Today I’m deviating from our usual Shelve It post to spotlight an author I’ve fallen in love with, Melissa Walker. Watch my short vlog to find out why I love her books so much and then check out Melissa’s interview below to get to know her a little better. I’m hoping you add Unbreak My Heart (and Melissa’s other books Lovestruck SummerÂ and Small Town Sinners) to your to-read lists. She’s fantastic and you won’t be disappointed! (Here’s my review for Unbreak My Heart.)
An Interview with Melissa Walker
- Summer Favorites:
Snack and Drink:Â Salt n Vinegar chips; Coke in a glass bottle.Place to vacation as a kid:Â We used to rent a cabin in Vermont on a pond. Loved it!Place to read:Â On a sun porchStore to find cute swimsuits:Â Anywhere that carries the Esther Williams Collection (retro beauty!)Place to vacation as an adult:Â Somewhere I’ve never been beforeGo-to writing hangout:Â Multiple coffee shops near me. Lately a tiny one called Dub Pies.
- If you could choose any place, without worrying about cost,Â logistics, and responsibilities, where would you go on vacation this summer? Who would you take with you and how long would you stay?
I would rent a house in the country, maybe upstate New York, so I could get back home easily if I wanted to (I get homesick when I’m away from my place). I’d rent a huge place on a lake, and invite friends up every weekend. Then, during the week I’d just hang out with my husband and baby girl and we’d do family-of-three things and I’d write. We’d stay all summer long.
- Weâ€™re in the middle of our summer feature, Sweet Summertime Reads. Could you recommend five books that you LOVE that every reader should put on their summer lists?
Dreamland Social ClubÂ by Tara Altebrando (Coney Island magic!)The Summer TrilogyÂ by Jenny Han (Triple the summer love!)Keeping the MoonÂ by Sarah Dessen (a classic Colby beach novel!)Nick and Norah’s Infinite PlaylistÂ by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (this one FEELS like a summer night, ripe with every possibility)How to Save a LifeÂ by Sara Zarr (not summery but a perfectly told tale)
- Unbreak My HeartÂ is one of my favorite books this year. I read it at the beginning of April and Iâ€™ve been pining for summer ever since. It is the epitome of a perfect summer read. You had personal family sailing trips to draw inspiration from, but what brought Clemâ€™s story to fruition?
Thank you! I knew I wanted to tell the story of a friend breakup–because I’ve been through that and it’s really tough. Then I thought about sailing, and how all of your emotions get magnified in a small space because you don’t have much distraction or distance from yourself or your family. So it seemed like merging that setting, which I’d always wanted to use, and that situation… might work. So I tried it!
- How did you approach the subject of cheating and what do you want readers to walk away with after theyâ€™ve read the last page?
I just think there’s a knee-jerk reaction to cheating, and sometimes things live in a gray area. Actually, USUALLY things like cheating live in a gray area. I knew it was a risk, but I wanted Clem to be a character people connected with and understood in some way, even after what had happened. I wanted readers to walk away with a sense that Clem had grown. I didn’t necessarily want to tie things up with a bow or show what happened with each and every character. I just wanted to set Clem on a trajectory of hopefulness and self-acceptance.
- What did you do to stay entertained on your family trips? Did you have a little sister like Olive who always kept things interesting?
I don’t have a little sister, but I AM the little sister. Ha! Not sure I was as kooky as Olive but I just loved her as a character. I played a lot of card games with my parents, listened to the radio on the deck of the boat and watched shooting stars at night. Mainly, there was talking and talking and talking. And I always wished I’d meet a boy my own age, but it never happened.
- Can you tell us a bit about what youâ€™re currently working on?
I have a letter in the DEAR TEEN ME anthology, out in October, and I’m working on a new book too, but I’m keeping it quiet for now… stay tuned!
Thank you so much, Melissa, for hanging out with us here at Rather Be Reading. It was so great to learn more about your inspiration for Unbreak My Heart. To all our readers, READ THIS ASAP!