As I grow older, I find myself seeking out kindness. That’s how I first met Melanie Hooyenga.
In the funny way that social media works, our paths had crossed for years, but we never really connected. It’s like we had been to a few parties at the houses of friends we had in common, but we’d never been introduced. If we passed each other in the street, we might nod and smile, maybe say hello, but I’m not sure we would have stopped to talk.
Yet I knew I wanted to talk to her.
On Erica Orloff’s blog, after we exchanged a few words, Melanie told me that she thought my idea for a YA novel was really intriguing, and she looked forward to reading it. Of course, I noticed. I’m as susceptible to flattery as the next guy. But it wasn’t an isolated incident. Hoo was that way with everyone.
Over the last few years, I’ve also noticed that kindness is far from her only virtue. She is funny and supportive. And strong, resilient, and creative. And prone to injury. (Which I believe many of her online friends refer to as “pulling a Hooey.”)
And a killer designer of book covers.
I will be forever grateful for the effort she expended to help me through one of the most difficult nights of my life — that horrible day in May when Stephen Harper’s Conservatives won a majority parliament in Canada.
So please make Melanie feel welcome here on Telling Stories. And, for crying out loud, buy her book and tell your friends about it!
Biz is a perfectly normal teenager except for one minor detail: she uses sunlight to flicker back to yesterday. She takes advantage of flickering by retaking Trig tests, fixing fights with her boyfriend (or reliving the making up), and repeating pretty much anything that could be done better. Trouble is, flickering makes her head explode from the inside. Or feel like it anyway.
No one knows about her freakish ability and she’s content to keep it that way. Guys don’t stick around because she refuses to let them in, but all that changes when Cameron, her best friend, starts looking oh-so-yummy. Suddenly she’s noticing his biceps, his smile, and the cute way his eyes crinkle when he–gah! This is her friend!
But the butterflies come to a screeching halt when little girls start disappearing, then take a nosedive when the police link the kidnappings to Cameron’s sister, who vanished years earlier. As the police grasp for clues, Biz photographs a strange man lurking in the shadows and realizes that her flickering can help more than just herself.
Melanie Hooyenga has lived in Washington DC, Chicago, and Mexico, but has finally settled down in her home state of Michigan with her soon-to-be husband Jeremy. When not at her day job as a graphic designer, you can find Melanie attempting to wrangle her Miniature Schnauzer Owen and kicking Jeremy’s butt at Kinect boxing.
1) What was your favorite book as a child? What is your favorite children’s book?
Can I name a series instead of one book? The Sweet Valley High books were my world when I was a kid. I read the entire series at least half a dozen times, much to my mother’s dismay. I don’t really have a favorite now.
2) What is your most marked characteristic? Does it help or hinder you?
I’m short. I get the impression that other people thinks it hinders me, but I see it as an advantage.
3) Which quality do you most like in a man?
Intelligence. So many other good qualities come with that one thing.
4) Which quality do you most like in a woman?
Being genuine. So often women are catty, especially with each other, but I have no time for that. For example, if I like what a woman is wearing, I always tell her, even if it’s a stranger on the street. It’s such a small gesture and it makes them happy.
5) What is your favorite memory?
He’s going to kill me for saying this, but my first date with my fiancé, hiking in the woods. I’m very clumsy and warned him not to be alarmed if I fell, but he ended up being the one to slide down a leaf-covered hill on his butt. Later he told me he was afraid I’d never go out with him again, but it made me like him more than I already did.
6) Describe the best meal you’ve ever had.
My fiancé and I have become quite the duo in the kitchen. I’m getting ready to make chicken piccata, which is currently my favorite meal. He also cooks a mean steak and I have perfected fish tacos and guacamole.
7) What’s the best book you’ve read in the last two years? The best movie you’ve seen?
Book: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. It is by far the best young adult novel I’ve ever read and made me want to crawl inside the book to experience it over and over again. Movie: Inception. It’s very rare for a movie to keep me on my toes, and I really had to pay attention to follow all the twists and turns. Plus Leo’s no slouch.
8) What characteristic about yourself would you most like to cha… ?
I interrupt others. I can’t help myself. To my credit, I’m very good at remembering what the other person was saying when I interrupted them, so I usually steer the conversation back to where we started.
9) What always make you happy?
My dog Owen.
10) What always angers you?
Racism, ignorance, and on a personal note, when people form an opinion of me that is untrue.
11) At this moment, where would you most like to be?
Four months from now, on my honeymoon.
12) Tell me about a boneheaded mistake you make in writing Flicker.
Mistake? Me? Nothing glaring stands out, but I mixed up quite a few things with the time travel in the first draft.
13) What has blogging brought to your life?
I’ve met some truly amazing people through blogging, and while I’m not as active with it as I used to be, I will always be grateful they are in my life.
14) Who is your favorite fictional heroine and why? And fictional hero?
Let’s skip this one. :) (Editor’s note: actually, we can’t. The correct answers are either Lord Aragorn or Jacob Jollimore, and Anne of Green Gables).
15) Who are your three favourite composers (or musicians)?
This one too.
16) Who is your favorite painter?
Monet or Toulouse-Lautrec, depending on my mood.
17) Which talent would you most like to have?
I MUST learn to dance tango. I’ve salsa danced (and merengue, bachata, cumbia, and cha cha) for over a decade but have never had the opportunity to learn tango.
18) How would you like to be remembered?
As the funny, charming, quick-witted writer who won Dancing with the Stars.
19) What has been the most exciting part of being published?
The look of astonishment on my non-writer friends’ faces when they realize I’ve written a book. I have so many writing friends that I forget what an accomplishment it is to write an entire novel, let alone more than one.
20) What is your greatest regret?
Not studying abroad in college.
21) Aside from your book, of what accomplishment are you most proud?
Buying my first home earlier this year. I did it completely on my own — something I never imagined doing — and I love it.
22) What is in heavy rotation on your iPod?
Um… I don’t own an iPod. I rely on my fiancé’s music, which has a lot of Mumford & Sons, Florence & the Machine, and Monsters & Men. Apparently I have an ampersand requirement with my music.
23) When was the last time you wept?
I honestly can’t remember, which is odd for me. Probably last January. Seriously, that may be the longest I’ve gone in my entire life.
24) What is your guilty pleasure?
Nutella, Olive Garden, and the Twilight movies.
25) In what way do you hope your life will change now?
The most obvious way is people I don’t know will read my book. I hope that writing always plays a large role in my life; getting the first published novel under my belt gives me the confidence to keep at it.