For the first author interview of 2008, I’m pleased to announce that we’ve got Melissa Walker here! Melissa is the author of the wonderful book Violet on the Runway, about a normal high school girl whose average life turns into something far from ordinary really quickly when she’s discovered at her local movie theater and heads out to model in New York City. If you haven’t read it, go and do so! Without further ado, the fabulous Melissa Walker:
What were you like in high school? Anything like Violet?
Honestly, many of Violet’s likes and dislikes are my own, so I’d say there’s probably a little of me in her. I worked at a movie theater in high school, too. But I didn’t feel QUITE as awkward as she does.
I think everyone struggles with insecurities-in whatever forms they take. I was never 6’1″ and beanpole thin, but I did have days when I felt gawky and like I didn’t fit in. That’s a universal experience, but when we’re going through it as teenagers, we all feel like we’re the only ones experiencing those less-than-confident moments.
Have you ever had a brush with the kind of fame Violet finds in New York? Would you want to be in the spotlight?
I haven’t ever had that level of fame. Working in magazines, you get to have your name thrown around a little bit in the press, but not in a big way. I wouldn’t want to deal with being a “personality” because then EVERYTHING is analyzed and scrutinized.
What do you plan to write about after Violet?
I’m not sure! Any ideas? ☺ I’m working on book 3 right now, Violet in Private, so after that I’ll have to think of a new idea.
What are your writing environment and process like?
When I was writing the books at full speed, I ate breakfast, then wrote. I didn’t allow myself to have lunch until I had 1000 words on the page. They didn’t have to be good words, but they had to be there. I did that five days a week; afternoons were spent working on magazine stories. Of course, some days I played hooky in Prospect Park, some days I had lunch dates in the city so just wrote 300 words, etc. I had to let myself enjoy the perks of being freelance sometimes! But in general, I was pretty consistent with the 1000-word rule.
I write in an overstuffed, pink flowered chair in the bay window of my apartment in Brooklyn.
Do you have any actors and actresses in mind who could play your characters if Violet on the Runway were to be made into a movie?
Great question! Honestly, I would want Violet to be a young, unknown model who can also act. Is that too much to ask?
For Angela the agent, I’d love someone who looks like Rachel Zoe, though she’s not an actress… yet.
And Kat Dennings would make a great Veronica, I think.
Can you tell us anything about the sequel to Violet on the Runway, Violet By Design, which comes out in March? How many books about Violet do you plan to write?
So far, there are three books set for publication.
Violet by Design follows Violet in the international modeling world. There’s more romance, a big body image issue, and Violet has to come to terms with how she’s compromised her values to succeed in the modeling world.
What are some of your favorite books or authors?
I really love Sarah Dessen, Carolyn Mackler, and, of course, the glorious Judy Blume.
Lately, some favorites that I’ve read include THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie, GO ASK OGRE by Jolene Siena, GROSSE POINT GIRL by Sarah Grace McCandless, STORY OF A GIRL by Sara Zarr and BLOOM by Elizabeth Scott.
You’re a journalist, as well as an author. Which kind of writing do you prefer?
I feel lucky to be able to do both. Some days I want to lose myself in imagination and create a fictional story, but other days I love interviewing people and putting together a true narrative based on real lives. Both are great in different ways.
Do you feel that your editing and writing for teen magazines helped with your writing a novel aimed at teens? If so, how?
Yes! I really think it was the ELLEgirl audience who inspired me-they were such smart, funny girls and I got to the point where I wanted to write more for them.
Also, as soon as I started peeking behind the scenes of modeling and fashion as a magazine editor, I knew that I wanted to put a “real girl” in the middle of this crazy world, a girl who would see it from the outside and be like, “Holy crap!” It’s an insane environment, so there’s lots of fodder for adventure, humor and drama, especially from the point of view of a small town girl who’s not yet jaded.
What’s your favorite part of being a writer?
I’ve been doing it since I was about five years old, and the fact that someone pays me for it still amazes me. What could be better? I love creating stories!
Is there any question you wish I’d asked you?
Maybe favorite karaoke songs?
Rihanna’s Umbrella when I’m feeling like being challenged.
PM Dawn’s Set Adrift on Memory Bliss when I’m feeling soulful.
Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin when I’m feeling classic.
Thank you so much, Melissa!