ABOUT MELISSA JONES
Melissa was born in London in 1965, the daughter of Jamaican screenwriter Evan Jones and an English actress. It was a creative environment - her sister (pictured right) is the novelist Sadie Jones. From her mother Melissa inherited a love of Art, houses and gardens; from her father a sense of foreignness based on his stories of growing up as one of seven children on a large country property in Jamaica before electricity and the telephone.
Melissa went to Westminster School for her A levels; a stimulating environment where rigorous thought and debate were encouraged. She studied English, History and History of Art. This was a formative time – she won an Exhibition to Oxford to read English after the seventh term of study.
Her first novel, Cold in Earth was published in 1998 after several different jobs, including work in film and television, first as a runner and PA and then after joining SelecTV (maker of Birds of a Feather and Lovejoy) as a script editor and comedy producer.
Cold in Earth (1998) and its successor Sick at Heart (1999) – both examinations of dark states of mind with fast-moving compulsive plots, were published in the UK by Orion, and by Knaur in Germany. Cold in Earth was also published in Italy by Mondadori, and by St Martin’s Press in the US and received excellent reviews.
While Melissa's two children were very young, she took on a number of different jobs, writing proposals for the accountancy firm, KPMG, journalism for the architectural press, and a book called Interiors for the Under Fives, published by Wiley in 2005 – an interesting opportunity to look at the design of space through the eyes of young children.
In 2007 she moved to rural Essex with her family. Writing in the barn at the end of her garden she wrote her new novel, THE HIDDEN HEART OF EMILY HUDSON (UK: Sphere, 2010). The book is published in the US as EMILY HUDSON by Pamela Dorman Books/Viking Penguin, and in Canada by Harper Collins, (2010).
This book was inspired by the true-life relationship Henry James had with his cousin, Minny Temple. She was his Muse – someone whose original mind and spirit were tragically extinguished by an early death from consumption at the age of twenty-four. The blurring of the line between fact and fiction – what James made of Minny Temple, and what might have happened had she lived were all preoccupations which drove this story: that and a long-held love of the nineteenth century novel.
Melissa now lives in London and is working on a new novel also set in the nineteenth century.
*Photograph of Melissa and Sadie Jones by Reme Campos