All about Melissa Groeling and her new book Traffic Jam.
When you’re caught in traffic, you’ve got nowhere to go…
Val Delton’s life is spiraling and there’s nothing she can do to stop it. Her dad lost his job, her mom works fourteen hour days to pay the bills and yet somehow there are high-end shopping bags and an iPod in her older sister’s room. Naturally, Val becomes suspicious but her sister’s lips are sealed. Then by accident, she uncovers a dark, dangerous secret hidden behind her sister’s bright smiles and cool indifference. Val has no idea how far and how deep the repercussions of her sister’s secret will reach but she’ll do whatever it takes to keep her family safe. Will she succeed before her sister’s secret destroys everyone she loves?
Janet: I want to welcome Melissa Groeling here today and thank you all for coming. Melissa is the author of a young adult novel called, Traffic Jam. So, Melissa, tell us a little bit about your book.
Melissa: Hi there, Janet! Thanks for having me on your blog today! So Traffic Jam is a roller-coaster of a story, featuring sixteen-year-old Val Delton as the voice that carries us through from start to finish. She’s your typical high-school student, straddled with homework, softball games, and the high-strung drama that comes with being somewhat of a nerd in a public school. Her older sister, Sam, is the exact opposite and the two of them do not and I mean, do not get along. But then Val inadvertently stumbles upon a dark secret Sam’s been hiding and this secret is very real and horrible. It’s something that not only exists within the pages of this book but out there in society as well. Of course, I’m not going to tell you what that is! You’ll have to read the book! *wink*
Janet: How did you come up with the idea for the story? Was it a long time in the making, or did it just smack you atop the head and say, “Hey! I want to write this!”
Melissa: This story literally smacked me on top of my head as well as delivered a solid kick to my rear end! I was watching the news, which I never do because it does nothing but deliver sad, sorry news all the time. But this one time I actually watched it and I hate to sound cliché, but it literally set a light bulb off in my head. I guess the news is good for something!
Janet: Out of all the characters you created, which one is your favorite? Why?
Melissa: Wow, that’s an awesome question. I used to think that John was my favorite but now I would have to say Jude. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding this guy and a lot of back story that we only get in bits and pieces. I had someone tell me that she would love it if I wrote a prequel from his point of view. It’s definitely something to think about.
Janet: What made you choose the genre you wrote in?
Melissa: I think young adult is a very multi-faceted genre. There’s so much you can do with it and you don’t even need to look very far for inspiration especially since we live in a society that’s nearly obsessed with youth. But I have to say that I don’t write in just young adult. My very first book (Beauty Marks) was a romance and the next book coming out will be a suspense novel, gearing towards…well, just about anyone!
Janet: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Hobbies? Family? Favorite books to read? What do you do when you’re not working on your novel?
Melissa: Well, I’m from the Philadelphia region and I’m a New York Giants fan—I have to be careful who I say that to (ha ha). I’m a natural redhead. I enjoy hanging out with my family and friends and of course, I love to read—especially if I get hit with writer’s block. I have an intense love affair with dark chocolate—that’s one thing I’m always munching on whenever I’m writing. I love the beach and my “real” job is a copywriter. As far as books go, I’m a big suspense-thriller fan, especially Dean Koontz, Karin Slaughter, Dan Simmons and Nick Stone, to name a few.
Janet: What inspired you to write your first book?
Melissa: Oh wow, my first book was a romance novel called Beauty Marks. I believe it’s still available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It’s pretty funny that I even wrote a romance because anyone who knows me knows that I don’t have a romantic bone in my body. So where this book came from, I will never know. But it was fun to write. The idea literally came to me out of nowhere at 3am and I remember staying up, banging out the first four chapters. I was afraid to go to sleep lest I forget anything! I can’t even pinpoint where the idea came from. It just popped into my head.
Janet: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Melissa: The message in Traffic Jam would be never to lose hope. The things these two girls go through are life-altering, very scary and at times, can seem extremely hopeless. At the beginning of the story, there’s a very strong sense of disconnect that seems to run rampant in a lot of families nowadays. No one seems to know what the other person is doing and in this day and age, that disconnect is what breaks a lot of families up. So the message would be not only to never lose hope, but to always know what’s going on with everyone close to you.
Janet: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Melissa: I grew up reading Dean Koontz so I think his writing and his amazing story-telling abilities helped point in me in this direction.
Janet: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Melissa: You know, I’ve tried to remember if there was a specific moment when I realized that I wanted to write but I can never pinpoint it. Writing, to me, feels like something that I’ve been doing my entire life and something that I’ve always enjoyed. I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t writing anything.
Janet: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Melissa: The beginning! Always the beginning! I always think of a story either in the middle somewhere or at the end. Trying to start it off is always the hardest part for me.
Janet: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Melissa: Yes! Thank you to all my readers out there for their support, for reading, for everything! Keep on reading!
Janet: Well, that is all the time we have for today. I want to thank you, Melissa, for joining me on my blog and readers. I wish you the best of luck.
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