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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Melissa Marr

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? Stories are how we connect, process, heal, or escape. They nourish our minds and spirits. They are–and I think should be–as varied as our diets, and it’s a privilege to create them. I grew up in my formative years with a steady diet of classics mixed with genre fiction. I was, by today’s standards of parenting, far too young to read the things I read. In elementary school I was reading Milton, The Secret Garden, Florida murder mysteries, racy romances, and Archie comics. After a couple lit degrees, I taught at uni, but I found that I could reach students by using song lyrics to start my poetry section. The students were more open to classics once we did that, and I tend to think as a writer that a good story is the key ingredient. I still love literature, but I aspire to that moment I used to see in my students’ eyes above all else. It’s about connection between words on my pages and strangers I’ll likely never meet.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? I don’t typically believe in writer’s block. The words come as they will. When they don’t, either they’re not ready, or I’m sick. For three years, they paused. When my doctor adjusted my medications, the words returned. So I tend to think the block results from external or internal reasons. My latest book was one I started in 2011, but it wasn’t ready until now. I’ve written others faster, but it wasn’t a block to say that this was not coming. It simply wasn’t ready YET. However, all that said, when I’m trying to encourage words to arrive I either turn to nature or exercise. The act of quieting my mind tends to stimulate words, as well as better blood pressure numbers 😉

What is your favorite time to write? 10pm-4am. There is something perfect for me when the world is asleep. I can get the same zing in the daylight when I’m away on retreat with nothing but the sheep or sky to interrupt me. These days, like most of us, I make whatever hours I have work. Pandemic parenting changed my schedule. However, in my ideal world it’s all about that elusive slice of silence. No interruptions. No email. No dogs needing walked.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? If your feelings are in the pages, readers feel it. I’ve written from some of my rawest feelings and some of my softest feelings, and those moments are the ones readers mention in their emails.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? Variety! During the pandemic, I tried some novels indie because NY (quite reasonably!) was scrambling with the bookstore closure, no events, etc. So I played with stories that weren’t as “on-market” as NY seeks. I also started writing for D.C. Comics. I had the joy of getting to create a story for one of my most loved characters. I’m still doing the NY route, but the variety of places and ways to reach readers currently thrills me.

Melissa Marr’s The Hidden Knife is out now with ‎Nancy Paulsen Books.