The Dating Charade| Interview with Melissa Ferguson

Are you looking for a lighthearted weekend read? If so I’ve found some fun books for you. A while back I was browsing the book aisle at Target, and I couldn’t help but pick up Melissa Ferguson’s debut novel The Dating Charade.

In The Dating Charade, Cassie Everson is an expert at escaping bad first dates. After meeting and running from several men over the years, Cassie is at her breaking point. She is ready to delete her dating account and give up on her dreams of having a family.    

That is when she catches firefighter Jett Bentley’s eye. Jett remembers Cassie from high school. He cautiously decides to message her. And after a fun twist of events Cassie is back in the dating game. 

Cassie is impressed by Jett on their first date. But when they go home they find three children dropped into their lives–each– and they must decide what to do. So naturally they do what any mature adult would do– they hide the kids from each other while trying to sort out their situations. What could possibly go wrong? 

Melissa Ferguson weaves together a hilarious and heartwarming love story. I like that in the midst of a humorous love story, this novel mentions meaningful topics like social work, foster care and adoption. Rom Coms are definitely new territory for me, but this book made me smile. If you are looking for a fun, clean, fun Rom Com, The Dating Charade is for you. 

Melissa also wrote another fun book called The Cul-de-Sac War

In this book Bree Leake does not want to settle down. She moves from job to job and she plans to keep moving when the curtain falls after her last performance at the Barter Theater. But she is stopped in her tracks when her parents make her an offer. If she stays put for a year, they will give her the one thing she’s always wanted–her grandmother’s house. That is when life starts throwing Bree some curveballs. 

Chip McBride is Bree’s good looking and irritating next door neighbor. His stubborn streak rivals Bree’s. And she would do just about anything to get Chip off of her street. She pulls an elaborate prank on Chip in order to drive him away. Chip fights fire with fire and things quickly escalate. That is when the lines of love and hate begin to blur together. Their rivalry takes a hilarious romantic new turn. 

This book would be perfect for a vacation beach read, or just for a lazy Saturday around the house. The Cul-de-Sac War is lighthearted and perfect for relaxing. I appreciate that Melissa’s novels do not focus on the lustful side of romance, but instead offer us fun, enjoyable, satisfying stories. Faith and morality are sprinkled throughout the book. 

Because I enjoyed Melissa’s books I thought it would be fun to ask her a few questions:

Interview with Melissa Ferguson

Readers love relatable characters. How did you make your characters feel so realistic? 

Because I do write them about real people. I just find some exasperating neighbor, slap on thirty years, give him an old bathrobe he forgets to close on his way to the mailbox each morning, and voila. Meet Charles.

Just kidding (mostly) 🙂

Before I even write the first word of a novel, I write out a thorough character description and overview of the whole story. With my first (still unpublished) manuscript, I had no idea what I was doing and just started typing (hence why it’s still an unpublished manuscript). But with every novel I’ve written since then, I’ve worked harder to flesh out the characters before I even type my name in the header. I may not have a clue what’s going to happen in Chapter 4, or 5, or 16, but if I know the strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and quirks that make each of my characters unique, lovable, despisable, and true, I know a story can unfold. I know my characters will be realistic—because they’ve already become real to me.

What is your inspiration for The Cul-de-Sac WarWhat should readers expect from the story?

One of the biggest inspirations from the story came from the setting. I live in the area where this book is set: Abingdon, VA. One of my favorite activities around here is to go to The Barter Theatre, the nation’s oldest live performance theater. One day while I was with my four-year-old daughter watching Singin’ in the Rain, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun (and funny!) to not only write a book about this adorable Hallmark town, but also write it from the perspective of a woman who just so happens to be a terrible actress at The Barter and only has a few weeks to learn how to tap dance for an audition, or else she’ll lose a fantastic opportunity?”

I hope readers come away from The Cul-de-Sac War with a smile on their faces, having laughed and enjoyed a little mental break from the world. But also, perhaps most importantly, my desire is that readers walk away with a sense of hope.

Which of The Cul-de-Sac War characters did you have the most fun writing?

I think of all the characters, I enjoyed writing about Bree’s grumpy housemate the most: Evie. She is the costume designer for The Barter Theatre and Bree’s frenemy. Because Bree’s grandmother left the house to both Evie and Bree, they are stuck living together until they figure out what to do with the situation. And, oh-so-conveniently, Evie (spurred by Bree’s nemesis neighbor, Chip), decides to attempt the ultra-hippie, minimalist lifestyle, and starts hauling off furniture, shutting off water, and doing so much more in a humorous way that makes Bree’s life miserable. I thoroughly loved writing about quirky, cranky, oddly-lovable Evie, and particularly enjoyed seeing her get her own happily ever after in the end.

What can we expect next?  

Be sure to check out This Time Around, a collection of three sweet novellas by myself and two other authors (and as for my novella, it’s Theo’s story who is in The Cul-de-Sac War).  And my next full-length rom/com is Meet Me in the Margins. It comes out next March! 

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