Melinda Salisbury has always had a passion for the arts.
But growing up in an underprivileged family, even for a child with a wild imagination, a career in the field was never on the cards.
“I never thought I could be a writer, because people like me just weren’t,” Melinda said.
“My family were really poor. We relied on benefits… I got free school dinners and part of my uniform was funded.
“Where we grew up, it was not expected that people would go on to have sustainable careers in the arts. That just wasn’t normal.”
A careers advisor once told Melinda the best she could hope for would be to make it as an office manager.
She did become an office manager, but eventually decided to try her hand at writing.
“I told stories all my life, I just didn’t realise you could get paid for it,” Melinda said.
“My story of becoming an author was much like J.K. Rowling’s – and I was certainly inspired by her.
“I read about how she wrote while bringing her kids up as a single parent with no money, how she would write in a cafe so she didn’t have to pay for heating at home as it was too expensive. I thought I could at least try it.”
Melinda started her first book in 2011 and, four years ago, decided to write full-time.
This month, she releases her sixth book, Hold Back The Tide.
Set in 1800’s Scotland, it’s a gripping teen fiction.
“I think it’s the best book I’ve written so far,” she said. “I say that with every new book – but I suppose it’s a good thing as, like everything, you should get better the more you do something.”
Hold Back The Tide tells the story of Alva Douglas. Everyone knows her father killed her mother all those years ago. But as she plans to leave, rumours start about dark creatures rising from the lake, and she realises they may hold a secret that should stay hidden.
Melinda’s inspiration came on a trip to Scotland to see a friend, who took her to Loch Ness.
“I was immediately obsessed with it,” she said. “I’ve been all over the world and I don’t think anywhere has had an impression on me quite like Loch Ness. The fact that scientists were convinced there was a sea monster in there – its unfathomable.”
Writing the novel involved many return trips to Scotland.
“I’ve always felt a connection with Scotland,” she said.
“My nan was a MacLeod.
“I just love it. I’m looking into volunteering opportunities, which would allow me to spend more time in Scotland. As a writer, I love to play the great game of ‘What If?’. And if you adopt it in real life, it makes for a great adventure story.”
Melinda Salisbury, Hold Back The Tide, Scholastic, £7.99