- Anna P.
Indie Support Sunday: Melissa Grace
Whenever I think of Melissa Grace, I think of her as the kindest and most incredible person on Instagram. She’s so generous with her love and her stories are filled with soft goodness and love as well. I not only adore the person that Melissa is, but also the characters she’s created over the last few years. I still remember when her debut was announced, I instantly went out and ordered her book so that I could devour it as soon as it arrived. And I most definitely did!
And last year, Melissa released book two in her Midnight in Dallas series which made me both happy and teary at the same time. And if that’s not enough for you, Long Way Home, releases in a few days!
Keep scrolling to get to know Melissa a little better and if you haven’t read her books yet, they’re available right now in Kindle Unlimited.
What inspired you to write—was it another author or books you read as you grew up?
For as long as I can remember, I have always loved stories. I wrote my first ‘book’ in the second grade, and I loved the idea that I could tell stories too. My love of reading only grew, and one day, I happened upon a book by Lurlene McDaniel. It was a signed copy. Lurlene is a young adult author known for telling stories heavily rooted in reality and the difficult things we have faced: sadness, illness, death. The book I picked up was the first of many of hers, and I remember being just in awe of this story. It was devastating and beautiful and hopeful. And that’s when I knew what kind of stories I wanted to tell. Even though I was years away from knowing what my voice as an author would sound like, I knew I wanted to tell stories that showcased the beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking realities of the human experience, and like Lurlene, I wanted to do so through a lens of hope.
Why did you choose romance as the genre to write in?
I love love stories! Piggybacking off of my answer to the last question, I love hopeful stories. And what is more hopeful than love? Even when I’m reading outside of romance, I gravitate to stories with a romantic hook. I can’t promise I will exclusively write in the romance genre for the entirety of my career, but I can promise that my books will always have a romantic element, because I can’t not write about romance.
Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?
For me, it was about timing. In 2020, my grandmother’s health declined greatly, and it was important to me that she be alive when I became a published author. With the help of some amazing friends, the indie community, and my cover designer Elle Maxwell, I was able to see that dream largely come to fruition.
What’s the best and worst part about being an indie author?
The worst thing is that it’s all on you. The creative side, the marketing side, the business side, all of it. You’ve got so many balls in the air, and at any given moment, you’re dropping at least one. But the best part, without a doubt, is the community of both indie authors and readers. The support they’ve shown me is unmatched.
Do you write full time or is this something you do on the side?
I do write full time.
Other than writing, what is something you enjoy and are really good at?
Baking! I love to bake. There’s something cathartic about knowing that if you combine certain ingredients together, you’ll get something really amazing every single time.
If not romance/subgenres of romance, what genre would you like to write in?
Women’s fiction, most definitely.
What are some of your all time favourite books—ones that you recommend to people or can reread multiple times?
Literally any book by Taylor Jenkins Reid. She’s brilliant. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a masterpiece.
What are your top 5 tips or pieces of advice for aspiring authors?
1. Write the stories you’re passionate about even if they’re not what’s considered on trend.
2. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
3. Just get the words down. You can fix it later.
4. Have people who can provide constructive criticism and people who can cheer you on. Sometimes these are the same people, sometimes they aren’t, but both are equally important.
5. Comparison is the thief of joy. Your journey is going to look different than other authors' journeys.
Can you briefly tell me about the books you've published so far?
They’re about a popular band, Midnight in Dallas, and the women that love them. While these are very much romance books, they’re also focused heavily on the journey of the female main characters, all of which are over the age of thirty. It was important to me for these women to reflect the women I know in real life. I think there’s this weird stigma that once women reach a certain age they suddenly have it all figured out. But I’m dangerously close to forty, and I don’t have a damn thing figured out.
Of your books, who is your favourite character?
It changes regularly, but currently it’s Derek. Being in his head is like being wrapped up in a cozy blanket. However, the easiest one for me to write is always Ella. Ella wasn’t originally going to have a story, so when I wrote Home Is Where You Are, I wrote Ella as if I was Liv’s best friend, and I responded to her accordingly. But once I got her on the page with Cash, it became clear she would be getting her own story after all.
What inspired your published stories? How and when did you come up with these stories and plots?
I wanted to write stories I would want to read, and though these are essentially rockstar romances, they’re very rooted in reality and real life problems. It was important to me that these characters have very relatable issues. There’s something so meaningful about reading a book or watching a movie or hearing a song and feeling seen by it. In romance, I think that’s especially important because everybody deserves to be loved.
How much of yourself do you put into these characters?
There are tiny mustard seeds of truth in all of them, but overall, they’re mixtures of people I know or have known.
When you write these stories, what are you hoping your readers will feel?
Seen. I want them to see their hearts reflected on the page and know that they deserve love. No matter what they’ve been through, what mistakes they’ve made, they deserve to be loved.
What is a story/stories that you really want to tell?
I want to tell stories with a strong focus on anxiety and depression and chronic illness. All of these are things I deal with, and thankfully more and more fiction novels are candidly discussing these issues. But we need more. The more they are seen and understood, the less stigmatized they become.
What’s next on the bookshelf for you? Anything you can tell us about a future project?
My third book, Long Way Home, comes out October 4th!
What are your most and least favourite tropes?
I like them all except for enemies to lovers. Please don’t take my romance writer card.
What are some tropes you want to write in the future?
Fake dating. It just sounds like so much fun!
What are some topics (sensitive and otherwise) that you think should exist more in romance?
Depression and anxiety.
What is your favourite thing about the romance genre?
I love how hopeful it is. In a world where things can feel very bleak and difficult, it’s nice to know that there’s a place we can turn to explore complex emotions we face daily, but with the guarantee of a happy outcome. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a romance writer or maybe I just wear rose colored glasses, but I believe that with love anything is possible. Be that romantic love, the love of our family and friends, or even the love we have for ourselves.
THIS OR THAT
Ebooks or audiobooks / I didn’t get in to audiobooks until last year, but now I really enjoy them! The You series that was written by Caroline Kepnes is my favorite. It’s narrated by Santino Fontana. I could listen to him talk all day long.
Historical romance or romantic suspense / Gimme the suspense!
Single or Dual POV / I love knowing what both parties are thinking.
Standalones or series
Music and silence while writing / It depends on the scene.
Plotter, pantser or plantser / Chaos.
Tea or coffee / Coffee, always.
Cold or warm weather / I want to wear sweaters and sweatshirts always.
Morning person or night owl / I wish I was a morning person. I’ve been trying for YEARS. If anyone has any tips on how I can become a morning person, I’m all ears.
Illustrated cover or photo cover / Especially ones by Elle Maxwell and Mia Heinzelman. They are two of the most talented designers I’ve ever seen.
Make sure you follow Melissa on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook or visit her website and subscribe to her newsletter.