About Melissa

The Official Version 

Nebraska native Melissa Amateis Marsh grew up on a farm near Bridgeport, Nebraska. She holds a BA in history from Chadron State College and an MA in history from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Her work has been published in Nebraska History, America in WWII and several historical encyclopedias. Her latest work, Nebraska POW Camps: A History of WWII Prisoners in the Heartland, won the 2015 nonfiction - Nebraska History category of the Nebraska Book Awards.

Marsh lives with her teenage daughter; a rambunctious lab/collie mix appropriately named Blitz; and the three research assistants, aka the cats, in eastern Nebraska.

She is represented by Marlene Stringer of the Stringer Literary Agency.

The Ridiculously Long Version

Most "About Me" pages for writers tell you how they've always known they wanted to be a writer at an early age.

Well, at an early age, I wanted to be lots of things. A teacher. A librarian. A lawyer. I even dabbled with the idea of being a nurse (for probably one afternoon). What I really wanted, though, and constantly inserted into my playtime, was to be a private investigator.

I had a friend who shared my enthusiasm. Her last name was Brace. My last name was Amateis. We constantly quarreled over the name of our agency: A & B Investigations or B &A Investigations. I don't think I won. Unfortunately, our cases usually involved spying on the grouchy neighbor next door and collecting clues that showed without a doubt he was involved in some high-level schemes.

I turned that love of snooping investigation inward and started a series of stories called "The Adventures of the Fanner's Gang." I wrote it on my mother's manual typewriter and for some reason, I used a red ink ribbon. The Fanner's Gang was composed entirely of animals. There was Kanga the Kangaroo and Yak, the uh, Yak, and a few others. Before I typed a word, I created a Table of Contents with the name of each story, the first being "The Mystery of the Va-Va-Voom!" I actually wrote this story, as well as the next one, which, if I remember right, involved some sort of jewel heist. Sadly, though, I abandoned the project after that and put writing on the backburner.

The idea to become a full-time, full-fledged, fully-awesome writer came in the 6th grade. I was big into reading lush, historical novels (usually full of romance, too, which my parents didn't particularly like and, as the parent of a young girl now, I cannot say I blamed them) and Rosalind Laker was one of my favorites. She probably gave me my love of European history since her novels were set in England and France. One afternoon after school, I was lounging on my bed, reading one of Laker's historical suspense novels, The Smuggler's Bride. Halfway through the novel, I thought, I can do this. I can write a book.

That was the turning point.

I hauled out my mother's old manual typewriter again and set up shop in the basement. It was the perfect retreat during those hot, summer days and every morning (or afternoon, depending on just how late Mom would let me sleep in), I'd head downstairs and start clacking away. I have beautiful, fond memories of that time. My first novel was entitled Depths of Love and was set in France during the French Revolution. I typed it on loose-leaf notebook paper, and I would keep meticulous track of how many pages I wrote each writing session on a piece of paper that I hung on the concrete wall.

I still have that manuscript, and I still have that piece of paper.

I never looked back after that day. As my mom was a writer, albeit a writer of facts (journalism) and not fiction, I convinced her to get a subscription to Writer's Digest. I began to read up on craft, kept writing (though I graduated to the Tandy 1000 computer!) and I always, always had story ideas brewing. They inevitably involved some sort of suspense, a throwback to my detective days, and I couldn't wait for the day my novel was published.

I'm still waiting, but that day is getting closer. I've completed four novels (the first two will probably never see an editor's desk), and am working on my fifth. The first was a historical romance that thankfully never got published. The other three are all set during World War II. I've had several short stories published, published history articles in America in WWII magazine and Nebraska History magazine, plus other short history articles in encylopedias (I received my BA and MA in history - thanks, Rosalind Laker!). I completed my master's thesis on the German POW camp at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, during World War II.

I combined my love of history with my love of writing. It's the perfect compromise.

But I still think about those days when I set up my detective agency in one of my Dad's old, abandoned tractor cabs on our farm. What would it be like, I wonder, to actually be a full-fledged detective? Secretly, though, I've found that I'm much more comfortable writing about danger than actually being in danger.

C'est la vie.

The best part? I'm also mother to the most beautiful, creative, inspiring little girl ever (well, she's not so little anymore, but a teenager!). We live in Nebraska. I still love history and I am a World War II historian specializing in the American home front and Nazi Germany.

New Digs

I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance! www.melissamarsh.net