Today we're excited to chat with Nicole Melleby author of Hurricane Season.
Read on for more about Nicole, plus an interview and an giveaway!
Meet Nicole Melleby!
Nicole Melleby is a born-and-bred Jersey girl with a passion for storytelling. She studied creative writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University and currently teaches composition and literature courses with a handful of local universities. When she’s not writing, she can be found browsing the shelves at her local comic shop or watching soap operas with a cup of tea.
Meet Hurricane Season!
Fig, a sixth grader, wants more than anything to see the world as her father does. The once-renowned pianist, who hasn’t composed a song in years and has unpredictable good and bad days, is something of a mystery to Fig. Though she’s a science and math nerd, she tries taking an art class just to be closer to him, to experience life the way an artist does. But then Fig’s dad shows up at school, disoriented and desperately searching for Fig. Not only has the class not brought Fig closer to understanding him, it has brought social services to their door.
Diving into books about Van Gogh to understand the madness of artists, calling on her best friend for advice, and turning to a new neighbor for support, Fig continues to try everything she can think of to understand her father, to save him from himself, and to find space in her life to discover who she is even as the walls are falling down around her.
Nicole Melleby’s Hurricane Season is a stunning novel about a girl struggling to be a kid as pressing adult concerns weigh on her. It’s also about taking risks and facing danger, about love and art, and about coming of age and coming out. And more than anything else, it is a story of the healing power of love—and the limits of that power.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
In spring 2017, my cousin Andrew was studying abroad in London. My aunt and uncle were planning a vacation for themselves and Andrew’s two younger sisters to go out for a week to see him. I pretty much decided I was going to crash the trip, and they, being the best, didn’t complain about it.
At the time, I was coming out of a low period emotionally, and hadn’t really been writing anything much, but I was ready to try something new. I knew I wanted to explore the relationship between a father and daughter…but that was pretty much all I had. I didn’t really expect to work on the idea at all while on vacation, but I adjusted to the jet lag pretty quickly, and my family decidedly did not. So, I had my mornings to myself and I knew that the National Gallery in London was free—and I do love a free museum—so I decided to check it out.
When I got to the Van Gogh paintings, there was a tour guide talking about Van Gogh’s mental illness, and there was just…something so unbelievable relatable about what he was saying—particularly since, like I said, I was just coming out of my own depression—and I ended up going to the gift shop and buying a book of Van Gogh’s letters.
I read them all on the plane ride home, and I knew exactly what I wanted to write by the time we landed.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
Oh, the novel. The entire novel and numerous revisions. I’m notoriously terrible at titles, and the working one I had my editor and I decided to change because it didn’t fit super well. And, because, I’m terrible at titles.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
There’s a scene in the book, where Fig comes out to her dad, that I knew I wanted to write before I even had a full plot figured out. I really wanted a sweet, non-issue moment between the two of them. Fig is never rejected because of her sexuality, and I really wanted readers—both on the LGBTQ spectrum and otherwise—to be able to see this conversation play out the way it does. It’s probably my favorite scene in the book and was one of the scenes that stayed almost completely the same from draft one all the way through to the finished manuscript.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
Patience is a virtue, and resilience is key.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I know it’s my cover, but I have to admit: I’m obsessed with it. David Litchfield, the illustrator, his work absolutely blew me away. (Check out his picture book, THE BEAR AND THE PIANO, because my cover is only the tip of his gorgeous art.) Starting with the unbelievable Van Gogh sky, I couldn’t have even thought to ask for anything close to better. Fun story: my editor, Krestyna Lypen, who spent summers growing up at the Jersey shore, basically made sure the cover depicted a pitch perfect Jersey beach, and it really does remind me of home.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2019?
Oh no, where to even begin! Some other MG debuts I cannot wait to get my hand on are JUST SOUTH OF HOME by Karen Strong (who shares a book birthday with me!) SEVENTH GRADE VS. THE GALAXY by Josh Levy (another fellow Jersey writer!) THE MOON WITHIN by Aida Salazar, MIDSUMMER’S MAYHEM by Rajani LaRocca (because who wouldn’t be excited about a Kid’s Baking Championship/Shakespeare mash up?) and, speaking of baking, PIE IN THE SKY by Remy Lai. That is by no means the end of my list, there are so many brilliant MG debuts this year which you can take a look at on the #Novel19s website: http://novelnineteens.com/
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2018?
2018 was an amazing year for queer girl MG books, and some of my absolute favorites were HURRICANE CHILD by Kheryn Callender, IVY ABERDEEN’S LETTER TO THE WORLD by Ashley Herring Blake, and DRUM ROLL, PLEASE by Lisa Jenn Bigelow.
And, because I’m terrible answering these “one book” questions, since mental illness is such an important MG topic for me, as well: WHERE THE WATERMELON’S GROW by Cindy Baldwin and THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS by Tae Keller were both beautiful and outstanding reads.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
I’m currently working on revisions for my second book for Algonquin Young Readers, which is slated to be released Spring 2020. To give you a bit of a teaser, I keep referring to it as a queer MG “Lady Bird” meets “Simon Vs. the Homosapien Agenda.” It also involves a soap opera loving main character!
By: Nicole Melleby
Publisher: Algonquin BYR
Release Date: May 7th, 2019
Three winners will each receive a copy of Hurricane Season (Nicole Melleby) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*