This month’s interview is with Melissa Simonson, author of Burning September.
Which of your characters in Burning September was hardest to write?
I don’t know whether any of them were particularly hard to write, but Professor Lawlis gave me some trouble because I know next to nothing about music and he forced me to look little things like chords up so I didn’t completely embarrass myself in setting him up as a music professor.
How much thought do you give to a story’s theme? Is it something that develops naturally as you write your story, or do you know your theme in advance?
That’s not something I give too much thought to when I set out to write a new novel, which kind of works and kind of doesn’t—it makes it difficult to figure out which category the book will fall under. I suppose subconsciously I might begin knowing a theme, because half the time I’ll read a review where someone has mentioned my underlying theme, and I have honestly no idea that I’ve even given the book in question a theme.
Were there any early life influences from which your desire to be a writer evolved?
I’ve always been a reader, which may have had something to do with it. I dimly remember winning some short story award when I was in the second grade about a vampiric bunny, so I guess the seed had been planted early on.
Do you outline before your writing begins?
No, but I will keep a few notes near the end of the Word doc to remind myself of little tidbits or thoughts I had earlier.
Is there one novel you wish you’d written?
East of Eden is my favorite book, so I might have to go with that. I’ve been obsessed with Harry Potter since I was a child, so maybe those books, too.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Occasionally, but I’ve found it’s something I can push through by simply forcing myself to write a sentence, however stupid it may sound, and then I’m cured.
Melissa watches more Dr. Phil than is optimal and lives in Massachusetts with her husband, son, and herd of animals.
Visit Melissa’s website here.