Thursday, July 21, 2011

Girlfriends' Cyber Circuit Tour - Melissa Walker

Hey, folks! Hope my fellow east coasters are holding up under this BRUtal record-breaking heat wave.

A few suggestions for ways to beat the heat:

1. Listen to Christmas carols. This morning, our local classical radio station played "The Nutcracker Suite." Within an hour, the heat index dropped from 113 to 111.

2. Pay a local eight-year-old to set up a lemonade stand in your kitchen or office.

3. Give up on all those pesky errands and relax with a great book! (You knew I was going to say that, didn't you?)

If you go with the third option (or even better, all three), you're in luck. A book I've been dying to read for months is out this week, Small-Town Sinners by Melissa Walker. I was privileged to be on a YA reading panel at the Brooklyn Public Library earlier this year during the NYC Teen Author Festival. Melissa was also on it, and read from Small-Town Sinners. I was hooked!

A few years ago, Melissa wrote an article for ELLEgirl magazine on the topic of "Hell Houses," which are like haunted houses, except that instead of encountering ghouls and ghosties, visitors learn about all the sins that can land them in Hell (and cause much misery in this life, too).*

“I was so intrigued by the small town I traveled to and the warmth of all the teenagers I met, plus their obvious passion for this production, that I had to revisit that world,” said Walker.

From Bloomsbury's press release:

Small Town Sinners is the story of Lacey Anne, daughter of the pastor and perennial good girl, who is eligible for a lead role in the season’s Hell House production—a role she’s been coveting for years. But when Ty moves to town as casting begins, a new perspective is added to Lacey Anne’s world and she starts to see her tight-knit, Evangelical community in a different light. With the help of her two best friends Starla Joy and Dean, and her potential first love Ty, Lacey Anne begins exploring her own thoughts and feelings about her religion, her community, and her place within both.

Author Lauren Myracle called it a "devilishly good read," and Kirkus said, “This secular story about religious people could easily devolve into camp mockery, but because Walker takes her character’s crisis of faith seriously and sensitively, readers will, too.”

The New York Times reviewed the book which, as you may or may not know, is a really huge deal. Ninety-nine percent of authors (not an exact figure) go their entire career without being reviewed there. They even compared it to Friday Night Lights!

I literally just ordered it myself (it's taken me two hours to write this post, because I was fighting the urge to order MORE books besides this one). Since hearing Melissa read from Small-Town Sinners, I have another reason why this is on my Absolutely-Must-Read-No-Kidding-Do-It-Now list. Can't tell you why just yet, but soon you'll understand. *flaps hands excitedly*

And now, my interview with the amazing Melissa Walker!

1. Which moment(s) during the writing/rewriting/editing of this book made you tear your hair out?

I had a moment where I felt like the scenes were ALL in the wrong places. I used a post-it note technique to fix it... but it was tough!

2. Which moment(s) made you think, "ah, THIS is what carries me through the hair-tearing

Getting this review in the New York Times made that sticky-note moment worth it!

3. Turn to page 99 of your latest novel. Which word on that page best evokes your story or
main character?

The word "breaking" appears on this page, and I think that in Small Town Sinners, breaking down beliefs, breaking open new possibilites, and breaking rules are definitely big themes.

4. Which book/movie/TV show have you recently discovered that made you want to kick yourself for not reading/watching sooner?

"Gilmore Girls." I KNOW! I can't believe I didn't watch it as it ran, either. But I'm making up for it with the DVDs!

5. If your house was on fire, what object (not including living creatures, human or non-human) would you grab on the way out?

My Time Machine--it backs up the computers in the house so at least all of our photos and music and my works-in-progress would survive!


You can visit Melissa at her website, her e-newsletter I Heart Daily, and on Twitter. Have a great weekend, and stay cool! (you knew I was going to say that, too, didn't you? Wahhh, it's too hot to be unpredictable....)

*One of my favorite King of the Hill episodes tackled this subject, to hilarious effect.

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