Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Interview with Melodie Campbell

Hi Folks,

Today I am happy to share an interview with wordsmith and funny gal Melodie Campbell, author of Rowena Through The Wall plus tons of other great stuff!  Here we go...

Jill:  Tell me about the first time you walked through a wall or into a wall.

Melodie:  It wasn’t a wall but a mailbox.  Took off my glasses trying to impress a guy at University.  I made an ‘impression’ all right.

But seriously, I did walk into a men’s washroom once.  I blame it on those little Greek symbols…I mean, I’m a friggin’ Commerce grad, not an Arts major!  Luckily, I recognized the swinging apparatus and beat the hell out of there.  Twenty years later, maybe I would have lingered…

Your poem “Cyanide” has received some weighty accolades.  Tell, me was “Cyanide” really just a poetic twist on participatory journalism?

Not exactly, but I can think of some reviewers... J  My poetry is pretty accessible, like my fiction.  Cyanide is in the “He Done Her Wrong” class:

You say my cooking’s ghastly
I’m useless on my back
I never read a paper
And besides, I’m getting fat.

You call this match unequal
On that, I must agree
For now you’re dead upon the floor
And I am finally free.

You have written all kinds of things: poems, short stories, comedy and a novel.  Which type of writing do you find easiest?  Hardest?  Most satisfying?

Easiest?  Comedy.  I was the class clown in school, always getting detention for being a smart ass.  Comedy is my vice, my lover, my protection.

Hardest?  A novel.  Definitely.  My stories want to end themselves sooner.  I probably wouldn’t have written one at all except for this rogue journalist I met at the Toronto Press Club.  “You’ve never written a novel before – why don’t you write a novel?” he slurred, hoisting a glass of single malt.  By the way, there is no truth to the rumour that I once did a somersault off the Press Club billiard table.

On your website you have a list of short stories under the heading “Earlier Fiction”.   I’m putting you on the spot now: Which one is your favourite and why?

A Moment in Time.  My first story to hit it big (1992 -sold it to three different magazines and newspapers.)  It is a pre-internet story about a man’s obsession for a woman he met on a BBS (the way people used to connect by computer in the stone age.) It has a shock ending.  I still get chills when I read it.

What is the ONE thing you want readers to know about your forthcoming book The Goddaughter.

It’s not exactly a roman a clef, BUT this is the book most like me and the kind of wacky comedy I live for.  My family is Sicilian.  Lots of comic material there.  And I worked in the Hammer (Hamilton) for years.  Love the place.  Perhaps that smog did something to my brain?

So while Rowena in Rowena Through the Wall is who I would like to look like and be like, Gina in The Goddaughter is who I am. And she ain’t so perfect J

You have completed the first book in a new series you are co-writing with Cynthia St. Pierre.  What are the challenges and benefits of co-writing?

Benefits are wonderful.  Writing is such a solitary job.  Having a co- writer means having someone to share each step along the way. We actually did the chapter by chapter thing.  I wrote a chapter then Cindy wrote the next.  We surprised each other by not knowing exactly what was going to happen next.  Then of course we went back to edit for continuity to ensure we had a solid novel.

Challenges – We’ve been lucky. Our writing styles are pretty similar, which is a blessing.  We like the characters introduced by each other.  I think our biggest challenge has been living 90 miles apart, such that we can’t get together every week!

Okay: Time Travel.  You knew I’d be asking about this.  If you could live in any PAST era/decade/whatever, when would it be? 

Let me twist that.   I would love to live in the future, in a time when women had full equality (we still don’t now).  There is a dark side to Rowena Through the Wall.  I was exploring the concept of what happens in a world where women are scarce.  Our newspapers report that in some parts of the world, there is a disturbing gender imbalance.  When females become scarce, would they be more valued and thus have more power?  My conclusion is not a positive one.  I meant the book to be funny and entertaining, but there is a dark side underneath.

Is ownership of a Gucci bag considered a good reason for “justifiable homicide”?

Nah.  But the owners might be certifiable.  Three thousand dollars for a handbag?  Are they nuts?  You don’t see me wasting my money on things like that.  I’m far too busy wasting it on fast cars.

Talk to me about the cover for Rowena through the Wall.  How was it chosen?  What does it mean to you?  What do you feel it says to readers?

Parts of the cover I love.  I love the dark blue – a traditional colour used in fantasy fiction.  I love the two worlds colliding with the lightning bolt in between….the new world on the left and the Norman castle on the right.  I’d probably change the couple featured in the foreground.  It makes this book appear to be a romance, and it isn’t a romance.  Romance readers are made uncomfortable by this book because Rowena doesn’t meet one man and stay with him.  In fact she is with 5 men throughout the course of the book, and it isn’t until the end that she can be with the one she loves.  This is not a romance novel.  It is more realistic of the fate of women in medieval times and the high fantasy fiction that reflects those times.

What is the worst mistake you have ever made as a writer?

Back in 1993, a producer from HBO saw my play ‘Burglar for Coffee,’ labelled it “completely nuts,” and offered me a spot writing pilots, which I turned down.  This has to go on record as the worst mistake ever made by a person not officially insane. I mean, who had ever heard of HBO?

Follow Melodie on Twitter @MelodieCampbell
Check out Melodie's website HERE.


  1. Good post! I know you both and can imagine you laughing your heads off. My kind of people, you are.

  2. Great article, great writers, both! Still chuckling. Thank you.

  3. Thank you, Gloria and Donna! Jill writes the zaniest questions going - talk about wit. An honour to be on here.

  4. Great interview. HBO, call her again. Please!

  5. Oh ho hum. How dry. Typical interview. Where's the wit I ask!
    Well done you two. Was their wine involved?

  6. Melodie -
    Great interview! I'm with you on not spending outrageous money on purses and such (I can find purses I love for under $100 - and usually less when they're on sale). Bummer about that HBO gig (If I ever get to meet you in person, would you like me give you a kick in the rear? LOL {Just kidding.})

    Lea Ellen {night owl in IL}