Interview: Melissa Eastlake, Author of the new YA Fantasy Release, THE UNCROSSING

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

The Uncrossing is a YA fantasy novel. I love how fantasy stories put characters in extreme situations that can reveal deeply human truths, and I also love playing with fun, high-concept stories.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

Like many writers, I’ve loved to read and write since before I can remember—my mom is a devoted reader, too, and brought us up reading stories every night. An important moment I remember is when my second grade teacher gave me a copy of The BFG—I think once I opened it, I didn’t close it again until I was done!

How long have you been writing?

The short answer is, for my entire life! Longer: I studied creative writing (along with communications) in college, but took a break for a couple of years after that to recover from burnout and focus on my day-job career. I ended up learning a ton about writing and editing from my marketing jobs, which informed my writing when I returned to it, about five years ago.

What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?

I think in the largest sense, being able to share and pass down our stories is culture. Also, I’m a big believer in the way books help us learn empathy, standing inside a character’s head.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?  

I came to the book with a good amount of experience writing and revising, but this one required more grit than I’ve ever had to use, putting it through drafts and revisions, first on my own and then with my editor. Building that work ethic like a muscle was probably the hardest, though certainly also very rewarding, part of writing the book.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

The Uncrossing is a Rapunzel retelling full of fairytale tropes, and putting in all those little references was definitely fun for me!

Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book?  If so, discuss them.

The Uncrossing is a queer fairytale, an exploration of how to make that happily-ever-after in an unjust, broken world. I’m a queer woman and it was core to the premise from the beginning.

What did you find most useful in learning to write?  What was least useful or most destructive?

What was most useful to me was learning the distinction between craft and process. When we talk about “learning to write,” we have to do both, but I spent a lot of time over-focusing on other writers’ processes, or trying to build a magical process of my own. Once I set that aside and let it form more naturally, instead focusing on concrete craft elements like conflict, character development, and line editing, I found my writing grew exponentially.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

I’m a part-time writer with a day job. It’s a lot to balance and can definitely be overwhelming at times—sometimes I fantasize about how much I could get done if I didn’t have the day job! On the other hand, though, having a steady income and solid insurance has unquestionably given me the stability I need to get writing done, and I’m extremely grateful for my job’s flexibility.

What do you like to read in your free time?

I read a lot of YA, romance, and fantasy, which I write in, and I also read widely in other genres, especially queer books. Sometimes, especially when I’m revising, I’m a little too focused on my own writing to read most other books, but during those times I find comics and graphic novels perfect.

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

I get a lot of “writing” done while walking the dogs—which basically means I figure it all out in my head, then rush back to get it written down before I forget!

What book do you wish you could have written?

This might be a cheat answer, but: there’s this book (about dragons!) hanging out on my hard drive that I have tried so many times, in so many drafts, to get right. It keeps stalling, and I can’t really figure out why. So, real talk—that book! Maybe one day.

Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

I loved Francesca Lia Block’s books as a teen—she definitely inspired me to tell my stories, and to believe that kind of unique, contemporary magic belonged in the pages of a book.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

I love playing with names! In The Uncrossing, it was important that the characters’ names fit their cultural backgrounds, as well as having a feel or connotation that fit. The main characters, Luke and Jeremy, are both biblical references, but I try not to have every character’s name have the same kind of reference or meaning.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

I would like to be able to make myself Godzilla-tall or Thumbelina-tiny at will—like the eat me-drink me in Alice in Wonderland, but without the hassle of the food and drink.

Aboutthebook

9781640633537

About The Uncrossing:

Luke can uncross almost any curse—they unravel themselves for him like no one else. So working for the Kovrovs, one of the families controlling all the magic in New York, is exciting and dangerous, especially when he encounters the first curse he can’t break. And it involves Jeremy, the beloved, sheltered prince of the Kovrov family—the one boy he absolutely shouldn’t be falling for.

Jeremy’s been in love with cocky, talented Luke since they were kids. But from their first kiss, something’s missing. Jeremy’s family keeps generations of deadly secrets, forcing him to choose between love and loyalty. As Luke fights to break the curse, a magical, citywide war starts crackling, and it’s tied to Jeremy.

This might be the one curse Luke can’t uncross. If true love’s kiss fails, what’s left for him and Jeremy?

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abouttheauthor

Melissa Eastlake

About Melissa Eastlake:

Melissa Eastlake’s debut novel, The Uncrossing, is coming in 2017 from Entangled Teen. She is a 2017 Lambda Literary Fellow and lives in Athens, Georgia with her partner and their dogs.

Author Links:

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