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Works hard writes harder


Author of The best Canadian suspense novel

Her work has been a finalist for the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award for Best Thriller, the CWC Award of Excellence, and the Derringer Award


May 19, 2022

Melissa Yuan-Innes, who writes as Melissa Yi, could slice your throat and sew it back up again. Legally. Because she’s an emergency doctor.

In her spare minutes, Melissa writes the Hope Sze medical crime series, which Publishers Weekly hails as “entertaining and insightful,” the CBC names a “must-read,” and The Globe and Mail considers a “standout.” Her work has been a finalist for the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award for Best Thriller, the CWC Award of Excellence, and the Derringer Award, as well as longlisted for the Staunch Prize. Under the name Melissa Yuan-Innes, she writes award-winning speculative fiction and non-fiction.

What’s the last great book you read?

N. K. Jemisin’s The City We Became. So imaginative, fearless, and ground-breaking.

Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer, makes me think of the world differently. 

What if we measured our lives not in years, but in strawberry moons? 

Wild strawberries grow in our lawn and along our street, connecting us to the earth.

I also enjoyed Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come, by Jessica Pan, where an introvert tries saying yes for a year and tries stand up comedy and travelling to random locations.

Which writers — working today do you admire most?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch, who writes in multiple genres, including romance, fantasy, and science fiction. I especially enjoy her Smokey Dalton mysteries, written as Kris Nelscott. I admire her writing and work ethic, and also her teaching, her editing, and her lack of ego in passing on her knowledge to the next generation.

Jennifer Crusie is also an excellent writer and a cool person who built the Argh Ink community.

Who are your favorite writers? Are there any who aren’t as widely known as they should be, whom you’d recommend in particular?

I’ll name the less famous. Robert Jeschonek has such a creative mind. Kris Rusch told me that my writing is startling because it’s so direct and says things that other people don’t want to say, and that Robert’s writing is startling because if you asked him to write a story set in outer space, he’d write from the point of view of the spaceship.

Leslie Claire Walker was one of the winners with me in Writers of Future, and it’s lovely to see her career grow as a YA fantasy author.

Jackie Lau writes terrific multicultural romances that make me laugh (Man vs. Durian, for example).

I loved Phil Preston’s articles in Indian Time, which introduced me to Kanienʼkehá:ka (Mohawk) culture.

And Michael W. Lucas wrote a hilarious book on writing called Domesticate Your Badgers.

What do you read when you’re working on a book? And what kind of reading do you avoid while writing?

For my Hope Sze medical thrillers, I research true crime and comb the medical literature. I also read a lot of books for fun, sometimes in a different genre. Right now, I’m researching anger and psychopaths, but I was tickled by Deborah Blake’s cozy mystery, Furrbidden Fatality. No matter what I’m writing, humour is always on point!

Who is your favorite fictional hero or heroine?

Growing up, I felt drawn to Jane Eyre and a lot of oldest sisters like Wendy in Peter Pan and Ella in All-of-a-Kind Family. 

But favourite of all time? 

Hmm. I do seriously like Kate Shugak and Mutt in Dana Stabenow’s mysteries. But don’t make me choose!

What kind of reader were you as a child?

Avid. I lived in a library three times a week, while my parents brought my brother to Tae Kwon Do lessons. Every time, I was instantly transported to another world. My parents didn’t get it. My mother would say, “You already read that book!” or pride herself that she only read non-fiction. But here’s a happy ending: my mother reads my books now. In fact, I was surprised that her favourite is Wolf Ice, my steamiest thriller starring werewolves.

What books do you find yourself returning to again and again?

Eat Cake, by Jeanne Ray, is my comfort read. I love eating and strong woman, so I enjoy watching a woman save her family from financial hardship by baking cakes.

Harry Potter is a cornerstone of my life. I caught gastroenteritis on my pediatrics rotation for my family medicine residency and was at risk of failing it because I had to take a day or two off, which is very frowned upon. I consoled myself by reading Goblet of Fire. In the end, I passed the rotation. Now that I’m all grown up, I enjoy introducing Harry to my children and to my friends’ children, while still making sure that I support trans rights.

My kids and I have also laughed a lot over Gordon Korman together. He is hilarious.

What moves you most in a work of literature?

It’s the whole package. Characters who feel real, who get into trouble and try to climb out the other side. Realistic plots that still raise the hair on my arms. Telling the truth about human fallibilities, but also showing human generosity and compassion. Worlds where I want to live. And of course I’ll highlight a beautiful turn of phrase.

What genres do you especially enjoy reading? 

Every genre! I read crime, from thrillers to cozies. Fantasy and science fiction are a perfect escape. Romance is the biggest genre in the world. Non-fiction introduces me to new worlds. I read literary, including The Vanishing Half for my book club. And I read different forms: novels, short stories, poems, and plays. If I were on book Tinder, I’d confuse the algorithm, because I’d don’t care what it is, as long as it’s a good read. I hope I read and write until the day I die.

See Melissa Yi is featured on the cover of the Reader's House both print and electronic, available over 190+ countries and around 40.000+ platforms, wholesalers, retailers and  libririres... 

Here are some of them;