Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Melissa Walker Interview!
Melissa Walker is the author of the wonderful Violet series: Violet on the Runway, Violet by Design, and Violet in Private. If you haven't read those three books right there, please do soon! :D
What is your writing process like?
On an ideal day, I try to write in the morning. And by morning, I mean like 11am-1pm (I’m not an early riser…). I try to get 1000 words on the page each day. They don’t have to be perfect, but they have to be written. Then I’m allowed to go back and edit the previous day’s work only (otherwise I’d get bogged down in editing the whole book every day!). Hopefully I finish in time to have at least two weeks of editing time before my deadline…
You got started writing in magazines. What advice would you give to teens who want to break into the magazine writing world?
Do what you love. As in, don’t stress about your major too much. Our Fashion Editor at ELLEgirl was a business major! As long as you’re writing—and believe me, if you’re in college, you’re writing—you’ll learn the skills you need. Of course, if you’re sure about magazines, English or Journalism are always good majors. The more important thing is to try out being on the staff of a school publication—newspaper, yearbook, lit mag, whatever. Those are great training grounds.
And here’s some advice on “being a writer” that I wrote for Seventeen magazine:
Does Violet share any of the same qualities as you?
Okay, yes. I think I used to try to deny this a little, but Violet’s personality is a lot like mine. I’m not quite as insecure as she is—but I used to be. My friends who read it tell me they have to laugh at parts because “That’s so Melissa!” So, yes, Violet and I are similar in many ways, but not all. I did work at a movie theater, but I was never a model.
Did the Violet series start out as a series or just one book? If it didn't start as a series, how was it decided that it would be a series? If it did start as a series, how many books were originally in it and how many books are in it now?
I pitched Violet on the Runway as one standalone book, but my editors at Penguin requested that I think of three for a series. So I did! I really only had the plot of Violet on the Runway in mind when I started, but I quickly thought of ways to extend Violet’s adventures, and I’m glad I got to do that! There are three in the series, so Violet in Private is the last one, as far as I know…
What are you currently working on? Are you allowed to tell us anything about it?
Yes! I’m working on a book called LOVESTRUCK SUMMER that will be released next summer (2009). Here’s the official “what it’s about” blurb: An indie-rock girl spending the summer in Austin on a coveted music internship unexpectedly falls in love with a college cowboy who makes her challenge her own stereotypes, expand her musical tastes, and ultimately open up her world.
What kind of music do you listen to?
All kinds. Here’s what I have in heavy rotation right now: Taylor Swift, Kanye West, 80s pop, The Cure, The Some Kind of Wonderful soundtrack, Rihanna, Pinback, Gwen Stefani, Band of Horses, Chris Brown and my new favorite Charlotte Sometimes!
What is a day in your life typically like?
Here’s how I do Monday through Friday:
Morning: Gym (so I have to get dressed and showered).
Late morning: Writing (1000 words!)
Lunch and a TV break!
Afternoon: Magazine work. I write articles for places like Glamour, Teen Vogue, SELF, Cosmogirl. I will always be a magazine girl too.
Evening: Sometimes I go into Manhattan to hang out with friends, sometimes I stay at home for my boyfriend, who’s an amazing cook! We’re eat together, talk about our day and then watch a reality show or DVDs of Freaks and Geeks (Great show!).
How did the first copy of Violet on the Runway change to the final copy?
It didn’t really change much. I remember my editor wanting me to have more Violet-Julie interaction during the prom scene, so I added a little conversation. That was really the biggest edit.
Do you plan on having any stand-alone books published soon?
Yes! LOVESTRUCK SUMMER is a standalone.
What are the best and worst parts of being a writer?
Best: People actually pay me to do what I’ve always wanted to do, and would do even if they didn’t pay me (but don’t tell them that!).
Worst: The isolation. Sometimes I miss the girls I worked with at ELLEgirl and the hilarious conversations we’d have all day while we “worked” on the magazine. It was a blast.
In high school, were you one of the girls who always loved writing English papers, or did you hate school?
No, I never really liked writing English papers, but I did love writing articles for the yearbook in high school. I was always a reporter at heart. So I guess I was one of those girls who didn’t love school, but who loved the extracurriculars and the social life. I really still love my high school friends.
What advice do you give to teens who want to grow up and become writers?
See above (Maybe the seventeen.com article is a good answer here?)
And, remember that there are lots of ways to make writing your work—books, magazines, newspapers, technical writing, grant writing, public relations writing… it’s a real job! (And don’t let anyone tell you it’s not.)
Ask yourself one question and answer it!
Hmm… What do you do when you have trouble writing?
I read. And read and read and read. Magazines, books, my diaries (future writers, keep a diary or blog—you will thank me later!). Other peoples’ words are inspiring.