Melody Carlson is the author of many Adult, Teen and Children’s books. She has done over 200 books in fact and her list keeps growing! It was, and is my pleasure to connect with her. I don’t know about you but, I definitely gained some insight–This will be beneficial for all my readers, as well as myself 😀
Welcome, Melody Carlson!
1. You are one of the most sought-after seasoned writers with a profile of over 200 books to add to your own memoir one day 😀
What is the most memorable moment of you’re writing career?
The one that comes to mind happened early in my career. The first year that I released women’s novels, I was nominated for RWA’s prestigious Rita Award. Being nominated alone was quite an honor, but when I attended the national conference I never expected to win. The other nominees were well-known, established, respected authors. I was a ‘nobody.’ I didn’t even prepare or consider an acceptance speech. So when I won I was literally speechless—and totally shocked.
2. When I get an idea for a book, it is often birthed from an issue I feel needs to be brought to attention, or a need I see lacking in teens lives today.
Is that the same approach you have when getting ideas for Realistic/Contemporary Fiction or, do you get ideas a different way?
It’s similar for my issues-driven books for teens. I hear something alarming in the media. If it really concerns me, I’ll do some research and then if I discover it’s a serious issue, a book is born. However my issues-driven adult novels (Finding Alice, Crystal Lies, Other Side of Darkness) were inspired by the real lives of loved ones. A story is such a great tool for ‘teaching’ about hard things.
3. What is the one thing you would want a reader to take with them after finishing one of your books?
If it could only be one thing, I would choose GRACE. Grace, to me, is the ability to see beyond a person’s shortcomings and mistakes—and to accept them as they are. We all need it. And I try to create characters and stories that convey and encourage this.
4. We both write about sensitive issues that face youth (teen suicide, loneliness, depression, broken homes). Given these are sensitive in nature, what is your approach to them within the stories you tell?
I guess my approach is to just jump in—to pull no punches—and just tell an honest, straight-forward, often gritty story. Whether its date rape, human trafficking, homelessness. . .you name it—I try to tell it like it is. All of my TrueColors books and the Secrets series are written like this—all in first-person, and all in an attempt to walk the reader through the character’s messes and heartaches—my attempt to show what happens in real life when we’re not careful or simply the victim of bad circumstances.
5. In the Christian genre, which some have said it is hard to write for, do you find this to be true? I know that you have the skills and the success from writing over 200+ books in this particular arena and I admire that. With the rise of popular YA books such as The Hunger Games and Divergent or, The Fault Within Our Stars is there a temptation for you to veer off the Christian genre path at all?
Because I’m a Christian—that is my world view. So, no matter what genre I write for, it will be part of the story. Sometimes (like in a chicklit book) the ‘faith element’ is very light. But if I’m writing about hard, serious issues, it’s far more evident. Even if I wrote post-apocolyptic dystopia novels (and I have an indie one in the works) the faith element would still be visible.
6. Personally, I can’t write for any other genre. But what advice can you give to a new writer going into the Christian genre as opposed to the secular genres?
First of all, it’s a very tight publishing environment now—both in general and Christian houses. A new author needs to know what makes his/her work unique, and where it best fits. The Christian market is changing, but it still has certain expectations for spiritual content. New authors need to do the research to: 1) Know what houses are looking for, 2) to know what your strength as a writer is, and 3) why your work is marketable and needed. Then you need to convey that information to the publisher via your agent.
7. Is there any advice you could offer an aspiring author wanting to make the jump from just writing a book, to writing full time?
1) Write a New York Times Bestseller, or 2) consider living in a cardboard box. Okay, neither of those options are realistic. Mostly I suggest keeping your day job. Or else you can learn to write extremely fast (like I do) and write lots and lots of books. But I’ll warn you, very few can really do this without going bonkers. Really, keep that day job until you’re able to earn more income through advances and royalties than you can from your day job.
8. Are you working on any new YA projects that we can expect in the future?
My last ‘contracted’ teen book releases soon (Prom Date, part of the Dating Games series). I’ve published close to 100 books for teens and although I have some teen proposals under consideration, and I do have some YA projects I want to write independently, as well as a teen series I’m doing with some other writers, I’ve really been focusing more on adult books this year. Right now I’m writing a suspense/romance novel (my second and kind of fun). I don’t get the feeling I’ve left the teen world for good—and I know my readers don’t want that, but maybe I’m taking a little break. We’ll see. But I am glad to see new YA writers entering the arena. That’s always good—and I cheer them on!
WOW! Thank you Melody Carlson for those great tips and insights.
To learn more about her and her books you can go to www.melodycarlson.com If you are looking for some YA books from Melody Carlson, you can check out these:
Forgotten: Seventeen and Homeless by Melody Carlson
Just Another Girl: A Novel by Melody Carlson
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