Since I am in the presence of some fabulous authors daily, I thought I could start sharing some here.
This year, I started a middle grade book group on Facebook. It has turned into a wonderful group of readers and writers that is slowly growing. We have been joined by a few Young Adult authors as well. The books are all getting great reviews and deserve some “pimping”. I wanted to start doing guest posts and interviews since I don’t do much for blogging here.
I’d like to kick this off with a newly released YA novel by a great friend. I read this a few drafts ago & loved it. I’m anxious to read the changes but more so – can’t wait for book #2!!
FLICKER tells the story of seventeen-year old Biz, who uses sunlight to flicker back to yesterday. No one knows about her freakish ability and she’s content to keep it that way. Guys don’t stick around because she refuses to let them in, but all that changes when Cameron, her best friend, starts looking oh-so-yummy. But the butterflies come to a screeching halt when little girls start disappearing, then take a nosedive when the police link the kidnappings to Cameron’s sister, who vanished years earlier. As the police grasp for clues, Biz photographs a strange man lurking in the shadows and realizes that her flickering can help more than just herself.
Melanie (lovingly referred to as “Hoo”) was kind enough to answer a few questions all well!
1. Where are you from?
I’ve always been a Michigan girl, but I’ve lived in Washington DC, Chicago, and Mexico. I bought my first house in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the summer of 2012.
2. What sparked your interest in writing?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved telling stories. Fortunately I have a decent grasp of the English language so writing is how I tell others what’s in my head.
3. What components, in your opinion, make a great story?
A story that keeps me on my toes. If the plot is too predictable I get bored. There are several series that I enjoy, but I can’t read several in a row because the formula gets old.
4. How would you generally categorize the books/stories you write?
Young adult with a lot of sarcasm. Basically my personality.
5. Do you set your books/stories in your home town, or do you prefer more exotic locations?
My second novel (which I plan to rewrite as young adult) takes place in my hometown of Spring Lake, Michigan. I wrote it while living in Mexico and I never imagined I’d end up back there, but I was living in Spring Lake while editing it.
6. How much of your writing is based on people or events familiar to you?
Not much. I pull bits and pieces from people that I meet, but only small details. My characters truly are figments of my imagination.
7. What inspired you to write FLICKER?
Flickering sunlight — when it shines through trees causing a strobe effect — has always affected me, to the point that if I don’t shield my eyes my brain completely wigs out. A few years ago I was driving to see my grandmother in the hospital and while shielding my eyes, the idea struck: what if the flickering sunlight made a girl travel back to yesterday?
I researched the phenomenon and discovered the Flicker Syndrome is very common in helicopter pilots. The blades rotating above their head cause the light to flicker at a rate that causes strobing (this is my completely unscientific explanation), and it can cause everything from migraines to seizures, both of which I’ve incorporated into FLICKER.
8. How did you come up with the title?
The title didn’t come to me until halfway through the first draft. It seemed like an obvious choice from the beginning. I debated adding “Effect” at the end but worried it would sound like a techno-thriller, which it’s definitely not.
9. What was the hardest part of the story to write?
Keeping track of what already happened when Biz flickers. While writing, I copied and pasted the passages I wanted to repeat, then rewrote them so her reactions were different. The dialogue and movements remain the same, but because she knows what’s going to happen, her thoughts change.
10. What was the easiest part of the story to write?
Describing the cute boys, duh.
11. Was there much research involved?
Quite a bit at the beginning. I’ve created a medical phenomenon, but it’s based on actual science. There are links between migraines, epilepsy, and a few other things I’ve thrown in, and while flickering as I’ve described it doesn’t exist, I wanted it to be plausible.
12. Is there a message in your story you want readers to grasp?
There’s always something bigger than yourself.
13. What do you feel is your biggest strength as a writer?
I write clean and I write realistic dialogue.
14. When your first started writing, did anything about the writing process surprise you?
Not so much the process, but more my process. I’m a control freak and have to write the story in the order that it happens. I didn’t know that some writers use completely different methods until I befriended other writers and started swapping strategies. The thought of writing in unorganized scenes gives me the willies, but it works for some people.
15. Do you celebrate when you finish a story, and if so, how?
I do a little dance in my chair. Then I read a book.
16. Do you have a set writing routine?
No. I work full-time so I write when I can. I write quickly (up to 1000 words in an hour when I’m really on a roll) so lunch breaks are best. Otherwise I take advantage of any spare chunk of time.
17. Do you listen to music when you write?
Sometimes. I have a really hard time settling on what I want to listen to, so if I waited until I picked a playlist I’d never get anything done.
18. What do you like least about writing?
How long it takes to get to The End.
19. Give us a mini-tour of your writing space.
I recently bought a new home so I don’t have a set writing space. Either the brown leather couch in the living room, or the brown suede futon in my office. Very exiting, I know.
20. Which authors do you feel have influenced your writing most?
These are the hardest questions for me. I read a lot of Judy Blume as a kid, but I don’t know if she necessarily inspired me. I’d say that reading broadly has influenced my writing, because I learned that there isn’t one correct style.
21. Name a few titles I’d find if I browsed through your personal home library.
How long do you have? While I own a Kindle, I still prefer paper books so my shelves are jammed. I adore Lisa McMann’s WAKE trilogy, as well as Hunger Games. Stephanie Perkins, Courtney Summers, Jennifer Echols, and Simone Elkes are all favorites.
22. If you could go back in time, what author would you most like to invite to share a chat and a bottle of wine?
Not Hemingway because he’d drink all the wine. I’ll go with Jane Austen, but only if she speaks the way she writes. I love getting lost in old English.
23. You’re marooned on a desert island. What’s the one book you’d want with you, and why?
Hunger Games, for the survival elements.
24. Have any new authors caught your interest?
I am sadly behind in finding new authors. A lot of my friends are in the process of publishing for the first time (or second) and I’m excited to see how they do!
25. What’s next for you? Can we look forward to a new story in the near future?
Flicker is the first book in a trilogy, so you can expect two more Biz stories. Beyond that, I’d like to rewrite After the Fall, then who knows?
26. Who supports your writing activities most?
My lovely fiancé. Since publishing I’ve been really surprised by the support of my non-writing friends, especially those who never knew that I’m a writer.
27. What does your family think of your writing?
I’ve always written, so while they aren’t surprised, I don’t know if they expected me to actually publish my stories.
28. What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Don’t give up. The options to share your stories have changed so much, even in the six years that I’ve been writing seriously, that there’s no excuse not to try.
29. Name a few of your favorite non-writing activities.
I’m very active, so pretty much any sport or outdoor activity. I hate running, but I recently ran a three-mile trail race with INSANE sand dunes, plus I play soccer and walk my dog a lot. In the summer I play beach volleyball and plan to play softball next year. For non-active things, I love drinking craft beer and wine, enjoy watching movies, and of course adore curling up with a good book.
30. 30. How can readers reach you?
I’m all over the internet.
Melanie Hooyenga has lived in Washington DC, Chicago, and Mexico, but has finally settled down in her home state of Michigan with her soon-to-be husband Jeremy. When not at her day job as a graphic designer, you can find Melanie attempting to wrangle her Miniature Schnauzer Owen and kicking Jeremy’s butt at Kinect boxing.
Thanks for being my 1st guest!! Best wishes with your amazing novel!!