We’ve arrived at the end of the month again already, can you believe it? And we are now only four weeks away from Christmas! I think it is time to start the Christmas celebrations and tonight I will be having my first festive Friday Night Drinks with Mills and Boon author… Melissa Oliver.
Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?
It’s getting close to the Christmas season, so I’m going to be indulgent and go for an Expresso Martini, or a Bailey’s White Russian.
Yes, it’s definitely cocktail season. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
We’re going all out, Julie, so I’ll be taking you to the Connaught Bar in London, with it’s elegant Cubist wood-paneling, huge smoky mirrors and signature Martinis! We could pretend we’re in a James Bond film or something!
If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
I would go with a couple who sizzled on the big screen together, oozed elegance but are sadly no longer with us- Peter O’ Toole and Audrey Hepburn- they would definitely keep us entertained with their stories and add a dash of glamour to the place.
So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
I have just completed my latest historical romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon, which kicks off a new series set in Medieval London. I’m really excited about it as both the hero and heroine are quite different from any characters that I have written before and the backdrop of London is really exciting- there’s something quite familiar and accessible about it but obviously with it being set in the 13th century, quite different as well.
What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?
Like many writers, my biggest challenge was finally getting published. It can be soul destroying getting those rejection emails but once you get that offer of a book deal, it more than makes up for it. And I’d say that my proudest moment was winning the prestigious RNA Joan Hessayon Award in 2020 for my debut, The Rebel Heiress and the Knight (Notorious Knights book 1). It was definitely the cherry on top after being offered said book deal with Harlequin Mills and Boon. I remember walking around in a daze for a few days afterwards wondering if it really had happened or whether my active imagination had run riot!
What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!
I’m not going to deny that the lure of having a book adapted for film or tv wouldn’t be amazing and of course if that opportunity came my way, I’d grab it with both hands. In the meantime, I want to develop as a writer, continue to enjoy what I’m doing, write books that captivate and are really, really, really successful, reaching more readers all over the world. In other words, I would love for my books to become bestsellers.
What are have planned that you are really excited about?
I really enjoyed writing my latest book, The Knight’s Convenient Alliance– (Notorious Knights book 4), because …
1) It’s a Medieval romance with plenty of intrigue, adventure, drama, set in King Henry III reign.
2)The leads first meet in book 3 of the Notorious Knights series.
3) They have both been marred by tragedy in the past.
4) The hero is an Agent of the Crown.
5) There’s lots of banter between the leads- Brida O’Conaill is far too serious and Tom Lovent can’t help but tease her.
It was a lot of fun to write but having said that, this book marks the end of the Notorious Knights series, which also meant having to say goodbye to many characters from previous books- it was a little sad but I’m really happy where I ended it.
I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
I love Italy- it’s filled with so much history, culture, art & beauty, not to mention incredible food! My favourite places include, Rome, Tuscany, Venice and the Amalfi coast.
I also love places of significant historical interest- Pompeii, The Acropolis, the Pyramids of Giza, the Colosseum and Persepolis have been some of the most amazing places I’ve been to and following in that vain, I would love to see the lost city of Petra in Jordan. The Red Rose city looks so romantic, so breathtakingly majestic, I really can’t wait to see it in person. One day…
Jordan is also really high on my bucket list. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.
I used to make made-to-measure wedding dresses which was something I really enjoyed doing at the time. I particularly loved to find out the stories of how and where my clients met their fiancés. So yes, I’ve always been a romantic at heart!
Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
I love Georgette Heyer’s Regencies. They are so witty, so well-crafted with endearing characters, sparkling dialogue and amusing plot lines. She’s considered to be one of the first historical romance authors and her books have classic timeless quality which I return to again and again. If I had to pick one (which would definitely change depending on my mood, by the way) I would go with Sylvester or maybe Frederica but then there’s The Grand Sophy and not forgetting Cotillion…
Endowed with rank, wealth and elegance, Sylvester, Duke of Salford, is ready to find a bride.
His pursuit of a partner sets him on course to Phoebe Marlow, a young lady who is far more concerned with riding than sewing or beautiful clothes.
With Phoebe struggling to meet her family’s demands of gentility and poise, a potential match with Sylvester is exceedingly advantageous. So, it is very intriguing indeed when a visit from her potential suitor causes Phoebe to flee her home.
When the pair meet again and an unexpected adventure ensues, Sylvester comes to realise that there is much more to Phoebe than her reputation affords . . .
So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
I always know my limits so never drink to the point that I would have a hangover the following morning but one tip is to alternate your drinks with fruit juice or water and failing that, a full English breakfast with lots of tea does the trick.
After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
Spa and afternoon tea with friends. Long walks with my husband, our daughters and cocker spaniel Mr Darcy, followed by a pub lunch with log fires. And finally then cuddled up on the sofa for a movie night with big buckets of pop-corn to share.
Melissa, I have had the best time chatting to you this evening, thank you so much for joining me.
Melissa’s latest book for Mills and Book Historical is The Knight’s Convenient Alliance (Notorious Knights, Book 4) was published yesterday in the UK and Australia and is out in the USA on 30 November. You can buy a copy here.
The only man who’s tempted her…
Now poses as her husband!
When an injured knight arrives on Brida O’Conaill’s doorstep, the village assumes he’s her long-lost husband. But her only previous connection to Sir Thomas Lovent was an intense shared moment at a tournament years ago. Brida maintains the pretence while she nurses him, yet once he’s back to full, virile health, she cannot reveal Thomas is not her husband – or that she’s unmarried! – when everyone is expecting them to act like man and wife…
Melissa Oliver is from south-west London where she writes historical romance novels. She lives with her lovely husband and daughters, who share her passion for decrepit, old castles, palaces and all things historical.
Melissa is the WINNER of The Romantic Novelist Association’s Joan Hessayon Award for new writers 2020 for her debut, The Rebel Heiress and the Knight.
When she’s not writing she loves to travel for inspiration, paint, and visit museums & art galleries.