Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Interview with Melissa Groeling

Today we're chatting with author Melissa Groeling about her book TRAFFIC JAM.

Welcome to We Do Write, Melissa. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi! Oh where do I begin? I live on the east coast of the good ol’ US of A. I have a bachelor’s degree in English. I’m a massive bookworm. I’ve worked at a chocolate factory. I just experienced my first bout with sun poisoning. I have red hair that people insist that I dye (and I don’t) and I’m a huge New York Giants fan. Please don’t judge. *wink*

How long have you been writing?

Oh man, it feels like I’ve been writing for years. I’ve got so many notebooks filled with finished and unfinished snippets of stories that never quite took off and others that did. I remember thinking in the seventh grade how much I enjoyed it but I didn’t start taking it seriously until after I graduated college. But I’ve always loved writing. It’s kind of like breathing and my brain never really shuts off which could be a good thing or bad thing, depending on how you look at it.

Tell us about TRAFFIC JAM. What’s the story about?

TRAFFIC JAM is a young adult story about an issue that unfortunately exists, even in today’s society. I don’t want to tell you what that issue is, lest I give away the story. But the plot centers around Val Delton, your typical teenager, struggling to balance school work, sports, friends (what few she has) and a terrible secret that her sister is trying her hardest to keep under wraps. It asks the question: how far would you go to protect the ones you love?

How did the idea of the story come to you?

The idea for TRAFFIC JAM literally sucker-punched me while I was on vacation. Truth be told, I was having some issues with a story that I had been working on and nothing was working, no matter what I did to it. So I remember one night, the TV was on and someone (I’m still not sure who) left the channel on MSNBC. There was a special on about….well, I can’t tell you because that would give the book away BUT I will say that man, did that show grease the wheels in my head! TRAFFIC JAM came pounding out after that, let me tell you!

Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

I do a lot of self-editing but I make sure to leave a lot of time before finishing the story then going back to edit it. That way I can look at it with fresh eyes. But with TRAFFIC JAM, I was lucky in having three different people read it before it was publishing so that helped a lot!

Are you a planner or a pantser?

Let me say this: I attempt to plan but nothing ever goes according to those plans. So I’m not sure why I bother! So when those plans fail, that is when I become a pantser! I think I need a cape and some tights to go along with it!

Sounds great! What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

The hardest thing for me is beginning a story. That first page has to be a grabber. It has to knock your reader down, grab ‘em by the ankles and drag ‘em in, kicking and screaming. I know for me, whenever I read a book, that first chapter determines whether or not I’ll even finish the book. So with that in mind, I try and make those first pages as memorable and attention-grabbing as possible. Of course, that doesn’t always happen. Thank God for the editing process!

What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

Chocolate. Definitely chocolate. Preferably dark.

Mmm, you had me at chocolate. If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Do I have to pick just one? Okay, let me narrow it down. My super power would be flying. I know, it’s cliché, right? But think of how much money you could save on gas? No car insurance? No sitting in traffic? It would be awesome!

What's the weirdest thing you've googled?

Myself. Can’t get any weirder than that.

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: street lamp, tiger, and belly button.

The tiger rubbed himself against the street lamp, purring loudly and feeling rather self-conscious that everyone could see his belly button since he’d given himself a good shave.

LOL, original! Finish this sentence: If I'm not writing, I'm probably ...

Reading and eating chocolate.

Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

I would love to give a shout-out to my Mom and Dad for always being there and always supporting me. To my family and friends, of course—you know who you are! To Joey, my book cover artist—you do awesome work! And to my great network of support at BOB and beyond!

And finally, where can people find you and your book online?!/stringbean10

And I should also tell you that I will be attending the Collingswood Book Festival in Collingswood, New Jersey on October 6th, 2012! It’s going to be an awesome day full of books, authors, games, food and more books! I’ll be there with bells on! Hope to see you there!

Thank you so much for chatting with us today, Melissa! Good luck with your book!

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