CentreStage with Melanie Robertson-King: of portraits, mansions and stone circles…

Welcome to CentreStage!

CentreStage features fantastic authors from around the world. These authors might write for you about their lives, their writing, their books or any other experience that they’d like to share. Each feature is different, each feature is unique. Today, we’re off to Canada to meet with fellow loveahappyending.com featured author, Melanie Robertson-King. Welcome, Melanie!

A Shadow of the Past… How did your first novel begin its life?

My novel didn’t start out as that. It was an overgrown short story that I wrote a number of years ago (1999/2000) after a friend of mine said I could write something every bit as good as a ‘famous’ author. I pondered the idea for a while then it came to me. I would centre my piece around a portrait, a derelict mansion, and a stone circle.

A portrait, a derelict mansion and a stone circle ~ You got me hooked already. Why these things?

The inspiration for the portrait came from a photo I got from one of my cousins of my grandfather and his first wife taken in 1876 to commemorate their marriage (I’m a romantic; I don’t actually know if that’s why they had their picture done or not, but it sure sounds good). In the beginning my characters were the mirror image of the couple in the portrait.

So, I needed a house to hang the painting in. I fell in love with this spooky old derelict mansion in 1993 when I visited the area of Aberdeenshire where my father was born.

Two down, one to go. What would a novel set in Scotland be without a stone circle? And since this one was in the same area and on the farm at the B&B I stayed in.

Once I had these items, the words flowed from my fingers onto the page. I marvelled at my creation as it came to life before my eyes. I thought to myself, Wow, I’m an author!

That sounds… easy! I bet it wasn’t as straightforward as that?

Another friend came across a creative writing course in a newspaper I didn’t subscribe to and brought me the ad. I took the plunge and signed up.
A number of knock backs, set backs and the like with the short story (that I thought was fab) and I gave up on writing fiction. I turned my hand to non-fiction articles and had success with them.

But you didn’t really give up?

I had a wonderful instructor back in the days of my creative writing course, and with his coaching and encouragement, turned that short story into a novel.
That piece, known back then as Sarah’s Gift, underwent a number of changes over the years, including a new title. A Shadow in the Past as it now goes by is far more evocative.

Before I pitched to my current publisher back in October 2011, I had revised my ‘masterpiece’ a number of times. And since landing the contract, well, I’ve revised it many more times but now I can say, and with authority, I AM an author!

You definitely are, Melanie: congratulations. It’s wonderful to hear how you came up with the ideas behind your masterpiece. A portrait, a derelict mansion, and a stone circle: magic ingredients, indeed. Thank you for sharing the backstory behind your novel. Now tell us more about the book itself…

A Shadow in the Past

When a contemporary teen is transported back in time to the Victorian era, she becomes A Shadow in the Past…

Nineteen year old Sarah Shand finds herself in Victorian Era Aberdeenshire, Scotland and has no idea how she got there. Her last memory is of being at the stone circle on the family farm in the year 2010.

Despite having difficulty coming to terms with her situation, Sarah quickly learns she must keep her true identity a secret. Still, she feels stifled by the Victorians’ confining social practices, including arranged marriages between wealthy and influential families, and confronts them head on then suffers the consequences.

When Sarah realizes she has fallen in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, she faces an agonizing decision. Does she try to find her way back to 2010 or remain in the past with the man she loves?

A Shadow in the Past is widely available from these sources: 4RV Publishing, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk,  Barnes & Noble and ChaptersIndigo.

Don’t forget to visit Melanie on her website or her blog, Celtic Connexions; or follow Melanie on Twitter as @robertsoking. Melanie is on Facebook and she also has an author page at loveahappyending.com!

So Melanie had a constellation of very precise objects that inspired a story, and a whole novel. How do you get started on your ideas?

24 responses to “CentreStage with Melanie Robertson-King: of portraits, mansions and stone circles…

  1. Wishing you every success with your book Melanie.

  2. That’s so interesting that your novel came from a short story idea first.

    My ideas for stories are usually sparked by something that happens in real life, either to me or to someone I know. Something that gets my imagination going into overdrive. The story then becomes much larger than life of course, but to me, that’s the fun of it!

    Great post, Ladies. Wishing you great success with your masterpiece, Melanie!

    Janice xx

    • There was a real-life incident that made its way into the short story, too, but compared to the portrait, mansion and stone circle, it played a very minor role.
      My short story really wasn’t all that short. If I recall correctly, it was over 16000 words.

      • Melanie, LOL, that is a **short** story!

        Thanks for your lovely comment and thoughts, Janice, it’s really interesting to know how you get started on your stories. Glad you could visit today! x

  3. The stone circle in your title grabbed my attention, Nicky – for reasons which I hope are obvious (at least to our readers)!

    This sounds an intriguing tale, Melanie, and I look forward to its release. I hope it’ll be available for Kindle?

  4. Thanks so much for hosting me on CentreStage today, Nicky!

  5. Wishing Melanie every success with the book. Great photos, especially of that house. Cheers, ladies.

  6. Today has been fun, Nicky! Hope we can do it again some time.

  7. I am not going anywhere near a stone circle, just in case I am dragged back in time and stuck there. Even a handsome hero will not compensate, well, maybe, until it came to childbirth and dentists!

  8. Thanks, Nicky. I met Melanie in Topeka, KS. when we were both debuting our 1st novels. The interview was great. Really shows her spunk & ingenuity. Love it.

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