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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

An Interview with Melissa Savage, author of Lemons

Melissa Savage visits The Hiding Spot today to talk about healing from grief, Bigfoot, finding inspiration in the ways kids view the world and communicate, and her upcoming novel set in Roswell, New Mexico!

I quickly fell for your characters and was especially charmed by the relationship between Lemonade and her grandfather. Can you speak about the development of these characters and their relationship?
I have worked as a therapist for many years with children and families and wanted to write about a little girl who struggled with a very unexpected loss, as some children do. And I also wanted to provide some very understanding adults to help her navigate that loss with gentle guidance and love, with the ability to embrace the memories of the past versus trying to forget to ease the pain. Research today tells us the best way to heal from grief is to have a new kind of relationship with the person we’ve lost. By holding special rituals and by celebrating those people instead of trying to forget. Mostly, I wanted this story to contain a great deal of hope, regardless of the lemons that come your way in life to help kids to start to learn coping skills early in life. Charlie represents that very special and safe adult every kid should have in their life to support them and help them with their hope. Not everyone is so lucky. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had a Charlie in our lives for the times when our lemons feel just too hard to carry all by ourselves? 
Lemonade becomes fast friends with Tobin Sky, the young CEO of Bigfoot Detectives, Inc., who spends his days responding to Bigfoot sightings and dreaming of finally coming face to face with the legendary creature. Why did you choose Bigfoot as the elusive creature Tobin and Lemonade spend their days chasing? Did you conduct research about Bigfoot? 
I’m a Bigfoot geek! Mostly because I am fascinated when I see news articles about scientists who have located an animal or species of animal they either thought to be extinct or didn’t know existed at all. Or even when they find the bones of an ancient species they didn’t know about. And I find Bigfoot intriguing for that same reason. Although we possess a fossil record of Gigantopithecus from ancient Asia, they are thought to be extinct for millions of years. Wouldn’t it be exciting to find out there was a group of descendants still in existence today? 

Yes, I have done a great deal of research on the elusive creature and even had my scientific facts in the story edited by Dr. Jeff Meldrum, author, Professor of Anatomy and Anthropology at Idaho State University and a collector of Bigfoot prints. The last thing in the world I want is to have my dermal ridges or mid-tarsal break facts off kilter! 
Tell me a little bit about your writing process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end? I absolutely use an outline, more specifically a plot line to navigate my story, characters, themes, etc. 
I generally start at the beginning and I often don’t have an ending in my mind yet. I write out a very rough first draft and then fill in during the editing process. In the end, my first draft is hardly recognizable in comparison to the final product. As I continue to write and get to know my characters, more ideas come up and the story truly forms through the editing process, which is also my favorite part of writing. For me, writing the first draft is the most difficult part of writing. The end of the story generally comes to me as I’m editing as well. It’s usually the very last thing that happens for me and it often comes in a very aha moment as I become more acquainted with what my character needs, wants and feels deep inside him/or her. 
Inspiration comes in many forms. Share three people, places, or things that inspire your creativity.
Kids! Kids! Kids! I am inspired by kids and how they look at and communicate with others within our world. I find kids to have a quiet wisdom about them and I find myself learning from them every day. There is an innate sense of hope and endurance in childhood that we can lose as we grow up. I love the middle grade genre and I find the sensibilities of childhood are what keeps me writing and how I try to remember my own hope when presented with tough lemons. 
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Name a notable book that provided you with a hiding spot. 
I love when I find a book that actually reaches my soul so deeply that I cannot put it down. A book I carry around the house and read whenever a free moment comes around, like when I’m leaning against the kitchen counter while I’m waiting the two minutes for my tea to heat up in the microwave. One book that I couldn’t put down was a YA novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, Winter Girls. It wasn’t a happy escape book, yet the dialogue, characters and storyline were so intriguing I couldn’t stop reading it. I found myself completely engrossed until the dreaded last page and then there’s that sense of loss having to leave a world you have been so invested in. But lucky for all of us there is always another special hiding spot book waiting to be discovered that will speak to you in a totally different way! 
What can readers look forward to next? 
My next book is also a middle grade novel about two ten-year-old boys, Mylo and Dibs, who come upon the 1947 UFO crash site in Roswell, New Mexico. In 1947, the military announced to the world that they had recovered a real flying saucer and by the next day they had retracted the story, stating it was just a weather balloon. To this day, so many years later, many people still believe it was more than a weather balloon and witnesses still swear by what they believe they saw so many years earlier. Some even reporting to have seen the creatures themselves. Another interesting adventure! I thought it would be fun to write a story about kids finding the wreckage in the field, and even more importantly a story about who they find amongst that wreckage!

More About the Book
What do you do when you lose everything that means anything?

Nine-year old Lemonade Liberty Witt doesn’t know the answer to that question, except what her mom taught her. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. But what if those lemons are so big that you forget how?

How do you make lemonade out of having to leave everything you know in San Francisco to move to the small town of Willow Creek, California and live with a grandfather you’ve never even met? In a town that smells like grass and mud and bugs. With tall pines instead of skyscrapers and dirt instead of sidewalks. Not to mention one woolly beast lurking in the woods.

That’s right, Bigfoot.

A ginormous wooden statue of the ugly thing stands right at the center of town like he’s someone real important, like the mayor or something. And the people here actually believe he’s real and hiding somewhere out in the pine filled forests.

How can anyone possibly be expected to make lemonade out those rotten lemons?

Everything is different and Lem just wants to go back home. And then she meets Tobin Sky, the CEO of Bigfoot Detectives, Inc. and sole investigator for the town. He invites her to be his Assistant for the summer and she reluctantly agrees. At least until she can figure out her escape plan.

Together, Lem and Tobin try to capture a shot of the elusive beast on film and end up finding more than they ever could have even imagined.

 Purchase a copy of Lemons below!


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