Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.
The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with CJ Darlington is Judy! Please email my assistant Amy with your mailing address. (email@example.com)
This week is Mel Starr is in the Spotlight! To win a copy of Mel’s latest book, A Trail of Ink, leave a comment on this post!
Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?
My wife Susan and I have been married 46 years in June! We have two daughters and seven grandchildren. I have several hobbies—too many. My wife and I like to travel with our travel trailer. I enjoy golf and fishing, and making things with my hands. I built a Pennsylvania flintlock rifle in 1976 to commemorate the bicentennial, and a few years ago I made a hammer dulcimer for my wife for Christmas. I enjoy model railroading, also, and any machine which moves has always held my interest—trains, planes, boats, cars. I am a volunteer docent at the Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum; the Air Zoo. But amid all that, I still make time for writing.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
I taught history for 39 years before becoming a published author, so historical fiction and non-fiction are my primary interests. As a teacher, I taught US and World History. My MA is in recent US and European History (1914 to 1950), but the longer I taught medieval history the more interested in that period I became.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I think all avid readers dream of one day becoming a writer, seeing their name in print. I planned to write after I retired from teaching, as there was not enough time to be a full-time father, husband, teacher, and write as well. Now that I am retired, I have more time to focus on—and enjoy—writing and publishing.
It’s difficult to say what inspired me to begin in the first place. I have seven grandchildren—they are always a source of inspiration. I like writing stories for them—and I like to think that my writing will help provide funds so that they may (if they wish) attend Christian colleges one day.
Like most writers, I suspect, there are days when I do not feel particularly inspired. I do not write every day, but when I do I will spend three to five hours at a time.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
It took me about three years after the completion of THE UNQUIET BONES (The First Chronicle of Hugh de Singleton) to find a publisher. I was turned down about 60 times!
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
The greatest help to me has been having someone “in my corner.” For me, that someone is a professor of English and creative writing at Spring Arbor University who asked me to speak to a class about the trials of a rookie writer. The professor then sent three chapters of my first book to a friend in the UK who was an editor with Monarch. I wouldn’t have gotten published without his referral. Having someone who wants to fight for you is important.
What are your biggest distractions?
My biggest distraction is reading other books! I read historical fiction, mysteries, and histories. I recently read a Tom Clancy novel that somehow escaped me when it was first released. I read a biography of Herod the Great a few weeks ago, and am currently re-reading Shelby Foote’s three-volume history of the Civil War.
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
I enjoy research into medieval life and devising plots. I detest typing the final manuscript.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
I recently submitted the manuscript for my fourth book, UNHALLOWED GROUND, and have begun #5, tentatively titled THE CHAPMAN’S COIN. I’m eager to see where Master Hugh is going next. For more info, please visit www.melstarr.net.