When I asked Melissa about her work, here's what she had to say ...
KC: You moved from sci-fi in "My Beginning" to contemporary fiction with "Storm". What prompted the change and which genre do you enjoy writing more?
MK: Actually, I wrote "Storm" before "My Beginning"! All of my early novels are contemporary YA and most of my short stories are sci-fi, so somewhere along the way the two genres meshed. I can't say that I like one genre more than the other. Science Fiction and Dystopian are fun because you can create worlds and scenarios that are unique. I like the heart and emotion in Contemporary. Regardless of the genre, love is always the central theme in my work.
KC: "My Beginning" focused largely on a female protagonist while "Storm" is written from a male point of view. Did you find it challenging to switch genders? If so, what were the main challenges?
MK: For me, writing from the point of view of both male and female protagonists comes easily. Granted, my early male characters are a bit on the girly side, though my practice improved over time. I think the key is to not get intimidated by gender. Think of your character as a blank slate. When it comes down to it, we are simply writing about human beings.
KC: "Storm" deals with some pretty hard-hitting issues. Did you do a lot of research into the issues you dealt with in the book? What gave you the idea to write it?
MK: Storm's character came to me early in my writing career. I always felt as if he were some type of entity or presence who needed to be heard. I am a very sensitive, empathic person so for me this story flowed very naturally. I can relate to Storm's feelings of being alone, cast aside, not feeling good enough, rebellion, his introversion, emotions and depth. I can also relate to the metamorphosis that he endures as a character -- in his relationships and in his life.
KC: Did you find it challenging to weave a romantic relationship into a story where the characters are dealing with difficult personal issues?
MK: Not at all. I think it's natural as human beings, regardless of age, to be drawn to love. We all want to be loved and accepted. Sometimes finding a connection with another person or people helps us to see that we are not alone. This was the case for Storm. The connections he made were crucial to his healing process.
KC: What draws you to writing for young audiences? What are the some of the main challenges of writing for teen readers?
MK: There was a period when I didn't have a source of support as a teenager, which is why writing for teens is so important to me. Through my writing, I wish to give teens a sense of empowerment, hope, optimism, compassion, and self-esteem. The biggest challenge for me in writing for teens is ensuring that my overall message and content is appropriate and positive.
KC: Who are some of your own favorite authors, and what are you reading now?
MK: Some of my favorite authors are S.E Hinton, Roald Dahl, Megan McCafferty, Sophie Kinsella, Marianne Williamson ... and I am currently reading The Firestarter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Melissa. And now for the contest!
In order to win, simply comment on this blog post (in the comments section below) and answer the following question:
Do you prefer reading books about contemporary issues in the real world or sci-fi/fantasy stories?
The winner will be chosen by the following highly scientific method.
I will print out all the comments and toss them into a hat. I will then have one of my children randomly pick a winner. The contest will be open until midnight Eastern Time on December 21, 2014. So make sure you comment by then to be in the draw. Please ensure that you include an email address when you post your comment so I can contact you to arrange shipping details. Email addresses will NOT be made public. (They are an optional field when you post a comment.)
Thanks for the interview and for the contest, Melissa. Let the comments roll ...
THE CONTEST IS NOW OVER AND I'D LIKE TO OFFER CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS, MELISSA, DEE AND ZACH, EACH OF WHOM WILL RECEIVE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF BOTH OF MELISSA'S BOOKS, "MY BEGINNING" AND "STORM". ENJOY!