We received an advance review copy of the novel, and we can see why it's getting strong reviews from book bloggers. It's an intriguing ghost story, and has a fun romance / coming-of-age aspect to it as well. The main character is Jade, a sixteen-year-old girl who finds herself living in a creaky old house on Nantucket Island with her mother, her soon-to-be step-relatives... and an assortment of raging ghosts. This one's a good spooky read for this time of year.
The blog tour for Ever Near is underway now! You can enter for prizes with the form at the bottom of this post.
Now, on to our conversation with Melissa!
Congratulations on your new novel. In a few words, how would you describe your book to someone who hasn't heard about it?
EVER NEAR is about a girl, a boy, and a ghost. No, seriously, it’s about a girl named Jade who has the ability to see ghosts and she’s never told anyone. Jade’s mother is getting remarried so she has to move into a haunted house on Nantucket Island. Plus, she has a crush on one of her new step-brothers.
How long did it take you to write the novel? Can you give us some insights into your approach?
The novel took me almost two years from the first inkling of an idea to when Red Adept offered on it. I had other projects that I worked on during that time as well. The story had several incarnations and I did a bunch of edits and re-writes on it.
The novel makes rich use of the setting on Nantucket Island. How has your book been received by readers local to that area?
Most of the feedback from the locals has been great. They say they love seeing all the different places around town used as a back drop for the story. Even though I have lived here a long time, Nantucket is still a magical place for me. I miss it when I go away.
You're a full-time teacher. How has your work as a teacher shaped you as a writer?
Being a teacher has helped me be in touch with young people and what they are like in 2013. I notice of their interests and their social behavior. I am a sociologist at heart and I love asking the question why when it comes to human behavior. I love trying to figure out what makes people tick.
What's the most essential advice you give to aspiring authors in your 7th grade writing class?
I can’t narrow it down to only one so here are three.
1. Write in a journal about anything and everything.
2. Read a lot of books.
3. Details not summary
We enjoyed the fact that the ghosts in your book are not your typical cuddly and charming YA ghosts... instead, they're malevolent and filled with rage. What inspired your creation of the various ghosts that appear in the story?
Well, I always imagine that ghosts stay behind because of unresolved issues. They are upset about something and that’s how a lost soul with serious problems would act (at least in my mind).
Ever Near is applauded by reviewers as a great ghost story *and* a well-written story of young romance. How did you balance those two elements as you planned the book?
In truth, I wrote the romance first and the ghost story was inserted after. My process was flawed but I was determined to make the two aspects work together. Romance writing is my first love and I hate cheesy ghosts so I worked hard to make both come through well in the book.
Jade, the main character in your book, is a bi-racial teenager. How would you say her ethnic background influences her character?
Jade is fairly secure and self confident but still struggles at times with her racial identity. She accepts both sides of her heritage but is closer to her father’s extended family than her mother’s. One of my inspirations in creating Jade was reading about President Obama and how he struggled with his own racial identity growing up. I am proud to have written a book about an underrepresented group in the Young Adult genre. However, I am not sure I did a great job of truly capturing what it’s like because I did not live through the experience myself.
What "feeds" you in terms of ideas and inspirations for your writing? Do you have a "muse"-like person or activity?
I think Nantucket is part of my muse and my other is my desire to make sense of all the various relationships and stories around me. I am an overly empathetic person. When I see or hear a story, I try to imagine what it feels like to be that person. And then I often take it one step further and say what if…
A well-written story brings about change in both its readers and its writer. Can you share with us something that you learned in the process of writing Ever Near?
I wrote a book about Trust without even meaning too. This makes sense because trust is a big issue for me.
Okay, let's get a bit more personal. Tell us five random things about you!
1. I love football.
2. I worked at a barn on Nantucket and led trail rides for tourists when I was only 13.
3. I like to hang my clothes on the line in the summer.
4. I like pop music.
5. Even though I live in a summer resort town, fall is my favorite season.
It's October already! Which of your characters are you dressing up as this Hallowe'en? :)
Oh, I would have to say Lacey. She would be the most fun to dress as. I would have to decide which version of her face to use though…
We understand that this book is the first in the Secret Affinity series. When can we expect the next book!?
If all goes as planned, I am hoping for Spring 2014. Maybe not until the Fall of 2014 though.
Melissa, thanks for talking with us. We're pleased to feature your book on KBoards!
Ever Near is available now to download to your Kindle! And be sure to check out the Ever Near blog tour celebrating the book's release - for interviews, reviews, and a chance to win SWAG from the book's publisher, Red Adept Publishing.
Ever Near is available now to download to your Kindle!
a Rafflecopter giveaway