working with the trad publishers, I went back to being indie, switched to rom-com, and kept going. I love being an indie author, which has a lot to do with enjoying having control over my schedule, branding, pricing, etc. This isn’t to say I wouldn’t work with a big publishing house again, because if the offer was right, I’d absolutely do it.

Christa: I love the uber-relatable title and premise of your new novel, I Used to be Fun. What inspired the idea and what do you hope readers will take away from it?

Melanie: Thanks! The title came from something I actually said to my children on a particularly bad day a few years ago. Well, I didn’t say it so much as yell it at them during a rant about whatever thing they were doing that they weren’t supposed to be (or while they weren’t doing whatever thing they were supposed to be doing, who remembers?).

That phrase stuck with me, and, from time to time, I’d tell other mom friends about saying that to my kids and we’d laugh about it, then there would always be that moment of us all agreeing that, yeah, we all really were fun and now we’re not anymore and what the hell happened. The idea for the book grew from there. I decided to write about a woman who was adventurous, ambitious, and the life of the party, but after becoming a mom and sacrificing who she was/putting others first for eighteen years, she was completely disconnected from who she really was.
What I want women to take away from the story is that if you feel this way, you’re not alone. Most women (and men, too, I imagine) give up so much to be the best parents they can be and to give their children every opportunity. We start to believe that our families can’t function without us on top of everything ALL THE TIME, and it’s not necessarily healthy for anyone. The truth is they would probably be better off having to figure more stuff out for themselves and having a happy mom. I wouldn’t suggest going about things the way the main character, Jessica, does, but my hope is that when women read this story, they’ll start to think about their own lives and how they can reconnect with who they are, what their dreams were, and how to pursue them.

Christa: If you had to narrow down your favorite five rom-coms of all time, what would they be? And do you have casting ideas for your novel if it became a movie or TV show?

Melanie: My top five rom-coms are:

1) Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding (Total classic)
2) Last Eligible Billionaire by Pippa Grant (SO freaking fun)
3) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (The original romantic comedy, and oh, so clever)
4) The Duke and I by Julia Quinn (Bridgertons, hello!)
5) Relatively Normal by Whitney Dineen (Which should definitely be a movie)
If I Used to be Fun were ever turned into a movie, I would love to see Reese Witherspoon play Jessica. She’s my absolute favorite.
And now for The Banister Questionnaire
What’s the first book that made you crazy about reading? Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene when I was in grade two. That was it. I was a reader. 
Characters or plot? Characters with traits that guide the plot. :)
What authors’ books do you always buy no matter what the story is about? Liane Moriarty
Are you a plotter or a pantser and why does that method work for you? Plotter, big time. It works because I have a tendency to overcomplicate my stories if I pants it. This leads to mega rewrites which is no bueno.
Actual book or digital download? Actual book whenever possible, it feels more relaxing for me. But a lot of times I am reading on my phone because it’s always with me. 
What’s your favorite bookstore? Location, please. Coho Books in Campbell River, BC. They’ve got new and used books, along with the best gifts. I LOVE it there. 
Describe your ideal writing environment. I love my office—big windows, plants, lots of space so I can walk around while I dictate. I also have large flip chart paper hanging on the wall so I can write out important plot stuff with colorful Sharpies. 
Coffee or tea? It was always coffee until a year ago when I got Covid. I couldn’t drink it after that, so I’m a tea-with-milk girl these days.
What’s your favorite way to procrastinate when you know you should be writing but don’t feel like it? Talking on the phone with my writer friends. 
What are you working on at the moment? Beach Please, a Paradise Bay Romantic Comedy :)
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One Comment

  1. I’m hoping to just be able to get a minute to read! There’s too many to pick just one!

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