Monday, August 22, 2011

Melanie Milburne: Triumph and Tragedies

Do you ever look at other people and think how beautiful they are and how successful or popular, and wish you were like that? Or what about people who always seem to sail through life without any hassles? They never seem to have health issues, money worries, problems with their kids or pets or partners.

It's easy to look from the outside and feel envious but the truth is we all take turns at both triumph and tragedy. It's what life is all about: suffering and joy. It also is a good training ground for deeply emotional writing. What doesn't kill us makes us better writers.

I had a triumph at Romance Writers of Australia last weekend where I won the R*BY award (Romantic Book of the Year) in the Sweet/Traditional category for The Doctor's Rebel Knight. It was a huge thrill and a massive surprise as my Presents voice is the same in both Medicals and Moderns/Presents.

But as I walked to the podium I couldn't help thinking of the other nominees who had been hoping for a win as well. It was a very humbling moment to think my triumph was someone else's tragedy. I said as much in my acceptance speech.
But just as I was unpacking my trophy when I got home, my daughter-in-law got the news that her 17 year old dog Fifi had to be put down. We both went through a box of tissues together! I didn't feel like celebrating my win at all. Life got in the way as it nearly always does.

In my next Presents release His Poor Little Rich Girl, Alessandro Vallini has suffered a tragic health collapse he is desperate to keep hidden from the public. He is determined to keep his private pain out of the merciless hands of the press. Super-successful and rich beyond all measure, this is a set back that he is struggling to deal with on every level imaginable.
Rachel McCulloch, the young woman who spurned his heart-felt proposal in the past is equally determined to get inside the private fortress of his Positano villa to have a face to face meeting with him.

Alessandro is left with no choice to allow her access after she nearly faints in the heat outside, but he cleverly maintains his tragic secret until he has her agreement to stay a full month with him as his housekeeper.

This is a rag to riches tale with a difference. Both Alessandro and Rachel have suffered highs and lows and must forge a way forward to embrace life in all its complexities.

I've often wondered if all romance writers have a burning need to right the wrongs of life. Is that why we are attracted to the genre that guarantees a happy ever after? What do you think?

I will send a copy of His Poor Little Rich Girl to a random comment post.
Warmest wishes,
Melanie Milburne

***Kaelee is Melanie's winner for this post!  Congratulations, Kaelee!  Please email me at with your full name and address and we'll get a copy of the book in the mail to you.***


marybelle said...

That's a lovely thought - righting wrongs. I can see that. Mending hearts, linking lovers: I like it.

Sonali said...

Hi Malanie,

Whoohooo!!! CONGRATULATIONS on winning the R*BY award and wishing 'His Poor Little Rich Girl' every success.

I guess as a reader i love reading romances because after every tragedy there is a triumph and a happy ever after waiting at the no matter what all has gone wrong in the characters lives. Whereas in real life that is not the case. In real life the disasters and tragedies overshadow the the good that has happened, so that sometimes it feels as if the good was never there to begin with. I guess reading romances provides an escape into something in which there is a guaranteed happy ending.

Virginia C said...

Congratulations on your win at RWA!

So sorry to hear about Fifi--an older pet is so very dear, and such a great loss!

The bitter is what makes the sweet seem even sweeter. We savor that sweetness and use it as a buffer against harsh circumstances. When you look a the smooth surface of a beautiful, calm body of water, all seems serene. Yet, that water has hidden depths, is teeming with life below the surface, and can turn quite volatile in stormy weather. Isn't that just like life?

"His Poor Little Rich Girl" sounds emotional and involving, just my kind of read!

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Desere said...

Hi Melanie,

Congratz on your award you so deserve it !!!!

I adored your post and as always your question is so very intersting , I think that authors are attracted to the gendre of writing about the wrongs of life as to me it means that the author is aware that in real life not all goes according to plan and alot of up's and down's need to be faced to make it to a happy ending (it is not always a happy ending but in books anything is possible),the author telling and showing us in the book that problems need to be faced and sometimes taken head on to get to a happy ending is a set of valuable life lessons that I know to me has helped me in the past to face many situations, and the author knowing that their tales of right the wrong might or they hope to inspire a lesson or a fact that helps a reader I think is what might influence the author to continue to write about right the wrongs of life books, I am sure the author can also see from reviews etc that the book has made a impact on the readers and the gendre is obviously a good one.

Say if the character in the books needs to face a difficult situation at work , obviously is it going to entale the author writing about how the character finds the courage to do what they need to do , if this relates in any way (no matter how small) to the readers say work situation, the book will help you to understand that you need to find courage to be able to face and do what you need to do.

I hope I am making sense Melanie, thanks for a lovely post, a very facinating question for the day and thanks for the chance to win your wonderful sounding book.

All of the best

Kaelee said...

Congratulations on you R*BY. I'm sorry to hear about losing a much loved pet. That does put a damper on things even if it's not your own pet.

I do read romance for the happy ever afters but I think i enjoy the stories that have a lot of ups and downs in them. As you said that's what life is all about.

Melanie Milburne said...

Lovely comments as usual.
I love writing happy endings as it makes me feel I can put some things right in the fictional world that I can't do in the real world. It's cathartic for me to write about painful topics such as love and loss and yet sort it out for my characters in the end. Issues I have dealt with in my novels such as depression, injury, marriage/relationship breakdown, death/dying and life long regret are deeply emotional to us all. We might think we will escape them but at some point each one of us will have to face at least one if not all. A sobering thought!

traveler said...

What a wonderful post. Congratulations and best wishes. You have summed up all the trials and tribulations life throws at us. It is hard to escape tragedy but we are strong enough to overcome any adversity and soldier on. Your novel sounds compelling and special.

Leni said...

I like to read romance for the characters and to get another take on things. If it doesn't change the flow of the story I can see the concept of righting some of the wrongs. That can make a story richer and add more dept to the story.

Pat Cochran said...

So sorry about the loss of your DIL's dear pet! Focusing on the many years
spent with Fifi may help allay the pain
of losing her! It won't take it away,
but it might ease the distress.

Congratulations on winning the R*BY
Award! I've just added the book to my
to be purchased list for my next book
store run!

Pat Cochran

Melanie Milburne said...

Thanks for all the best wishes. Winning in one area of your life and losing in another is the story of humanity. I wish I could get all my little ducks in a neat row just once, however! Wouldn't it be nice to think everyone in your life is happy and sorted out, and all the work that needs to be done is done, all the phones calls that should be made done, all the visits conducted, all the emails sent... the list goes on and on! I can dream!

chey said...

Congratulations on your R*BY!
I think it'd nice to be able to right the world's wrongs in writing. I know I'd rather read something with a HEA.

Jo's Daughter said...


I definitely READ romances cause they make me feel better about life. Hearing so many tragic stories and knowing first hand that life aint a fairytale by far, I love to escape. To a world where the good always wins in the end and everybody lives HEA.

Melanie Milburne said...

It is so rewarding to know that my readers look for the same escape I search for in writing as well as reading. It makes the hard days so much more bearable knowing that what I write will lift someone's spirit or reignite someone's flagging courage. Thank you for all your great insights and comments. Writing is hard work but life is harder!

Alison said...

Walter Scott put it better than I could -
Twist ye, twine ye! even so,
Mingle shades of joy and woe,
Hope, and fear, and peace, and strife,
In the thread of human life

Virginia said...

I love the rags to riches stories so I would love to read this book. Thanks for sharing.


Michele L. said...

A big high five on your award! Your book sounds amazing! I love happy-ever-after endings. To me if a book ends depressing, I feel like I have wasted my time reading the book. So when I read a story, I like to be lifted up into another world if only for a few minutes, as an escape from everyday stress. Love romance!

Melanie Milburne said...

Thanks Michele,
Romance certainly has a wonderful place in the world of literature. It's feel-good properties let us forget about the tough stuff for a while.
Thanks for your best wishes!