This past August, Hallmark premiered an original movie based on Melody Carlson’s book All Summer Long. While that opened up more opportunities for this bestselling author, her fans were already in love with her charming novels full of quirky characters, family drama, and sweet romances. Her latest contemporary romance, The Happy Camper (Revell), will have you scouring Craigslist for your own diamond-in-the-rough camper to restore, and haunting your local hardware store for a handy guy to help your dreams come true. In this interview, Melody explains how a vintage camper brought two people together, offers some background on her Hallmark movie, and shares why contemporary romance is her “sweet spot” genre.
Melody, would you tell our readers a bit about The Happy Camper?
Ready for a change, Dillon Michaels quits her job and heads home to help her ailing grandfather on his farm. But her estranged and eccentric mom is already there and taking over. So Dillon, feeling displaced and confused, questions why she came home. When her grandpa offers her an old vintage trailer, she is thrilled. Despite its dilapidated, mouse-infested condition, she feels like she’s won the lottery. Working to restore the sixties camp trailer, Dillon is befriended by hardware store owner Jordan Atwood. And although life and love have their ups and downs, Dillon discovers the secrets to becoming a happy camper.
Vintage trailers are very popular right now. Can you tell readers how a vintage camp trailer was a key component in bringing two people together?
Dillon has never set up housekeeping, much less restored a trailer into what she hopes will become her tiny home. But she’s determined to go the DIY route. This necessitates numerous trips to the small-town hardware store. Jordan, owner of the store, is also a vintage trailer expert, resulting in a friendship that gets challenged on various fronts.
What do you hope readers will gain from reading The Happy Camper?
Hopefully, readers will be entertained and maybe learn a thing or two about renovating vintage trailers. (This story is partly inspired by my own journey of restoring an old camp trailer.) But most of all, I’d like readers to see how grace can heal broken relationships, and to experience a feeling of hopefulness when they finish the book.
Your books are perfect for Hallmark movie fans, and one of your recent titles, All Summer Long, was recently made into a Hallmark movie. Can you provide readers with more details on the movie?
This is my first Hallmark movie—and exciting for me. I traveled to British Columbia to watch the production, which was very interesting since it was partially set on a cool old boat. I loved seeing the production crew and actors at work and hope this will be just the beginning of more film projects.
You have a gift for creating delightful tales full of quirky characters, family drama, and sweet romance. When did you know that contemporary romance was your sweet spot when it came to writing?
I guess I knew early on—after receiving some nice awards to confirm it. Being a prolific and somewhat restless writer, I played with those other genres as well. But I feel most at home with contemporary stories that include an interesting cast, some modern conflicts, a fun setting, and an element of romance. Not surprisingly, those are my favorite kinds of books to read as well.
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