"YOU'RE A DOCTOR?" Cheryl leaned toward Mel and raised her voice to be heard over the din of Mazzio diners. "You could help me paralyze someone, then, couldn't you?"
Mel stared at her with some trepidation. This was the "nice young lady" his pastor, Brother Ron, wanted him to meet? "Um . . . well . . . what, exactly, did you--"
"I'd better explain myself," she said with a smile. "I write novels. I'm doing research on book number thirteen, and I need one of my characters to be paralyzed through part of the story. Any idea how I could do that without damaging him permanently?"
With relief and sudden interest, Mel gave her all the information she needed. Actually, she received more than she needed, in detail. He couldn't understand why she only ate half a slice of pizza the whole evening.
Thus was Cheryl's introduction into the world of an emergency room physician. It was Mel's introduction into fiction. They were both fascinated. A year and a half later, they were married.
The fascination grew as Mel shared more of his world and Cheryl's imagination took over. Together they generated ideas for a story. With Mel's medical input, encouragement and help with plotting, and Cheryl's writing skills, they developed their first novel together, and called it Sacred Trust. Bethany House published it in 1999. Eight months later came the sequel. Solemn Oath. To end the three-book series, Silent Pledge was published in December 0f 2000.
Both Mel and Cheryl Hodde (pronounced Hoddee) dreamed of their chosen professions since they were children. Mel remembers the decision he made when he was ten years old to become a physician. At the time his dream was to be an old-time country doctor who knew all his patients as well as he knew his own family, prayed for them, and sometimes even accepted chickens for payment. Although his career didn't develop in the way he expected, he can't imagine anything more rewarding, especially now that he is able to incorporate his knowledge into novels with his wife.
Cheryl remembers composing songs and stories before she knew her ABC's. When she wrote her first romance novel in 1985 she realized that no romance, and no life, can be right without Christ at the center, and so that was how she wrote"with Christ at the center. After she and Mel got married in 1995, they worked together on rewrites of her previous manuscripts. This time, when she marketed them, they began to gain notice from publishers. Three of her first novels, entitled The Healing Promise, Ozark Sunrise, and A Living Soul have now been published by Heartsong Presents under the name of Hannah Alexander.
"I hope this is just the beginning," Cheryl says. "Mel and I have a lot of stories yet to write."