Family Series Spotlight: Melanie Moreland
by Donna Soluri
When Beth and I started planning this special Weekend of Family post extravaganza, I jumped at the idea of tackling the “found” family aspect of the article. My biological family is small. Sure, as every self-respecting southerner, I have about a thousand cousins. But now that both of my parents are gone, my immediate family consists of my two kids, my brother, his wife, and their kid. I’ve learned over the last few years that found family plays an increasingly integral part in my life and well-being. My found family, which is spread out globally, are my go-tos, my people.
Many authors focus on the importance of found family, but after recently binge-reading one particular author, I knew just which author’s brain I wanted to pick. Just the found family I’ve been dying to talk about! Melanie Moreland knows a thing or two about the intricacies of creating and writing about found families, her BAM boys, Richard VanRyan, and the women that love them are a hodge-podge of souls longing for deeper connections than what life threw at them. And now, those families have kids! It’s a win/win, found family with the new addition of biological family!
Psst! If you missed the first part of our Family Series Spotlight weekend, make sure to click the button below to see Beth’s chat with Kaylee Ryan about her Riggins Brothers series. If you love alpha billionaires who love their family, you’re going to swoon for these men!
I think there are two kinds of families — those you are born into and those you make yourself. It is often said you can’t choose your family, but in the latter instance you can. I think family isn’t simply shared DNA. It’s a feeling, a part of you that becomes woven into the fabric of your life. If you are lucky, perhaps you have both. For those incredibly lucky individuals their biological family cross into the family they have made and vice versa. I wanted to reflect in both BAM and the Contract series that family can be more than sharing a last name. The love you feel can be as strong, if not stronger for a found family, since the relationship is built of mutual love and respect. A mutual history of memories vs family tree. Experiences and trust that is slowly cemented in place by sharing, not because you lived under the same roof. Too many times those memories are more painful than those you wish to keep forefront in your mind. I believe found families are just as important as biological ones. In many case, more so.
It’s clear that found family, or the family you make, is very important in your books. Is there something that brought you to this realization?
I come from a very large family, so large in fact the age gaps are huge — over 20 plus year separate the oldest to youngest. It was as if we grew up in two or three different households in our lifetimes. As adults, many of us have found friendship with other siblings, as there are a few small circles of closeness, but as a whole we are actually very distant. I found my own family in a small group of people who loved me for me and supported me for the same reason. It hit me one Christmas as I looked around the table that the people who were there were my family and only one of them shared my DNA — and I was good with that. They play a very important role in my life.
Do you think there are any differences in the dynamics between found family and biological families in storytelling?
I think it depends on the author. I tend to write my stories with found family and I think romance and finding the love of your life involve the addition of found family — not always both sides but for certain one. I sort of like giving people the chance to rediscover what family is through the eyes of the new person in their life, if that makes any sense.
Your characters are incredibly well fleshed out, are any of them based, even loosely on people in your real life?
There have been some traits from those I love that I bring into my books. When a new character introduces themselves to me I like to let them hang around a while so I get to know them. Sometimes they remind of someone and I blend some of them into my characters. LOL — there have been a few instances of bad influences in there as well in some of my less than savory characters. My lead hero generally has some trait that belongs to my husband. One of his many loving gestures or tender ways of caring for the heroine. He is always in there somewhere.
With Vested Interest, specifically the BAM group, the guys and the ladies both have their own little found family pods together that, well, merge…blend…co-mingle. I really love that, it must make planning for holiday get togethers so much easier! Was it your original intention for things to work out that way or did it happen organically as you wrote?
Bentley was only meant to be a single book. But Aiden and Maddox suddenly appeared, clear and insistent and their entire friendship and back stories grew and the line came into my head. “We’re family. That’s what we do for family.” I realized these men had made their own family and I simply let it grow from there. Emmy had the same scenario with Dee and Cami and I knew I had to pair them all off. I wanted to give them all what they longed for — what we all long for, I think. A place of belonging and being accepted. A group of people you can depend on. The series grew and took on a life of its own, as had the next generation.
Pulling this thread further, the Vested Interest series started with Bentley, Aiden, and Maddox, and grew from there as they welcomed Halton, Van, and Reid into their found family. Although the connection remains strongest between the original three, it’s clear that all of these men and their families were welcomed with open arms. How did these subsequent books come about?
Once I established the BAM boys, as they became known, I had no plans to further the series. But Reid kept popping in — the younger, not-yet-found-his-place-in-life boy with no family. When Richard interjected himself into Maddox’s book and brought along his assistant, Becca, Reid informed me he had a story to tell. He also told me Becca was his soulmate. Then he dropped the fact he was a virgin. I had no choice but to let him talk. Van happened simply. The idea of a really nice guy falling for a single mother with a cute kid hit me and Van ticked all the boxes. Plus, he was already in the BAM universe, so I knew they’d have his back. The small glimpse of him we saw in Maddox’s book laid his foundation and I knew there was now going to be five books. Halton came from one simple line in Van’s book. “I eat people like him for breakfast and shit them out before lunch.” That was supposed to be the only time we saw Halton, but as usual, my characters made the decision and his story grew as more readers asked for him, so book six was born.
Sandy’s book was to slip the last piece of the puzzle into place. I felt as if she deserved her own HEA. She was the queen to them all, so beloved and amazing and I wanted to let her shine on her own. I always planned on something with her, and Jordan was always the man for her. All the books filled the family, created a huge circle of friendship and trust that I enjoyed writing and my readers fell in love with. It was to end there. (insert laughter)
Let’s talk about Richard VanRyan for a hot minute. I feel like all sorts of hot takes and think pieces could be written on his character, the back story, the incredible growth, his personality, just everything. He is the epitome of a man in need of some serious found family love. Richard does not immediately present as a guy you’d love but man, he wins you over. He is also very much like Richard’s daughter, Gracie’s love interest, Jaxson Richards. Talk to me about that, writing assholes with layers like a parfait and the impact finding family has on them.
Richard VanRyan is a character I fell in love with even when he was very hard to love. Because I knew that deep inside was a little boy desperate to belong, to be loved. I wrote the book during a period in my life when I was very angry. Being Canadian I don’t express anger well, so I decided to write someone who said exactly what he thought without caring. Once the exercise was done, I planned to shelve him, but my editor read it and urged me to keep going. I was certain no one would ever read it. I had no idea this lost soul would change my life in the ways he has done since he was released. I wanted to mirror Richard’s journey in Grace’s book, so the two men would be similar enough to dislike each other, yet finally realize how much they had in common and would end up firm friends — well, at least friends who loved to torment the other one. Richard was supposed to have a cameo in Maddox and that was all. Of course he ended up making appearances in other BAM books and they crossed over to his world in The Amendment. Bentley and Aiden were the closest of the three men of BAM and I wanted to give Maddox his own sidekick. He and Richard blended perfectly and, of course, he became part of the world of BAM. He is a deeply layered and flawed character and I’m not sure I will ever tire of writing him. He is in my head constantly so you never know where he will show up next!
While we are on the Vested Interest: ABC Corp leg of this journey, care to spill a little about what/who/why the next book is about?
This seems to be a recurring theme. I only planned on A Merry Vested Wedding to give my readers a little glimpse into the future of BAM and the Contract. But Gracie popped up with the most intriguing story to tell, and then Ronan let me know he had something to say. All his life he’s been a triplet. One of three. He wants his own life and to be loved for being Ronan. He meets a girl who does exactly that. But as in all cases, love never runs smoothly… Once Ronan is released, there is a certain sister who wants to have a say. After that I have two more ABC books planned. They will be released in 2022. I am keeping those identities secret, but if you lean close, Donna, I might whisper to you…
Quick Fire Questions
Bentley, Aiden, Maddox, Richard — do you have a favorite?
Richard. The little Pinocchio boy who grew up to be a real man.
Across all of the books and their many crossovers, do you have a favorite moment?
Oh so many. Richard when he encouraged Maddox to confide in him. The dance lessons before Maddox’s wedding with Reid. Ring shopping with the boys in Aiden. I loved writing their funny moments when they were just people enjoying each other and life. One of the most touching scenes was between Sandy and Reid. I wept writing it, editing it and hearing it on audio.
Elevator pitch time! Describe this beautiful group of humans in five words.
Loyal. Passionate. Funny. Solid. Family.
Since we are celebrating families in all forms this weekend, do you have any family series recommendations for us?
This may come as a shock to many, but I read very little contemporary romance. I love The Heartbreak Brothers series by Carrie Elks. Katy Regnery did a series based on an Irish triplets that I loved called the Summerhaven Trio. I tend to read Historical romances most of the time. I love Lisa Kleypas, Tessa Dare, Scarlett Scott (to mention a few) and their family series. Wicked Winters is a good one by Scarlett Scott.
Melanie’s Family Series Recommendations
About Melanie Moreland
New York Times/USA Today bestselling author Melanie Moreland, lives a happy and content life in a quiet area of Ontario with her beloved husband of twenty-seven-plus years and their rescue cat, Amber. Nothing means more to her than her friends and family, and she cherishes every moment spent with them.
While seriously addicted to coffee, and highly challenged with all things computer-related and technical, she relishes baking, cooking, and trying new recipes for people to sample. She loves to throw dinner parties, and also enjoys traveling, here and abroad, but finds coming home is always the best part of any trip.
Melanie loves stories, especially paired with a good wine, and enjoys skydiving (free falling over a fleck of dust) extreme snowboarding (falling down stairs) and piloting her own helicopter (tripping over her own feet.) She’s learned happily ever afters, even bumpy ones, are all in how you tell the story.
Donna should be an empty nester, but she’s not, thanks COVID-19. She’s a voracious reader of all books; she can’t pick just one sub-genre. A staunch supporter of seasoned romance and a lover of cupcakes, you’ll often find her with a cup of tea and a mountainous TBR pile close at hand. Follow her @DonnaSoluri on B+M Bites.
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