Madeline Martin is a New York Times and International Bestselling author of historical fiction and historical romance. Her latest novel The Keeper of Hidden Books is a heartwarming story about the power of books to bring people together based on the real life heroic efforts of Warsaw’s librarians during WWII. It is a BookBub pick for best historical fiction of summer 2023.
HISTORICAL HAPPY HOUR
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The Keeper of Hidden Books by Madeline Martin
In this engaging episode, Jane interviews Madeline Martin, the author of “The Keeper of Hidden Books.” They discuss the inspiration behind the novel, set in Warsaw during WWII, focusing on secret libraries and the resilience of people amidst adversity. Madeline shares insights into her extensive research process, including a visit to Warsaw and reading over 100 books, and how she intricately plots her stories. She also reflects on her shift from writing historical romance to historical fiction, her writing routine, and offers advice for aspiring authors.
- [00:00:00] Introduction and overview of Madeline Martin’s new book, “The Keeper of Hidden Books.”
- [00:01:11] Discussion on the inspiration and premise of the novel.
- [00:02:39] Characters Zofia and Janina, and their experiences during the Nazi occupation.
- [00:05:08] Incorporation of a secret book club and banned books in the novel.
- [00:08:41] Madeline’s trip to Warsaw for research and her overall research process.
- [00:12:09] Balancing historical facts and fiction in storytelling.
- [00:15:05] Discussion on the Gray Ranks and their role in WWII.
- [00:19:10] Melanie’s writing process and plotting techniques.
- [00:21:29] Favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process.
- [00:22:26] Advice for aspiring authors.
- [00:23:33] Design process for the book cover.
- [00:24:36] Preview of Madeline’s upcoming work, “The Book Lovers Library.”
- [00:26:25] Potential translation of the book into Polish.
- [00:27:00] Melanie’s language skills and their utility in research.
- [00:30:04] Current books being read by Jane and Melanie.
- [00:32:16] Discussion on social media and TikTok.
- [00:34:31] Transition from writing historical romance to historical fiction.
- [00:36:24] Closing remarks and future plans.
[00:00:00] Jane: Hello, everyone. Good evening. I am here with Madeline Martin to celebrate her launch eve for her new book, The Keeper of Hidden Books. Yay! Happy launch eve! It comes out on Tuesday, August 1st, like all books do. Every book comes out on Tuesday. And I’m going to give you a quick intro, Madeline, and then jump into questions.
Sound good? Thank you for being here.
[00:00:25] Melanie: Oh, thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited about this. I’ve been looking forward to chatting with you.
[00:00:29] Jane: Same. I know because you’re one of those writers that I feel like we should know each other, but we’ve never actually met.
[00:00:34] Melanie: So this is so much fun getting to do this.
[00:00:38] Jane: Madeline Martin is a New York Times USA Today and internationally best selling author of historical fiction and historical romance with books that have been translated into over 25 different languages. She lives in sunny Florida with her amazing fiancé, two sweet daughters, and one very spoiled cat.
We have a couple of those. Her latest novel, The Keeper of Hidden Books, is based Warsaw’s secret libraries during World War II. It releases August 1st and is available for pre order now. Welcome, Madeline.
[00:01:09] Melanie: Thank you so much. It’s so great to be here.
[00:01:11] Jane: So talk to me, if you want to hold up the book again this, I loved the premise of this story and of course I did because it’s a story about books and how books save people and give people hope in trying times.
Talk to me about how you discovered this story and came up with the premise for the novel.
[00:01:30] Melanie: So I was, I knew I wanted to write a book about Poland because my heritage is Polish. And now I realize because my family’s from Poznan and I was writing about Warsaw. So now I realize that’s like saying that my family is from North America, but like Canada and not America because it’s so completely different.
Now I know that after all my research. But so I was actually halfway done writing the book when I found these incredible journals of Morisot’s public librarians and all the amazing things that they were doing to save books from looting and destruction to open these secret libraries and have these hidden warehouses and everything.
And and I threw out the entire book, even though I had a looming deadline. It was terrifying and I had to ask for an extra month extension, which actually worked out really well because it put my release date from the 4th of July to August 1st and August 1st is the day of the Warsaw Uprising.
So it really worked out very well. Yes, like serendipitous, right? Exactly. Which you know, in the writing world, we’re like never supposed to move a deadline. So unfortunately you know, I had to in this case, but it worked out very well. Thank goodness.
[00:02:39] Jane: So yeah, I know that feeling. So the story centers around two characters.
Is Zofia, am I pronouncing it right? Zofia?
[00:02:48] Melanie: So I will tell you that I pretty much am pronouncing it in my head the way that I think that it sounds. So I think it’s Zofia and Yanina. I’m actually waiting until my book is narrated and I’m like, I’ll just see what Saskia does with it. And then I’m going to go with that from then on.
[00:03:03] Jane: Oh, she’s an excellent narrator. She’s amazing. Yeah. So, so Zofia and Janina, two very dear, dear friends childhood friends, grow up together and have a shared love of books and reading. Janina is Jewish, Zofia is not, so their experiences during the occupation when Warsaw is occupied by the Nazis is very different as a result.
And so how did you decide to come up with these two characters and center the story around and are they based on any real women? But I know that’s like three questions in one.
[00:03:35] Melanie: You’re fine. Well, I’ll start by saying they’re not based on any real women. But I have taken a lot of the things that happen in this book are taken from firsthand accounts and sort of like, you know, amalgamated into an individual character.
So even though they aren’t individually one person they really are sort of a compendium of people who really had lived back then. And and you know, as far as like their, their differences in the war, you know I mean, Janina ends up going into the Warsaw Ghetto and, and Zofia ends up on the Polish side.
And you know, for me, it was really important to do that because I had wanted to showcase the Polish side, but I feel like you can’t really talk about the Polish side. Without delving into the atrocities that happened in the ghetto. I feel like it really would just do such a disservice to what they had to endure.
And so and so I had these two friends and initially it was going to be a dual POV. And I already felt like going from, you know, 1939 to 1945 was like trying to put lightning into a jar. And so especially with two POVs. And then when I found all the information on the libraries. That’s when I realized, you know, this is too big for two POVs, and I had to, like, literally redo everything.
Because, you know, it’s a big difference when you have two POV characters to one, like, they offset one another, and then you get rid of one, and now you have to, like, make some adjustments on that main one.
[00:05:00] Jane: This is a lot of work for a month.
[00:05:02] Melanie: It was, oh my gosh, like, I mean, Pulled the sweater and like the whole thing came unraveled and then I lost the yarn.
I mean, it was, yeah.
[00:05:08] Jane: I, I always compare that like writing like that to a thread, like one threads off and then the whole thing can fall. Yeah. It’s totally true. Yeah, absolutely. . So it’s not, this isn’t a spoiler to say that. One of the aspects of the story that I loved the, the girls started a secret book club that they first called the Anti Hitler Book Club.
Later the, the name changed. Of course I had to look up again like what? all the books the Nazis banned and it was an incredible list that kept growing. And I love this aspect of the story and tell me what inspired you to incorporate this secret club.
[00:05:44] Melanie: So when I do research for my books, you know, I try to dig past just the particular time period that I’m writing in.
So I like to look at the economic, social, and political history of the country. And that’s when I realized that Poland really spent literally centuries trying to be free. You had like a hundred, over 120 years that were under Russian occupation. They had just been given their freedom after the treaty of Versailles, after the great war in 1918, and had just celebrated 20 years of independence before the Nazis came in.
And, and so, you know, Zofia and her friends were really sort of born in this like little. pocket of freedom that nobody else that was alive could even remember having been in. And so as a result, you know, they had been, they had grown up being told these incredible stories of bravery and patriotism, and they all were just like, you know, fierce with it.
And so I thought, because usually I do write a little bit gentler characters, but you know, I thought, This character, she’s going to be defiant and she’s going to be rebellious and she’s going to be fierce because that’s what that’s what this history calls for. And and so then of course she’s a book lover because I’m a book lover so I like to write about book lovers.
And I thought, you know what, what would a rebellious book lover do with somebody who’s banning books in one country and knocking on your door. And I’m thinking. She would totally read those banned books and what better way to experience them than with your friends. So that’s how I got started. I love that.
[00:07:13] Jane: I loved you know, you mentioned some of the books that were banned. And of course, like Helen Keller’s autobiography, I didn’t realize that there were some that I was like, Surprise. All is quiet on the Western front. I think all of Fitzgerald’s books, right? Yeah. Yeah. It was really interesting that, you know, some of them I was like, really, but yeah, I mean,
[00:07:33] Melanie: yeah, it was, I will say it was so much research to find the right books because you know, with each book that, that they read to, it sort of Zofia.
And so you have to have the poignant aspect of it. Yeah. You have to make sure that the book was translated into Polish around that time, and you also have to make sure that the book hadn’t had actually been banned. And so it was really, it was a, it was a labor of love, to be sure.
[00:07:59] Jane: That’s tricky because you want to pick books for the book club that are thematic, thematic to the wider story.
And then of course, I mean, I’ve read, read some of those books ages ago. I’m sure you had to reread all of the books. Like all of these books. So that was really interesting. And that actually brings me to my next question because you did an astonishing amount of research for this book. And I love, of course, I’m such a nerd with this stuff.
Loved reading your author notes. It, the research included a two week trip to Warsaw with your mom. Which must have been amazing. So yeah. I mean, tell me about your trip and what your, and your whole research process for this book overall.
[00:08:41] Melanie: So you know, it’s funny because like I’ve, I’ve been able, I’ve been very fortunate to travel to the places that I’ve written about.
So when my mom found out that I was going to Poland, she said, Oh, dibs. So she got it before anybody else could lay claim. And I, and she was such a trooper too, because I mean, I, I really went on some long tours. I had this amazing private tour guide. And at that point in my research, I really had a laundry list of things that I was like, you know, I have some information on these things, but I need more, you know, can you help out with that?
And so she said, I, some of them, yes. And other ones, let me research and get back with you. And so she took us on these amazing tours that lasted anywhere from eight hours to 16 hours. And my mom was a trooper and she hung in there like the entire time. Every time we would go to museums, she would sit there for hours with me.
I mean, she did, she was amazing. But you know, it. It really was just so incredible getting to go there and I actually had a reader that had just finished reading the keeper of hidden books and she was messaging me on Facebook and she said, she said that she wanted to look up the ghetto wall after reading about it in my book.
And she said, when I looked it up, it was. Exactly the way that I had it in my mind after reading your book and you know, that’s as a writer, that’s like such a thing for readers to say. And I really attribute so much of that to having the opportunity to get to go to Warsaw and get a lot of that, you know, that hands on you know, first hand research.
Absolutely. But it also involved a lot of books. I think like over Well, I know it was well over 100 nonfiction books that I ended up using. Now I didn’t read them all cover to cover. I’m not a machine. Right. Sometimes you know you just need like a chapter or even a couple paragraphs like, you know, has that one little nugget of information that you need.
[00:10:29] Jane: I totally understand. Yep. I get it. A hundred is still a lot though, even if it’s just a couple of paragraphs. It is.
[00:10:35] Melanie: Yeah. I, I actually bought them all too. So now my husband’s building me, I have like all of my research books are all organized by time period and location. And and even after he builds this, I think we’re going to actually be out of again already.
I’m looking pretty full behind you.
[00:10:50] Jane: So was there anything in your research, whether it was on your trip or just in the, in everything you read that really surprised you or changed the direction of the story in any way? And I realized you just kind of almost, you answered this at the beginning.
[00:11:10] Melanie: You know, but right yeah really with the librarians and you know one of the cool things too is that you know the subterfuge with librarians didn’t just extend outside of the ghetto walls.
It also happened within the ghetto. You know you had people who had their personal libraries that they had managed to bring into the ghetto with them, and they put them into suitcases and carried them around to distribute to like a you know I guess like their patrons. And then also. Basha Temkin, who used to be a librarian at the Warsaw Public Library she opened this thing called Centos, which was supposed to basically be like a center for orphans to sort of come and, and like play and, and kind of you know, have a respite or whatever.
And and so she actually made that into a secret library. So they had these amazing shelves that were fashioned that would flip around. So you might have a dollhouse on one side and then you flip it. And you have Polish and Yiddish children’s books on the other side. I mean, you know, really just absolutely incredible.
[00:12:09] Jane: Yeah. Yeah. I love that detail. And so when it comes to history, I mean, I always say like, this is historical fiction. But there’s an incredible amount of factual detail in here in history. How do you strike the balance between fact and fiction in your storytelling? And are there any strict rules you adhere to?
[00:12:30] Melanie: So, you know, I think that the main thing is when I’m, when I’m writing a scene, and I’m like, oh, the scene feels like it’s going on and on and on and on. And I’m like, well, let me see how it is when I do my final read through. And if I do my final read through, and I still feel like that scene is going on and on and on and on, it probably is.
And it’s probably because I got a little heavy handed on the historical aspect of it. And so, so that’s when I kind of, you know, trim it up a little bit. And then and then the other part, sorry, the second part of the question? Oh, and
[00:12:59] Jane: then are there any, like, strict rules you have, and when, in terms of fact versus fiction that you would hear?
[00:13:05] Melanie: thank you. The main thing is just that, you know, I’m, I really am, like sort of, like, I love just following the history. So if there’s something where It would make more sense to move history to make the plot work this way. I just don’t do it. And if anybody ever complains about it, I just say, well, that was history.
Right. Right. Yes.
[00:13:24] Jane: I know you do the same thing too. Yeah, totally. So you also woven some real historical Victor, excuse me, figures as characters. Including Baja, Baja Berman, who was an extraordinary Warsaw librarian. Talk a little bit about her.
[00:13:44] Melanie: Yeah, she really was honestly kind of my inspiration for writing this book in the first place.
She, so she was a librarian at the Warsaw Public Library. Which was really amazing because she was Jewish and I would like to say that there was equality between Poles and Jews, as it should have been because it was decreed that they should have equality after the Treaty of Versailles like within the Treaty of Versailles, and unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
And so, you know, her being a librarian. was really a very big deal. So, so already she was clearly a woman who, who knew how to really take charge of a situation. And and so once she ended up going to the ghetto, not only did she work with these children, I mean, all the way up really until the very end you know, she also helped out like making sure that they could get food.
She made sure that like when, when the typhus outbreaks happened, she would give them books, even though she knew that they couldn’t get them back. She eventually ended up getting out of the ghetto at one point. And at that point, she was able to help other people escape as well. I mean, she really was just such an incredibly brave and amazing woman.
[00:14:53] Jane: Amazing. I love that you included her. Thank you. And another thing I, you know, I went back over your author’s notes again today, I read them for like, I read them like three or four times. Thank you.
[00:15:05] Melanie: You know, those are so much work to write too.
[00:15:06] Jane: You know, it’s painstaking, right? Yes, it really is. And if you don’t get all the details in, you’ll hear about it from some reader, I’m sure.
Oh, yeah, yeah. So I love, you know I love World War II history, obviously, but I love reading about aspects of history that I, I may have heard of, but didn’t know a lot about. And one of them in this book that I really didn’t know much about at all was the Gray Ranks. Which was the young, you know, they were, it was the Polish’s home army.
They were part of the Polish home army, but they were really children who belonged to the Poland’s girl guides, girl scouts, really, and boy scouts. Talk to me about that. That was unbelievable to me.
[00:15:50] Melanie: Yeah, it really was incredible. So I mean, so these are Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts effectively. And and when everything was happening, you know, they really wanted to rally against the Nazis as well.
And they wanted to fight the oppression. And so they would, they formed these groups and each age group had sort of like their own selected like tasks that they could do. So the younger ones might run messages, the middle age ones, which is what Sophia falls into originally. Does like annoying little sabotage kind of things like replacing German newspapers with with Polish ones saying all horrible things about, about Germans and about the Nazis and like stealing flags and putting itching powder, you know, and, and like the cinema seats and things like that.
And then you had the older ones that, that really were more they really were doing more of the aggressive subterfuge. They were doing things like blowing up train tracks. and and you know, stealing weapons and that kind of thing. So once we end up having the the Warsaw Uprising happen, they were a huge part of the Home Army because now a lot of those kids, I mean, it’s been five years.
So what started off being little kids are now like teenagers and, and you know, young adults, which is why I had Zofia start off at age 17 so that she would be 22, which was, you know, It was like, I’d say like 17 to 22 is probably the average age of people during the Warsaw uprising, but even still, you had kids as young as 11 who were still helping out.
They would throw Molotov cocktails at tanks. They would, they would take, you know, bombs and grenades and like lock them places and run away. And the, this is like my, this was really incredible to me. So the Boy Scouts created because the Warsaw uprising went on for 63 days, even though the thought it would only be like three.
The Boy Scouts created a mail system that went on through all of the districts that the polls had reclaimed. So this mail system had stamps for each one of these places and people could draw them. And they had these little mailboxes and this was completely run by little boys. I mean, it’s amazing.
Amazing. And they would go and they would get the letters and they had their little, their little messenger bags. And they took their jobs very seriously. And they would run around back and forth, these little boys, delivering messages to and from these districts. I mean, just. Absolutely incredible.
[00:18:06] Jane: Yeah.
Incredible. And so, so brave. And like, Oh gosh. Yeah. Started like ages 11 to 18, like that, you know, and the little ones to be involved in that way is unbelievable.
[00:18:16] Melanie: Oh yeah. And you know, as a mother, like I have, I have a 14 year old and a 17 year old, and I know you’ve got kids too, how old are yours again?
[00:18:25] Jane: 17 and 20.
Yeah. Yeah. I know.
[00:18:29] Melanie: Yeah. It’s, it’s incredible to think that, that kids our age who don’t even want to clean their room. Yeah. Or pick up their dishes that they could be like engaged in something so adult, you know?
[00:18:42] Jane: Yeah. Yeah. They grew up so quickly. I know. Absolutely. I want to pivot to writerly questions.
I always ask these and then I have a few more questions and then if people have questions, you can put them, put them in the chat or put them in the q amp a talk to me I see the board behind you. Oh, and a couple people have said that they’re that we’re freezing a little bit. The screens are freezing.
But I am in the middle of like an unbelievable thunderstorm, so I’m wondering if it’s my connection maybe that’s Oh no!
[00:19:10] Melanie: Well, and I’m in Florida, and so my house is like my my first floor is totally concrete with rebar all through it because of the hurricanes. So sometimes our, my cell phone gets, or my reception here gets a little spotty as well.
So it could be a combination of both of ours working right.
[00:19:25] Jane: That kind of night. So apologies. I’m sorry. So talk to me. I see the board behind you, sticky notes. Like, what is your writing process? Like, are you a plotter or a pantser writing by the seat of your pants or. A little bit of both.
[00:19:41] Melanie: What’s your process?
So I am definitely a plotter. In fact, I like to joke that I’m so type A. I’m 12 point Times New Roman, because I really, I really do like actually, you know, it’s funny because right here I actually have my plot for the book that I’m working on right now. And it’s like I almost plot it like chapter by chapter because it just makes it stay in my head.
And I even do like a character chart that I have like. Right here, where I have all of my, oh, maybe that’s not it. But anyways, I have like put all my characters in. In fact when I was writing this book, I unfortunately realized after I had gone to Warsaw that I wanted to write about the library because that library is still standing.
Well, I happened to find they had this incredible trove of pictures available online of the history of this library, and I printed out everything from 1938 to 19, you know, Like probably 48 that they had 38 to 48. Yeah. I printed them all out and I put them cause they had details. And so I made like a map for myself to follow that while I was writing it, I would know, Oh, this is to the left of the second courtyard on the second floor.
You know, kind of like, and I could see what the room looked like and, and like who ran it and everything. So I really am very, very detailed when it comes to my plotting, which it takes me, like I do about 10 months worth of research and then frantically realize, Oh my gosh, I have to write this. But because it’s doing two months and then I have to like do the plot and the character charts and then, you know, frantically write the book.
That’s the phase I’m in right now. Excellent.
[00:21:11] Jane: You’re a woman after my own heart. I’m a huge, like, I’m all about plotting. I, I don’t, I don’t understand people who just sit down or like, Go off.
[00:21:20] Melanie: It scares me. I just don’t think that I could do it. I also don’t think I’d ever get anything done because I think I’d always be like, well, what should I do next?
What’s, what’s on sale on Sephora?
[00:21:29] Jane: So many choices, so many distractions. Yeah, I agree. And so what is your favorite part of the writing process and what is the part you dread?
[00:21:40] Melanie: So I think that. My favorite part of the writing process is all of the research and really like letting those ideas like fireworks going off in your brain, you know, and I know that you’re like nodding.
So I think you’re probably on that same boat with me. I feel like in the sound of music when, when Maria like throws her arms open and just like those like spirals in the mountains, like that’s what I feel like when I’m plotting a book. And then what do I like the least is probably Gosh, you know, I have to say, I think probably the edits.
[00:22:16] Jane: Excellent. So I know that we have some aspiring authors. in the audience and what’s the best advice you can give them about writing and getting published?
[00:22:26] Melanie: Always, always keep learning. Start learning now and never stop. Before I even wrote my first book, well actually no, because I’d written my first book and then I realized I didn’t know what I was doing and then I stopped everything and I learned, learned, learned everything I possibly could for five years.
And then that’s when I started writing. And and even to like now, every year I choose one major part of my education that I really want to go for. This last year I’ve been working with a writing coach, Lisa Cron, who wrote Genius. Yeah. I worked with her for about six months on character development.
And then next year I’m going to be actually working on like focus and, and like maintaining like. Well, I guess just good focus. But so I kind of choose different aspects of writing to really focus on every year. And and I think it’s just so important to always continue to keep learning.
[00:23:16] Jane: Totally agree. Yes. Excellent advice. Talk to me. I read on Goodreads about, you know, kind of the elements of your cover. If you want to hold that up again. It’s a beautiful cover and it’s based on a scene in the story. Did you have much input in this design process or not so
[00:23:33] Melanie: much? I did because this was like the sixth mock up of the cover.
And this is the one that I really had wanted in the very beginning was something along this line. And and so one of the things that I really liked about this, first of all, it’s like this, like, you know, sort of like bombed out looking warehouse. She has like these books, books. And, and one of the things that I love so much about it that was very, very important to me is that she has the Polish Home Army Band on her.
I don’t know if you can see it. With the Kadwika, which is like the little Polish anchor that stands for the Home Army. And that was so incredibly important to me because You know I feel like a lot of people don’t talk about the Polish resistance and it was one of the most organized resistance groups in all of occupied Europe during World War II.
And I really wanted to pay homage to the incredible men and women in all of their efforts and what they did in that.
[00:24:26] Jane: No, it’s, and I also like the use of lights. Kind of coming from the side there.
[00:24:31] Melanie: Yeah, really, really trying to give it like a little bit more hope. So that was a dark cover. Yeah.
[00:24:36] Jane: Are you ready to talk about what you’re working on now?
And if you’re not, I totally understand that too.
[00:24:42] Melanie: So, yes, I just got permission today. So this is actually the first place that I’m getting to talk about it.
[00:24:48] Jane: I love it.
[00:24:49] Melanie: So so it should be showing up. I was, I asked if they could at least just put it up on Goodreads but apparently they’re putting it up on vendors too so there’s not going to be a cover there’s not gonna be a blurb or anything like that.
Yeah. But but it’s called the Book Lovers Library, and it’s set in Nottingham, England, and it’s about a woman who works for a lending library there, and also has a daughter who gets sent away to the country as as part of Operation Pride. Pied Piper. And and at one point there is, she’s going to go to London and there will be a cameo from The Last Bookshop in London.
[00:25:24] Jane: Excellent. I love that you’re continuing the book theme too. Yes. Congratulations. Thank you. What is the best way for readers to stay in touch with you.
[00:25:35] Melanie: So my website is MadeleineMartin. com and you can find everything there from reader guides to my upcoming events to a really poorly run blog that probably is like a year old without anything on it.
Twitter and Instagram I’m at Madeleine M Martin because somebody already had Madeleine Martin and Facebook I’m Madeleine Martin author.
[00:25:57] Jane: Okay. And do you zoom with book clubs ever?
[00:26:00] Melanie: Like virtually? Absolutely. Yes. I love to zoom with book clubs. So if anybody ever wants to have me come and chat with them about any of my books, just I actually have a spot on my website for book clubs that they can fill out an interest form.
[00:26:11] Jane: Awesome. Awesome. Okay. And so there are some lovely comments and questions. And so I’m going to dive into some of these. Let’s see. Oh, this is a great question. Will this book be published in Poland?
[00:26:25] Melanie: Oh, and that is a great question. I haven’t heard anything about the Polish translation yet. So I have my fingers very tightly crossed because I tried very, very hard to honor the Polish culture with this.
And I actually have a couple of friends who are Polish who read it and they all loved it. So really above all languages, I really, really hope that it gets translated into Polish.
[00:26:48] Jane: Me too. And Tim Hayes asks, does Madeline have a command of German Polish or Slavic when doing your research? Like, do you speak Polish or?
Or do you speak other languages or not?
[00:27:00] Melanie: So I actually try to learn a little bit of the language whenever I travel to any country and Polish is one of those as well. And so I did, I did learn some Polish before going over there and I will say I have learned many languages and at least just conversational, you know, like not like in depth, but, you know, how are you?
Where’s the bathroom? I’d like wine, please.
[00:27:20] Jane: You know, little things like that. Where’s the bathroom is always an important one to learn.
[00:27:24] Melanie: Exactly. And I have to say I had thought that Indonesian was the hardest language that I had learned, but now it’s Polish. Polish is really, really, really hard.
[00:27:34] Jane: Yeah, it seems hard.
Does your mom speak Polish or no?
[00:27:37] Melanie: No, no. In fact, whenever we travel, I’m sort of the designated translator, like I’m the one who, because I love to learn new languages. I, I think that’s part of. Growing up as an army brat, you know, we were in Germany when I was a little girl, because we moved there when I was one, and and I, I spoke really, really fluent German, I don’t anymore, but I feel like having that experience that exposure to learning a different language, especially something so different from English, I feel like it really sort of helped, like, lay a foundation for me so I, I really enjoy learning new languages and, and it does help out with my research.
Oh, definitely. Yeah.
[00:28:13] Jane: Anne Kelsey says, as a librarian, I’m so excited to read this novel that showcases librarians and libraries and their importance in world changing events way to bust open the stereotypes. That’s not a question. It’s just really nice. Anne . Yay. Thank you. I appreciate it, . Let’s see. And Dorothy Schwab had some nice comments and says, I’m putting you on my list for author’s visits.
Oh, thank you. Yeah. And let’s see. Oh, this is a great question. What books are you both reading now? And I can’t wait for August 1st. Nancy Zambrana.
[00:28:43] Melanie: Sorry. Well, I’ll let you go first because I’ve been talking and I want,
[00:28:48] Jane: Oh yeah. So I, I, I wish I did. So besides yours, which I love, we begin at the end.
I think his name is Whitaker, Tom Whitaker. I’ll put it I’ll post it after, but yeah, we beginning at the end. It’s a couple of years old. I heard about it on a podcast. It’s a, it’s kind of an dark small town mystery, but with a lot of hope and it was just beautifully written. Beautifully written, just a little bit departure from historical fiction.
So I highly recommend we begin at the end. How about you? What are you reading? That’s awesome.
[00:29:18] Melanie: I’m just finishing up the spectacular by Fiona Davis. Oh yeah. She’s amazing. Oh, it’s so good. So it’s about a woman who is a rock head and apparently. The way she started writing this story is a woman who was formerly a Rockette called her up and said, you’re going to want to write this story.
And so it’s like, you know, this woman who’s, who’s like, kind of loves dance and is becoming a Rockette, despite her family, not really wanting her to do that. And also the big apple bomber who’s going around and like bombing all of New York for like 16 years, which really was something that happened. And I had been in dance.
pretty much my whole life. And so I love this book because it really makes my soul sing a little bit, you know, I can’t move anymore, but, but my, my heart still remembers it. And so reading about it is pretty neat.
[00:30:04] Jane: Oh, awesome. Yeah. I have to, that’s on my list. And actually Fiona hasn’t been on historical happy hour.
I have to like reach out to her. She’s another one that like, we have a lot of mutual people, you know, but so so excellent. Oh, sit down. Yes. Does social media just come naturally to you or did you Or did you do anything to learn how to do it as a published writer? And which is your favorite social media platform?
[00:30:28] Melanie: So let’s see. Well, I, I, I’ve always just kind of done it. Like I, I had somebody one time at my day job when I was working my day job still, who had come in, they had like a little artist hour every single month. And one of the things this woman taught us was how to like, take pictures with iPhone, like changing different, you know, perspective and everything.
And so I feel like she was really helpful. Also filters are super helpful as well for, you know, making like, like pictures that kind of make you stop, but then as far as which platform I like the best, I would say probably it’s a tie between Facebook and Instagram. I like Instagram for all the cat videos and, and and also I just, I feel like I’ve gotten so many wonderful people like that.
I’ve, that I’ve really interacted with on a regular basis there. Thanks. And one of the things I like about Facebook is I feel like there’s not as much limitation on the kind of interaction that you can have. And I really enjoy that. I, I really love talking to people and getting to know people and and, and all of that.
So that I guess probably does come natural because it’s like introvert and extrovert, like all at once. It’s like, yeah, yeah.
[00:31:34] Jane: But interact and be social. Yeah, exactly.
[00:31:37] Melanie: Like you’re on, but like not fully on.
[00:31:39] Jane: Are you now, have you tried Tik TOK yet?
[00:31:42] Melanie: I’ve only like. perused, but I’m not, I haven’t done a couple of videos and I’ve decided this old dog ain’t learning any new tricks.
It takes hours to put together like a 30 second video. And then even then it’s like mediocre. And I’m like, I just can’t watch. I, I totally agree.
[00:31:59] Jane: It’s a lot, a lot of work. And I, yeah.
[00:32:02] Melanie: To the authors that are crushing it on there, but yes. Yes. It’s a lot to do. I will say I did try to pay my teenagers 5 a video and that lasted like once for each of them.
And one of them spelled my name and I was like, I’m done.
[00:32:16] Jane: That’s so funny. He said that because today I was in the car with my 17 year old and I’m like, would you do some TikTok videos for me? She’s like, no.
[00:32:24] Melanie: Well, you’re not alone if that makes you feel any better.
[00:32:28] Jane: But then I made her too, but whatever
[00:32:31] Melanie: 5.
[00:32:33] Jane: It doesn’t work. Barbara Harrington. You asked the question. Thank you. Jane, are you working on no new book? I am, but I’m like way too early to talk about it yet, but hopefully, hopefully soon early.
[00:32:47] Melanie: She asked that because I actually was gonna ask that at the end because I wanted to thank you, but I completely get like this early stages like
[00:32:53] Jane: Yeah.
Yeah. It’s like barely in my head. Nevermind on a page yet. So yeah, we’re, I’m getting there, but slow. I just, yeah. Had a call with my agent yesterday about it and stuff, so. Fingers. That’s exciting. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, I wanted to ask you too, was there any book or books growing up that. You were like, Oh, like just totally, you know, when you’re at that age and it’s like, I want to do this someday, or it just totally had a huge impact on you.
Like, is there, is there anything, like, is there a particular book that stands out or more than one, probably more than one.
[00:33:23] Melanie: Well, I will say the one that just kind of got me completely head over heels in love with historical fiction is the little house on the prairie series. You know, and the funny thing is, too, like, I always wanted so bad to be married, but dang it, I was like, unequivocally Laura, like, completely, I was always doing bad stuff by accident.
So, you know, I think that was just big as far as, like, it really led me down this path of loving historical fiction, then I started delving into all these, like, amazing historical fiction books. But, you know, one of the books that really just kind of made me start writing, because Before I started doing historical fiction, I was writing historical romance, so I’d written like over 30 historical romances, and what started me doing that was I was reading Outlander while I was on my first my first maternity leave, and, and I loved it, and I loved the idea of like this brawny Scottish Highlander in like this I see Sassenach, you know, and so I thought, Oh, this would be so fun.
I kind of want to write like a dynamic like this. And so that’s how I got started into writing in the first place. And then I jumped to medieval and then I jumped to Regency. And then I thought, I think I want to write historical fiction. And then that’s where I got to where I am now.
[00:34:31] Jane: How amazing number of books, by the way.
Now, how is that? Like, how different is that? Like historical romance to historical fiction? How was, how was that leap? Like, was it a real big change for you? Or, you know,
[00:34:44] Melanie: It was interesting. Like, well, first of all, it’s scary because it was such a shift. And you know, the funny thing is, so I had been, I had been working as a business analyst forever.
I was there for like 16 years and I’d been published since I think like 2015. So once I got published, I was writing about for like, oh gosh, I think like four or five years. I was writing like six to eight books a year working as a business analyst. And then of course my girls and I was a single mom for part of that too.
And and so I ended up getting laid off February, 2020. Just because we kind of ran out of work to do and I thought, oh, this is going to be wonderful. I’m going to write my, I’m going to have all this time in this house completely to myself and I’m going to work on my historical fiction. And then the pandemic happened a couple of weeks later and everybody was home.
[00:35:31] Jane: I didn’t even think of that. I was like, Oh, so that was before the pandemic. No, that was before the pandemic.
[00:35:36] Melanie: I know, I was robbed. But I did, it gave me at least the opportunity to write the historical fiction. So that’s when I wrote the last bookshop in London. And you know, First of all, the, the research is so much more intense, but even the writing, like, you know, I can write like with my romances is if I need to, I can write like 10, 000 words in a day, but with my historical fiction, I feel like I can maybe do like two or 3000 words a day.
And even that it’s like my brain is kind of leaking out of my ear at the end of the day.
[00:36:03] Jane: That’s how I know it’s definitely not a typical day. That’s a limit like I feel like when I hit that two to 3000 like that, that’s a good day and I can’t, I can’t push beyond that too much. Yeah.
[00:36:13] Melanie: Yeah, that’s when, like, even when you just watch TV afterwards, you’re like, nothing that makes me think, like, let’s just watch like, like face off or something, you know, matchmaker.
[00:36:24] Jane: That’s my new favorite. I’m just checking to see if we have any more questions. I think. I got the languages one more little but this is really, we had over 70 people on the whole time and oh, Dorothy Schwab, I’m sorry, I missed this one. Is there a list in the, in the book of the banned books of the, the books banned by the Nazis?
[00:36:44] Melanie: Oh, I need, oh no, the books banned by the Nazis is huge. Like they actually publish they actually publish books filled with lists of these. So it’s like, I mean, it’s like, Thousands and thousands and thousands. But as far as the books that I mentioned in the book I probably should do that. I’m a little bit behind on putting together my reader’s guide for this one just because of having my book tour coming up combined with my book deadline for being October 1st and me realizing, oh my gosh, I haven’t written as much as I need to.
I get it. I will eventually be getting that out, but it might be a little bit later than usual.
[00:37:17] Jane: Excellent. So before we sign off, just a housekeeping thing for Historical Happy Hour. If you like it, if you could, could like my channel on YouTube or Subscribe to the podcast on wherever you listen to podcasts and, and ratings always help you know, reach new listeners.
’cause we’ve had some amazing authors like Madeline Martin on here in the past few months and I just am trying to grow it even more so. So thank you so much. I hope that you’re in the Boston area sometimes soon for your tour. Could yes, me too. Have to go for a drink or coffee or something. That would be amazing.
Yes. And thank you for your time. Congratulations on your latest. And remember, it comes out August 1st. It’s available for pre order. It’s available everywhere on Tuesday. So so huge congratulations. And thank you so much for taking the time tonight to talk with me and come on.
[00:38:05] Melanie: And so lovely to meet you.
Yeah, it’s so great to get to meet you. This was so fun just getting to chat. And thank you so much for having me come on to Historic Lafayette. It’s been wonderful. Thank you.
[00:38:13] Jane: Thank you. Thanks so much. Take care and keep in touch. Bye bye. Bye.
HISTORICAL HAPPY HOUR
Hosted by Jane Healey, Historical Happy Hour is a live interview and podcast featuring premiere historical fiction authors and their latest novels.