Author Interview (and a Giveaway!): Melanie Dobson & Hidden Among the Stars

Posted September 5, 2018 by meezcarrie in Author Interview, Christian, contemporary, giveaway, historical, Melanie Dobson, romance / 34 Comments

I am thrilled today to welcome Melanie Dobson to the blog to chat about her FABULOUS new time-slip novel, Hidden Among the Stars! Watch for my 5-star review tomorrow 🙂

Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of almost twenty historical romance, suspense, and time-slip novels including Catching the Wind, Chateau of Secrets, and Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor. Three of her novels have won Carol Awards; The Black Cloister won the Foreword Magazine Religious Fiction Book of the Year, and Catching the Wind won the 2018 Audie Award for Inspirational Fiction.

Melanie is the former corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and owner of the publicity firm Dobson Media Group. When she isn’t writing, Melanie enjoys teaching both writing and public relations classes at George Fox University.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, have two daughters. They live near Portland, Oregon, and love to hike and camp in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and along the Pacific Coast. Melanie also enjoys exploring ghost towns and abandoned homes, helping care for kids in her community, and reading stories with her girls.

Visit Melanie online at her website as well as Facebook, Pinterest, her newsletter and Twitter.

From the award-winning author of Catching the Wind, which Publishers Weekly called “unforgettable” and a “must-read,” comes another gripping time-slip novel about hidden treasure, a castle, and ordinary people who resisted evil in their own extraordinary way.

The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life. But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan―even their very lives―in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.

Eighty years later, Callie Randall is mostly content with her quiet life, running a bookstore with her sister and reaching out into the world through her blog. Then she finds a cryptic list in an old edition of Bambi that connects her to Annika’s story . . . and maybe to the long-buried story of a dear friend. As she digs into the past, Callie must risk venturing outside the safe world she’s built for a chance at answers, adventure, and maybe even new love.

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Hi Melanie! Welcome to the blog!

Melanie: Apples (if that apple happens to be a Honeycrisp 🙂 ). Less messy than an orange.

Carrie: Honeycrisp apples are the best, hands down. I want one now….

Melanie: Earl Grey in the morning, a cup of coffee in the afternoon, and green tea at night.

Carrie: Substitute those drinks for diet coke, diet coke, and hot chocolate and I’m in 😉

Melanie: Music. I hate stopping and restarting a story unless absolutely necessary, and I like turning back in a book if I missed something.

Carrie: Yes! Exactly. My mind wanders when I’m listening to audiobooks.

Melanie: I love both, but if I had to choose between the two, I’d drive to the mountains and then hike to a river or lake.

Carrie: You had me nodding along until ‘hike’ lol. How about a mountain cabin ON the lake or bubbling stream? 😉

Q: Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?

Melanie: Juggling. Not with rings or balls (I’m terrible at that kind of juggling), but often it feels like I have six or seven things spiraling up in the air for my family and I have to catch each of them at the right time, in the right order, and toss them back up again. It’s fun when I catch everything, but some days, when my mind wanders away to a fictional world, this superpower fails me. If I miss one appointment/meeting/deadline, everything else seems to come crashing to the ground. 

Carrie: Oh girl! I totally and completely relate to that. I think we are kindred spirits… ♥

Q: Which books are ‘on your nightstand’?

Melanie: My nightstand is always overflowing. I have my Bible, Long Way Gone,A Plain Leaving, Girl at the End of the World, Why the Dutch are Different (my next novel is set in Holland), Sensible Shoes, Mistaken, and Under a Cloudless Sky.

Carrie: Excellent reading material!

Q: What inspired you to write Hidden Among the Stars? Can you tell us about the research that went into writing this novel?

Melanie: My husband and I backpacked across Europe to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary, and our favorite stop was the ancient town and alpine lake called Hallstatt. On this trip, we discovered that this region in Austria’s Alps is often called the “Devil’s Dustbin” because the Nazis retreated through here near the end of World War II, throwing all sorts of valuable items in the lakes. Because of the water’s depth and the many hiding places in the underwater forests, caves, and shifting sands, people continue searching for World War II artifacts here today. After learning this history, I began digging through mounds of old books and interviews to create my own story about two people—characters in the past and present—searching for a lost treasure in Lake Hallstatt.

Carrie: I was just absolutely fascinated by this history while I was reading Hidden Among the Stars.

Q: Hidden Among the Stars features several characters whose lives intersect after 80 years. How does this perspective make your novel unique?

Melanie: Not only can I invite readers on a historical journey through time-slip fiction, we can experience through story what happens as a result of the past. I love weaving together the threads of past and present storylines and ultimately having these stories collide near the end of a novel as secrets are revealed and old wounds are redeemed. 

Carrie: This is one of the things I love most about time-slip / dual timeline novels – that moment when the past and present stories collide. I love it!

Q: Why did you decide to feature children’s literature as part of this story? (an aspect i LOVED by the way)

Melanie: At first, I wanted to counter the heaviness of the past scenes with the life and fun of children’s books, but the more I wrote, I was reminded of some of the poignant and provoking themes in great children’s literature. Many children’s books are about confronting fear, and this novel features two books written in the shadow of World War II that helped both children and adults overcome fear.

Carrie: As I’ve said, I really really loved this aspect to both the present and the past storylines. It added a tenderness, a poignancy to the whole book and I think it also just speaks right to the heart of those of us who have cherished books since childhood ♥

Q: What role does faith play in this story?

Melanie: Faith is integral to Hidden Among the Stars. As I wrote this book, I dug deep into a question that has haunted me for years: how can a loving God allow so much pain in our world? I wrestled with this question personally as my characters in both the contemporary and historical portions struggled to find an answer. I hope their conclusions will encourage and inspire readers in their own journey. 

Carrie: It’s a pivotal question that i think everyone wrestles with at some point in their lives, if we’re being honest.

Q: If you could choose one Bible verse as a key theme for Hidden Among the Stars, which would it be?

Melanie: “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1 (NIV). Throughout the writing of Hidden Among the Stars, God taught me once again that no matter what happens in this life, I don’t have to be afraid!

Carrie: Yes! Amen ♥

Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.

Melanie: I just returned from the Netherlands and am finishing a time-slip novel based on an incredible rescue mission that happened in Amsterdam during World War II. The heart of this story is about identity—who we are in Christ, no matter the circumstances—and I hope it will capture again the power of seemingly ordinary people doing extraordinary things to fight evil and rescue those in need. 

Carrie: Oh I cannot wait to read this one!

Tyndale House Publishing is offering a print copy of Hidden Among the Stars to one of my readers! (US only) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

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What about you? What interests you most about Hidden Among the Stars?

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34 responses to “Author Interview (and a Giveaway!): Melanie Dobson & Hidden Among the Stars

  1. Trixi

    I haven’t read too many war era fiction books and I’m interested in adding more to my reading schedule. I’ve not yet discovered Melanie’s writing, but really want to 🙂

    Thanks for the fun author interview & giveaway!

  2. Andrea Johnson

    On my to read list already! The beautiful cover drew me in first. I saw it at Barnes and noble the other day! I love WWII novels! And time slip novels! I’m looking forward to how faith is weaved through it and seeking answers ❤️

  3. Kay Garrett

    I love books with this time frame. The write up on the book really has me intrigued and I can’t wait to read your review. I would love the opportunity to read more about Max, Annika, Luzia and Callie. I really like that it’s written with Christian undertones.

  4. Winnie Thomas

    I was able to visit Hallstatt when I went to Europe a few years ago. It’s one of my favorite places ever! So stunning!

    Thanks for the interview! This book is near the top of my TBR pile!

  5. Pam K.

    I am intrigued with many aspects of this book: it’s a time-slip, the World War II time period is one I like learning more about, and the mystery of the treasure sounds fascinating. I’ve read other books by Melanie that I really enjoyed. Thanks for the chance to win Hidden Among the Stars.

  6. Mallori

    I’ve always loved novels about World War II and books that have an unrequited (at the beginning) love romance.

  7. Carrie Turansky

    This story sounds wonderful! Melanie is a master at time-slip stories. Thanks, Carrie and Melanie!

  8. Connie Scruggs

    The whole synopsis is fascinating. I love time slip novels and WWII era books. This sounds really good!

  9. Faith Creech

    I love history of that time period and books dealing with it. This book sounds really good and I would love to read it.

  10. Melissa Andres

    Everything! Everything about this story piques my interest! First of all, that cover. It’s like saying, “You had me at hello!” I just love it! I’m also interested in the setting, the two time periods, and I really like time-slips. I cannot wait to read this book!!

  11. anne

    This story is captivating, wonderful and memorable. I would treasure this novel greatly. Being Jewish this story resonates with me and is profound and meaningful. Max is my grandson’s name. World War 11 novels are my favorite since they are unforgettable and this book sounds incredible.

  12. Jeanne Crea

    I love time-slip novels and Melanie’s are some of my favorites. I am excited to read this, since I love the time period and the element of children’s story’s and how they impact people. Thanks for the chance to win!

  13. Alison Boss

    I LOVE reading historical Christian fiction and it is my favorite genre to read. It brings history to life in a whole exciting realm. I just find everything about Hidden Among the Stars so intriguing!!….WWII, hidden treasure, a cryptic list in a children’s book, and did I mention that it’s a time-slip/dual time?! Squeal! I LOVE dual time lines!!! I have been eagerly anticipating this book since I first heard about it! I can’t wait to read it!! Thank you so much for the chance to win a copy!!!

  14. Caryl Kane

    I’d love to read this historical, time slip novel. I’ve not yet had the pleasure of reading Melanie’s books. Thank you for the opportunity.

  15. Kara S

    I love all historical fiction, more or less, and this sounds like my kind of read, for sure! And, what a tremendous cover to boot!–Kara S

  16. Deanne Patterson

    The author’s name is what drew me to this book first of all. I’ve been absolutely amazed by every book I’ve read by her, loved them. The cover is gorgeous and I love time-slip books and war books_I’m in!

  17. Julie Waldron

    I like that it takes place in the WWII era. I’m really fascinated with that time in history. This is also a great book to share with my daughters, who are also interested in history.

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