Sunday, November 24, 2013

Interview with Melanie Ting

Today I'm very happy to plug a fellow writer—and friend—Melanie Ting. She's authored some of my favorite hockey stories, including Fresh Air and How the Cookie Crumbles. Mel's climbing up the Amazon sales charts; if you haven't read her work yet, do yourself a favor and check her out!

Mel took the time to talk to me about her writing and latest novel, her love of hockey, and of course, cats:

What motivates you as a writer? What inspires you?

I would say that real life inspires me. I love hearing the stories behind the athletes. When you read about a hockey player who struggled for years, undrafted and unwanted, before he made it to the NHL, that’s inspiring. Or if he’s just hot, well that’s inspiring in a different way. I also use things that happen to me in real life, as well as real people. In fact, if some of my friends read my novels, they’d probably kill me … slowly. But luckily, nobody I know likes hockey romances. Maybe it makes me a nicer person though, I don’t complain when people do or say ridiculous things, I go home and write them up.

Frankie Taylor, the heroine of How the Cookie Crumbles, leaves Vancouver to get over a broken heart. Have you ever picked up and started new somewhere?

Well, when I went to grad school, it was a pretty big move for me. I quit my job and moved to a new city. When I got there, I didn’t know anyone and I was really lonely. I remember I tried to chat with a wrong number call. But then when I told some of my new classmates that wrong number story, one of them decided she wanted to befriend me since I was so pitiful. And you know how it goes, once you have one friend you find many more. So it all worked out.

Frankie's also a great cook. Is that a trait you share with your character? If so, any helpful advice some of us who are less culinary inclined?

I am actually a good cook, but I don’t enjoy cooking the way that Frankie does. I like cooking for dinner parties, and weekend dinners, but I don’t like the day-in-day-out drudgery of producing meals every night. I’ve read about people who eat out every night, that would be my secret fantasy.

As for cooking advice, I would suggest that you develop a few specialties, perhaps dishes you enjoy eating, and serve those when you entertain or go to potlucks. Like my friend, Daisy, she makes cupcakes (from a mix) and decorates them fabulously. Everyone knows that’s what she’s going to bring to parties and looks forward to it. The other advice I would give is to eyeball a recipe, if it has more than 10 ingredients and 10 steps, forget it. In fact, 5 + 5 = perfect.

Jake Cookson's a great character; he feels so authentic, like someone you could meet on the street. Do you find it difficult to write male characters?

Ha ha, I think you know as well as I that Jake was originally based on a real life character. However, since I don’t personally know any NHL players, I usually take characteristics from people in my own life. I am sadly unimaginative for a writer! I like Jake because he’s funny and and easy-going, but he definitely has his flaws. I prefer a hero with flaws since I like a little realism.

I don’t usually have trouble writing male characters because I don’t think they’re that different from women. However, I have trouble imaging what guys say to each other when they’re alone. Maybe they talk sensitively about their emotions, but more probably they burp and say nothing. I run my male characters/dialogue by the guys in my life, to get their feedback. They like to check my hockey facts, but they hate hearing about the romance part. That’s too bad since I think that most guys could learn a ton about women by reading romances.

We know you're a hockey fan, namely the Canucks and Hawks. How do you feel about your teams this season? Any predictions?

Wait! You forgot the Kings, I cheer for the Kings too. While some hockey fans might think I’m not a true fan, I have to say that supporting my hometown Canucks is a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows. So I started supporting a second team to cheer myself up. And lo and behold, both my second teams have won cups! Why doesn’t my magic work for the Canucks?

I’m too emotionally involved to make predictions or bets, so it’s better if I pass on that. I have my secret hopes though.

Favorite hockey movie?

Slapshot, definitely. It’s crazy how often “Who ooowns the Chiefs?” comes up in regular conversation around here.

Besides writing about hot hockey players, your stories also feature cats. I know you're a cat lover. So, the question that everyone really wants to know the answer to: did you dress your cats up for Halloween?

Funnily enough, on Halloween I was Googling cat costumes and laughing my head off. This one is my fav. But I like my arms un-shredded, so dressing my two cats is out of the question. I usually stick a bow or ribbon on them at Christmas, but that only lasts about 30 seconds. They prefer fur coats. Who wouldn’t, really?


  1. Thanks Jay! Of course I sound like a bit of an idiot in the interview, but that's all on me. Trying to be funny is a lot harder than you would think.

    1. No one ever sounds like themselves in an interview! But I'm taking your recipe advice to heart, especially with American Thanksgiving coming up. Or how about one-step directions: go to store and buy a pie. Easy!

    2. Nooooo, pie is as easy as pie! Google the Tenderflake Lard pie crust recipe, use lard not Crisco, make the dough and divide into four, freeze the balls (that sounds like a hockey term!) defrost and roll out as needed. Add your fav filling, like pumpkin, and you will be the Pie Queen. I am already the Pie Queen around here.

    3. Hmmm, I'll have to check out that recipe! Our favorite pumpkin pie recipe includes a shortbread crust, which is just sugar, flour, and cold butter/margarine. Cut the cold butter and mix with the sugar and flour, then press into the baking dish. That's not TOO hard, even for me!

  2. Enjoyed reading both interviews. Looking forward to Jay's new book.