Melissa Dickerson is a young adult science fiction writer who is occasionally funny but mostly just tries really, really hard.
I’m Melissa, and I love books. I adore them so much that I write them as well as read them. I love libraries and book fairs. My favorite books are ones that take place in our reality, but with a twist (Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files), anything post-apocalyptic (Divergent, Hunger Games), or anything YA. YA is my guilty pleasure.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I’ve just always had the urge. I was always that weird kid in school, scribbling in a notebook when everyone else was doing classwork or playing games. My prized possession is a writing assignment from second grade. It has one of those writing prompts at the top that says, “As the clock struck twelve on Christmas Eve, the lights went out!” Then I had to write a story that complimented the prompt. I’m sure that I was intended to write something about Santa, or my parents . . . My story had a burglar dodging bullets and a fight scene. I’m sure my teacher thought I was deranged. I’m not certain she was wrong!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have a horrible case of impostor’s syndrome, so I didn’t consider myself a “Writer” (capital letter emphasized) until I finished my first book. Then I couldn’t deny it anymore! I’m still working up the confidence to introduce myself as a writer instead of saying “I work in IT.”
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
I’m working on the sequel to Cured, which is tentatively titled Controlled. In it, Emma discovers that there is still a good bit of the government intact and it is not friendly to post-zombies. It’s Cured, but with the volume turned up. More fight scenes, more intrigue, and more snark. I can’t wait to finish it and share it with you! I think you’re going to love it.
What inspired you to write this book?
I had this image in my head of a girl in a hospital gown, covered in blood, looking helpless, only everyone is terrified of her. I had to explore it, and that turned into Cured. Then I discovered that there was a second book in there, too. My mental image of Controlled is of Emma standing before a bunch of armed humans, showing she’s unarmed – only they’re still terrified.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I write what I like to read, and I like to read books that draw me in with great drama and characterization, and then make me laugh out loud. So: serious subjects, but with a narrator who has an irreverent outlook on life. That’s what I aimed for, anyway!
How did you come up with the title of this book?
Cured was easy – it named itself, since it’s all about what happens if you cure a zombie. Controlled was harder. I went around in circles for a while, then ended up having to brainstorm with my writing group.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are plenty of overarching themes and ideas, but the one I really want to drive home is that women are awesome! I am a huge believer in gender equality and want young women to have a good role model in Emma. I think her belief in herself is inspiring and her impetuousness is relatable for young women.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The story of Emma’s mother sticking up for her in Cured is loosely based on real events. Emma’s mom and mine share a lot of similarities. Livvy is a combination of two really good friends who have always supported me, no matter what crazy shenanigans I get up to.
What authors most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
Stephen King, definitely. I was reading him in middle school, and his stories were terrifying and delightful. His writing taught me that it’s OK to have dark and twisty parts of yourself (which I definitely do), and more than that, it taught me that it’s OK to occasionally let them out to see the light of day.
If you had to choose, is there a writer you would consider a mentor? Why?
Someone told me that I write like Jim Butcher, and so now I can die a happy girl. I actually met him at San Diego Comic-Con one year, and he was the nicest guy ever even though I was a total fangirl lunatic. I love his writing style and that he considered himself a “long shot” as an author in the beginning. I feel the same way about myself, so I feel like maybe, just maybe it’s possible for me to be successful, too.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
Believe it or not, it’s a stock photo. I ran across it while looking for ideas for the cover and couldn’t get it out of my head. Once I saw it, I fell in love, and there was no other option considered.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep writing. Stick with it, and keep going. Finishing what you start is the hardest part of writing. The second hardest part is believing in yourself. If you just keep writing, you’ll get better and better at it.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you, from the very bottom of my heart, for reading. I’m so glad you gave me a try.
Costa Mesa, CA