Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Featured Author: Melanie Denman

About the book

Set in the Bible Belt of Deep East Texas, Visiting the Sins is a darkly funny story about mothers and daughters, naked ambition, elusive redemption, and all the torment it's possible to inflict in the name of family.

Down through the decades, the lofty social aspirations of the feisty but perennially dissatisfied Wheeler women -- Pokey, the love-starved, pistol-packing matriarch; Rebanelle, the frosty former beauty queen turned church organist; and Curtis Jean, the backsliding gospel singer -- are exceeded only by their unfortunate taste in men and a seemingly boundless capacity for holding grudges. A legacy of feuding and scandal lurches from one generation to the next with tragic consequences that threaten to destroy everything the Wheeler women have sacrificed their souls to build.

Interview with Melanie Denman

Melanie, what’s the story behind the title Visiting the Sins?
The title is a little bit ironic in that we usually quote the Bible when we talk about “visiting the sins” of the fathers upon the children. My book is actually about the sins of the mothers, and the title is taken from a line in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up on a cattle ranch near Nacogdoches, Texas. I’m an eighth-generation Texan, so those roots run pretty deep.

If you had an extra $100 a week to spend on yourself, what would you buy?

I would buy good seats at the theatre. I used to act in live theatre, and I’m still captivated by watching it.

What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?
I bought a beautiful pair of black patent pumps with four-inch heels. My hat is off to Sarah Jessica Parker for making it look easy to walk in those things, but I never wore them outside the house.

I'm with you! What makes you bored?
Listening to people talk about their money or what they’re going to buy next.

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?

There are things I regret doing because they hurt other people, but I don’t think I would choose to change anything. I think things turned out the way they were supposed to turn out.

What makes you excited?
I get really excited when I’m getting packed for a vacation to somewhere I haven’t been before. The anticipation is almost as much fun as the trip itself.

How did you meet your husband?
I met him at a swimming party on the first day of our freshman year at college. I thought he was terribly cute, but I don’t know if it was love at first sight because I didn’t marry him until twenty-five years later!

Oh my! What’s one of your favorite quotes?

I don’t know who said this, but I like it: “It doesn’t matter whether you’re the cheetah or the gazelle. When the sun comes up you’d better be ready to run.”

Love it! If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?

I would live in an Airstream trailer park on the beach with my family. I’ve reached a place in my life where time with the people I love is the most important thing.

What’s your favorite line from a book?
I love Gus’s line in Lonesome Dove when the pretty young prostitute accuses him of cheating at cards to get a free roll in the hay with her: “A man who wouldn’t cheat for a poke don’t want one bad enough.”

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
The character named Pokey, the love-starved matriarch, is loosely based upon my late grandmother. She was a feisty, fearless woman who had enough adventures and misadventures to fill several novels. I was lucky to have her in my life.

Are you like any of your characters?
I think I’m like all of my characters in different ways. For example, Pokey is always seeking the spotlight, which is the opposite of my own personality. But I do identify with her unbridled ambition. Actually, I believe you have to find some common ground with even the most despicable character in order to write authentically about him or her.

True. What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I know this is old-fashioned, but I still prefer to hold an actual book in my hands, usually a paperback. I love to gaze at the cover and flip back and forth through the pages. I just finished reading Ruby by a fellow East Texas native, Cynthia Bond. Now I’m deep into The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Are you happy with your decision to self-publish? Tell us a little bit about your road to publication.
I self-published because the authors I knew who were traditionally published were getting very little support from their publishers. They were doing practically all the promotional work and giving up much of the revenue. I strongly believed that I had written the story I was meant to write, so I just decided I was willing to bet my own money on it. I was willing to work hard to promote it. If it bombed then nobody would be out any money except for me. Fortunately for me, it didn’t bomb, and I have given away almost all of the profits to causes that matter to me.

What are you working on now?

I’m in the process of adapting Visiting the Sins into a screenplay, and also working on a new novel. Like Visiting the Sins, this one is also set in East Texas, but it is about the relationship between people and their land, and it features strong male and female personalities.

About the author

Melanie Denman is a native of Nacogdoches, Texas and a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University. An eighth-generation Texan, and a former banker and cattle rancher, she currently lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is working on a second novel.

Connect with Melanie:
Website  |  Facebook