Friday, May 31, 2013

All About Middle Grade Interview: Melanie Crowder (author of Parched)


This week, I am very excited to welcome Melanie Crowder, author of Parched, to the blog. Hope y'all will give her a very warm welcome to the blog.

About the author:

Melanie Crowder graduated in 2011 with an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of PARCHED, a forthcoming middle grade novel (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013).

A West Coast girl at heart, Melanie now lives and writes in the beautiful (if dry) state of Colorado.

You can haunt Melanie Crowder at-
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | FB |
Interview 



1. Could you tell us a little about Parched and the setting in which it takes place?

Parched is the story of a girl named Sarel, whose parents are killed and her home destroyed in a water riot. In the smoke-hazed aftermath, she is left alone with the dogs her father bred and trained, a pack of Rhodesian Ridgebacks. It is Nandi, who leads the dog pack, who helps Sarel move past her grief and find the will to survive. This is also the story of a boy named Musa, with a talent for dowsing that makes him vulnerable to the greedy and violent gangs that control the drought-stricken city.

If any of them are going to make it, they have to find water, and they have to find a way to trust each other.

2. Parched definitely sounds like an interesting read. What made you want to write a book about a boy, a girl, a dog and their struggle to survive in a world where water is scarce? 

I didn't really set out to write this book (of course I'm looking for stories everywhere), but Sarel and Musa and Nandi really found me. The book began as an image in my mind; it showed me a setting and a handful of characters, but I didn't know who they were or how they were connected.

I was interested in exploring trauma, and how a person recovers emotionally. I was interested in the fact that all around us, our water and air is being poisoned, yet we are all still blithely going about our lives. I was interested in exploring what it is like for the children caught in the crosshairs of our environmental and social missteps. But what I set out to write is far less important when it comes to story than what Musa and Sarel and Nandi wanted, and it was what they needed that drove the direction of this novel.

3. What was the most difficult aspect of Parched to get down on 'paper'?

The hardest thing by far, was the emotions. I wrote this book in very spare prose, to mirror the parched setting. So had to show a lot of restraint when it came to my characters' feelings in order for them to seem organic to the rest of the story. And there are some intense emotional moments and undercurrents in this story!—I just had to really fine-tune them to get them right.

4. Three authors whose work you recommend?

Kathi Appelt, Franny Billingsley and Rita Williams-Garcia
Why? They write amazing stories for children and teens, full of heart and simply beautiful prose. And, they each wrote lovely quotes of praise for Parched. I am so honored!

5. Since your debut Parched deals with survival, what are two things that you cannot live without?

Stories and good friends to share them with.

6. The world has fallen to a robot invasion and only one heroine/hero can possibly save the day, who do you choose? 

Storm from the X-men. A little lightning should take care of those pesky robots!

For some reason it keeps ending up sideways.
7. Care to share your writing cave with us (include a picture if you want)?

I have an office, with piles of drafts and plotting charts and corkboards covered with pictures. But my favorite place to write is my backyard, when the weather cooperates. Here is a picture of my writing table this morning. (And no, the weather is not cooperating today!)

8. Any upcoming project that you can share with us?

Right now, I'm working on a YA historical verse novel. It's very different from my debut, and real challenge, which I love!


Melanie, thank you so much for stopping by. Love the picture from your office (admires the snow from afar).

Parched by Melanie Crowder, June 4 2013. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

A mesmerizing debut about a girl, a boy, and a dog struggling to survive in a parched and barren land.
Sarel is a girl with secrets. She knows which tree roots reach down deep to pools of precious water. But now she must learn how to keep herself and her dogs alive. Nandi is the leader of those dogs. She knows they can’t last long without water—and she knows, too, that a boy is coming; a boy with the water song inside him.
Musa is that boy. His talent for finding water got him kidnapped by brutal men, yet he's escaped, running away across the thirsty land that nearly claims his life. And so Sarel, Musa, and the dogs come together in what might be their last hope of survival.

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