A few days ago I reviewed the novel, “A Work of Art” by Melody Maysonet and saying that the protagonist’s story tugged on my soul would be an understatement. The story was so incredibly moving that I just had to have a conversation with the mastermind behind it all. Below is the interview I had with Melody Maysonet. Check it out!
1. Why did you decide to write A Work of Art?
I’m not sure if it was a decision as much as a drive. My teenage years were tough, but reading opened my eyes to a bigger world and made me feel not so alone. I didn’t read light and fluffy books. Instead, I preferred dark themes and troubled characters. Now that I’m an adult and have control of my own life, I’m still drawn to dark books because I remember what it’s like to be unhappy, and I remember what it’s like to glean slivers of hope from something you read. So I guess that’s why I wrote A Work of Art—to perhaps touch someone’s life who might be going through something and let them know they’re not alone.
2. I love the cover of the novel (sadly, I’m the type of reader to judge a book by its cover). Who designed the cover for A Work of Art?
I’m so glad you love the cover! I love it too! It was designed by Sylvia McArdle, senior graphic designer at F+W Media, which is the parent company of my publisher, Merit Press.
3. Child pornography is a very hard subject to tackle. Did you need to do research prior to writing the novel or did you already have all the information?
I definitely had to do research, and even though my research was very clinical and revolved around the legal aspects of child pornography, it still felt incredibly uncomfortable to go near the topic. I talked to a few lawyers, but I also used the Internet, and every time I had to type something into my browser, the paranoid side of me felt like I might be setting off red flags with the FBI.
4. Did you have any problems writing this book? If so, what are they?
Finding my character’s story was the first hurdle I had to get over. The novel is actually based on a short story I wrote called “Two Twenties,” where Tera’s problems revolved around drug abuse and a crappy boyfriend named Joey. When I turned the short story into a novel, I spent at least a year writing and rewriting the first 150 pages until I realized that the story I wanted to tell wasn’t about drug abuse, but about father issues and sexual abuse. Once I finally settled on the story, I spent a long time finding Tera’s voice. I started writing the book in third person, but it wasn’t until I switched to first person (and studied the voices of great authors like Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Gary Paulson) that Tera came alive on the page.
5. What was the easiest part of this novel to write?
As strange as it is to say, Tera’s most painful moments were the scenes that were easiest to write, probably because I connected so well to her emotions. Many of the flashback scenes from Tera’s childhood came pouring out of me, but the screwed-up date scenes with Joey were also pretty easy to write.
6. I suspected that Tera leaned so heavily on Joey and other male figures in her life because her father was no longer around to give her the appraisal she needed. Is this true?
That was definitely my intention, but her desire to please Joey also came from her warped sense of how relationships work. Tera’s mother was emotionally absent for much of her life, so Tera’s self-esteem (little as it was) came almost exclusively from her father. To get his approval, she had to do things she didn’t want to do, but in her mind, that was how you earned someone’s love. That’s why it was so easy for Joey to bend her to his will. She finally wised-up, of course, but she had to learn her lessons the hard way.
7. I felt as if I didn’t get to spend enough time with the other characters. What will happen to Sadie and Joey?
I’ve toyed with the idea of writng a novel about Sadie. She was a much bigger character in my early drafts, when the story was still about drug abuse. In that alternate reality, Sadie was the ultimate cool girl, at least in Tera’s eyes. Unfortunately, she was also a drug addict and she ended up dying in a burning building because she was too drugged up to get herself out. If I were to ever write a book about Sadie as the main character, I don’t think I’d kill her off, though. I like her too much. As for Joey, I don’t see him ever growing up. He’s one of those guys who still hangs out at teen parties when he’s in his thirties, and the teenagers see him as cool because he buys their booze.
8. Will Tera and Haley ever be friends again?
Even though they were best friends as children, I saw their friendship as more of a convenience-thing because they lived across the street from one another. As they got older, the friendship became harder to maintain, so when the rift happened, it was easy (at least for Haley) to end the friendship. By the end of the book, they’re able to deal with what came between them, but their teenage personalities and interests are too polarizing for them to rekindle their childhood friendship. They’ll wave to each other from across the street, but I don’t see them hanging out.
9. What’s next for Tera Waters? Is she going to be the next famous artist?
I defintely see Tera becoming a well-known artist, but her road won’t be easy. As talented as she is, she still has a lot to learn, and no one is clearing her a path.
10. If you were in Tera’s position, do you think you would’ve made the choices she made?
Because Tera is based so heavily on my own personality as a teen, I have to give a resounding “yes”. Tera is eager to please because she wants to be loved. It’s easy to look at other people’s lives and say, “I’d never do that,” or “What was she thinking?” But when you’re brought up a certain way, it’s like you’re conditioned. Tera’s father is the one who shaped Tera’s self-worth, and it’s difficult for her to break out of the mold he created.
11. I’m already a fan of your work. Are you writing any new novels at the moment?
Why, thank you, and yes—I’m finishing up the first draft of another young-adult novel. This one’s about a 15-year-old girl named Layla who thinks all her dreams have come true after her rich aunt and uncle rescue her from the homeless shelter where she’s been living with her druggie mom. Of course, getting all the material things she’s been wishing for comes with its own price tag, and Layla soon discovers that living with a “normal” family doesn’t necessarily bring happiness. Like A Work of Art, this new novel, tentatively titled Out of Mind, deals with issues that are close to my heart.
Are you a fan of Melody Maysonet too? Click the links below to find out more about her.
Author website: www.melodymaysonet.com
Author Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorMelodyMaysonet
Author Twitter: @MelodyMaysonet
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8505144.Melody_Maysonet