Friday, 20 September 2019 Mel Starr, the man behind the Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, describes his journey as an author

Blog | Author Interviews

Mel Starr has created an immersive world around Hugh de Singleton, a medieval surgeon encountering the everyday and the extraordinary in each of the twelve novels in the series. Since the publication of the first book, The Unquiet Bones, Hugh de Singleton has become a much loved character - not least by the author himself. Without a Trace, the twelfth in the series, is available now.

We caught up with Mel earlier this month to talk about his journey as an author over the past several years.

“When I wrote the first of the Hugh de Singleton medieval mysteries I was concerned that I had written a tale which was too Christian for a secular publisher and too secular for a Christian publisher. A long series of rejections seemed to indicate that my fear was accurate. When Lion Hudson decided to publish The Unquiet Bones I learned that this was what they were seeking. An overtly Christian novel would not appeal to an extremely secular society. Hugh de Singleton is a devout man, and that will not change in future tales, but he does not explain the plan of salvation to all he meets.

“As I was sending query letters, synopses, and sample chapters of The Unquiet Bones to agents and publishers I learned that the average first novel is turned down about 60 times before it is published. That knowledge kept me going when the rejections piled up. I didn't keep track, but I suspect that The Unquiet Bones was rejected by about that number of agents and publishers.”

Mel has lived in Michigan for decades – studying, teaching, and now as an author. His novels allude to a fascinating personal and family history.

“I had the good fortune to be reared in a family where reading and scholarship were encouraged. And my parents took me and my older brother and sister to church every Sunday. They not only did that, but they lived their faith every day of the week. I did not rebel against their Christian faith because I saw that they were genuine. There was no hypocrisy in our home.

“My character, Hugh de Singleton, is a surgeon in part because I have a surgeon in my ancestry. Comfort Starr was a Puritan immigrant to Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1636. He was from Ashford, in Kent, and was a surgeon. When I discovered that I became interested in learning more about medieval and early modern surgical practice. Hugh finds his skills required in each of the tales.”

You can find all of the Hugh de Singleton series on the Lion Hudson website by clicking here. The latest addition to the Chronicles, Without a Trace, is available now.