Christina Meldrum‘s debut novel, MADAPPLE, was acclaimed all over the place, as you’ll see below. It also happened to be one of my favorite reads of the last several years. Ms. Meldrum and I spoke about it in a podcast interview this past summer and she’s returned to round out what we know of her here on AuthorScoop.
We’d like to thank her for taking the time to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.
AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?
Christina: My first publication was during law school when I wrote a few legal articles. But MADAPPLE was my first piece of published fiction.
AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.
Christina: My novel MADAPPLE was released in May 2008. A “crossover” book intended for older teens and adults, it is part literary mystery, part psychological thriller. The story takes place in rural Maine and tells the story of Aslaug, a sixteen year old girl who knows far more about botany and mythology than she does about the modern world. When Aslaug’s mother dies a mysterious death, Aslaug finds family she never knew she had and becomes embroiled in a web of family secrets. When Aslaug’s aunt and cousin also die mysterious deaths, the reader is forced to ask whether Aslaug is the innocent she would have the reader believe or a calculated killer.
MADAPPLE was well-received critically. It received starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal and Publishers Weekly. It also was a finalist for the inaugural William C. Morris Award and was a Booklist Editors’ Choice pick for 2008. The American Library Association named MADAPPLE as a “Best Book for Young Readers for 2009,” and both Booklist and Kirkus Reviews included MADAPPLE on their 2008 “best” lists.
AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who else do you feel has contributed to your success?
Christina: There have been so many people. My family has been instrumental. My husband supported my writing for years, long before there was any indication I ever would be published. My children love that I am a writer and have always been supportive and encouraging. I have a sister, Amy Laughlin, who also is a writer, and she is a never-ending source of wisdom and support. My mother and other siblings have been readers for me as well as fantastic sources of information and encouragement. I have many talented close friends, some who are writers, some who are fantastic readers and editors, and some who have great insight into human psychology. I have relied on all of them at times. In addition, Michelle Frey, my editor at Knopf, is a wonderful editor. I have learned a lot from her, and she made MADAPPLE into a far better book. Also, my literary agent Laura Rennert has been a huge support for years. I am leaving out many people, including former teachers and colleagues. This list goes on!
AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?
Christina: Because I have children, I work mainly when they are at school. By necessity, that is when I do my best writing! It is not necessarily when I do my best thinking, however. I actually seem to do some of my best thinking while I am asleep. (I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing!) Often I wake in the morning and find my brain has solved some issue related to my writing while I slept. Because I am not able to write at that time, I usually scribble notes to myself and then return to those notes later, when my children are at school.
When I am in the editing stage, my writing schedule changes somewhat. I tend to work throughout the day, making notes to myself when my children are home and sometimes working late into the night. It seems I am using a different part of my brain then, and the inspiration comes in spurts.
AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?
Christina: I think the best advice I ever received as a writer was: write what you love. So often writers are told to write what they know, but I think this can be very limiting, depending on one’s life experience. When you write what you love, the world is open to you. In writing MADAPPLE, I wrote about subjects that fascinate me. I didn’t know all I needed to know about these subjects when I began the book, but I learned through research—research I found interesting. I think a writer is better able to make material fascinating for readers if she herself finds the material fascinating.