Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Meet YA Author Melanie Hooyenga

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes YA author Melanie Hooyenga. Melanie writes The Flicker Effect Series.

First, a bit about Melanie:

I first started writing as a teenager and find I still relate best to that age group. My young-adult novel, Flicker, debuted in November 2012, and the sequel, Fracture, released in June 2014. I’ve lived in Washington DC, Chicago, and Mexico, but have finally settled down in my home state of Michigan with my husband Jeremy. When not at my day job as a graphic designer, you can find me attempting to wrangle my Miniature Schnauzer Owen and playing every sport imaginable with Jeremy.

Why did you pick to write books for YA?

My first two novels were adult contemporary fiction, but they both had teenage protagonists. After a beta reader kindly suggested perhaps I try writing YA, I got the idea for Flicker (the first book in my trilogy) and thought I’d give it a try. It’s the most natural voice I’ve ever written, and I’m so glad I tried something that seemed outside my comfort zone.

It’s been a long time since I was a teenager, but I still love the idea of first loves, new adventures, and discovering who you are.

What types of books do you like to read?

Lately it seems all I read is YA, but I’m hoping to branch out a bit this year. I just finished Stephanie Perkins’ series Isla and The Happily Ever After, and I’m considering rereading Insurgent before it comes out in March. I have far too many books on my TBR pile, but I tend to read contemporary YA romance, as well as the occasional dystopian. Next on my list is Kevin Craig’s Burn Baby, Burn Baby and Donna Tartt’s Goldfinch.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do?

Oh wow, what DON’T I like to do? My husband and I are very active so the only time I’m just sitting on the couch is if I’m reading or watching TV (we only watch a handful of shows). This winter we’re playing dodgeball and skiing, then softball starts in April, and golf shortly after that. I’m also hoping to squeeze in beach volleyball since we live two minutes from Lake Michigan. We enjoy cooking and entertaining friends, and I enjoy the occasional DIY crafty projects (Next up: chevroning the desk in my writing room and a magnetic chalkboard).

Tell us about Flicker and how the story came to be.

Flicker is the first book in The Flicker Effect trilogy. I first got the idea when driving to see my grandmother. You know how sometimes the sunlight flickers through the trees in a way that makes a strobe-light effect? Well, it really messes with my head to the point that I have to shield my eyes so I can concentrate on the road. That snowy December day, the light was particularly bad, and I wondered what if there was a girl who, when she experienced this, time-traveled back to yesterday. And Biz was born.

Flicker tells the story of 17-year old Biz who’s just like every other teenager except for one minor detail: she uses sunlight to travel back to yesterday. She uses her ability the way any teenager would—by retaking tests, fixing fights with her boyfriend, and reliving the making up. But when little girls in her town start disappearing, she realizes she can help more than just herself.


Here's a peek at Flicker:

Biz is a perfectly normal teenager except for one minor detail: she uses sunlight to jump 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.

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

Fracture, book two in the trilogy, picks up a month after Flicker ends and brings a whole mess of problems for Biz: Her newly shaved head brings out the bullies; her boyfriend Cameron is getting a little too chummy with a girl from the kidnap support group; and Cameron’s formerly kidnapped sister is having some serious adjustment issues. When her dad’s health takes a turn for the worse, she turns to her neurosurgeon who operated on her. If she tells him the truth, he could figure out why she and her dad flicker and save her before her entire world—and her own health—crumbles. But can Biz trust him with her secret?

Faded—which I just finished—is the final book of the series. Biz didn’t think life could get worse after she tried—and failed—to stop a horrific event, but when she accidentally flickers into a car on her eighteenth birthday after doing shots of vodka—she’s forced to face the consequences of her actions in a way she never imagined. When an anonymous email threatens to reveal her secret, Biz must decide if flickering is all it’s cracked up to be, or if she needs to stop flickering. Forever.

I’ve written two other novels, one of which I might rewrite for a YA audience, but neither is leaving my computer in their current state. I call those practice novels.


What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

I’ve already outlined my next book, a YA romance inspired by the movie Grease, of all things. There’s a lot of snow and skiing (we were buried under three feet of snow all last winter and I watched A LOT of the Olympics), and probably lots of kissing. I’m excited to write something completely new. I love Biz and Cam and Amelia in The Flicker Effect, but I’ve been hanging out with them since 2010, so I’m eager to start something new.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Keep at it. Writing a novel is not easy, and it’s not fast. You’ll go through days and weeks where the words flow and writing is the best feeling in the world, then you’ll get stuck or start to doubt yourself, or (like I sometimes do) read a book that is so stupendously fantastic you wonder why you ever thought you could do this. But no one else can tell your story the way YOU can tell it.

Also, don’t hide in a bubble. Get online. Meet fellow writers. When you publish, whether with a traditional publishing house or via self-publishing, a lot of the marketing will fall on your shoulders and if the only people you know are your family and the kids you graduated with, no one will hear about your book.

Anything else you want readers to know?

I love to hear from readers! I’m on Facebook and Twitter the most, but I do have a blog where I try to remember to post more than once a month.

Where can readers find you and your books?

I’m all over the internet!

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

Amazon Flicker
Amazon Fracture
B&N Flicker
B&N Fracture (print only)
Smashwords
Kobo

Or if you happen to be in west Michigan, the Bookman in Grand Haven has both books as well.

7 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. You're welcome, Melanie. Love your inspiration for the series!

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  2. Great interview Cheryl. Her book sound interesting with the time travel to yesterday aspect. That would have been so handy at any age.

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  3. Wonderful interview! Love the concept of Flicker.

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  4. Bonnie, I've had a lot of adults tell me they would have loved to have that ability when they were teenagers. I know I would have!

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  5. What a terrific concept for a book! Oh, what I would do if I could go back one day.... Thanks for introducing us to another great author in the Kid Lit Blog Hop, Cheryl.

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