Losing Your Religion With GCC Member Melissa Walker’s Hell Houses

So you know those fanatical religious sects always profiled on 20/20? Ever wonder what it would be like to grow up in one? Well, GCC Member Melissa Walker did and you can read all about it in her new novel, SMALL TOWN SINNERS, out this month through Bloomsbury.

As always, here’s a little bit about her book to get you hooked:

Lacey Anne, daughter of the pastor and perennial good girl, is eligible for a lead role in the season’s Hell House production—a role she’s been coveting for years. But when Ty moves to town as casting begins, a new perspective is added to Lacey Anne’s world and she starts to see her tight-knit, Evangelical community in a different light. With the help of her two best friends Starla Joy and Dean, and her potential first love Ty, Lacey Anne begins exploring her own thoughts and feelings about her religion, her community, and her place within both. While this novel deals with provocative issues like religion, teen pregnancy and underage drinking, it is not an “issue” book; the topics are masterfully interwoven into this story of friendship and family.

Here’s what Melissa had to say:

Q: In AMIGAS AND SCHOOL SCANDALS, Mariana takes a road trip to Cornell. What’s your funniest road trip story?

Melissa: I drove cross-country with my friend Ruthie, and we stopped in Memphis to go to Graceland. I figured we’d tour it for two hours and then move on, but we got OBSESSED and stayed the whole day, throwing off the rest of our NC to Cali schedule. But: Worth it! That place is FASCINATING!

Q: I often talk about how I didn’t always “know” I wanted to be a writer. Did you? Or did you have other plans when you were little?

Melissa: I think I always knew I wanted to write, I just wasn’t sure that “writer” was a real career path. Good thing I had super encouraging parents — they never told me that writing wasn’t a “real job.” Phew!

Q: Throughout the AMOR series, Mariana and her friends celebrate their Sweet 16s (and 15s). What did you do for your Sweet 16 or Quinceañera?

Melissa: I had a party at my house when I turned 16, but I remember being like, “What should we do?” Too young to drink, too old for party games. I think it was pretty boring.

Q: I wrote the AMOR series organically, no outlines. My new manuscripts, I’ve outlined extensively. How about you? Are you an outliner?

Melissa: I do outline, chapter by chapter. Just a sentence for each one but it really helps me to see where I’m going!

Q: Where were you when you found out that your novel was going to be published? Tell us the story.

Melissa: I was at home eating reheated Chinese food when my agent called to talk offers! I love that phone call — it’s so full of excitement and possibility! I don’t let Chinese food sit for much, but I put the bowl down and listened hard on that call.

Thank you, Melissa! And if you’d like to know even more about Melissa’s new book, check out this awesome article from the New York Times (Wow!). Now, everyone go out and buy books, lots and lots of books!

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