Author Interview: Mel Sherratt / Marcie Steele
Today folks, I am happy to say we have another wonderful interview. I may be a bit addicted to giving these authors a thorough grilling. Today is the turn of Mel Sherratt aka Marcie Steele, who writes under two different genres using two different names. With a number of books under her belt and many more on the way, I am grateful this busy bee found the time to answer some questions for this fab interview.
Hello Mel / Marcie, thank you so much for agreeing to an interview, I am thrilled to have you with me.
It’s lovely to speak to you, Daniel, thank you for having me.
Firstly I would love for you to tell me about your jump from writing gritty crime dramas to the world of love and romance. It was the romance that you originally wrote in the first place wasn't it?
Yes, it was. I started writing romance in 1999 – well, my books aren’t the typical romance novels. They are more about friendship and love. Around the same time I began to watch the TV series Shameless, as well as starting to work as a housing officer for the local authority. As I like writing stories about the good and bad in people, I decided to create a series based on a fictional estate. But all my books are steeped in emotion, so writing as Marcie Steele was always something I wanted to do again in the future.
Where did the name 'Marcie Steele' come from?
When I first decided to self-publish (after twelve years of rejection) I didn’t want to publish under my own name in case it didn’t work. I’d lost nothing then and could happily go on trying to get a book deal with a publisher. But as Kindle began to take off in 2011, I decided to publish Stirred with Love under a pen name. As no one knew I was Marcie Steele, it really was as simple as I wanted a first name beginning with M so that I could sign off emails with my usual Mx and not forget who I was replying as… I then got out my book of baby names (which I use every time I write a new book) went through that and chose Marcie. I thought a single syllable surname would go well with Marcie so, after looking through the births, deaths and marriages in my local newspaper, I ‘became’ Marcie Steele.
In the future I want to write different genres. Do you think it's important for a writer who wants to publish in different genres to have a pen name?
I think it depends on how close the genres are. The books I write as Marcie Steele are totally different than the ones I write as Mel Sherratt. I think it would confuse my readers if I used Mel for everything, especially with all the ‘grittiness’ in my police procedurals. However, sometimes it’s good for an author to write books across two genres, keeping their name attached to a brand so a reader knows what to expect.
I think it very much depends on the individual author and their styles.
Do you have a typical writing day or do you write whenever you get a free moment? Tell me about your process.
I get up early every morning and start writing between seven and eight o’clock. I either write or edit for a few hours, in sprints of half an hour a time, and then once that part is done, I can move on to other things. I always do the writing first as that’s what my business is about. It’s so easy to get bogged down with replying to emails, writing interviews, and the promotional side on social media now that I have so many books published. Those bits can easily take over if I’m procrastinating too because I enjoy them.
However, a lot of the time, I’m working until late evenings trying to fit everything in. For instance, if I am copyediting, the only way I can do it is all day every day until I am done, which can take anything up to two weeks solid. After that, everything else has piled up and I have to catch up again. It’s a vicious circle at times but I do love it.
Do you find it easy to keep yourself motivated? You must be so busy writing so many wonderful books.
As I mentioned above, trying to fit it all in is sometimes the worst form of procrastination. But keeping motivated is all about planning. I plan out the next seven days work every Sunday morning – mostly it goes to schedule!
Can you tell me about your journey to publication? You started self-publishing originally didn’t you before signing with an agent and publisher? How did that all happen?
Yes, I always wanted a traditional book deal. Under my own name, I got so close to getting a few of my books published but at every final hurdle I was turned down because my writing was too cross genre between women’s fiction and crime thrillers (The Estate Series) So I wrote a police procedural, Taunting the Dead, and that was turned down because it was too similar to other authors. From the positive feedback I had received from some of the editors who had seen Taunting the Dead, I decided to go for it and self-publish that too.
As with Stirred with Love, published only the month before, it literally took off. At one point I had Taunting the Dead at number 3 in the overall UK Kindle chart and Stirred with Love at number 14 – but I couldn’t tell anyone as no one knew I was Marcie! I did have an agent when Taunting the Dead hit the charts but I decided to part company with her shortly afterwards. I was on my own for a while but then I signed with Madeleine Milburn.
You seem to have a wonderful support system in your publishers. What is it like to work with the team at Bookouture?
Daniel, it has been, and is, fabulous to work with the team at Bookouture. I feel so lucky – knowing Kim and Keshini for so long, it’s great to be working with them now. And I like that they are small and dynamic, and making waves. Publishing is all about being seen, as well as good books, and they certainly know how to do that. I’m really looking forward to the next few months
You have two further novels lined up as Marcie Steele, That's What Friends Are For, and Broken Heels. What can you tell me about these?
Stirred with Love is based around a coffee shop, That’s What Friends are For is set around an indoor market, and Broken Heels is in a shoe shop. They are all about friends who not only work together but also are good friends out of work, so all based on problems we come across in life as we strive to be happy, I suppose. And that’s all I’m saying for now…
What do your family and loved ones think of your success?
It was a long time coming but they are all very proud. I‘m sure a lot of friends used to get fed up of me saying that I was writing another book, and another and another without being published, but I was determined to get there eventually. Now, it’s incredibly liberating when someone I haven’t seen for a while says to me ‘how many books have you got out now?’ and I can say I’m writing number eleven.
If you actually get any time to yourself, what do you like to do to unwind?
I’m going to sound very sad now but because I love what I do, I tend to either read marketing or business books to help me learn and gain knowledge (there is always something I don’t know) – or I read novels from my many author friends. Other than that, I love going on long walks with my fella and my dog, Dexter and just chilling out in general.
The fun stuff
What is your favourite TV show right now?
Oh no – you would pick this time of year! I am an avid X Factor fan. I always root for the underdog in my books and having faced years of rejection, I love seeing people doing well and growing week by week in the competition. And even though they are sometimes grating, I’m a sucker for a sob story.
Who is your ultimate celebrity crush?
Female is Olivia Colman who I met last year at Harrogate Crime Writing Festival. She went home with a signed copy of my crime novel, Taunting the Dead! I shall dine on that for years.
Who are your favourite authors?
I adore Rowan Coleman, Lisa Jewell, Fanny Blake, Adele Parks and Marian Keyes.
What is your preferred form of writing fuel? Tea? Cake? Coffee? Etc.
Cake – I’m all about the cake!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions Marcie/Mel. You are bloomin'' marvellous.
My pleasure, Daniel!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I'm Mel Sherratt but I also write under the name of Marcie Steele. I'm a romantic at heart and have always wanted to write about characters who were not necessarily involved in the darker side of life. Coffee, cakes and friends are three of my favourite things, hence Stirred with Love for my first book writing as Marcie Steele. My second, That's What Friends are For, will be published in December 2015.
FOLLOW MEL / MARCIE