Total Pageviews

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Melanie Robertson-King in the Hot Seat

I’ve known Melanie Robertson-King for several years now. I met her initially when I was researching an article based on the children who were shipped to Canada in the 19th and 20th century by many of the altruistic charities including Barnardo’s, Quarrier’s, the Salvation Army, and even the Church and Scout movements. These children are often referred to as The Lost Children, and in Canada are known as Home Children.
In the course of my research I stumbled across a Canadian website devoted to these children and what happened to them. I emailed to request permission to use some of the photographs and that was how I met Melanie. She is one of the nicest and most helpful persons it has been my good fortune to meet, and therefore it gives me great pleasure to see the publication of her first book, A Shadow in the Past, and it’s definitely on my list of must have books.

Have a look at Melanie’s book cover, isn’t it fab
When I met Melanie, I didn’t know she was a writer, but then she started to publish articles in various magazines, and now she has produced a novel. I feel proud for her because it is quite an achievement to get a novel published in today’s hard climate. So I really wanted to know how she did it, and she obliged me with an interview. So without further ado, I’ll launch straight into the interview.
Photo of Melanie and her husband in their kitchen at home in Canada. She’ll probably slay me for publishing this
Interviewing Melanie
Melanie, I’ve known you for quite some time now and we first met when I was doing some research on the Canadian Home children who had been shipped to Canada by several charities in Britain. So my first question is related to that.
Do you still have an involvement with the organisation related to the Canadian Home Children and can you tell me something about that?

Yes, I’m still involved with the Quarriers Canadian Family. I’ve done presentations at area genealogical and historical societies on the subject. I get a number of e-mails from people looking for assistance in tracing their ancestor’s roots once it’s discovered they’ve come from an agency such as Quarriers (then known as The Orphan Homes of Scotland). If anyone is interested, the Quarriers Canadian Family maintains a website. It’s located at
Tell me something about your writing career. When did you start writing? And how long was it before you published your first article? And are you still writing and publishing articles?

I wrote stories when I was a teenager and then after I finished my education, stopped writing for a number of years. It wasn’t until about 1999-2000 that I started up again. I enrolled in a creative writing course and the first assignment was to seek out publications and find out their guidelines etc. So I chose The Scottish Banner and our local free weekly paper The St. Lawrence EMC. Then I wrote an article for each of them for my next assignment. No surprise, it was on Home Children. I wasn’t out and out rejected by the EMC (they had made some formatting changes – titles in various sections of the article) but they never printed it. The Scottish Banner; however, did without as much as a bye your leave so you can imagine my surprise when I opened up my Dec 2001 issue and there was my article!

I would never get rich on the money I’ve made with my articles but it was a niche that I felt comfortable in. I’d written the occasional short story for local contests but that’s as far as my fiction writing went.

The last article I had published was about the abandoned railway that ran from Brockville to Westport and it was printed in 2011.
It was a long time before I knew you were writing a novel, so when did the urge to do this, grab you? Did you tell anyone what you were writing? If you didn’t, when did you come out of the cupboard?

Well, we go back to the short stories and around the time that Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series was big. A friend thought I could write something every bit as good so I came up with an overgrown short story (I think around 16,000 words) and called it Sarah’s Gift. While I was taking my creative writing course, my instructor asked why I didn’t write a novel because in his words “I could write a cracker.” Not knowing where to start, I thought why not resurrect Sarah’s Gift? So I did and over the duration of my course turned it into a novel... not a well written one I can honestly say looking back on it. I think I e-mailed you in the early days and told you that one of the publishing houses I had submitted to, wanted me to send the full manuscript. I can’t remember what year that was now but suffice it to say I received a number of rejects before finally landing the contract with 4RV Publishing.
How did you find the transition from article writer to novel writer? Was it difficult to change your writing style? And how long did it take you to write A Shadow in the Past?

Actually, the transition was easier than I expected it to be. It could have been because I wove a number of factual events into my writing. I always tried to keep my articles somewhat light rather than dry and clinical so the change in style came relatively easily.

How long to write A Shadow in the Past? Over all, with work and the occasional not writing funk because I thought my work was terrible, a very long time. I would think likely 4-5 years maybe 6 especially if you count the fact it started as a short story.
Now you are a published novelist, tell me what it feels like?

I have so many emotions right now about being a published novelist – surreal, thrilled, scared – being at the top of the heap. Every now and then, I think that I’m going to wake up and discover it’s all been a dream.
Have you started the next book? And can you tell me anything about it?

Yes, I have a couple more in the works. Originally, there was a Part 2 to A Shadow in the Past but I decided it would work better as a sequel so I’ve got it written, although with the changes that have been made, there will be some heavy-duty rewrites to be done.

I have another manuscript completely finished called The Anniversary (again started as a short story) which I originally thought would be book 2 of a 3 book series. But I’m not sure how that’s going to fit now. And I have another one in the works. I’d written the beginning and ending but no middle. It’s about a helicopter that ditches in the North Sea. Well shortly after I started it, helicopters started falling out of the sky off the eastern coast of Canada and in the North Sea, so I stopped. I posted a snippet from it in the loveahappyending Facebook group back in the summer and got some interesting feedback.
Well, that’s been very interesting Melanie, and you’ve whetted my appetite for the book. Good luck with the sales, not that I think you’ll need it, and I look forward to seeing the next book come out.
About Melanie
Melanie Robertson-King author of A Shadow in the Past
A Shadow in the Past is Melanie Robertson-King’s debut novel. Prior to turning her hand to fiction, she wrote articles and has been published in Canada, the US and the UK. In addition to writing, her interests include genealogy, photography and travel. On one of her trips to Scotland, she had the honor of meeting The Princess Royal.
Melanie is a member of Romance Writers of America and their Ottawa Chapter.
She lives in Brockville, Ontario, Canada along the shore of the majestic St. Lawrence River with her husband, son and oldest grandson.

About the book
A Shadow in the Past
When a contemporary teen is transported back through time to the Victorian era, she becomes A Shadow in the Past…
When nineteen year old Sarah Shand finds herself in Victorian Era Aberdeenshire, Scotland, she 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, confronts them head on and 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?

Where to buy:

Publisher: 4RV Publishing LLC
Author Website:
Author Blog: Celtic Connexions
Facebook Author Page:
Twitter Account: @RobertsoKing!/RobertsoKing



Melanie said...

Thanks for hosting me here today, Chris. It's been too long since I've been here at your lovely home in North Eastern Scotland.

Bikerhen said...

Great interview and a big HELLO to Chris .. it's been too long since I visited.

Nicky Wells said...

Lovely post and lovely photo too. Why do you reckon Mel would slay you?? I feel a motive coming on for your next crime novel, Chris!

It's lovely to meet Mel here and get to know her better. Congrats again on becoming a published novelists, that's totally awesome! X

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Great interview, ladies - and I enjoyed hearing a bit about your involvement with Quarriers, Melanie!

Melanie said...

It was my family ties to Quarriers that got me involved. My Dad and four of his siblings were raised there.

I won't slay you, Chris, for posting that photo. I've got one on my website of the two of us in my kitchen, too. That visit was a lot of fun.

Thanks for dropping by Nicky and Rosemary... you, too, Bikerhen!

Brenda Gayle said...

Hi Melanie,
Terrific interview. It's great to learn more about you and your other WIPs. All the best.

Melanie said...

Thanks for your good wishes, Brenda and for dropping by today. Hope to see you on the 13th at the Roxanne St. Claire workshop. It should be a cracker!

Janice Horton said...

What a wonderful indepth and personal interview. I so enjoyed hearing about your publishing journey, Melanie, and all that happened along the way. I'm cheering for you here, in Scotland, and I am looking forward to hearing and reading more about your and your writing career. Congratulations!

Janice xx

Janice Horton said...

Oh, meant to say, I LOVED that photo of you and your hubby in your kitchen - it's fab!!

Janice xx

Chris Longmuir said...

What great comments, I loved reading them. And Janice, what you didn't see in the photo was my cousin and auntie at the other side of the table and me holding the camera!

Melanie said...

And don't forget the big goofy dog, Chris. I'm surprised he didn't horn his way into the photo! That was such a fun visit with you, Joan, Blake and your Auntie Ivy. I have a photo on my website of Chris and I together on that same trip.

Thanks for your comments, Janice. It was great to see you here.