Thank you so much for visiting by Bibliophilia, Please for my stop of the 2015 Debut Author Bash! Today, I'll be featuring Melody Maysonet and her debut novel, A Work of Art, and there's also a giveaway for FIVE copies of the book!
Title: A Work of Art
Author: Melody Maysonet
Publisher: Merit Press
Release Date: March 18, 2015
Shy, artistic Tera can't wait to attend a prestigious art school in France to prove to her famous artist father that she can make something of herself.
But Tera's hopes for the future explode when the police arrest her dad for an unspeakable crime. Her father's arrest must be a mistake, so Tera goes into action, sacrificing her future at art school to pay for his defense. Meanwhile, she falls head over heels for Joey, a rebel musician who makes her feel wanted and asks no questions about her past.
Joey helps Tera forget her troubles, but he brings a whole new set of problems to Tera's already complicated life. Then, to make matters worse, as her relationship with Joey deepens and as her dad's hotshot lawyer builds a defense, fractures begin to appear in Tera's childhood memories--fractures that make her wonder: could her father be guilty? And whether he's guilty or innocent, can she find a way to step out of the shadows of her father's reputation and walk free? Can she stop him, guilty or innocent, from tainting the only future she ever wanted?
A Work of Art is a deeply felt story about self-image, self-deception, and the terrible moment that comes when we have to face the whole truth about the myths of our childhoods.
Kayla: Hi, Melody! Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed for my stop on the Debut Author Bash! First, do you mind telling readers a little bit about yourself and your debut novel, A Work of Art?
Melody Maysonet: Sure. A Work of Art is about a 17-year-old girl named Tera who gives up her future at art school to pay for her dad’s legal defense after he’s accused of a horrible crime. Tera discovers too late that her dad might be guilty--and even worse, that she might be one of his victims. It’s a fast-paced coming-of-age story with a literary bent.
Maybe the best way to tell you about myself is to tell you why I wrote A Work of Art. It’s on the grittier side of gritty YA--meaning that it’s dark and sometimes painful to read--but that’s the kind of book I’ve always been drawn to. My teenage years were tough, but reading was one of the things that helped me get through and it was the books with dark themes and troubled characters that spoke to me. Today I have an incredible life. (I’m happily married with an 11-year-old son and two cats--and, hey, I just published my first novel!) But I know what it’s like to be unhappy, and I know what it’s like to read something and realize, “Wow, other people have felt like this too.” So those are the kinds of books I want to write--ones that touch people on a deep, emotional level.
All this makes me sound way too serious, so I’d also like to mention that I’m a self-proclaimed geek, a former Dungeons & Dragons & Magic: The Gathering junkie who was lucky enough to work for a gaming company called Wizards of the Coast. Working there back in the day was the best job I could imagine until I officially became an author with the publication of A Work of Art. I mentioned that I’m drawn to dark, troubling books, but I’m a big fantasy reader, too, and I love thrillers and literary books as well.
Kayla: I know many things can contribute to an author’s inspiration when writing a book. What had the greatest influence or provided the most inspiration for A Work of Art?
Melody: My own experience was probably the greatest inspiration for writing A Work of Art. Tera, the main character, is shy and withdrawn, and that was me as a teenager. Like Tera, I ate lunch in the girls’ restroom at school because I didn’t want to eat alone in the cafeteria. I had little to no experience with guys, but I fantasized about having someone who loved me for who I was. Tera’s boyfriend Joey has qualities from a few guys I dated. For example, Joey makes Tera feel cheap, and that’s based on what happened to me on a first date. The guy drove us to another town an hour away just so we could go to the dollar movie.
Kayla: Your book deals with some pretty heavy subject matter – what would you like readers to learn from the main character, Tera, or her circumstances?
Melody: At first, Tera believes that her dad is innocent of the crime for which he’s accused. Her dad is a famous graphic artist and he’s been her art mentor all her life. He’s also a master manipulator, and the things she suffered by his hand have become part of her norm. Based on what I’ve read and on my own experience, that’s the way it happens with a lot of victims of domestic abuse--they might not realize how screwed up their situation is or how much it’s affecting them. A Work of Art is fiction, but the feelings associated with being a victim are universal, and it’s those feelings of insecurity and shame that I wanted to tackle.
Kayla: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Melody: Besides learning the actual craft of writing a novel, the thing that held me back the most was my fear of what other people might think of me for delving into such a dark topic. One of my writing mentors, Jamie Morris, stressed to me how important it is to write from your heart, especially when dealing with emotional topics. I had to let go of my fear that readers (and my own friends and family) might judge me, but once I put those fears aside, the story broke open.
Kayla: A Work of Art has gotten some pretty fantastic reviews. How did you find out about your Kirkus star? How did you celebrate?
Melody: My publicist at Merit Press emailed me to tell me about the Kirkus Star, and I was absolutely elated and stunned. (I think the email I fired back said something like, “holy crap!”) I’d heard about how tough Kirkus Reviews can be and I was trying to prepare myself. Then to hear that it got a starred review… Wow. It was the same feeling I got after my agent told me she sold the book: gratitude and immense relief mixed with validation. Getting the Kirkus Star proved to me that I was not some kind of writing imposter--that what I had to say was important (and apparently I said it really well).
Kayla: I know it’s really hard to pick one favorite, but what are your favorite debut novels that you’ve read this year?
Melody: I really enjoyed Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli, and Just a Drop of Water by Kerry O’Malley Cerra, which takes place during the 9/11 attacks. I’d have to say that my absolute favorite debut of 2015 was An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir. I was blown away by how good that book was. I can’t wait for the next book in the series.
Kayla: Finally, do you have any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?
Melody: I’m working on another YA novel, tentatively titled Out of Mind. It’s about a 15-year-old girl who thinks all her dreams have come true when she gets to move out of the homeless shelter, where she’s been living with her addict mom, and into the home of her wealthy aunt and uncle. But getting all the material things she’s been wishing for doesn’t fix what’s really wrong in her life--and of course, that’s a lesson she has to learn the hard way. The first draft is written, and I’m deep into rewrites. Once I get the manuscript where I want it, I’ll be sending it to my agent, and hopefully, she’ll be able to sell it to a publisher as quickly as she sold A Work of Art.
Kayla: Thank you so much for your time!
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About the Author
Melody Maysonet was born in Alaska, but grew up in Illinois. A former English teacher at a community college, she later moved to Seattle, where, under the name Melody Alder, she became editor and columnist for Wizard’s of the Coast’s The Duelist magazine. She currently lives with her husband and son in South Florida where she’s a volunteer teacher at an outreach homeless shelter, but she devotes most of her time to writing fiction for young adults.
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2015 Debut Author Bash
Thanks to the very generous Melody Maysonet, we have five (5) SIGNED copies of A Work of Art up for grabs!
Ends at 12:01am CST on December 26th
a Rafflecopter giveaway