Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of almost twenty historical romance, suspense, and time-slip novels including Catching the Wind, Chateau of Secrets, and Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor. Three of her novels have won Carol Awards; The Black Cloister won the Foreword Magazine Religious Fiction Book of the Year, and Catching the Wind won the 2018 Audie Award for Inspirational Fiction.
Melanie is the former corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and owner of the publicity firm Dobson Media Group. When she isn’t writing, Melanie enjoys teaching both writing and public relations classes at George Fox University.
Melanie and her husband, Jon, have two daughters. They live near Portland, Oregon, and love to hike and camp in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and along the Pacific Coast. Melanie also enjoys exploring ghost towns and abandoned homes, helping care for kids in her community, and reading stories with her girls.
Visit Melanie online at http://www.melaniedobson.com.
Welcome to the blog, Melanie. I’m so honored to have you here today. Congratulations on your newest release, Hidden Among the Stars.
What inspired you to write Hidden Among the Stars? Can you tell us about the research that went into writing this novel?
My husband and I backpacked across Europe to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary, and our favorite stop was the ancient town and alpine lake called Hallstatt. On this trip, we discovered that this region in Austria’s Alps is often called the “Devil’s Dustbin” because the Nazis retreated through here near the end of World War II, throwing all sorts of valuable items in the lakes. Because of the water’s depth and the many hiding places in the underwater forests, caves, and shifting sands, people continue searching for World War II artifacts here today. After learning this history, I began digging through mounds of old books and interviews to create my own story about two people—characters in the past and present—searching for a lost treasure in Lake Hallstatt.
How fascinating! So much incredible history to be discovered.
You explore fear, evil, and God’s sovereignty in your novel. How do you hope readers might relate these themes to their own lives?
When we experience tragedy, many of us ask where God is in the midst of this pain. Both the past and contemporary characters in Hidden Among the Stars struggle to understand where God was during the Holocaust and where God is today when people are hurting. As I wrote this story, I was reminded that this life we’re living is a battle, the world around us a battlefield, and as readers step into the fictional journey, I hope they are reminded that God doesn’t run away when they are suffering. He is right in the midst of their pain, and in the end, no matter what evil does in attempt to destroy this world, the peace and love and holiness of Christ will prevail.
Yes! A perfect – and needed – message!
I love learning about the research trips authors take. What would you say is one of your favorite memories from one of those trips?
Every research trip is a grand adventure! I’ve loved touring places like Austria, Holland, and England in search of a story. One of my favorite memories was spending the night with several girlfriends in the French chateau where Chateau of Secrets was set. Together we wandered along the misty River Vire, imagining what it must have been like for my protagonist to help Allied airmen even as the Germans occupied her home. Another one of my favorite memories was during my trip to Liberty, Indiana to explore homes used on the Underground Railroad. I climbed up hidden stairs into an old attic, crawled into eaves behind secret panels, and discovered the neatest hiding place in an elegant home with dual stained glass windows—one on the interior wall and one that had been mirrored on the outside with a sliver of room in-between.
That sounds amazing!
Can you share with us a piece of writing advice that has made a difference in your career?
Don’t sweat the first draft! When I first started writing fiction, I wanted my early drafts to be well-written and the editor-inside-me killed my creativity. Over the years, I’ve learned to pour out my first draft and then clean up the many spills on the next version.
If you could choose one Bible verse as a key theme for Hidden Among the Stars, which would it be?
“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1 (NIV). Throughout the writing of Hidden Among the Stars, God taught me once again that no matter what happens in this life, I don’t have to be afraid!
That’s one of my favorites! Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any upcoming projects you can share with us?
I just returned from the Netherlands and am finishing a time-slip novel based on an incredible rescue mission that happened in Amsterdam during World War II. The heart of this story is about identity—who we are in Christ, no matter the circumstances—and I hope it will capture again the power of seemingly ordinary people doing extraordinary things to fight evil and rescue those in need.
I can’t wait to read it, Melanie! It’s been so great having you join us today. Have a blessed fall! We’ll be watching for your next book. 🙂
Readers, let’s talk about time-slip novels… Have you read one recently? If so, share the title below!
*In case you didn’t already know, time-slip novels include two different time periods and there are sooooo many good ones out there! 😉