Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Q & A with Melissa Senate, author of The Secret of Joy + Giveaway!

Good Morning Everyone! I am very excited to be hosting my very first Blog Tour. Today I am very honored to have bestselling author, Melissa Senate here. She is here to talk about her new book The Secret of Joy.

1. Welcome Melissa! First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

A: I’m a single mother of an adorable seven-year-old boy and very happily work from my little house in Maine as a novelist and a freelance copywriter and editor. I moved to Maine five years ago from New York City, where I’d worked for a long time as a fiction editor. Sometimes I miss everything that is NYC, but Maine is such a beautiful, earthy place to live.

  1. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?A: I knew I wanted to be a writer as a kid, but I’ll tell ya, I let myself be discouraged by teachers/other voices who didn’t like my writing style, which always had that chick-lit-ness. In my early twenties, I took a writing class by one of my favorite authors at the time, and she was so discouraging that I figured I just wasn’t cut out for writing. I didn’t understand then that I didn’t have to be a literary writer or nothing. I didn’t know you could write in your natural voice and that a publishing company would pay you for that voice. I didn’t write a word from my early twenties until I sat down to write my first novel, See Jane Date at the age of thirty-four. The market for chick lit had opened, and I thought: If you’re going to write the book that’s been in your heart, mind and soul all these years, do it now. I’m so happy I did.

  1. How would you categorize your novels? Is a change from Red Dress Ink to Simon and Schuster making a change in your writing?A: Red Dress Ink was very much a chick lit imprint, but there was such a range of voices and styles and stories, from light and fun to dramatic and emotional and everything in between. I felt a real freedom there to write what was in my heart, and as my own life changed, what I was interested in writing changed. I wrote my first novel as a single, serial dater in NYC; I’m now a single mother living in Maine. (In between those two are quite a lot of life experiences that have made their way into my work!) Now that I’m writing for Simon & Schuster’s Downtown Press imprint, my work is still very much me, but there’s a lot more of that life experience in it. It’s just about evolving as a person, as a writer.

4. Where did the idea of The Secret of Joy come from?

A: Several years ago, I received an email out of the blue that said: I think you might be my half-sister. Well, I was. It took me a long time to decide to take that little (huge) nugget and write a novel to help me figure out what I thought about some important questions, like: if you haven’t seen or heard from your biological father, or any member of his family, in say, 35 years, is his child from a subsequent marriage really your sibling? Or just a stranger? Does the word father or sister or brother mean anything without back up? I had a ton of questions and set out to uncover how I felt, but it’s interesting to me that I flipped everything on its head in the writing of the story. Nothing but the basic questions that are proposed in the novel are based from real life.

5. Do you have a favorite of one of your books?

A: My favorite always seems to be the one I’m writing at the moment. I do feel a very special fondness for my first novel, See Jane Date, because it changed my life. I wasn’t sure I could sit down and write an entire novel, that I’d have the belief in myself or the discipline to do it, and when I typed The End on the last page of the manuscript, it was one of the proudest moments of my life.

6. Who are your favorite authors? Who inspires you?

A: I’m crazy about Elinor Lipman, Pam Houston, Jennifer Weiner, Jennifer Crusie, Elizabeth Berg, Anne Tyler, Fay Weldon, and Anne Lamott. I can’t resist buying essay collections and story collections and books on the writing life. And I love all the contemporary women’s fiction being published these days. My Amazon cart is bursting with good stuff.

7. I know you too have a blog. Do you respond to your fans/readers? What do you like about blogging?

A: I get a lot of email from readers—which makes my day. There is nothing better than someone taking the time to write you and tell you how much they liked your book, how they related to it, what they took from it, how it made them smile, etc. With blogging, I’m something of an introvert (in an extroverted way, if that makes any sense) that it doesn’t come easily to me. Sometimes I want to write a post about something, but I feel inhibited. It’s why there are some gaps in time. Some weeks, I never shut up with what I’m reading and thinking about and writing about. And then I get in this mode that makes me feel exposed about sharing stuff. I love feedback, though. I just have to figure out how to stop the spammers from taking over the comments section!

8. Last, what's next for you? What can we look forward to?

A: Next up is my second novel for teens, The Mosts, which will be published by Random House Children’s Books in June 2010. Then, my next women’s fiction novel from Simon & Schuster, tentatively titled The Love Goddess’s Cooking School, about five people in an Italian cooking class) will be published late in 2010. And I’m being poked at by a new idea . . . .

Thanks so much for these great questions and for having me on your blog!

Thank you, Melissa! Check out Melissa Senate's website for more information on her other titles and links to her blog.

**Simon and Schuster/Downtown Press has been kind enough to give me one copy of the finished Trade Paperback of this title to GIVEAWAY!

Please leave a comment and your email address. You must be a follower (new or old) and reside in the US or Canada.

Thanks for stopping by! Happy Reading!

* red headed book child


BookHounds said...

Great interview -- you asked all of the questions I had!
Maryinhb at gmail.com

Mitz said...

I must say that is aunique way to get an inspiration to write a book. Hopefully, all is well with the half-sister. I'd love to read this book.



Amy J said...

What a great interview! I just found me a new author to add to my TBR pile! Sounds great! Thanks!
Amy J

Jennifer said...

Great interview! I'm also participating in the blog tour and will have my post up later today. I just adore Melissa Senate!! :)


Melissa said...

Great interview! I would love a chance to win this book, I'm a huge fan of Melissa Senate.


Unknown said...

Great interview, and yippee-skippee on the giveaway!

karen.d.akins (a) gmail.com

Jenny said...

I know everyone has said this, but great interview, lol! The questions were very good.

jennala @ cfl . rr . com

Sue said...

Thanks for the giveaway! It looks great.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Libby said...

What a great, solid interview! Thanks for introducing me to Melissa Senate.


Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure this will be a phenomenal read!

mabelilly28 at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

what a great interview...I would love to read this book...thanks for the opportunity.


Nancye said...

This sounds like a great book! Thanks for the chance!

I'm a new follower! :)

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Jessica said...

Great questions, Michelle! Wow, I can't even imagine getting an e-mail like that out of the blue. It's so great, though, when a book can come out of it. ;)

Please enter me for a chance to win this book.


I'm old follower. :)

Marce said...

Great interview, well done and how fun. I'm not eligible for giveaway but have put on my TBR list.

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

THanks everyone for reading, commenting and signing up for the Melissa Senate Secret of Joy Giveaway. Sorry for those who reside outside US and Canada. :(

Winner will be picked next Tuesday!

Jan said...

This sounds like a great book, I would love a chance to read it.

I am a new follower


Mel (He Followed Me Home) said...

Please count me in, I'd love to read this :)

wow, what a scary email to get :O


hefollowedme AT gmail DOT com