The Melissa Walker Interview

Last night I wrote about Project Runway for the LA Times. Also, if you'd like to check out the AV Club's least favorite cliches, go here. Finally, if you live in Chicago, have you alerted your babysitter/dogwalker/parole officer about the Interview Show next week?

Today I'm interviewing a gal I got to know via (I know! It happens!) We've shared some fun writey experiences, like her editing me during the period I wrote for the dearly departed ElleGirl and our time doing stringing work for Glamour magazine. She is currently a successful Young Adult writer, penning books like Violet on the Runway, Violet by Design and Violet in Private (Penguin) and Lovestruck Summer (HarperTeen) and in 2008 she started the newsletter I Heart Daily, a daily newsletter about likable stuff.

At what point in your career did you start being involved with and covering teen interests?
After my first job at ROSIE magazine, I was at ELLEgirl. I would never have left if I'd had the choice. I adored the readers.

Why'd you start I Heart Daily?
Anne and I would always say, "Why isn't Daily Candy doing a teen version of their newsletter?" Finally, we got proactive about it and started what we thought that would look like. It became I Heart Daily, and it reminds me of the best parts of writing for the smart, awesome teenagers who read ELLEgirl.

What did you want to avoid with the newsletter, especially based on what you've seen with other newsletters?
I think the one-topic newsletter is generally a cool thing. It's simple and quick to digest, so I just wanted to be sure it didn't get too complicated or ad-ridden.

What do you do to stay in touch with what teens are into?

I live my life. Maybe I'm 17 inside. My likes seem to overlap greatly with what teens are into.

What's something popular that you'd love if you were a teen but don't, being an old lady and all?

I love this question. Edward Cullen.

What magazines do you subscribe to?

So many. It's ridiculous. Mostly because I write for many. The ones I'd read anyway include: Nylon, SELF, Venus Zine and Budget Travel.

Which did you subscribe to when you were a teen?

All of the teen mags (YM, Seventeen)... hmm... I'm sensing a trend. But Sassy was my favorite, by far.

What's the hardest part about writing YA fiction?

Being really honest about everything that makes up my characters. I think young adult readers can smell a fake much quicker than adults.

How do you handle tough book reviews?

I gripe privately and smile publicly. The worst one I posted here, on Alexa Young's awesome blog.

What kind of research did you do on the fashion/modeling world for the Violet books?

My years at ELLEgirl, where I often interviewed up-and-coming models, gave me enough of a glimpse of all the fabulous and frightening sides of that industry for 20 books.

What usually happens at your book club visits or non-bookstore/library author appearances?

I read, some questions are asked, some books are signed. It's all very pleasant.

Do you have any secrets for keeping those lively? I'd be afraid that folks would be shy and I'd hear crickets.

That's always a fear. WAKE author Lisa McMann, who rocks, taught me that sometimes passing around a hat with paper scraps and pens can be good--they can drop anonymous questions in there for you to pick out and answer if no one raises their hand to ask openly.

What have been some of your favorite freelance assignments?

Most of my favorite stuff--Hell House reporting, New Zealand finishing school, Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Pageant--was done on staff at ELLEgirl. Freelance-wise, though, I always love a story where I get to interview a girl who's changing the world somehow, and I get to do that for Girls' Life fairly regularly. The most recent example is here.

What are your favorite YA books, classic or contemporary?

So hard! My favorite YA book of the summer was probably LOOKS by Madeleine George. It ru-ules. And yours does too, though I'm not sure I'm allowed to kiss up that much. True, though.

The section "Other things I'm excited about: " on your site is blank! So what would you fill it in with as of this moment?
Ooh, Busted! Okay, I'll update it. It's a spot to showcase books I'm excited for. I host widgets there... uh, usually. Right now I'm excited for SMITHTeens 6-word memoirs. Awesome.

What happened to the very vain cloud? Did it learn a lesson about vanity?

Oh yes. It turned gray and then made rain, so really it died at the end. A cautionary tale.

How does it feel to be the 239th person interviewed for

Pretty darn random. And sweet.