12 May 2015


Author Interview / Alretha Thomas

Twenty-two years old with a journalism degree from UCLA and a promising entry level position at a television station, Madeline Patterson is ready to take on the Universe. Raised by two loving parents, adored by her grandmother, protected by her dog, Pepper, and supported by her best friend—Madeline has it all. There’s only one thing missing—literally missing—her identical twin, Melissa.

When Madeline and Melissa were three-years-old, their mother was carjacked in broad daylight while taking them to a doctor’s appointment. She was able to get away with Madeline in tow, but the assailants left the scene before she could rescue Melissa. A long and massive search ensued, but Melissa was never found and is believed to be dead. However, a dream Madeline has on her twenty-second birthday, wherein Melissa appears to her as a grown woman pleading for help, convinces her Melissa is still alive. Against her parents’ wishes, Madeline vows to find her twin. However, in doing so, she unknowingly stumbles upon a series of startling clues that point to her parents’ possible involvement in Melissa’s disappearance. Paralyzed by fear, Madeline doesn’t want to face what could possibly be the ugly and grim truth about her parents. However, her desire to find Melissa propels her forward—but nothing could prepare her for what she discovers.

  1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
I’d love to work with Stephen King. I find him to be very fascinating. Needless to say, he’s wildly successful and talented and has a body of work that’s iconic. Since I’ve made my foray into the mystery genre with Missing Melissa, it’s made me even more appreciative of King. Albeit, he writes horror, supernatural fiction, and suspense, there are elements of mystery in his writings. I think it would be interesting to get into his head, to experience his process. It just dawned on me that I reference one of King’s novels in Missing Melissa—Misery. Wow. Who knew? Lol.
  1. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
My dream is to one day be free to write fulltime, but at the present time, I don’t have that luxury. My day starts at 4:50 a.m. I drive thirty-five miles to the west side of Los Angeles where my job is located. Prior to starting work, I spend an hour on the elliptical machine. I spend this hour reading and editing the novel I’m working on at the time. Thank goodness for smartphones. They are a writer’s best friend. When I find errors or sections of a manuscript I need to work on, I can make notes on my phone and then resume reading. When I’m not working on a project, I’ll spend the hour reading someone else’s work. I’m known at the gym as the lady who’s always reading! After my workout, I spend eight hours on my day job. During breaks and lunch, I catch-up on social media, responding to requests and fans. A little after 5:00 p.m., I’m in the car on my way home. It’s a two-hour drive. I travel 350 miles a week. I’ve been doing this for sixteen years! Once home, I cook dinner or pick up something for my husband to eat. I’m able to put in a couple of hours of writing before bedtime. I love weekends, because I can really go crazy with my writing. I can spend eight plus hours a day writing without even thinking about it. Writing comes easily to me.
  1. What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
Getting it just right! As mentioned earlier, I have no idea what writer’s block is, but once I get that first draft done, I spend month’s fine tuning and polishing my work. It’s like a mirror. The cleaner it gets, the more dirt, i.e., plot holes, typos, etc. you see. It amazes me how our brains fill in missing pieces. The editing process is endless. Every time I think I have it right, I find something wrong! Missing Melissa is just short of eighty thousand words, that’s a lot of words to make right. LOL!
  1. When and why did you first start writing?
I wrote my first story in the fifth grade. My teacher gave the class a short story assignment. I got an idea to write a story about a bag bog in a supermarket who falls in love with a young customer. I guess you could say that was my first romance story. The following day our teacher congratulated the entire class on our work. However, she said there was one story that stood out. And that story was mine. I nearly fell out of my chair. I couldn’t believe it. She read it aloud and the class was riveted. While I was watching the expressions on the faces of my peers, I knew in that moment I wanted to be a writer for life.
  1. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
I have always been intrigued by twins— the idea of having a duplicate is fascinating to me. The idea for Missing Melissa just came to me from within. All of my story ideas are conceived deep within. It’s like they’re given to me from above. Oftentimes people will approach me with a story idea. However, I’m hard-pressed to embark upon their story because it didn’t come from within me. I have to feel a story inside out. When Missing Melissa was conceived, it grew quickly and took over my every waking moment, from the time I came up with the characters, through the outline, and the writing process. I truly feel as though I know the entire Patterson family and that what transpires in the story really happened, perhaps in another lifetime or in an alternate dimension.
  1. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I’m an avid reader. I have been since childhood. I’m currently reading Gayle Forman’s “If I Stay.”
  1. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Write from your heart and not your head. In other words, don’t write something that’s trendy, be true to yourself and the story that you’ve been chosen to give birth to.