An Interview With Melissa Bourbon/Winnie Archer

The Local Authors Book Fair is almost here! We’re so excited about our fabulous list of guests and hope all of you will come out to support our vibrant local writing community. We’re so fortunate to live in a place with so many talented locals!

To whet your appetite for the readings and book fair, we’ll be offering interviews with some of our guests across the next few days. Let’s meet a woman of two writing personalities: Melissa Bourbon who also writes the bestselling Bread Shop mysteries as Winnie Archer.

melissa ramirez

FOCPL: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I grew up wanting to be a chef. I dreamed of having a career centered around food and cooking. My dad encouraged me—and when I say encouraged, I mean he said, “Go to college for two years, then we’ll talk”—to go to college. I did, and two years in, I told him I was ready to go to culinary school. He kind of shrugged and said, “Well, you’re halfway through, you might as well finish.” By the time four years had passed, I’d declared English Literature as my major and decided on a career in teaching, which I’ve done on and off over the years.

FOCPL: Where do you write? Do you have a particular routine you follow?

My writing routine has evolved over the years. I started out writing whenever I had a spare moment—in the midst of teaching and raising five kids. I wrote my first book on a laptop at the diningroom table. Now that I’m fortunate enough to write fulltime, I usually do some sort of exercise in the morning, do whatever chores and errands need to be done, and write the rest of the day. If I’m on a deadline, I have to be in my office where I accomplish so much more, but often, on a normal writing day, I’m outside on the porch or on the couch with my dogs curled up next to me. It can be a little too quiet and isolating sometimes (those are the moments when I want to go back to the classroom!), but I love visiting the characters who have become a huge part of me on a daily basis.

FOCPL: What part of writing brings you joy? What part do you struggle with?

Writing the first draft of a book is always the most challenging part of the process to me. I struggle sometimes with plotting because my brain does not function in a highly organized or logical fashion. So much of what happens in my books is organic and comes to me during the actual process of writing. That can be incredibly fun and rewarding, but it is also very frustrating at times!

FOCPL: What do you dream about when it comes to your writing life?

My sixteenth and seventeenth books just released this August (What Lola Wants and Flour in the Attic). I love writing cozy mysteries, but I also have the strong desire to spread my writing wings and delve into a different type of book. Within the next few years, I will be continuing my current series, but at the same time I’ll be developing and working on a women’s fiction novel. I’m so excited about it!

FOCPL: Have you had any moments when you’ve wanted to give up?

Pursuing a writing career can be gut-wrenching. The rejections early on felt like personal judgements against me and my ability to tell a story that others actually wanted to read. Pushing through that period and knowing that I was playing the long game is the reason that I’m here today, seventeen books under my belt, and still going strong. I’ve learned so much over the years and have really honed my craft. It’s still challenging to write a book. Every. Single. Time. But emails and messages from readers saying they love my series or characters are so rewarding. To know that other people read my books and are basically living in my imagination is incredible!

FOCPL: What famous authors (dead or alive) would you like to visit with? Why?

As a writer, I’m an introvert, which means I spent most of my high school lunch periods holed up in a classroom reading. Those were great years. I made my way through nearly every Agatha Christie mystery! If I had to choose an author to spend some time with, it would be her.

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