Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Melanie Dobson is the author of six novels including Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana and her latest Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa. Her novel The Black Cloister won the ForeWord Magazine Religious Fiction Book of the Year Award in 2009 and was nominated for an ACFW Book of the Year Award. Melanie lived in Iowa for several years where she became intrigued by the Amana Colonies including the quaint village of Homestead. More information about her story is at

When did you decide to be a writer?

I’ve been compelled to write ever since I began jotting down my thoughts into a bright red diary in second grade. During middle school, my fascination with Nancy Drew pushed me to start a number of “mysteries,” but I discovered early in life that endings are hard to write so I never finished these stories. After college, I pursued a career in public relations and journalism instead of fiction writing. I always thought I would start writing stories again when I was “older,” but it wasn’t until a few months before my thirtieth birthday that I realized I was indeed older. God renewed my passion for fiction, and a decade after the big 3-0, I’m still writing novels.

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?

Critiques keep me accountable when my writing gets lazy and help me see things I may have missed so before each of my novels are published, I ask a core group of talented writing and reading friends to critique my manuscript. I still have to decide which suggestions I should implement, but if the majority of these readers recommend I change a certain character or plot line, I almost always rework it.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa is set in one of my favorite places in the world--the quaint and very peaceful Amana Colonies. Here’s the storyline:

Desperate for work, former banker Jacob Hirsch rides the rails west from Chicago with his four-year-old daughter, Cassie. When a life-threatening illness strands the pair in Homestead, Iowa, the local Amana villagers welcome the father and daughter into their peaceful society. Liesel, a young Amana woman, nurses Cassie back to health, and the Homestead elders offer Jacob work. But Jacob’s growing interest in Liesel complicates his position in the Amanas. Will he fight to stay in the only place that feels like home, even if it means giving up the woman he loves? Or will Liesel leave her beloved community to face the outside world with Jacob and Cassie at her side?

Where did you get your inspiration for Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa?

I’ve been intrigued by the Amana Colonies and culture since I lived in Iowa during my high school years. There is no place else in the world like the Amanas so it was an honor for me to visit and write a story of what life would have looked like in these communal villages during the late 1800s. As I worked on the story, I contrasted the contented Amana people with the stress and worry following the financial Panic of 1893. The collision of these two very different worlds is the premise of Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa.

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?

Even though most of us can’t live in the Amana Colonies, this story was a good reminder to me to take a step back from the never ending craziness found in the world and savor the peace and joy that Jesus offers all who choose to follow Him.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

My next novel, Refuge on Crescent Hill, releases in April. This is a contemporary romantic suspense set in a dilapidated Ohio mansion—a mansion hiding a number of both past and present secrets. The Silent Order, my next romantic suspense novel through Summerside, releases this fall. This novel is about a Cleveland detective who hides out in Ohio’s Amish country during the late 1920s.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

A bestselling author once said in an interview that she was a horrible writer but a fabulous re-writer. When I watched this interview, I was thinking and talking about writing all the time but I wasn’t actually writing because I was terrified I would fail. And if I failed, my dream of becoming a writer would die.
Once I realized that my first draft would stink, I let go of my fears and began spewing random thoughts onto my computer. After I had my first draft on paper, I polished and reworked and rewrote until it was coherent. Even though I still get anxious each time I start a new book, I’m no longer as scared of the process.
Melanie is giving away a copy of her book, Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!


  1. I have family in Iowa, but have no knowledge of the Amana group. Would love to win and read your book. Please enter me. Thanks.
    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

  2. I was surprised by this information, too, Carmen! I love the Summerside books, so you can bet I'll be reading Melanie's to learn more.

  3. Please enter me I just love reading it is like the old commerical of another product "Books just take me awayyyy"



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