Today, in the Forum, we have Melinda Clayton, a psychotherapist and novelist, which can only be considered a fascinating combination. She’s here to talk to us about her novel “Return to Crutcher Mountain.”
Tim Greaton: What’s the most interesting thing about you or what is the most interesting thing that ever happened to you?
Melinda Clayton: I love this question! Probably the most interesting thing that’s ever happened to me is that I spent some time living in Holland. My husband’s job took him there for a couple of years and although for the majority of that time we visited back and forth, I did spend six months there with him. We lived in a company-owned home in a tiny little sheep village in the middle of nowhere. In our leisure time we rode bikes all over Holland and Germany.
Tim Greaton: When did you first pick up the proverbial pen?
Melinda Clayton: Honestly, I don’t remember ever not writing. Even as a kid I loved to write stories. But I began writing professionally five or six years ago. I’m a psychotherapist in my “real” life, and I began by publishing mental health/relationship-type articles in a variety of print and online newsletters and magazines.
Tim Greaton: What series of events led you to become a novelist?
Melinda Clayton: Everything sort of lined up right at the same time. I stopped working directly with clients in order to be more available to my children, and I started working from home, contracting with various places to write grant proposals and design workshops. I’ve always loved writing, so I began searching for ways to do that, as well. After a few years of publishing articles, I went out on a limb and started submitting short stories to magazines and book anthologies. I had several of those published and a novel seemed to be the next logical step.
Tim Greaton: Was there any one family member or friend that helped you to be a better writer? Could you tell us about them?
Melinda Clayton: My mother, without a doubt. Not only is my mother a retired English and Latin teacher, she’s also an avid reader. I swallowed my fear and asked her to be a beta-reader for my last novel, and she - literally - pulled out her red pen and went to work. It was actually a lot of fun.
Tim Greaton: Do you have any quirky or unusual habits that are part of your writing process? What and how did it first happen?
Melinda Clayton: I don’t know if it could be considered a habit, but it’s definitely quirky. For whatever reason, I always have my best ideas in the shower. Maybe it’s because my brain is fresh after a night’s sleep, I don’t know, but for whatever reason it seems to be firing on all cylinders just about the time I’m lathered up with shampoo. My family has gotten used to me tearing through the house in a towel in search of pen and paper.
Tim Greaton: What is the title of your latest book, and where did you get the idea for the plot?
Melinda Clayton: My latest book is “Return to Crutcher Mountain,” and it’s actually a sequel to my first. My first left some questions unanswered, and I thought the protagonist in Return to Crutcher Mountain needed her own book in order to find the answers.
Tim Greaton: Did you base any of these people on real people from your past?
Melinda Clayton: Yes and no. As I mentioned earlier I spent many years as a psychotherapist, and during that time I worked with hundreds of survivors of abuse. Both “Appalachian Justice” and “Return to Crutcher Mountain” explore that theme. None of the characters are based on specific people, but they have experienced things I’ve been witness to in my work with survivors.
Tim Greaton: What was the toughest part of writing this book?
Melinda Clayton: Appalachian Justice touches on topics that are often uncomfortable: bigotry, domestic abuse, betrayal. Developing a realistic protagonist, one who has firsthand experience with those issues, was sometimes tough because Billy May was very real to me as I wrote her story.
Tim Greaton: Readers will like the emotion, humor, or what ingredient about this book best?
Melinda Clayton: The reviews and feedback I’ve received all indicate that Billy May touched the reader at a very emotional level. Not only was she real to me as I wrote her story, but I’m thrilled she seems just as real to readers as she shares her story with them.
Tim Greaton: Do you plan to write a follow-to this second book in your series?
Melinda Clayton: The sequel, Return to Crutcher Mountain, actually came out in June. I think for the most part that’s the end of Billy May’s story, although I am currently writing another novel set in the same location.
Tim Greaton: Just for fun, if you could have an advertisement for your book to appear anywhere for any budget, what would your ad be like and where would it appear?
Melinda Clayton: Anywhere for any budget? Well, then, let’s put it up in Times Square, on one of their huge electric screens. We’ll do a book trailer. Young, terrified girl running through the woods, creepy music in the background….I can see it now.
Tim Greaton: It would be great if you could share your website/blogsite and links to where our audience could directly purchase your books.
Melinda Clayton: I blog (though not nearly enough) at http://authormelindaclayton.xanga.com/
Print or ebooks can be bought at
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/melinda-clayton
Or ebooks can be bought at
All Romance: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html
Tim Greaton: Thanks so much for spending time with us today, Melinda. Your novels sound fascinating and I'm sure many people in our audience will be researching them within a few minutes of reading your comments.
Melinda Clayton: Thank you, Tim. I really appreciate the opportunity!