Tuesday, September 15, 2009
A Conversation with Melody Carlson
Did anything about the characters or events of 86 Bloomberg Place surprise you as you wrote the series?
Because I never outline my stories, I’m often caught off guard by my characters. I was shocked when Kendall slept with Matthew Harmon and even more shocked when she went down to LA to stalk him. When it turned out she was pregnant, I wondered, What’s it going to take to get to this girl? Then I was surprised to unravel Lelani’s story and why she’d left Emma with her parents in Maui. I was almost as surprised when Lelani stood up to her mom and fought to get Emma back. Then I was shocked when Kendall almost drowned, and there was a brief time when I thought she might lose her baby. Instead, she found her faith—and Killiki. That was fun. So, yes, you could say I get surprised all the time.
How much of your own life is represented in the lives of these four women? Do you identify more with Megan, Lelani, Anna, or Kendall?
I feel like I have a bit of all of them in me. Like Megan, I tend to be fairly grounded and practical. Also, I worked for an interior designer, and I’ve organized/decorated for several weddings. Like Lelani, I can sometimes be a quiet observer as well as a peacemaker. Like Anna, I worked as an editor for a small publishing house. Kendall is probably least like me, although I have to admit to having done some pretty impetuous things in my lifetime.
Which one of these characters ended up being your favorite in the series?
Kendall, for sure! At first she made me crazy and I wanted to shake her. But at the same time, I loved her childlike qualities. She was fun and impulsive and slightly naïve in a worldly sort of way. But she was also on a path to self-destruct. Still, it was fun to see a character go through all that and finally find God in a big way that totally transformed her life. I believe in those kinds of miracles.
You’ve written so many novels for and about young women. Why is this audience so close to your heart?
Partly because I came to faith as a teenager and am fully aware of what a huge impact that had on my life. But besides that, I think it’s really hard being twenty-something these days. Romantic relationships are tricky to navigate, friends come and go, careers don’t necessarily stay on track, parents can be difficult, and what happens when you make a bad choice? My hope is that readers will live/learn vicariously through these characters and be encouraged to live their best life.
If your readers could take away one idea, promise, or hope from the 86 Bloomberg Place series, what would you want that to be?
I’d like them to feel hopeful that all things are possible when you let God be the major influence in your life.