i'm darkness and light, bubbles and faerie wings. i am sparkles and glitter, shadows and clouds. i love purple, and faeries, and books, and music.

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5 Questions: author Melissa Walker (Violet in Private)

Melissa Walker is the wonderfully cool author of the Violet series which includes, Violet on the Runway, Violet by Design and now her newest book – Violet in Private. When she isn’t writing this fantastic Young Adult series about a teen wallflower-turned-supermodel, Melissa is out there writing articles for magazines such as Seventeen, ELLEgirl and Teen Vogue! She also has a pretty awesome blog where she keeps you up-to-date on all things cool, YA and fun! She makes me want to become a freelance writer myself after reading about all her adventures. If only I didn’t have such a comma addiction and the tendency to ramble more than make sense!

Melissa was kind enough to take some time out of her super hectic Super Author schedule and play along with me and my 5 Questions! I hope you enjoy what she has to say – and go out and pick up your very own copies of these books when you’re done! What are you waiting for! Get going!

1. How important was it to you to have Violet be a realistic character (in thought, action and feeling) and not just some piece of fiction that only had a few relatable characteristics?

Very! I think every author tries to make characters have depth, and I was no different. Violet was my very first book heroine, so a lot of her likes and dislikes are my own. I actually staged an interview with her in my head before I started writing—“asking” her about her most-played songs, her perfect day, her favorite book, etc. And, well, a lot of her answers resembled mine! But that was okay.

I also knew that I was writing a book that was set in a superficial world, so it was important that there was a grounded, real girl at the center of it. Sure, she gets swept up in a lot of the glamour (who wouldn’t?) but Violet is her own person, and that had to be true for the book I wanted to write. Otherwise it would have been a bunch of designer labels and name-dropping, and not a very fulfilling read.

2. I thought Violet’s feelings towards the popular girls at school to be very spot on. I’m pretty sure many girls feel that way about the in-crowd – hating them, yet deep down wishing they could be a part of that inner circle no matter what. Were you ever tempted to have Violet chose popularity over common sense and true friendship while writing the story?

You know, she does choose popularity for a while. I think it would be unrealistic to have her turn away from it initially, because it’s something that—like the fashion world—just looks so glamorous and ideal from the outside. But I knew that the friendships she had—and her relationship with her family and her own inner self, would be strong enough to pull her out of that tide eventually.

3. What do you feel is the bigger issue – drug and alcohol abuse or body image (weight loss) in the industry (fashion – slash – celebrity since they seem to be synonymous these days)? Or might they be about the same?

Tough question! They go hand in hand in many occasions—drugs are a notorious way to avoid eating. (Ahem, “Heroin Chic”—the fact that that’s even a supposedly glamorous term is kind of terrifying.) But right now, I think the body image thing is more urgent somehow. France just passed a law saying French judges could fine offenders up to $47,000 if found guilty of “inciting others to deprive themselves of food,” so we’ll see what affects that has on the Paris shows this fall. When girls like Ali Michael aren’t being booked because they’re “too thick,” everyone has to question what’s going on with fashion.

4. Though it would be nice if the Violet books just kept on a-comin’, I am sure there is only so far we can travel with Violet on her journey. I am hoping that you will continue to grace the literature world with your words and imagination. Do you have any plans to write more novels after Violet?

I do! I’m working on a romance called LOVESTRUCK SUMMER that will be out in summer 2009. It’s a new character named Quinn, and she’s been really fun to write. I have to admit that sometimes I miss Violet though. I’d write those books forever if I could.

5. If you could only ever listen to three musical artists/bands, what would you choose?

This is tougher than the drugs-or-skinny question! Okay, maybe: The Beatles (because they were prolific and produced many, many styles of music), John Denver (because he will always remind me of my mom cooking at home when I was little) and Rihanna (because I refuse to believe she’s a flash-in-the-pan obsession for me).

Oh, my, I feel very eclectic.

So, thank you again, Melissa for taking the time to let us know a little more about you and your work and musical tastes! Can’t wait to read more from you!

Violet in Private – Happy Release Day!

Violet in Private
by Melissa Walker

RELEASED TODAY! AUGUST 5, 2008!

Violet Greenfield is done with modelling. She’s finished, it’s over. Good bye. At least that is what she has told herself, her friends and her family over and over. The only one she hasn’t quite shared this information with fully is her abrasive and often harsh agent Angela. The perfect way to avoid confronting the Tryst Model agent is to just not answer the phone and concentrate on just being a normal nineteen year old girl enjoying college life.

Violet in Private deals with Violet’s struggle with losing her new found popularity versus being “just a college girl”. Her two best friends Julie and Roger make appearances and we are introduced to another set of friends, Kurt, Fan, Jess and Oliver. Three of whom are Violet’s new college roommies and one of whom has definite hottie potential!

Through a series of events which unfold throughout the story, Violet is offered an editorial internship at Teen Fashionista magazine and is contacted by a teacher and asked to speak to her students about body image. Violet is finally finding her voice and more and more convinced that this is where she belongs, not on the runway.

College life is just what Violet needs, she can eat normally, be herself and finds she is very happy this way. Her agent, however, is not happy with Violet’s new life and can be downright hurtful in her comments about Violet’s weight (some of which even made ME cringe!). What does Violet choose? Does she continue being Supermodel Violet, who has to watch what she eats and who she’s with and where she is, or does she choose to stay College Violet and enjoy learning, new friends and being herself?

I love, love, LOVE this series and main character Violet Greenfield. She is written very real and likable. Even the new characters were fun to read about, except I did not like Kurt. Other reviews I have been reading seem to really like him, I found him irritating beyond believe and just wanted to smack him a couple of time and tell him to shut the heck up. Oops. In general I am not a fan of loud and overly-hyper type people and I think he was written so well that my reaction was just as it would have it been had he been a real person in the room with me. I did, however, love how he and Veronica Trask got along. I thought the two of them together were hilarious and adorable. I love that Melissa Walker made Veronica seem more normal and less “I’m a model” when she was with him.

Once again the issue of weight and body image is a major player in this story. I liked that Violet was very firm in her belief that she didn’t need to starve herself to fit in. So what if she’d gained 10 pounds, she says herself in the story that she actually feels better with that little bit of extra weight and so what if she’s not a size zero! At one point someone calls her out for walking the runway as a “plus-sized model!” and I had to think about that. If she WAS a size zero and gained about 10 pounds, wouldn’t that make her about a size 2 or something? Since when was SIZE TWO a PLUS SIZE?

Way to make ME feel like a hippo, Fashion Industry. Thanks. Bite me.

Violet is finding her voice and starting to stand up to people in the industry more and more, including her agent. Once she realized that when the excitement wore off, it really wasn’t a world she wanted to be a part of, things start to change. She develops more of a backbone than she ever has and the she doesn’t even realize how much of an influence she has over the industry and others. She brings change to a world that has been stuck in an eating disorder rut for a long time. There is a confrontation at the end of the book which really impressed me and made me go, “Huh! Well, go you!”

I am interested to see where things go from here if there are more Violet books. Melissa Walker does a great job of bringing up controversial topics in the fashion world and letting her readers know you don’t have to be skin and bones to be pretty or popular. The book is subtly affirming without being preachy.

Check out my 5 Questions interview with Melissa Walker for a glimpse into the mind of a spectacular author!

If you haven’t already, you should pick up the first two books about Violet!

Violet by Design

Violet by Design by Melissa WalkerViolet by Design
by Melissa Walker

Ok, so I am slightly behind in posting my review thoughts on this book and though I don’t need to apologize (since I don’t think I have a ton of readers or anything) I do feel like I need to apologize to ME since I loved the book so very, very much and I just can’t wait to tell the world about it!

And yet, I ended up waiting.

So Violet by Design, finds Violet once again in the crazy world of modelling, because –hello!!– Brazil! Paris! Who would pass up on opportunities like that? (Well, except me because I don’t have any desire to visit either of those places. Ireland? Scotland? Finland? I’m so there! But this so not about me.) Violet is asked to come to Brazil for their Fashion Week and finds herself in both a different-yet-the-same type of Model World as in New York. This time around she has to deal with what a huge issue for many – especially young girls – body image. She’s told to lose five pounds before she walks the runway in two days and is torn by the choices in front of her. On the one hand, what’s five pounds, right? On the other, why should she have to starve herself for fashion?

Frustrated, Violet blogs about her problems on MySpace. I so saw the red flashing lights for that one. Of course her blog posts are picked up by the gossip-mongers and Violet, tired of the pressure, uses this as a platform to speak her mind on the body image and eating habits in the modelling world.

Not the smartest thing to do, but it was from the heart and true to who Violet is and what she stands for and I have to say I really admire the direction the author took with Violet on this issue. Yes, she bows to the peer pressure and ends up collapsing on the runway from lack of food, but Violet is also pretty strong in what she believes in and the hypocrisies of being chosen to represent the New Model Image (healthy body, healthy life) and yet still being told to lose the weight before the show isn’t lost on her.

The weight issue was deftly handled in this book and I think the author gave a voice to girls out there who deal with this every day. The topic was discussed smartly and not just lightly touched upon and then quickly covered up.

I love how torn the main character is about the big issues, just like a normal girl. She doesn’t cave in quite so blindly to the pressure. She fights it and isn’t just a sheep in the herd. She keeps her own mind about her and her own morals. Yes, they often conflict with the choices she makes, but Violet is young and is still discovering this new world where she’s Somebody. She’s in a world where people want to talk to her, to be with her, to have her show off their clothes.

It’s a big difference from being the shy, tall girl that never really fit in in high school. Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to suddenly Be Someone? To be liked for their (perceived) flaws? I know I would, though I would have conflicting emotions about some of the tougher choices as well. I know I will, I have always been that way. It’s been the joke in my family that I would be the starving Rock Star who didn’t make the big bucks because she wouldn’t sell out for the millions of dollars pushed at her to wear next-to-nothing and starve herself.

Eh, the choice is yours. Violet makes her decisions, her mistakes and comes around in the end. I am a firm believer that a good person will always be a good person, even when tempted by the wolf.

(In a totally unrelated noted – where the heck did the spellcheck go in this new version of WordPress? ARGH! I can’t survive without a spellchecker!! *thwaps wordpress.com with a wet noodle*)

I am all about Violet right now and am both frustrated and a-twitter with anticipation that the third book, Violet in Private won’t be out for months! Argh!

Violet on the Runway

Violet on the RunwayViolet on the Runway
by Melissa Walker

As mentioned in my previous post, I discovered this book on Teen Book Review. I am so happy that I did. This is an excellent book – well written, great story and just a fantastically fun read!

Violet Greenfield is a wallflower from North Carolina. She’s over 6 feet tall, very skinny and uncomfortable in her own skin. She always hoped there was something out there for her, something she would be great at. One day, while at her job at the movie theatre, she’s approached by a modeling agent from New York City and told to come to New York City for some go-sees and hopefully get to be a part of Fashion Week and jump start her career.

Violet isn’t sure what to do, but she goes and is an instant hit. She gets to walk the runways during Fashion Week and ends up in a whirlwind of model life. The ups, the downs, the real people, the fake people. At the age of seventeen it is a lot to take in and learn and not all choices are the best ones made.

The author, Melissa Walker, had created an amazing character in Violet. The first-person voice used to narrate the story is sharp and witty and sarcastic and had smiling and at times tearing up during her journey.

Violet is a normal, every day teen. Insecurities that I could relate to from when I was 17, try to stay out of the way of the Mean Girls, yet secretly long for their attention and admiration. Try not to be noticed, yet wish silently that you are. She gets lost in the glamourous and often hurtful world of celebrity model and forgets about her true friends in order to try and find her place in the world and who she really is.

I adored this book and am irritated to see that Amazon.ca doesn’t have the second one in stock. Argh! Though the bookstore near work does, and the book is cheap enough that it’s worth it to buy in store rather than online. 😉 So I know where I will be going at lunch on Tuesday!

This is also a book I would have adored even while still in my teens. The characters are relateable and real and the writing style is original and entertaining. If you are a fan of Young Adult literature, I highly recommend you pick up this book!