Interview with THE THINGS I DO FOR YOU author M. Malone

As an author of contemporary romance featuring multicultural characters that don’t quite fit into the typical “check here” box, I’m a huge fan of Minx Malone. Recently I had a chance to get the skinny on The Alexanders and a chance to connect with this hugely successful indie author. Welcome M. Malone to the Contemporary Romance Café.

Tell us a little about you, including three things people might be surprised to know about you.

MMalone_headshotWell, I’ve lived in Virginia all my life so I’m a bit of a southern belle. I’ve always hated this part of interviews because I’m not the outgoing type at all. I actually met my husband at a friend’s dorm in college because he was so intrigued that I’d brought a book along. LOL Who brings a book to read when they’re supposed to be hanging out? He just had to talk to me after that. We’ve now been married for twelve years.

One thing most people don’t know is that I have a business background. I have a Master’s degree in Accounting which has been surprisingly helpful to me in managing my writing career.

How did you first begin writing stories? Did you always plan to be a writer?

I wrote my first novel (a very rough and terrible draft of One More Day) when I was in graduate school. It was just an experiment, to see if I could do it. The first scene (no longer in the book, because it was that awful) was so suspenseful and exciting to write that my heart was racing when I was finished. That was the first time I’d been truly excited about something in a long time. I’m not athletic so I was just thrilled that I might actually be good at something non-school related. I wrote and rewrote a couple of other horrible drafts over the years but each one taught me about how to tell a story. I never thought of being a novelist when I was young. It seemed way too far-fetched!

When did you get your first break in publishing? What lessons did you learn from your early publishing experiences?

Teasing Trent by M. MaloneI’ve been publishing romance since 2007. My first books were erotic romances and I fell in love with the genre before I even knew what it was. Unfortunately my sales were pretty lackluster. My “big break” didn’t happen until self-publishing became possible through Kindle Direct and I was able to use my business background to market and sell my own books.

When did you make the move to indie publishing, and how did you know it was the right move for you?

My contemporary series The Alexanders has a lot of elements that big publishers don’t know what to do with, such as multicultural/multiracial characters, a slightly country setting and lots of non-romance careers. None of my heroes are billionaires :) In fact, my heroines tend to be quite successful instead. A publisher might not know what to do with books like these but I do. The first book in the series has sold over 60,000 copies in the past six months. It was a huge gamble but it paid off. I knew I’d made the right decision when I was able to quit my corporate job and write full-time last year.

How many books have you published so far? 

The series has two novels so far and a novella prequel. Teasing Trent (the prequel), One More Day (Book 1) and The Things I Do for You (Book 2). The 3rd book in the series will release in early August and it’s entitled He’s the Man.

Your current series is The Alexanders. Tell us a little about the family and what inspired you to write about them.

The Alexanders are inspired by my extended family and friends. They’re a friendly, loud but welcoming bunch that considers family the most important thing in their lives. They also believe that family is about more than just who you are blood related to. Family is what you make it. One of my favorite quotes from One More Day is by Julia Alexander, the matriarch of the family. She states that “family is about so much more than a blood bond. Family is about the heart.”

One More Day by M. MaloneThe other unique thing about the Alexanders is that they are a multiracial group. Like a lot of families of color, they have relatives of many different races. The Alexander sons are all quite different in appearance. Bennett, the oldest, is very light skinned with green eyes, Jackson and Nick are both brown skinned with thick curly hair and Elliot is dark skinned. There is a wide variety of ethnicities in the friends and side characters in this series, as well (Matt and Mara are half-Hispanic, for example).

It was important to me to write about the world that I see. The Washington D.C. area and the part of Virginia where I’m originally from are quite diverse. I wanted to read books that show the world I know. Most publishers want your book to fit a “slot”. My characters don’t fit slots, they defy them. That’s exactly as I like it.

How many books will there be in the series?

Well, the series has started to expand quite a bit since the original books! I was originally envisioning books for all four of the Alexander brothers. However, the fans have requested books for so many other characters and I’m honored to tell their stories as well. So far the next books will be:

He’s the Man #3 (Matt & Penny ~ August 2013)

All I Need is You #4 (Eli & Kaylee ~ January 2014)

Say You Will #5 (Trent & Mara ~ May 2014)

I don’t have dates for any of the other books but I plan to do Bennett’s story as #6 and possibly even Sam’s story (Raina’s hunky bodyguard) as #7

I loved Book 1, One More Day. It’s a fun, sexy read, but there are some intense, suspense-filled moments, too. Tell us a little about the premise for Book 2, The Things I Do for You.

The story picks up right where One More Day left off. Raina is visiting with her sister for lunch and she accidentally leaves behind some brochures she received from her doctor. Nick finds one of them and mistakenly assumes it must belong to his brother and Ridley. The catch is the brochures are for a sperm bank.

In one of the most hilarious scenes, Nick approaches Jackson and Ridley and offers to “help them out”. I was actually laughing out loud writing it because he’s trying to offer help delicately and they are essentially snickering at him. He’s so charmingly embarrassed throughout the whole thing.

Ridley finally puts him out of his misery and tells him the brochures aren’t hers. Once he realizes that Raina, the woman he’s been secretly in love with for months, is trying to have a baby, he is determined to help her.

How would you describe your main characters, Raina Winters and Nicholas Alexander, and their effect on each other?

The Things I Do for You by M. MaloneThese two have a love/hate relationship that the readers are introduced to in Book 1. Raina is the prickliest woman ever so their journey to finding love and commitment was a challenge and a joy to write. One of the main themes of the book is that love isn’t always easy and sometimes it is actually hard to love. Raina is very hard to love but Nick doesn’t give up on her, even when most other men would have. He knows that Raina didn’t see love modeled growing up but he had the best example in his parents. He is determined to show her how strong love truly is. One of the most highlighted quotes from the book on Amazon is one of Nick’s lines.

“When I say I’m going to do something, I do it. When I make a promise, I keep it. And when I tell a woman I want her to be my wife, I mean forever.”

What is your favorite scene in The Things I Do for You?

One of my favorite scenes is after they’ve been trying to get pregnant and their 3rd try is a failure. I know a few people who’ve struggled with infertility and I can’t even come close to imagining their pain. Having children is such a deeply personal issue, tied very much to our innate biology as a male or a female. It’s not uncommon for people to feel like they are somehow “failing” or “not woman/man enough” if they can’t have children.

It was really difficult to write the scene where Raina gives up. She’s tearing down the teddy bear trim in the nursery and throwing all the baby clothes she washed and folded on the ground. She’s devastated that she’s not pregnant but she’s also mad at herself for getting her hopes up. Raina doesn’t believe that good things happen to good people. In her experience it’s much the opposite so she’s very cynical.

Nick has to literally pick her up and take care of her. This is when he shows his true heart and intentions to her. This is when he proves that he actually meant his marriage vows. It was a hard scene to write but it captures so perfectly who these two people are: the cynical realist who is scared to hope and the optimistic dreamer who is determined to hope enough for the both of them.

Tell us about your writing process. How do you approach a book and where do you do your best writing?

First of all, I LOVE my bed. Unfortunately, I love it so much that I can’t write there too often. Otherwise, I will be asleep! I have a small library in my house where I can set up my laptop and write while surrounded by my books.

I love using technology to help me write efficiently. I use the writing software Scrivener which allows you to set up the chapters and scenes so I can outline the story beforehand. Then I go back and fill in the scenes in whatever order I want. Sometimes I see the scenes toward the end most vividly so I’ll do those first. I just go with the flow.

I also jot ideas on my phone in the middle of the night (much to my husband’s annoyance) and I use an old fashioned marble notebook to outline whenever I get stuck. There’s something about the scratch of pen on paper that helps when I get writer’s block.

What can we expect from Minx Malone once The Alexanders series is done?

I have a really fun series that I plan to debut in 2014 about the employees of a sex toy company. That will be a really sassy erotic romance series with a little more spice than the Alexanders. I also write paranormal romance so who knows? You might see some urban fantasy from me soon, too.

CONTEST

M. Malone is offering a print copy of either of the books in the Alexander series – One More Day (contains Teasing Trent) or The Things I Do for You. Enter by commenting below or following her on Twitter.

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