Diane Capri Reveals Melinda VanLone

Here on Diane Capri Reveals, we’ve featured some of the biggest names in our genre, including my friends and colleagues Lee Child, the father of Rambo, David Morrell, my colleague at the Bar, Steve Berry, the dynamite writing duos Maxine Paetro (and James Patterson), Grant Blackwood (and James Rollins), and more. You can check out those posts by clicking HERE.

For the next few weeks, by popular demand and as a service to our readers, we’re introducing Licensed to Thrill readers to new authors and new voices in this continuing series because the marketplace is crowded and finding good new authors is more confusing than it needs to be. So check out our entire series and see whether you’ve missed a few authors and books you’d like to sample for yourself or gifts for your favorite readers.

Certainly one of the most delightful authors I’ve met this year is Melinda VanLone. You may not know her yet, but you will. Notice the mischievous twinkle in her eye and imagine her infectious laugh. You’re going to love her.

Melinda VanLone

Diane Capri: So I’ve heard you can be a bit indecisive. True or False?

Melinda VanLone: *laughs* In college, I changed my major seven times. I tried music therapy, psychology, broadcast journalism, astronomy (before I figured out how much math would be involved), another one I can’t recall, and a very, very brief run at theater, before landing on English. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and no idea where an English degree would take me. At the time, it took me to a secretary job I hated. So I went back to school at Syracuse University, where I met my husband and graduated with a degree in Publishing. I turned that degree into a 15 year career in graphic arts. While I love a lot of things about the field, it didn’t feel right. I felt like my career was slowly killing my spirit. That’s when my wonderful husband suggested I quit, and work full time on being a writer. It’s something I’d dreamed about over the years but never pursued.

Diane Capri: How are you finding the change?

Melinda VanLone: Because of my husband’s support, and that of my family and friends, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Now I know exactly what to do with that English degree. Plus, I get to indulge my passion for photography and design and have it all feed into the writing. At the very least I can say I’m still using that degree I paid for!

Diane Capri: Before we get to that, I can’t help but say that maybe your graphic arts career was trying to kill your spirit, but it’s obvious that didn’t happen. You’ve got more spirit than most of us! Your eye for all the photographic subjects we’ve used in this post and that graphic arts career resulted in this gorgeous cover for your first novel releasing in December, Stronger than Magic.

Melinda VanLone: Thanks! I’m very happy with the way it turned out, but it was a bit of a struggle to get it there. Like any designer, or writer for that matter, I spent a lot of time with this cover tweaking, revising, and trying to get everything exactly right. I’m lucky I have a beautiful and creative friends to help me out. My cover model is a dear friend, as is the photographer who took the picture. I’ll be revealing more about how the cover was built, the actual nuts and bolts behind-the-scenes look, on my blog. What was most important was to capture the spirit of the main character, Tarian. I hope I’ve done that. She’s confident, stubborn, strong and a fierce protector of her family. When a demon threatens not only her life, but the lives of her family and friends as well, she doesn’t hesitate to put herself in the way to track him down and eliminate him. Of course, it doesn’t turn out as easy as all that. Especially when she finds out she can’t use her own tracking ability without handing her magic over to the demon.

Diane Capri: Sounds like maybe you’ve been fighting a few imaginary demons. Anything to do with this? 

Melinda VanLone: This isn’t the greatest photo in the world, but it speaks to me for a few reasons. I took this on the street, looking in on a little shop down the street from our new apartment in Rockville, MD. It’s a new beginning, for both my husband and I. As I stood on the street I realized how many things were changing, and how excited I was to be at the precipice looking out over What Could Be. I haven’t felt that way since college. I think, if I ever finish unpacking, that I’m going to buy that sign in the window and put it above my computer to remind myself that if you can believe it, you can achieve it. I hope people will say that about me in December when I launch my debut novel Stronger Than Magic. “She believed she could, so she did.” The other really awesome thing about this area is the fall leaves! I can’t get enough of them, probably because I don’t have to rake them. But look, aren’t they stunning?

Fall in Maryland

Diane Capri: I don’t know….I’m a Florida girl. To me this photo says “Yikes! Winter’s Coming!” When did believing you wanted to be a writer begin with you?

Melinda VanLone: I’m not sure it was an all-at-once sort of experience. In high school, I wrote a short story that involved a family of alcoholic beverages that made my teacher laugh. I got an A+, and a note at the top that said, “You should be a writer. I hope you will major in English in college.” I thought… because of that silly story? How odd. But I remembered her words, and when I finally settled on a major in college it was, indeed, English. I loved reading. It was more like an obsession than a passion. Gradually I came to realize that it was just as much fun to create the story as it was to read it.

Diane Capri: Maybe more, actually. *grins* We can see you’re a dreamer, for sure. You’re the kind of girl who jumps right in, aren’t you? Do your dreams include travel, perhaps?

Melinda VanLone: I’d really love to travel to Ireland, Scotland, and France. I’ve never been to Europe, and those places in particular have always pulled at my imagination. The folklore and stories from those regions feature pretty strongly in my love of all things magical. Plus, I’ve always loved lush, green, leafy scenery. Probably because I spent a lot of time in my childhood in the Southwest, where the nearest thing to lush, green scenery was the tumbleweeds.

Diane Capri: Some of that wanderlust is revealed in your writing, isn’t it?

Melinda VanLone: Oh yes. The stories I write all tend to be placed, at least in part, somewhere I’ve been before. For example, in Stronger Than Magic, the majority of the story takes place either in Philadelphia, where we lived for two years, or Hawaii, where we visited on a long vacation. Both places sparked story ideas that made their way into the final overall narrative. And with good reason… who wouldn’t be inspired looking out over the islands of Hawaii?

Diane Capri: You are one of those annoying larks, aren’t you?

Melinda VanLone: *laughs* Very definitely a morning person! I’m the type that wakes up “bright eyes and bushy tailed.” I’ve never needed coffee to wake up, and I’m almost always in a good mood when I wake up. By evening, I’m tired and more than a little cranky. And no matter what time I go to bed, I wake up with the sun.

Diane Capri: You know how we night owls feel about that, right?

Melinda VanLone: Oh yes, I know exactly, because my husband is a night owl. It makes for interesting times around our house!

Diane Capri: Once we finally get awake, say noonish or so, where are we most likely to find you?

Melinda VanLone:  These days, Starbucks, the square by our apartment, or the library across the street, or, if it’s nice out, an arboretum. I love gardens, as long as someone else is taking care of them!

Diane Capri: Well, that’s something we have in common, for sure! That and Dove Dark Chocolate, hmmmm?

Melinda VanLone:  *laughs* How’d you know? I am addicted to Dove Dark Chocolate! It’s the only candy I have a true craving for. I let the small square from heaven melt on my tongue until it dissolves into nothing, usually with my eyes closed. Pure bliss.

Diane Capri: Okay, one more thing before we let you go. You’re an urban fantasy and science fiction writer. And you’ve got some imagination to go with it! So if you could exchange lives with any fictional character for a day, who would it be?

Melinda VanLone: There are so many! I think I’d love to be Lara Croft for one day. To be able to kick butt and look that great doing it would be fun!

Diane Capri: Thank you, Melinda, for being with us and we’re excited about your debut novel, Stronger Than Magic. Connect with Melinda and find out when you can grab a copy of her book on her website: MelindaVan.com  or connect with her on Facebook: Facebook.com/Melinda.Van 



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34 Responses to Diane Capri Reveals Melinda VanLone

  1. Ginger Calem November 8, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    Melinda, you are bursting with creative endeavors from writing, graphic design, photography … that’s so fun. You simply must get to Europe with your camera. You will love the culture, the architecture, just the ‘age’ of things. I was European in a past life, I’m convinced of it.

    Great interview ladies!

    • Melinda VanLone November 8, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

      I really want to go on a photo tour of Europe! Oh my goodness, how fun would that be! Expensive lol but fun.

    • Diane Capri November 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

      Good to see you here, Ginger, and I totally agree! I have no design sense at all, so I’m particularly envious of Melinda’s!

  2. Lynn Kelley November 8, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    Wonderful interview, ladies! I loved getting to know Melinda better. Your cover looks fantastic! That’s so cool that your good friend was the model! How special! Your photographs are beautiful. I especially love the one with the leaves changing. We don’t get that here in SoCal. Looking forward to celebrating your book launch with you, Melinda.

    She believed she could, so she did! Woot!

    Thank you, Diane, for another fun interview.

    • Melinda VanLone November 8, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

      Thanks! I’m really hoping to celebrate the book launch with a new camera 😀 Is that bad? lol

    • Diane Capri November 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

      Thanks for reading, Lynn, and for the insightful comment, as always. As far as the fall leaves go, um……

  3. Marcy Kennedy November 8, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    It should come as no surprise that I’m anxiously waiting for this book to come out 🙂 Thanks for interviewing Melinda, Diane. I knew you’d tried a lot of majors in school, Melinda, but I had no idea it was that many. We have more in common than I thought. When I went to university, if you came in with a high enough GPA from high school and were able to maintain a certain GPA in university, you could enter what was called “scholar’s electives.” It basically meant I got to customize a degree, so I took classes in English, history, anthropology, statistics (don’t ask), sociology, psychology, etc. I didn’t want to have to choose just one!

    P.S. I pimped this interview on August’s pimp and promote post today.

    • Melinda VanLone November 8, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

      You are so sweet! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the story 🙂 OK, where was the Scholar’s Electives major at MY college? I would have loved that lol.

      Thanks for pimping me! 😀

    • Diane Capri November 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

      Thanks for reading Marcy and for passing us along! Really appreciate the assist. And I totally agree on Melinda’s book — I’ll bet it’s going to be awesome!!

  4. Denise D. Young November 8, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    Great post, Diane. You have a real knack for interviewing people. Melinda, I really like both the cover for “Stronger Than Magic” and your photography. I admire you for having the courage to leave a career that wasn’t working and embark on the exciting adventure of writing. I’m glad you hubby is on board. I look forward to reading your work and your blog. 🙂

    • Melinda VanLone November 8, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

      I really couldn’t do this without the hubby! I’m very, very lucky. I have a fantastic support network.

      Diane really does an amazing job with these! I’ve enjoyed them all 🙂

    • Diane Capri November 9, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

      Hi, Denise! Good to see you here! Long time, to glance at your happy face. 😉 On the interview techniques — I guess all those years of interviewing witnesses and clients paid off, hmmmm? Thanks so much for stopping by and for the comment!

  5. Coleen Patrick November 8, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    Another great reveal. Melinda always has great photos that tell a story. I imagine her upcoming book will have that fantastic creative voice too! 🙂

    • Melinda VanLone November 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

      I hope it does! I did sort of wish I could use photography throughout the story but had to settle on descriptions instead 😉

    • Diane Capri November 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

      Coleen, are you a photographer? I’m not — but I sooooooo admire those who are!

  6. Melinda VanLone November 8, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    I should have mentioned that the photo of me on this page was also taken by a very good friend of mine, and the same one who took the photo of the cover model. Marcie is an awesome photographer! It’s not easy to get a photo of me that I’m happy to put out there in the public. 🙂

    • Diane Capri November 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

      Melinda, the photo of you is awesome!!

  7. August McLaughlin November 8, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    Seven times?!? You are hilarious and adorable, Melinda, and probably destined to be a writer. 😉 I can’t wait to read your book come December, and help spread the word. Great cover!

    Thanks for another fabulous installment, Diane. You truly rock!

    • Melinda VanLone November 9, 2012 at 10:21 am #

      I don’t know why I fought it so long 😉 Writing is the perfect occupation for me. Editing, not so much 😀 Thanks August!

    • Diane Capri November 9, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

      Thanks for reading, August, and glad you enjoyed the post!

  8. Eva Pohler November 8, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    Well, I HAVE read Stranger Than Magic (several times) and I know you will all LOVE it. The main character is fiesty, strong-willed, and adorable–someone we all want to be, and the plot is a page-turner!

    What a great interview, Melinda! Congrats!

    • Melinda VanLone November 9, 2012 at 10:01 am #

      Thanks Eva! Hooray for beta readers 😀 I owe them so much! I feel like I’m building a tribe *grin*

    • Diane Capri November 9, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

      Oooooooh! Now everyone here is jealous, Eva! Thanks for coming over and do come back. 😀

  9. Sheila Seabrook November 8, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    Love this interview, Diane and Melinda. 🙂 Melinda, I would totally love to see you kicking butt as Lara Croft. Of course, you’d probably carry a camera instead of a gun, right?!

    • Melinda VanLone November 9, 2012 at 10:01 am #

      Hmm, interesting question! lol Can I have both? 😀 She also has some really awesome knives tucked away. I need those too.

    • Diane Capri November 9, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

      Totally agree, Sheila! 😀

  10. Kassandra Lamb November 8, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    Another great interview, Diane! Melinda, it sounds like you are settling in to your new home in my home state very nicely. You’ve found all the great writing spots, at least. Love all the photos but especially the one of the changing leaves. Made me homesick. I really miss the beautiful colors of fall. Best of luck with your release!

    • Melinda VanLone November 9, 2012 at 10:03 am #

      I have to say, it’s something I wasn’t used to but now kind of like (changing leaves). Dallas doesn’t really do changing colors on the leaves. Usually they just die one day suddenly of heat exhaustion. I like the slow dance toward the end that the leaves do around here. Very pretty 🙂

    • Diane Capri November 9, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

      Geezzzeeee, Melinda, “toward the end”?? Yikes!! Thanks for reading Kassandra!

      • Melinda VanLone November 10, 2012 at 10:23 am #

        hehe well I was going to say “toward death” because to me fall has always felt like the trees are dying LOL. I’m more of a spring girl, when the leaves are coming out shiny new and bright green. But I do love the colors anyway lol

  11. Louise Behiel November 9, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    lovely interview ladies. Love getting to know so many interesting people in this venue, Diane. Melinda, you are so creative…it’s amazing. and the cover is gorgeous.

    • Diane Capri November 9, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by Louise. (Your turn is coming… 😉 )

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