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Melissa Walker Intervewed By Book Chic

1) How did you get the idea for the Violet series? Are you similar to the character Violet in any way?
As an editor at ELLEgirl, I interviewed a lot of fashion types and up-and-coming models. Peeking into their world was fascinating, and the idea to put a real girl into that madness was too appealing to ignore!

I'm definitely like Violet in some ways—in general, her taste mirrors mine and her pet peeves are my own. Hey, it's my first book character, so I didn't want to go astray or create someone who didn't seem fully real.

2) Tell us about the publishing process for Violet on the Runway.
I did things backwards. First I contacted a fantastic YA writer I know, Carolyn Mackler, to ask her advice on pitching a YA novel. She directed me to Kate Seaver, an editor at Penguin's Berkley JAM, who was looking for new writers. Kate took a look at my magazine clips, and I sent her a one-page summary of what I imagined VIOLET ON THE RUNWAY would be about. She asked to see the first two chapters, so I sat down to write those and sent them in.

Shockingly, she came back with an offer. I was thrilled, but also scared, so I asked her to give me a week to find an agent. I asked friends and people I knew in publishing for advice on which agents I should talk to.

Enter Doug Stewart of Sterling Lord Literistic, whom I had met at a book party five years earlier (my first book party in NYC!). I spoke with a few agents but really felt a connection with Doug. We talked, we signed.

3) What is your writing process like? Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
When I'm working on a book, I set it up this way: I eat breakfast, then write. I don't allow myself to have lunch until I have 1000 words on the page. (I hope that doesn't sound weird/food disordery!). They don't have to be good words, but they hve to be there. I do that five days a week, ideally; afternoons are spent working on magazine stories. Of course, some days I play hooky and watch Oprah—I have to let myself enjoy the perks of being freelance every once in a while! But in general, I am pretty consistent with the 1000-word rule.

I think aspiring writers should find ways to write! Whether it's a blog, a local newspaper, or a journal you keep by your bedside. I wrote a post for seventeen.com about breaking into writing as a teenager. You can find that here: http://www.seventeen.com/fun-stuff/17-buzz/violet-buzz-092407

4) The second book, Violet by Design, was just released. How many books do you anticipate to be in this series? Are you planning work on any non-Violet series books soon?
There are three books in the Violet series… so far. I'm not sure whether there'll be a fourth. Maybe it'll be a four-part trilogy, like Scott Westerfeld's UGLIES books. But three is where it sits as of now.

I've got a few other ideas in my head for new characters and adventures beyond the Violet books, and I just need to think on them a bit more before I pitch them to a publisher.

5) Who are some of your favorite YA authors? Also, what books have you been reading lately?
Oh, there are so many! I've long loved Sarah Dessen and Carolyn Mackler, and recently I discovered Beth Kephart's lyrical book UNDERCOVER and Sarah Grace McCandless's hilarious and touching GROSSE POINT GIRL, as well as Jolene Siana's raw, honest and art-filled GO ASK OGRE.

My to-read pile is delightfully high, and I cannot wait to dig into more YA!

6) You wrote for and were editor of two magazines. What made you decide to take the leap from magazine to novel writing?
I love writing and editing magazine features, but I always lament those parts that end up on the cutting room floor. I really wanted to tell a longer story than magazines can hold, so a book was the logical next step.

7) What brought you to write for the YA audience? Was it something you've always wanted to do, or just something that felt right for this particular book/series? Do you plan to venture out into other genres?
Writing for teenagers is THE BEST because I think they're such an honest, open audience. They'll tell you if they LOVE a story and they'll call you out if something just stinks.

I'm not sure I'll ever switch genres. Maybe when I get hopelessly old.

About Book Chic

Book Chic is run mainly by a college male, along with two friends of his. The three of us love Young Adult and chicklit books, and want to spread the good word of these particular books through our site. We post interviews with authors, book reviews, guest blogs from various authors, and more. We reside around the Washington, DC area.

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