Romantic Novelists' Association

Sophie Claire And Melinda Hammond: Authors On The Edge

13 June 2018

Today we welcome Sophie Claire and Melinda Hammond to the RNA blog, on behalf of their Hebden Bridge Writing Group, Authors on the Edge. They have recently worked together on a collaboration released last month. Here Sophie and Melinda talk about their experience of collaborating and self-publishing and I ask them about their end product, Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings.


Sophie Claire and Melinda Hammond explain…

Hebden Bridge, a pretty mill town in Yorkshire, is known for being a creative hub and home to many artists and musicians. But for a group of us, known as Authors on the Edge, it’s been particularly inspirational – and resulted in the publication of an anthology of short stories, Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings.

Who are Authors on the Edge? We’re a group of romance writers founded by Helena Fairfax, and we meet regularly to discuss our writing over lunch. Hebden Bridge is a central meeting point as we’re scattered across Lancashire, Manchester and Yorkshire.



L to R: Helen Pollard, Sophie Claire,  Kate Field, Marie Laval, Helena Fairfax, Mary Jayne Baker, Melinda Hammond, Jacqui Cooper and Angela Wren







Our meetings are usually combined with a little shopping too because Hebden Bridge is a treasure trove of quirky, independent shops, so when we came up with the idea of an anthology, it seemed natural to set it in the same town. We fictionalised it as Haven Bridge, but the canal boats, the mills, the many cafés and pubs all feature.







But what would tie all our stories together? We needed a theme or a focal point and during the course of a single lunch we decided that every story would be set in the same shop run by the eccentric and mysterious Miss Moonshine. And once again Hebden Bridge provided just what we needed: this shop exterior, dated 1777.









It seemed a logical progression from this to the idea that Miss Moonshine had been running her shop for centuries (at least, it did to those of us who write historical fiction!)

And the final piece of the puzzle was to decide on Miss Moonshine herself. What does this magical lady look like? Well, we chose Vivienne Westwood as our muse, which of course gave rise to many colourful and unusual outfits and our own addition of a pet chihuahua called Napoleon!

Thanks to Helena Fairfax’s expertise as a proofreader and editor, we self-published the book and it’s available in both ebook and paperback. The cover was designed by another multi-talented member of our group, Mary Jayne Baker.

We write in a variety of styles – historical and contemporary romance, mystery and romantic comedy – and as all our stories have come together it’s been fascinating to see how each of us has developed the premise of Miss Moonshine’s emporium in our individual way. Needless to say, collaborating on such a project has brought us closer as a group, and it’s been such a fun and rewarding experience that we hope this comes across to our readers.





Thanks, Sophie and Melinda, for an interesting insight into how your collaborative anthology evolved. And onto your recent release, Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings.


With a wealth of writing genres, is Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings set in the past or present day? Or is there even an element of time travel?

Miss Moonshine’s Emporium has been in existence for a couple of hundred years and the stories reflect that. We first meet Miss Moonshine in 1816, the year after the Battle of Waterloo, and then there are stories right up to the present day. There’s no time travel exactly, but Miss Moonshine is a very unusual lady and a great air of mystery surrounds her. Readers might wonder just how old is she exactly? How does she instinctively ‘know’ what each of her customers needs? And why do her outfits seem to reflect the fashions of eras centuries apart? 😉


With so many of you, how did you find the experience of co-writing? Did you stick to a strict timetable or did you all write independently and then come together to combine?

We all wrote our stories independently and to a deadline, then each story was edited by two authors within the group before Helena Fairfax and Mary Jayne Baker did an overall proofread and edit of the complete anthology. It was great fun reading each other’s work and marvelling at how differently we all interpreted the original premise.


What advice would you give to those thinking of co-writing or self-publishing?

Go for it!  This was a wonderfully inspiring process. We were on our mettle to get the short story finished and we all drew on our varied experiences to produce and publish the anthology.  Of course a great deal of co-operation and goodwill is required and everyone was very generous with their time and expertise. We all edited each other’s stories, and we all had a say in the publishing and marketing, but we were fortunate to have at least two editors and a talented cover designer among our group!




Thank you again, Sophie and Melinda.

It’s been our pleasure. Thanks for letting us spread a little of Miss Moonshine’s magic!




Sometimes what you need is right there waiting for you…

Miss Moonshine’s Wonderful Emporium has stood in the pretty Yorkshire town of Haven Bridge for as long as anyone can remember. With her ever-changing stock, Miss Moonshine has a rare gift for providing exactly what her customers need: a fire opal necklace that provides a glimpse of a different life; a novel whose phantom doodler casts a spell over the reader; a music box whose song links love affairs across the generations. One thing is for certain: after visiting Miss Moonshine’s quirky shop, life is never the same again…

Nine romantic novelists from Yorkshire and Lancashire, including best-selling and award-winning authors, have joined together to create this collection of uplifting stories guaranteed to warm your heart. This intriguing mix of historical and contemporary romances will make you laugh, cry, and believe in the happy-ever-after.





Author Bios:

Melinda Hammond lives in the Pennines, where she weaves her stories full of romance and adventure. Since her first book was published by Robert Hale in 1983, she has had around 50 historical novels published. She won the Reviewers’ Award in 2005 for Dance for a Diamond and her novel Gentlemen in Question was a Historical Novel Society Editors’ Choice in 2006. Writing as Sarah Mallory, she has won the prestigious RoNA Rose Award from the Romantic Novelists Association in 2012 and 2013.

You can find her on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.






Sophie Claire writes emotional stories set in England and in sunny Provence, where she spent her summers as a child.

She has a French mother and a Scottish father, but was born in Africa and grew up in Manchester, England, where she still lives with her husband and two sons.

Previously, she worked in marketing and proofreading academic papers, but writing is what she always considered her ‘real job’ and now she’s delighted to spend her days dreaming up heartwarming contemporary romance stories set in beautiful places.

You can find out more at, Twitter, and Facebook.






Lisa Hill writes contemporary romance with a light-hearted tone.  What interests her most is people, their interactions, emotions and relationships.  It’s probably why her career to date has been based in property; she confesses herself that she is ‘naturally curious’. Her first encounter with a romance author was chats over the garden wall between her father, Godfrey, and Mrs Cooper from the neighbouring village of Bisley.  It came as quite a surprise in later life to find that Mrs Cooper was in fact Jilly Cooper!  Lisa’s writing inspiration now comes from other Cotswolds’ authors including Jill Mansell and Katie Fforde.
Lisa is a graduate of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme and attributes this supportive and informative scheme to her winning the Choc Lit Search for a Star competition 2016 with her debut novel Meet Me at Number Five.