Heather Smith Meloche
Heather Smith Meloche has had the honor of winning the Katherine Paterson Prize and the Writer's Digest National Competition for her children's/Young Adult writing. She studied video production and poetry at Michigan State University, and then got her Master's in Teaching English as a Second Language at Bowling Green State University. She spends her days in her home in Michigan sampling a wide variety of chocolate, letting her dogs in and out constantly, and writing and reading as much as she can.
1. I love YA books that have edgier topics. Was it hard to write about 2 people who were so self-destructive?
- The story is rooted in a lot of what both my husband and I dealt with growing up. The hardest part was facing all that emotion again. Addiction rips people and families apart. It affects everyone who has to be around it. Those effects are the ripples that created the title. Writing all that definitely had me crying at times, but that just pushed me to really try to bring some peace to my characters, Jack and Tessa, in the end.
2. I haven’t read the book yet, but it sounds like with the Ellen Hopkins comparison (and taking a look at your other writing) that it may be in verse? Is this true and what made you gravitate towards writing in that format?
- The book was originally written in verse, and it grew from a short story in verse called “Him” that won the Katherine Paterson Prize through the literary journal Hunger Mountain. I studied poetry writing for years, and Ellen Hopkins is absolutely one of my literary heroes. How she builds stories through her verse is stunning. But after finishing a draft of Ripple in verse, I felt like Tessa’s part fit that format while Jack’s didn’t. I didn’t want to force it, so I turned it all into prose. Hopefully, the reader can still sense the poetry throughout the book. And those tough, edgy topics similar to those in Hopkins’ novels are definitely there!
3. What were your favorite books growing up? (I was a Fear Street girl)
- I liked Judy Blume, like many girls did, and I went through a Nancy Drew phase. But, like you with R.L. Stine’s Fear Street, I was really into horror. I wanted to be totally spooked and scared! Stephen King was one of my favorite authors. I loved Edgar Allen Poe’s short fiction, and I don’t think I slept for a week after reading John Saul’s Nathaniel!
4. What are your 3 favorite books that you read in the past year?
- I’m really lucky to be a part of the 2016 YA and MG debut group, The Sweet Sixteens, so I’ve been reading all the galleys of that group before the books hit the shelves. They’re all so good, but I really love Katie Kennedy’s Learning to Swear in America (seriously smart and hilarious!), Amber Smith’s The Way I Used To Be (heart-wrenchingly good!), and Sonya Mukherjee’s Gemini (totally enthralling and interesting).
5. Do you have any cool book birthday plans?
- I’m organizing a launch party at my local community center, but I’d like to relate my book launch to charity somehow. Since the book deals heavily with mental health issues, it would be really cool to have part of the proceeds from the purchase of items from the book -- like mixed media art similar to Tessa’s or Jack’s jean jacket with a Beatles’ album cover on it or side character Emma Hadley’s elfish beanie, which plays a huge role in the story -- go toward organizations that work to help the mentally ill, like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or Mental Health America (MHA).
6. I’m a big Potterhead… What houses would you sort your characters in? What about a Patronus?
- I would put Tessa into the house of Hufflepuff since she has a pretty strong work ethic like her parents, who work really hard to support the household, and because she really strives to become someone who is fair and loyal despite all her issues. Also, the house’s element is Earth, and Tessa feels most at home in nature, surrounded by trees. Her patronus, I think, would be an owl. She could sit safely on a branch and watch and assess everything.
- Jack I’d put into Ravenclaw because he’s super smart and ultra-witty. His patronus has to be a fox since he likes to outsmart and manipulate authority.
7. What has been your favorite part of the publishing process for you so far?
- Well, not to stroke your ego or anything, but I really love connecting with YA bloggers. The passion they all have for YA and reading is awesome. They are the biggest fan club for the genre, and, overall, are just really great, enthusiastic people. And, of course, meeting and talking with young adults about what they’re interested in, including what books and characters they love, is always a really cool part of being a YA writer.
That was so nice of her to shoutout to us YA Book Bloggers!! It's so nice to feel appreciated. I also LOVED Judy Blume! Peter Hatcher FOREVER!! Thanks so much Heather for giving such awesome answers to my (kinda lame) questions. I SO enjoyed having you on my blog today!! Good luck with Ripple... I know I can't wait to read it!!
Pub Date- 9/20/2016
When their too-adult lives lead them down self-destructive paths, these broken teens find a way to heal in this YA novel perfect for fans of Ellen Hopkins.
With her impossible-to-please grandmother on her back about college and her disapproving step-dad watching her every move, Tessa would do anything to escape the pressure-cooker she calls home. So she finds a shot of much-needed power and confidence by hooking up with boys, even though it means cheating on her boyfriend. But when she's finally caught red-handed, she’ll do anything she can to cover up what she's done.
Jack is a prankster who bucks the system every chance he gets—each transgression getting riskier and riskier. He loves the thrill, and each adventure allows a little release because his smug smile and suave demeanor in the face of authority doesn’t make life at home with his mom any less tough. He tries to take care of her, but the truth is he's powerless in the face of her fragile mental health. So he copes in his own way, by defacing public property and pulling elaborate pranks, though he knows in the end this’ll only screw up his life even more.
As they both try not to let their self-destructive patterns get the best of them, Tessa and Jack gravitate toward one another, discovering the best parts of themselves in the process. An honest portrayal of the urges that drive us and finding the strength to overcome them.
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