Today, I'm participating in the 2013 Summer Author Blitz! I'm interviewing the fabulous Melissa Studdard, and she's giving away a couple of gems. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom to enter the giveaway!
Also, there are several other giveaways going on. Visit Books & Broomsticks for more information.
Introducing Melissa Studdard
Melissa Studdard is the author of the bestselling novel Six Weeks to Yehidah, and its companion journal, My Yehidah (both on All Things That Matter Press). Since its August 2011 release, Six Weeks to Yehidah has been the recipient of many accolades, including the Forward National Literature Award, the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award, the International Book Award, and January Magazine's best children's books of 2011. It was also named a finalist for the National Indie Excellence Awards and the Readers Favorite Awards. Melissa is also the author of The Tiferet Talk Interviews and the forthcoming poetry collection, “I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast.” Along with Scott Lutz, Melissa is co-author of For the Love of All (Trestle Press), which is the fifth story in the Mark Miller’s One series and debuted in the number one spot for Hot New Releases in Literary Criticism and Theory in the Amazon Kindle store. As well, her poetry, fiction, essays, reviews, and articles have appeared in numerous magazines, journals, and anthologies.
Melissa currently serves as a Reviewer-at-Large for The National Poetry Review, an editorial advisor for The Criterion, and an editor for Tiferet Journal, where she hosts the journal's radio interview program, Tiferet Talk. Melissa received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and is a professor for the Lone Star College System and a teaching artist for The Rooster Moans Poetry Cooperative. She loves anything related to writing and reading, whether it's sitting alone with a book and a cup of hot tea, or attending a large poetry reading or literary festival. She also loves travelling, meditating, going for walks, bicycling, practicing yoga, and spending time with family. She currently resides in Texas with her wonderful daughter and their four sweet but mischievous cats. To learn more, please visit www.melissastuddard.com.
2) What process in writing is hardest for you?
1) What are you working on now?
I’m currently trying to pull a poetry collection called I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast from my literary hat. A friend of mine, Ron Starbuck, recently started a press (Saint Julian Press) that publishes spiritual writings. He knew my poetry was a perfect fit for Saint Julian, so he asked me for a manuscript. It’s a frightening and exciting process to re-examine poems I’ve written over many, many years—to try to see how they fit together and how they should be arranged. So many stages of my life and my ideas and feelings and beliefs are represented. It’s almost like reading through old diaries. It’s really making me think about who I am and have been as a person and a writer and who I want to continue to become.
Here’s a poem from the collection. It was originally published in Open Road Review.
I’m not talking about the underside of a kitten’s
belly, or the layers of dress on a modest woman’s
corpse. I don’t mean that beneath the skin there’s
a world of vein, meat and bone. No, I’m talking about
mantle and core – the viscous, shifting substrata
beneath the camel’s hoof, beneath the sand,
beneath the crust beneath the sand. I think there are
birds in there, flying around inside the earth’s body,
birds flying over oceans, streams and lakes, children
laughing beside rivers, mothers calling them home
to supper by beating wooden spoons on the sides
of aluminum pots. It doesn’t matter that we can’t see
them, or even that my theory has been disproven.
I go where the laughter is, pure and simple, and I say
this ball of clay is really an onion, a snake coiled
around a bouncing ball, a swirl of petals exploding
from bud. It’s simple, really: love is the pack on a
hitchhiker’s back, everything he owns, everywhere
he goes, the only article that can’t be left behind.
And we’ve all got our thumbs out, pointed towards
that other realm, the one beneath the skin, beneath
the bone and marrow and veiny streams of blood, where gods
await us like lovers, like dense smoke, like cracked
and forgotten mirrors, reflecting the singular route home
Without question, not writing. When I’m between projects or ideas, I’m in agony. It’s like being in a long distance relationship and not knowing when you’ll get to see your lover again.
3) What process in writing is the most enjoyable for you?
I like that part when I’m just starting to realize that what I’m working on is viable. At that point I’m still charged with beginner’s energy, but I can see the finish line through the fog.
4) Are you pantser or a plotter?
I’m so intuitive and spontaneous I don’t even wear pants. Most everything that happens on my page is a delightful, mysterious, wondrous surprise to me. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
5) What inspired you to write Six Weeks to Yehidah?
After reading volumes and volumes of non-fiction books about spirituality and benefitting from them immensely, I wanted to share wisdom traditions with younger people—to share some things I wish I’d been introduced to at an earlier age. However, I also knew that kids wouldn’t want to sit down and read the same kinds of books I was reading as an adult, so I decided to do it in a fun, entertaining way, through narrative, vivid description, and humor.
6) When is your favorite time to write?
I’m obsessed with writing the way teenage girls are obsessed with make-up and teenage boys are obsessed with teenage girls. I always want to write.
7) What is your favorite snack while writing?
I don’t like to eat while writing. It’s distracting. When I feel like taking a break, I usually dance. Dancing energizes my fingertips and feeds my imagination more than food ever could. And my cats love it because they like to play fetch, and they know when I turn up the music and step away from the computer they can bring their toys to me to throw. It’s a big writing break party.