Melissa Ewell Miller comes from a long line of oral storytellers who has found a voice in the tradition of so many prolific writers. With the merging of Godly insight, a love of family and a passion for the written word, Melissa has produced heartfelt, touching works of Christian fiction. A native of Los Angeles, Melissa graduated from Southern University in Baton Rouge and spent several years teaching and working in the social services arena until she stepped out on faith to pursue her dream of becoming a writer. Melissa now lives in the Atlanta area with her husband and children, where she continues to create quality works of purity, faith and love. Trinity’s Hope is the debut novel of the Carondolette Family series—the heartwarming stories of the family that prays together, stays together and lives life to the fullest.
Melissa, what’s the story premise of your novel Trinity’s Hope?
Trinity’s Hope is about a young Christian woman, Trinity Hope Carondolette, who leaves home for college and meets the man she will eventually marry the first day she steps on campus. Coming from a family of strong believers who all excel in impressive careers, expectations run high for Trinity. She’s the baby of the family and she clearly understands that she stands in the shadow of a great legacy. The last thing she wants to do is mess up and disappoint the family by getting involved with a boy and ending up pregnant. In her mind, she figures the best way to stay out of trouble is to avoid guys altogether.
However, her plan blows up in her face when she is literally knocked off her feet by the handsome and unassuming Christian Stephenson. Chris, a fellow believer, falls hard for Trinity and for him it’s love at first sight. As friendship blossoms into love, the young couple struggles to pursue a romantic relationship while keeping their Christian virtues intact. Being immersed in campus life where anything and everything goes, Trinity and Chris explore the wonder of a first love while trying to avoid the temptations that threaten to send them down the slippery slope of sexual sin. Depicting heartfelt lessons linking family, friends and faith, Trinity’s Hope demonstrates how love and romance can be enjoyed free from sexual involvement.
Did you always intend for Trinity’s Hope to be part of a series?
Actually, I did not. When I wrote Trinity’s Hope, I’d had the idea for about four or five years. At the time, I was going through some very severe stress in my life. I was working full time and in graduate school while taking care of my family and my elderly grandparents. My life was overwhelming me and I faced a lot of challenges that I didn’t feel like I was handling well. I was so stressed I started asking God help me make a change in my life and He impressed on my heart that I needed to write the book. Of course, I rebelled because I couldn’t imagine adding another thing to my plate. But God had a plan.
Eighteen months later, my grandparents had passed away and we were living in a new city. While I was waiting for a job to manifest and watching my savings dwindle in the process, God again impressed on my heart to write the book. This time I obeyed and being that I had the time to listen and to focus, the words just flowed out of me and I completed the book in three months. Halfway through writing Trinity’s Hope, the voices of the other characters in her family began to speak, begging for their stories to be told. As a result, that command to write the book has grown into The Carondolette Family Series. So far the series consists of six novels with the second novel, Destiny’s Hope, being released in December of this year. The third novel, Covering Grace is due out in 2011.
What made you write the book?
I initially wrote Trinity’s Hope as a love letter to my daughter, Kimberly. She’s my first child and only daughter (among four sons) and I’m thankful that we share a special bond. I’ve always wanted the very best for her and I wanted to pass on my faith and Christian values. Rather than talking her into oblivion, as I tend to do, I poured all the wisdom I could into the pages of this novel to help her negotiate the pitfalls of dating, love and romance that have led so many young girls down the wrong paths. Now I realize that God had always planned for Trinity’s Hope to be a blessing to many, many girls and not just my own. As an added benefit, Trinity’s Hope is an excellent story for mothers and daughters to share because it can help establishing on ongoing dialogue involving issues of abstinence, purity and relationships. I know for a fact that I am not the only mother in America who wants to help her daughter have every possible chance of success.
Who are the authors that inspire you?
I am inspired by authors who write from the heart rather than write to garner the attention of a particular market or follow a fad. I’m impressed by authors who write with an authentic voice, who seek to communicate a message, who are not just after the shock value. With that in mind, three writers that I love are Marilyn Griffith (Rhythms of Grace), Charles Sobczak (A Choice of Angels) and Teresa McClain Watson (Before Redemption). These are just a few but there are so many more.
When is your favorite time to write and where do you do your best work?
I can pretty much write anywhere, anytime, and I often have to stop myself from scribbling on the backs of envelops in church when I should be listening to the sermon. However, I usually get my best work done at night, in bed when the house is quiet. However, when I get on a writing binge, I’ve been known to write for days—twenty-four hours straight—sometimes I until look up and realize I don’t know what day it is.
Tell about the last book you read and what made you select it?
The last novel I read was Worth A Thousand Words by Stacy Hawkins Adams. I selected this novel because I’ve followed Stacy’s writing career and love her work. I know when I pick up one of her books I’m going to get a heartfelt, satisfying read that supports my faith.
And for fun…what activities do you like to do to pamper yourself?
Being that I work from home, getting out and shopping or going a coffee house on a nice day are simple pleasures I enjoy these days. I’m also toying with the idea of taking a trip down to Savannah to spend a few days on the coast to write, peruse the art galleries and eat at Paula Dean’s Restaurant.