Melinda Hammond was born in Bristol. She left school at sixteen to work in companies as varied as stockbrokers, marine engineers, biscuit manufacturers and even a quarrying company, but never lost her love of history. Her first historical novel, Fortune’s Lady, was published by Robert Hale in 1980. She has now published more than twenty novels, over a dozen of them as Melinda Hammond, winning the Reviewers Choice award in 2005 from Singletitles.com for Dance for a Diamond and the Historical Novel Society’s Editors Choice in 2006 for Gentlemen in Question. She writes under the pen name Sarah Mallory for Harlequin Mills & Boon. She has won the the RNA’s RoNA Rose Award in 2012 and 2013. Visit her here.
NAW- Tell us about your book, Never Trust a Rebel. How did you get the idea for it? What is it about?
Never Trust a Rebel is my latest Sarah Mallory novel, published by Harlequin Historicals. The ideas came from reading about the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, when supporters of the Catholic James Stuart came very close to deposing George II. My hero, Drew Castlemain, is only fifteen at the time of the Rebellion and follows his Scottish relatives into the fight to return James to the throne of England. Drew is young and idealistic and sees only the glamour of the cause, but the Rebellion is crushed, Drew is branded a traitor and has to flee to France, where he spends the next ten years living on his wits. My story starts in 1755, when Drew returns to England. He has promised his friend that he will escort his daughter Elyse to her future husband. Drew and Elyse are attracted to one another, but Elyse is engaged and Drew has nothing to offer her, not even his name. My story is about how they overcome the difficulties to reach a happy ending (which, of course, is essential to a romance!)
NAW- What drew you to historical romance genre? How do you research for your books?
I have always loved history, ever since I was at school. I am not a historian and rarely go back to original sources. I prefer to rely on experts to do the hard work for me! However I do read lots of history books, visit old houses and museums etc. I have been reading and researching for decades now but there is always something new to learn.
NAW- What can a novice reader expect from Never Trust a Rebel?
It is a historical romantic adventure, with a passionate love story , including some sex scenes. With all my books I try to make the background as historically accurate as possible, but it isn’t a history lesson! I hope my readers will be carried away into the story.
NAW- Tell us about your other works.
I have written over a dozen books now for Harlequin, writing as Sarah Mallory, but I began writing as Melinda Hammond and have published about 17 books under that name, too. They are mostly Georgian or Regency romances (many with a strong element of adventure) although two of them – Moonshadows and Casting Samson – are dual time novels, where I have a modern day love story intertwined with a historical romance.
NAW- You’ve done pretty well writing under your pseudonym as well. Why did you decide to adopt a pen name?
I adopted the Sarah Mallory pen name when I started writing for Harlequin because I wanted to keep those books separate from my Melinda Hammond novels. A separate brand, if you like. Sarah Mallory novels are all passionate romances where the story concentrates upon the hero and heroine. They have a fairly high sensuality level – i.e. there are sex scenes! I write more varied books as Melinda Hammond although most are what is termed “sweet” romances where the hero and heroine never go beyond a kiss. The level of sensuality depends upon what the story demands, for some characters to go beyond a kiss would be inappropriate
NAW- Tell us about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing?
When I’m not writing I am thinking up more stories! I love the theatre – especially musicals, and of course I read a lot. I also enjoy walking my dog on the moors around my home.
NAW- Please name your favourite romance writers. Are there any who you’d like to name as an inspiration?
All-time favourite has to be Georgette Heyer. Her books are so full of wit and energy. She was definitely my inspiration. And of course there is Jane Austen. I studied her works at school and fell in love with them.
NAW-What are you currently reading?
The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley, it’s about a young woman who has a gift of seeing into the past when she touches an object. It is a love story but with lots of history in it, too.
NAW- What will you be working on next?
I am working on a story set around the Battle of Waterloo – this is to coincide with the bicentenary of the battle in 2015. My heroine is a very independent lady, a radical, who meets and falls in love with an artillery officer. I am loving all the research for this, and can’t wait to see it in print!