Saturday, May 7, 2016

Melanie Conklin

Melanie Conklin is a writer, reader, and life-long lover of books and those who create them. She lives in South Orange, New Jersey with her husband and two small maniacs, who are thankfully booklovers, too. Conklin spent a decade as a product designer and approaches her writing with the same three-dimensional thinking and fastidious attention to detail.

Conklin's debut middle grade novel is Counting Thyme.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
I had to check my reading log to keep myself honest about what I’ve been reading! I read all over the spectrum: picture books, middle grade, YA, adult fiction, nonfiction. I like contemporary stories like the ones I write, but I’m also a huge fan of fantasy and science fiction.

I just finished reading The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood. It’s a YA with time travel and romance, and I loved it. This book was smarter than me, and it didn’t connect the dots perfectly. Some readers might find that unsettling, but I like being a little bewildered when I read. I like it when an author challenges me. It makes me sit up a little straighter.

Before that, I read Mayday by Karen Harrington and All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor. Both are contemporary middle grade stories starring boys who are trying to make sense of messy lives. Some people don’t like stories about kids facing tough stuff, but I find these stories uplifting. I admire the heart and the hope. I aspire to write with honesty and wit. Both of these books offered those qualities and more.

As of this morning, I’m about to finish The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds, a contemporary YA about a boy coming to terms with his mother’s death by working at a funeral home in Brooklyn. I can feel the city when I read this book. Reynolds has a way of writing that captures the energy on those streets. And yet, it’s a different world in many ways from the one I experienced when I lived in Brooklyn. His perspective challenges me. This story is opening my eyes, and I have a feeling it’s going to stick in my heart.

Next up, I’m reading Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz, a middle grade story about a girl whose plan to win a poetry contest to convince her mom to move back home goes awry when compulsive habits overtake her life. I’m really looking forward to this one because I’ve been known to clean out a drawer or two when I’m stressed. Sometimes I can’t leave a room without straightening the rug. I want to see how this kid handles her situation. That’s why I read. To live out different possibilities, as many lives as I can, one book at a time.
Visit Melanie Conklin's website, Twitter perch, and watch the Counting Thyme book trailer.

The Page 69 Test: Counting Thyme.

--Marshal Zeringue