Melissa was kind enough to answer some of my questions about the book.
Tell us about your latest book.
Questions To Ask Before Marrying is the sometimes very funny, sometimes very poignant story of very different twin sisters on a long and bumpy road trip from Maine to Las Vegas, where one may or may not marry her fiance. Stella, a professional muse and “face reader” has three thousand miles to convince Ruby, a conservative Maine school teacher, that her buttoned-up fiance is not the man for her. Meanwhile, Stella is searching for the father of her baby—whose name she doesn’t even know. At its heart, the book is about what they learn—about themselves, each other, and love.
What pulled you into this story, and as a writer made you think ‘I have to write this’?
I am fascinated (okay, obsessed) by the relationship between sisters, especially sisters who aren’t close. I love to put estranged sisters together and watch what happens until they eventually become sisters: best friends.
Tell us about your writing process. Do you outline or are you more organic?
How I love the outline! I keep thinking that one day, one book, I’ll just . . . write, but I’m working on my 8th book and my trusty synopsis, which I then break down into chapters and then into scenes, is always up on my bulletin board! What I do is this: an idea overtakes me, usually a broad idea (for instance, for my next next book, I’ve already been gripped by the idea of four friends and a cooking class, though this might not keep hold, and then the theme of the novel works its way into my heart, mind and soul. From there, I wake up every morning with bits and pieces or sometimes big chunks of how the story works and comes together, and the main character(s) and her plight suddely starts making emotional sense for me. Then I sit down and write a synopsis of the story, then figure a week or two of more waking up with the flesh and bones of the plot and how everything connects. I’ve never been able to write any differently, so I guess this is my process! Basically, I let my sleeping brain, which is apparently awake and writing, do most of my work of me.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
This has been a tough year because I’m a single mom with a child in half-day kindergarten, so I’ve been writing at night once he’s asleep and on weekends. Come the fall, I get SIX FREE HOURS to write my heart out for the next 12 years!
If you could only own and read 5 books for the rest of your life, (excluding your own) what five books would you choose?
The Old Testament; Anne of Green Gables; Little Women; The Accidental Tourist; The Portable Dorothy Parker
What do you love about being an author?
A wise editor once told me that the most wonderful thing about writing fiction is that you can fix whatever you want, make it turn out however you want. I think she’s right.
What’s next for you?
I’m a month from deadline on my next YA for Delacorte and just sold my next two adult novel to Pocket Books, the first of which is tentatively titled The Love Bus, also about sisters—about a unmoored New Yorker who discovers she has a half sister she never knew existed. The half-sister lives in a small town in Maine, where our intrepid heroine starts a whole new life. Hmmm