Melissa penned her first novel at the age of thirteen and has been writing consistently for fifteen years. She has completed ten young adult novels and several short stories. Her preferred genre is young adult but she writes non-fiction and children’s books as well. Her calling is to connect with others and give hope through writing. Melissa's debut YA science fiction novel, MY BEGINNING, will be published by Lucky Press, LLC on July 1st, 2011. Learn more about Melissa and her books at www.melissaklineauthor.com
Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Melissa: It wasn't until after the completion of my fifth novel that I realized I wanted to share my writing with the world. I had been writing my entire life but up to that point all of my novels were private. There was something that occurred while writing that fifth book - a metamorphosis. Since then, I have been very passionate about sharing my writing with others.
Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?
Melissa: I wrote my first book when I was 6 years old and dabbled in writing throughout the years in and out of school. It wasn't until I was 13 that I created my very first full-length novel. I have been writing novels consistently since then. Although I have had some basic writing education, I am a self-taught novelist. I learn best from trial and error, hands on experience and mistakes.
Deirdra: What makes you passionate about writing?
Melissa: Everything! :) I love the escapism involved when creating a novel, the flexibility of being able to manipulate and form words; the variety in topics and genres. I also enjoy technicalities like grammar, vocabulary and editing. But what I cherish most about writing is spreading hope and inspiration to others.
Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Melissa: Very difficult! Years of rejections, trial and error, failure... though through it all I believed in myself and never gave up. I knew that if I just kept working at it, I would succeed. The turning point for me was in defining myself as a writer, building a professional platform and networking. I took my writing career very seriously and it payed off!
Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Melissa: Rejection is never easy, especially when it becomes the norm. I took a few breaks from submitting after getting very discouraged, but something or someone would always remind me to never give up. I knew that if I didn't put my writing out there and at least try, nothing was ever going happen. What helped me was always having at least one query or submission floating. It gave me something to hold onto.
Deirdra: What is your writing schedule like?
Melissa: Chaotic! I do not have a set time or daily goal. My writing process is very intuitive. I have to feel that spark of inspiration or be completely enthralled in a novel to write consistently. I'm a big note taker - then when I can steal away a chunk of time I have at it!
Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Melissa: My ideas come from dreams, interactions with others, people watching, movies, books and other pieces of writing. When an idea sticks or hits me really hard in my intuitive gut, I know it's something I have to write about.
Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about your essay CREATIVE AWAKENING.
Melissa: CREATIVE AWAKENING is one of 49 essays in an anthology called, Speaking Your Truth: Courageous Stories from Inspiring Women. My essay is about my evolution as a writer and how I learned to honor my creativity through life's ups and downs as a young woman, wife and mother.
Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about your novel MY BEGINNING.
Melissa: MY BEGINNING is a young adult science fiction novel about sixteen-year-old Ivory, a girl who has spent her entire life sealed in an institution. A devastating plague wiped out scores of people and animals, polluting the earth and requiring that children never venture outside. Or is that all a lie? Ivory and Aidan decide to find out. They escape the institution and find a world unlike anything they had ever known.
Deirdra: How many beta readers do you have review your manuscript before you send it to your editor?
Melissa: A handful. I share my manuscripts with close friends, family and my writing group.
Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?
Melissa: A sense of adventure, inspiration, hope and delight!
Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
Melissa: I've been known to do both, but I am more inclined to sit down and start writing. When that spark of creativity hits, there is no stopping me. I like allowing a book to lead me, not vice versa.
Deirdra: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Melissa: I don't usually have this problem while in the midst of a novel. The only reason I stop writing is because I don't want it to end. However, I do run into writing block issues when I'm between novels and stagnant. Sometimes I have to wait a long time before that burst of creativity hits and it can be a challenge.
Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Melissa: I do a little bit of both. I am a very quiet person and usually when I'm trying to concentrate, I like complete silence. But there are times when there's a certain mood or scene in the book that comes to life and needs a soundtrack. I enjoy listening to trance when writing.
Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Melissa: I enjoy using various creative methods to make my characters come to life. For MY BEGINNING I created character sketches and collages, built an institution scene using miniatures, and collected "props" including uniforms, textbooks, Ivory's necklace and institution keys. I use these tools for visual inspiration and fun! You can view these and other character creations on my website: www.melissaklineauthor.com
Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Melissa: Friends and family for believing in me, encouraging me and reminding me to never give up.
Deirdra: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?
Melissa: When I write I put myself in my characters shoes and "become" them. I always think about what they are feeling, seeing, tasting, smelling, etc. I also find it helpful to recite dialogue as a test to make sure it sounds realistic.
Deirdra: What authors do you admire, and why?
Melissa: I admire writers who support and encourage other writers, like Stephen King, Anne Lammot, Julia Cameron and Heather Sellers. I admire authors who are passionate about helping others in general like Geneen Roth, Caroline Myss, Marianne Williamson, LouiseHay and Iyanla Vanzant. Some of my favorite fiction authors are S.E. Hinton, Roald Dahl, Janet Fitch, Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson, Megan McCafferty, Sophie Kinsella, Alice Sebold, Rosalind Miles... These are just a few of many - I don't have enough space to list them all!
Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?
Melissa: Water - lots of water.
Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?
Melissa: In addition to writing I enjoy painting, photography, drawing, miniatures, scrapbooking, dancing, hiking, entertaining and travel.
Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Melissa: Believe in yourself and never give up! Create a platform, network and promote yourself as a professional. Define what you want and go for it!
Deirdra: What are you working on now?
Melissa: I am currently plotting out a sequel to MY BEGINNING.
Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?