Friday, December 21, 2018

Author, Melanie Hooyenga, on her Award-Winning Book

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? I’ve always loved telling stories. For me, the best part is entertaining others and especially seeing the reaction on their faces when they read my work. So I love hearing from readers! And I don’t understand writers who never read reviews — those are like lifeblood for me.

WAS THERE A TEACHER OR OTHER MENTOR WHO INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING? Nothing that stands out, but probably because I started writing at a very young age. As a kid I wrote poems, songs, and short stories, then I advanced to novels in my 30s. I’m fortunate that my parents and teachers have always encouraged my creativity.

HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? I’ve always loved to ski and I was wrapping up a time-travel trilogy and itching for something light-hearted and fun. The winter of 2014 we got over 100 inches of snow, so while I was trapped inside watching the winter Olympics, the idea for The Slope Rules was born. I’d never written a true romance, so I thought I’d try my hand at a romantic sports novel. And I loved it!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY? This is at the end of chapter one when she’s just met the love interest: “My heartbeat accelerates before I can tell it not to. I don’t chase guys. I am one of the guys. But here, in a different state, maybe the rules can be different.”

I love this line because Cally isn’t used to getting romantic attention from boys, primarily because her group of friends back home don’t see her that way and chase away any would-be boyfriends in an effort to protect her. She keeps thinking Blake is just teasing or making fun of her, but she reacts to him in a way she’s not used to and has to tell herself that it’s okay to be interested in someone, even if they’re on vacation and they know it can’t lead anywhere. Except it does.

WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? Cally, the main character, is the most like me out any character I’ve written. I was always a tomboy, really into sports, and one of the guys—with very few female friends until I was in my late thirties. She’s better at standing up for herself than I am, and I really hope I can be more like her when I grow up.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? That you need to be true to yourself. There will always be people telling you to do this or that, and not always with your best interests in mind, so you need to know what’s important to you and do everything you can to live up to those ideals. And don’t be afraid to try a backward flip while doing an Iron Cross.

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER: I once fell out of my chair while writing because I was trying to see if it was physically possible to do what I was describing. And I regularly laugh at my own writing. I’m editing the sequel to The Slope Rules now and I literally laughed out loud for several minutes at the ending. My friends tell me that’s a good sign.

IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY? I admire a lot of authors so it’s really hard to choose. For me, what I most admire in successful authors is their ability to keep writing good books that speak to readers and aren’t the same cookie-cutter formula over and over. I have a lot of ideas for future books and while they all have the theme of strong female characters, the storylines are very different.

WHAT BOOK / PERSON / INCIDENT HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE? I moved to Mexico with my ex-husband in 2007, and on my last day of work in Chicago, one of my coworkers, who was also a really good friend, commented, “Now you can write the great American novel.” I never knew if he was aware that I’d always wanted to write a novel --I stopped writing in my 20s, but I couldn’t work in Mexico, so I set out to learn everything I could about the publishing industry and ended up writing two novels in my three years there. Those novels are safely buried in my computer—Flicker is my third novel—but I will always be grateful for that push to go after my dream.

HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED? I’m self-published, but I have queried in the past. With my first published novel, I had a lot of agent interest but no offers, so I decided to try self-publishing. That book turned into a series, so I continued that route and decided this is what works for me. I’m also a graphic designer so I’m fortunate that I can do all the work myself, and while it’s exhausting at times, I love having complete control over my career.

IF A CLOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK, WHAT GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM? Sit down and do it. Start with a small goal of 100 words a day and work your way up from there. We all have the same 24 hours in the day, the only difference is what we choose to do with that time. I have a full-time job, I play a lot of sports, and I have a husband and dog to take care of, plus the house, so I sacrifice TV. I watch a few shows, but the list of popular shows I’ve never seen is rather embarrassing.

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? You can’t rely on social media alone, but build your online presence as soon as you can. A website is a requirement, then pick the 2 or 3 social media platforms you’re comfortable
with and start interacting with people. I do a lot of local and regional events, which I love because I get to meet readers face to face. There’s nothing like the feeling of someone coming up who I met at a different event and they just want to tell me that they loved my book. Also network with schools and libraries since they are the gatekeepers to our readers.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? Winning the Writer’s Digest eBook Self-Publishing Award (YA) in 2015 for my first novel, Flicker. Nothing against CLC! I received a lot of publicity for that award, including a mention in the magazine, and it really validated everything I’m doing as an indie author.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? To be a full-time writer with a consistently selling backlist. But I’m not in a hurry for that. I’m currently the Director of Marketing & Communications for the community foundation in my hometown and it’s my absolute dream job. I work with amazing people who do wonderful work for our community, and I get to use my writing, design, and social media skills. But some day…

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING: My miniature schnauzer Owen has over 16,000 followers on Instagram, while I’m struggling to break the 1000 mark. He’s adorable, but the fame goes to his head sometimes. His account is @superowen_theschnauzer.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS? Just that I’m so grateful for this recognition. Writing is a very solitary endeavor and we don’t always hear from the people who read our work—even the ones who love it. So to be told it’s not only entertaining, but that it’s worthy of an award is very humbling. And if you’ve read any of my books, I’d love to hear from you!

WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?  I have a YA time travel series called The Flicker Effect (Flicker, Fracture, and Faded). You can find them at most online retailers.  And yes, I did the covers! There's also  The Trail Rules, book 2, and The Edge Rules, book 3, in The Rules Series.

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?  I have more YA ideas, plus a New Adult novel I’m excited to write. So yeah, I’ll be busy for a while. If you’d like to stay informed of release information, the best way is to sign up for my monthly newsletter and check out my website 

I’m also active on social media, Facebook: Twitter: @MelanieHoo Instagram: @MelanieHo

No comments:

Post a Comment