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Stuff for the Teen Age, Biblio File
"Small Town Sinners": An Interview with Melissa Walker
Melissa Walker's newest book, Small Town Sinners, is about a girl named Lacey that is torn between falling in love and keeping her faith — all while taking a lead role in her town's sin-depicting haunted house.
NYPL: What made you decide to write Small Town Sinners?
When I heard about Hell Houses, I was fascinated, so I pitched a magazine story about one. Then, when I went to report on that story, I was entranced by the small town I visited and all the people involved in Hell Houses. That's when the germ of something fictional started in my head. I couldn't get those teens out of my mind, and I think questions of faith are fascinating.
Were you very religious as a teenager?
I wasn't. I grew up Methodist in North Carolina, but it was very casual. I mean, I know my way around a church picnic, but the evangelical world was very new to me.
Writing about religion, especially for teens, can be tricky. Were you nervous about how the book would be received by both secular and evangelical teens? What about adults?
I was definitely nervous to explore religion, but being nervous while you're writing is a good thing, I think. It means you're pushing your own limits (and maybe the readers' limits too), which is never bad. I'm just now hearing from readers, and while most are finding a balance in the book, some are just plain turned off by the religion in it. The good news is that everyone finds it "true" so far, which is all that I can hope for.
I'm returning to the summer love story with Unbreak My Heart in May. It's about friendship, betrayal, family, and guys... on a sailboat.
What have you been reading this summer?