John Steinbeck, Graham Mackintosh, Bruce Berger, and many other writers were inspired by Baja’s arid desert, lush nature, two bodies of ocean and rich underwater life. Meet writer Jane Mellor who gets inspired by Baja as well, and who just finished writing her newest romantica book while visiting Baja for her writing retreat.
Just like Jane Mellor has Baja under her skin, that’s how her books and writing are under ours! Published and awarded author, Jane is one of the lucky ones, who was able to bring to life both of her personalities and passions in writing: poetry and romantica novels. While she has been writing and publishing for more than two decades, Jane has been writing poetry since 2007, and she just recently ‘stepped out of the closet’ with her romantica novels under her pen name Madison Lake right here in Baja. I have spoken to Jane just after her book launch to discover more about her writing, Madison Lake and why she loves Baja.
Dear Jane, welcome to Baja and your sunny writing retreat! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your work?
Well, I began writing professionally in the early 1990’s for US and Canadian travel and lifestyle magazines. I really enjoyed the work and learned so much about being a freelance writer and working on my own. I began writing poetry in 2007, although I used to study and write poetry in high school. It has since become a real passion. Madison Lake came about quite out of the blue. My colleagues thought I should find a niche in the erotica genre since poetry may only make me rich and famous many years after I die! For some reason I thought it would be fun to create a persona and pen name and I just started writing romance novels – with an edge. It really just evolved from there.
What was the reason you choose Baja for your writing retreat?
I know people in the Baja and it’s an easy flight away. I’ve also always been drawn to nature when I write so I can’t think of a better place to be – desert and ocean. Perfect.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently tweaking my fifth Madison Lake novel – the third and last in A Cloud of Hawthorne series. I finished it down in the Baja but now comes weeks (or months) of editing. I’m also in the final stages of editing my second book of poetry. I know they are two completely different styles and genres but I like having a choice when I write. It’s a mood thing.
Give us an interesting fun fact about your book (or series).
This Madison Lake series is different than other series because although each book carries on (loosely) with the story, each book focuses on a different main character, so although it does evolve with familiar characters and a familiar theme, each book is really about a different character – life through their eyes.
Can you give us an insight into your main character?
I can’t say too much because it will give away the end of the second book. But all my Madison Lake books have strong female leads so let’s just say she’s another one. She’s very young, very smart, and of course beautiful. Haha.
What is more important for you? The character, or the plot? How do you develop your novels?
I’d say they are both equally important. I love playing with character development and when my characters come into their own they create themselves and grow as individuals like a person would or should. The plot is similar. I get an idea of what I see happening, but sometimes the plot has a mind of its own and I have to follow. I often change direction unexpectedly while I write and I have to go with it because the story or plot is leading me. It’s really very fun.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your writing? Do you set up the storyline from the beginning, or are you just writing as the story takes you?
Both. I scratch out a loose outline but very loose. I usually just start writing and it begins to open up and take shape shortly after. That’s why it’s easy to let things change. I don’t get attached to any one thing happening even if I have that in mind to develop. Things can change – and do.
Being here in Baja and writing, do you think the environment you are in has influenced in any way the course of your story?
With my poetry, absolutely. The desert, the ocean, everything is inspiring for poetry. For my Madison Lake books it provides me a lot of time and space to focus and get work done in a more than pleasant atmosphere. That’s about it. My books are already fictional and unless the story takes place in the desert, which these don’t, then there’s not a lot of inspiration other than the quiet peacefulness.
How does your writing day in Baja look like?
It looks like my writing days at home only a little more casual and relaxed I suppose. I always take my dog for a good long walk before starting my day. Believe it or not I save my cup of coffee for after the walk, when I’m writing. After checking emails etc., I get to my writing for the day. It is usually the piece that I feel is either most important or that I am on a roll with. Once I get going on one of my (ML) stories it’s just like reading a good book, I can’t wait to get back to it and ideas for plot and character swirl around in my head all day long.
Since you arrived, were you able to make progress on your book?
Oh yes, but I was already on a roll. Having the peace and quiet and lots of time to produce was great.
I know you held a book launch party here in Baja. How did it go, how did the audience accept you?
It was a ton of fun. Zac’s Bar and Grill support and the community was hands down. For me it was fun to ‘come out’ as Madison Lake. Many people knew I was a writer but didn’t know I was Madison Lake. It was kind of scary at first but very freeing in the end. I also enjoyed the casual atmosphere of Zac’s and all the Baja folks. It was all around a great afternoon, and to my complete surprise, I sold all the books I’d brought with me. Totally unexpected. Such great support.
When will we be able to read the book you are currently working on?
Sadly I didn’t time things for a holiday release, but publishers are very busy in the fall so I would have had to finish it a long time ago to get it in for December 2014. I’d say after edits and final layout decisions it might be in the late spring of 2015. Maybe early summer.
Will you be back to Baja?
Of course! It sort of gets under your skin, you know?
Do you already have plans for a novel #6? Could we hope of a book inspired by Baja in a near future?
Haha. Maybe. Someone asked me that at the launch. I blurted out that I was toying with the idea of writing a western and as soon as the worlds left my mouth I realized everyone was hoping to hear that it would take place in the Baja. I’ll have to rethink that one!
Before you go, can you share with us a snippet from your upcoming book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us?
Okay, here’s a short excerpt from the book – still untitled.
“Proberta and Brawn didn’t find their aging affected their sexual appetites. If anything, things between the sheets (or other places) got better as time passed. They grew to know each other’s bodies well and rather than getting bored with each other, they discovered new sweet spots and found different ways to pleasure one another. Just as they had done in the early days when Proberta stayed as a guest in Brawn’s hand-hewn hut after they had met, they’d sneak off to the woods to make soft, sensual love among the mossy beds of the forest floor. Other times, when they knew no one was around, Brawn would press his wife up against the kitchen counter, his burly arms holding her fast. He’d lift her skirts, lower her pantaloons and eagerly thrust inside her warm and waiting opening. Both enjoyed gentle lovemaking as much as the arousal from rough and tumble sex, and knew they would till their dying days.
It was one of these balmy afternoons when, after an intensely passionate roll in the hay, a knock came at the door. Brawn, hoping to get rid of whoever was there so he and his wife could continue with their lusty frolicking, went to answer. There stood a tall, handsome young man with a muscular jawline, large blue eyes and a tousle of very blond hair upon is head. He was dressed like a gentleman; tweed jacket and neckerchief, tall brown leather boots, woollen knickers, but his handshake was strong and firm, his palms and knuckles calloused from heavy work. It left Brawn wondering who this fellow was.
“Hello good chap. What are you doing in these parts, and what is it I can do for you?”
Where can people find out more about you?
My website www.madisonlakepages.com or Facebook, Twitter, and the rest. All the information you need is on my website. You can subscribe for the bi-monthly newsletters or to the daily blogs (which are really fun and interesting, I’m not kidding), or you can just bookmark me and check in every now and again.
Thank you Jane, we look forward to your next return to Baja, and to read your new book!
It is always my pleasure!
Check out Jane’s work on:
– poetry: Jane Mellor
– romantica novels: Madison Lake
– or her Amazon pages here: Delicate Availability: Prose and Poetry by Jane Mellor and here Madison Lake’s Amazon Page
Photo gallery from Jane’s book launch event at Zac’s Bar & Grill:
Interview by: Romana Lilic
Photography: LA76 Photography
Madison Lake is a client of LA76 Strategic design.