Author Revealed

About Melissa Senate

Q. What is your birthdate?

A. 8/15

Q. Previous occupations

A. For ten years I was a Harlequin romance novel editor. I've also been the editor of the New Adventures of Mary-Kate & Ashley, about 9 year old twin detectives ("we'll solve any crime by dinner time!" and Sweet Valley University (Jessica and Elizabeth DID graduate from Sweet Valley High).

Q. Favorite job

A. The current one--author. But I did love working in an office, complete with gossipy coworkers and holiday parties and politics. And BENEFITS.

Q. High school and/or college

A. High school in New Jersey. College in Connecticut.

Q. Name of your favorite composer or music artist?

A. Impossible. I love music.

Q. Favorite movie

A. Annie Hall. I've seen it at least fifty times, and my heart still leaps at the opening black and white credits.

Q. Favorite television show

A. Anything smart-funny

Revealing Questions

Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?

A. Optimistic single-mother writing, reading, observing in lovely Maine.

Q. What is your motto or maxim?

A. Just Do It. (It was mine before Nike's.)

Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?

A. Right now, I find it in little things: listening to my seven-year-old son read to me; meeting a friend for coffee; writing a sentence that makes me proud; eating good Indian food; driving down a rural Maine road on a sunny day with good music and lots of farms and grazing cows and horses as beautiful scenery.

Q. What’s your greatest fear?

A. It's unspeakable.

Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?

A. In the Vatican museum, showing my son the frescoes.

Q. With whom in history do you most identify?

A. Still thinking about this one...

Q. Which living person do you most admire?

A. Barack Obama

Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?

A. You can do it (not that that's a bad bunch of words to overuse.)

Q. What do you regret most?

A. Everything I've done has led me to where I am now, which is a pretty good place to be, so I can't regret anything.

Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?

A. To play any instrument and make lovely music. I also wish I could knit (really knit).

Q. What is your greatest achievement?

A. Typing The End on the last page of my the first novel I wrote. (And it became my debut!)

Q. What’s your greatest flaw?

A. How oddly introverted I actually am.

Q. What’s your best quality?

A. Kindness.

Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?

A. I gotta stick with myself.

Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?

A. That I march to a slightly different drummer.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?

A. Anne with an E from Anne of Green Gables. She taught me as a girl that imagination could take you places.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?

A. I am not a goody-two-shoes, I swear. But I hate villains, even the fun ones.

Q. If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?

A. I would say a big thanks to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and fellow suffragists. How amazing were they?

Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?

A. When people talk loudly on cell phones.

Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?

A. Rolling down grassy hills with my seven-year old son. Impossible to do without smiling.

Q. What’s your fantasy profession?

A. Olympic gymnast (though I suppose that's not a professsion).

Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?

A. Kindness. Taking responsibility. Humor.

Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?

A. I want to sound more sophisticated, but a toasted onion bagel with good cream cheese and smoked salmon.

Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?

A. Romeo and Juliet (Dire Straits); Let's Get It On (Marvin Gaye); Helpless (Neil Young); Hold On (Sarah McLachlan); Over The Rainbow (Judy Garland)

On Books and Writing

Q. Who are your favorite authors?

A. Anne Tyler, Elinor Lipman, Richard Russo, Terry McMillan, Anne Lamott, Marian Keyes, Maeve Binchy, Pam Houston, Sarah Dessen, and I love all the contemporary women's fiction being published these days.

Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?

A. Anne of Green Gables A Tree Grows in Brooklyn To Kill A Mockingbird Wuthering Heights Bridget Jones Diary

Q. Is there a book you love to reread?

A. Birds of America by Lorrie Moore. Have read each story at least 20 times. Brilliance.

Q. Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?

A. Believe in yourself.

Q. What comment do you hear most often from your readers?

A. "I relate."

Q. How did you come to write The Secret of Joy?

A. Several years ago, I received a startling email out of the blue: "I think you might be my half-sister." (And I was.) What interesting and soul-searching questions this inspired: what does family truly mean? How much weight should DNA have? What happens now? I didn't know, so I found myself writing about a woman who discovers she has a half-sister she never knew existed and I sent her off to find her. Only the very nugget of the idea of The Secret of Joy is autobiographical; I flipped everything else on its head. But the emotional impact, the questions, the wondering...all very real!

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