I am so excited today! I have the pleasure of sharing with you my interview with Melissa M. Williams, author of Iggy the Iguana, the premier book in a series of children's books. Melissa is one of those rare authors that is equally comfortabl speaking with group of kids as she is writing. The second interview I will be sharing is one done by a very articulate young man--and I definitely think he has a future in the entertainment field. You will certainly enjoy his talk with Ms. Williams!
1. What three words do you think describe you as a human being?
Visionary, Honest, Energetic
2. How do you think others would describe you?
Caring, generous, and hopefully funny!
3. Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.
I’ve studied psychology for many years, so the human mind, spiritual enlightenment, human behavior, those things will always interest me. I love the mind body connection, so yoga and physical activity also goes hand in hand with my passion for life. I feel like I am on a constant mission to find balance.
4. Do you have any pets? If so, introduce us to them.
No, I travel so often, its impossible to have a pet. I wish I had another iguana though! They’re my favorite!
5. What is your most precious memory?
I have so many memories, it’s hard to pin point. I will always remember the speech and toast my dad gave to me at my graduation party … and the note he left on my bed the day I left the house for college.
6. What is your most embarrassing memory?
I was known for running out of gas for many years of my life. That was always embarrassing.
7. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?
I would be finishing my supervision hours as a professional counselor.
8. In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.
Hmmm. I had to do this in graduate school. I wish I could find what I wrote. :O)
Melissa M. Williams dedicated her life to reaching out to others and inspiring them to follow their dreams. Her professional education included a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling. Melissa’s life revolved around world of literacy and spoke on behalf of creative learning for children. She belonged to the National Honor Society for Psychology and graduated from her Master’s Program with honors. Melissa belonged to many organizations over her life-time for professional counseling and literature. As a children’s author, publisher, and founder to her literacy foundation, her goal was to give children opportunities to use their creative gifts, as Melissa believe that was her God-given purpose in life.
9. Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a “real” writer?
One day I got an email from a Kids’ Publisher letting me know that two of their 6th grade authors dedicated their first book to me. When you inspire others doing what you do, it feels so real. It was such an honor.
10. What is going on with your writing these days?
I am currently writing the third book in the Iggy the Iguana chapter book series, Turtle Town! There is a lot of research that goes into this book. I am planning another trip to write on location at Cardiff Beach, California. I’m still learning how to surf for the sake of my characters. I like to know what my characters go through. I am also researching the turtle society, and hopefully will be attending many of their meetings in California. There is a lot to say about all the different sea turtles. I am creating different clicks in the story, based on the type of turtle. All of my stories focus on acceptance and diversity, so first I must create a conflict that needs to be overcome.
I am also writing as a children’s columnist at the WestSide Story News in Houston, Texas. The column is for parents, but I use examples from my books and counseling background to give them inspiration and creative ideas to aid with their own children’s self-esteem and creativity.
I also teach creative writing to children who are aspiring authors!
11. What are your future goals for your writing?
I would like to do more of it! I own a publishing company and literacy foundation, so I spend a lot of time running the business and booking all of my speaking engagements over the year. Marketing, even if you have a publicist and manager, is still a full time job for an author. Eventually, I would like to write books for an older audience of inspiring stories or messages. But right now, my focus is on children’s literature. I would like Iggy to become a well-known character or have a cartoon made after him and his friends. I’m just waiting to sell the license! :O)
12. Can you describe a typical writing day for you?
Ha! Let’s see if I can remember … the past five months have been nonstop traveling, school visits, and teaching. But, a typical writing day for me involves a very quiet atmosphere. I have to get away from my phone, the internet, and sometimes even my home. No noise, unless I’m in a coffee shop. For some reason the atmosphere of a coffee shop will bring on creativity and I can still concentrate. I get lost in my mind, and I can’t see what’s around me. I write notes about my story months before I ever start writing, this way I know the story and it never leaves me. I talk about it out loud to others, so I can see it in my head. When the time is right, I just sit down and go. I usually will work on it every day until it is finished.
13. Why do you write?
I have to. I have been writing since I was a little girl. Stories, journals … my entire life is pretty much recorded on paper … the thoughts and emotions that accompanied me in different seasons of my life are all recorded. With out writing, I would be cheating myself out of who I am as a person.
14. What writer most inspires you? Why?
I love the Christian writer Margaret Feinberg. She is so real and dynamic. I have seen her speak many times. For me, writing and inspiring and speaking all go together. I have to see and meet a writer and see them speak in order for them to touch my soul on a different level. Once I see them, if their message resonates with me, they become a mentor, and I will buy every book they produce from then on. I guess this is why it is such a big deal to me that I spend most of the year speaking to my children readers … I want them to remember my books because they remember me.
15. How do you define your writing?
Currently, I write in a way that is relatable to my young audience. I include humor and wit in my stories, while remaining real in a way that creates compassion and empathy for the characters.
16. In one sentence—what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?
Melissa’s writing touched people on a level that encouraged self-acceptance and brought light back into the reader’s life.
17. Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website? Blog?
Yes. This is going to be long:
http://bit.ly/Mjc3v (Children’s Column on Westside Story News)
18. Is there a place where readers can reach you?
19. Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?
Iggy the Iguana
Summer League (Sequel)
20. For new readers—what can they expect when they read your book(s)?
To laugh! I also want them to appreciate that I am keeping a positive foundation in my writing, instead of silly goofy humor.
21. Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers—what would you like them to know about you and your writing?
It is so easy to get focused on the external of life and of ourselves in the world today, and it not only affects us as adults, but it is trickling down into the youth. Parents and adults serve as the example and role model for children, so it has always been important for me to offer a way of encouragement to our youth. Encourage them to follow their dreams, to be themselves, and to stand up for what they believe in. It’s like the quote, “If you don’t believe in something, you will fall for anything.” Children should be encouraged to build their morals and values, so by being a speaker and a leader, I want to offer this type of energy to children. Just remember, the worst thing you can ever tell a child is “They Can’t.” When you tell a child they can’t do something, no matter how impossible it may seem in reality’s sake, you have crushed their creative and proactive spirit. Always serve as an encouraging force, and accept if you have done wrong by being honest with young ones. I didn’t realize it as a kid, but my parents consciously knew what they were doing when they encouraged me to be the best I can be.
Win the Iggy the Iguana Give Away! Including the Newly Released Items in Iggy Collection, Snap Shell the Turtle (Plush Doll), Iggy Collector's Baseball Cards, and The Read3Zero T-Shirt ... supporting the fight against illiteracy 30 minutes at a time. Be our most active visitor during the tour for a chance to win this Iggy Collection -- the tour schedule is posted at http://virtualblogtour.blogspot.com/2010/01/iggy-iguana-and-melissa-m-williams-tour.html
to make it easy for you to visit and comment.
To learn more about Iggy and Melissa Williams – visit www.iggytheiguana.com