CBP: Your recent novel, Note of Peril, is the kick off title for the launch of the new Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense Series. Can you describe this new series?
The name of the line is an excellent description of the books coming out in this series. Each story has a faith-based message of hope woven gently into a romantic mystery-suspense, all at an affordable price.
CBP: Why is Note of Peril fitting as the kick off title for this series? What elements of this title will also be found in subsequent titles within the series?
Hannah Alexander novels already have a track record for those elements of mystery, suspense and romance the readers want. We feel our Christianity is evident without being preachy, and our medical input from Mel's years of experience as an ER doc creates an additional benefit. All the subsequent books in this new series will contain strong intrigue, romance, and a spiritual theme.
CBP: What can readers expect from the Steeple Hill Love Inspires Suspense Series?
Our editors maintain a high standard of quality for this line. The intrigue is fast-paced, the tension tight. the senior editor for this line is Krista Stroever, a Princeton graduate who just this past year has edited multiple award-winning authors.
CBP: You write under the pen name Hannah Alexander. Where did this name come from, and why did you decide to use it?
Cheryl: Since we feel we work together as one person, with our strengths and weaknesses and life expectations complementing each other, we wanted one name that would reflect this. I chose Hannah because, having no children, I identify with the early years of Hannah in the Bible. Hannah means "her hope is in the Lord."
Mel: I chose the name Alexander because it means "servant of mankind." The name Mel means servant. As a physician who cares for a lot of patients on my "day job" I like to feel I serve mankind.
CBP: As a husband/wife writing team, how does your writing process work? Does Cheryl write the romance plot and Mel fill in with a medical plot?
Cheryl: I write the first draft, as I am the main writer. Mel keeps busy with his day job, but he supports me throughout the process with multiple read-throughs, constant editing, brainstorm sessions, encouragement, and fine-tuning. Mel also writes any medical scenes I request, and does fact checking.
On occasion, neighbors can glance through the office window and see us acting out a particular scene.
Mel: My favorites are the romance.
CBP: Hannah Alexander is a Christy award-winning author. Is there a formula you use for these novels? What is your secret to successful love-inspired suspense stories?
Cheryl: We write the kinds of stories we love to read--always with a setting we love, which is the Missouri Ozarks. As a reader, I am easily bored, so I write with a lot of activity taking place in the story. I'm a character based writer, so I begin with characters who are vibrant and interesting enough to appeal to me for the number of months it takes to weave a story around them.
CBP: How did you begin writing together?
Mel: Our pastor set us up on a blind date at a local restaurant. Since his introduction included the fact that I was a physician, and since Cheryl just happened to be writing a story at the time with a medical emphasis, the first question out of Cheryl's mouth was, "So, you're a doctor? Can you help me paralyze someone?"
Once I recovered from my initial horror and discovered she was a novelist, my interest ignited. We never stopped collaborating after that.
CBP: What are some of the challenges and benefits of writing as husband and wife team?
Cheryl: Time is our biggest challenge. Mel carries a full schedule at the hospital, and there are times when I need him for input that he simply cannot get away to help me. For the most part, though, that does happen. The benefits are enormous.
Mel is a natural encourager, so I never feel discouraged as a writer for long. One word from me, and he will take the scene I've just written and read it aloud to me, with dramatic emphasis, demonstrating to me in the most loving way that what I've done is not--as I had initially feared--the most worthless piece of drivel ever in print. When you work as a team, you're never alone for long. For us, that's always a benefit. Teamwork gives us a deeper appreciation for one another's gifts and abilities.
CBP: Your books all weave inspirational themes throughout. Will you speak to the importance of these themes in your novels?
Mel: When Cheryl began writing her first romantic suspense twenty-one years ago, she knew the hero and heroine must share a strong faith. Being a Christian, Cheryl simply allowed her own faith to naturally spill into the story. We both believe that a romance is so much deeper and richer when both people share a strong faith in God. As the Bible says, a bond of three cords is not easily broken.