You know that moment when the Hollywood hottie in the long evening gown gets to introduce the nominees of the next Grammy? Well, this is that moment, minus the long dress (wearing sweats right now) and the lady you’re about to meet is more fun than a night at the Grammy’s any day. Seriously love this chica and excited for her writer journey to take off. Her debut book, Made To Last, is available now for your reading pleasure. So… without further delay, please pull up a chair, read on, and get to know the lovely Melissa Tagg.
Raj: When you were six months old, [think hard, the memories are there somewhere,] did you find a nut and then attach it to a bolt, and think right there on the spot, one day, I will write a book that involves tools? Kidding. But as a kid, did you mess with your dad’s toolbox, help him change the oil on the car? Did you have brothers or a boyfriend that sparked the whole Home Depot play in Made to Last? In essence, what inspired the setting or set in your case of the story?
Melissa: Haha, umm…here’s the thing: I’m intimidated by hardware stores. I’m really bad at putting things together and building things. And though I can, in fact, tell you the difference between a Phillips and flat-head screwdriver, I’m not real great with tools. (Except tape measures. I love tape measures. Weird, I know.) I’m not sure my Dad would really trust me around any of his tools! So that angle of the story is somewhat fluke. I think I was partially inspired to do the homebuilding angle because I was reading about this Canadian actress who had her own DIY show…
But the overall story, including the pretend marriage angle, was inspired by the classic movie Christmas in Connecticut with Barbara Stanwyck.
Raj: Playlist question, since I am all about the music. Choose a few songs or a theme song or a song that rolls during the credits of the movie of your book. And do you have a playlist you listen to when you write or do you prefer the sweet sound of silence? Can’t wait to hear the answers to this one!
Melissa: I mostly write to silence. Every once in a while I’ll listen to a dramatic soundtrack, but for the most part, I can’t listen to music (especially music with lyrics) while I write because I get too caught up in it.
Soundtrack—this is fun! Honestly, I could come up with a soundtrack made up entirely of Coldplay songs. But I forced myself to come up with a couple others. Here are four:
Lovesick Mistake by Erin McCarley—because it’s perfect for Miranda’s life at the opening of the story
Swallowed in the Sea by Coldplay—this would be Miranda’s “Oh my gosh, I love you!” song to Matthew
Up with the Birds by Coldplay—because it’s just the PERFECT happy ending song for my hero/heroine. You have to listen all the way to the end. It gets super happy.
Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve—this is the song that would carry Blake/Blaze (one of my favorite characters from Made To Last) into my next book, which is all about him!
Raj: For fun: Rapid this or that. Take a deep breath. Ready. Set. Pick! [you can add an alternative if it’s neither, and pick a few and say why or when did you decide]
a. Books or movies: THIS IS TOO HARD!! I have to say both. I just have to. Because I love books, but if say that, what would happen to my beloved classic movies? But I can’t handle life without books, if I say movies. I just can’t…
b. Chocolate or vanilla: Chocolate!
c. Salad or pasta: Um, both with bread sticks? Okay, I’ll say salad to make myself sound healthy.
d. Muffin or gluten-free cupcake: Can I eat the top of the muffin and lick the frosting off the cupcake? [Raj here: Why of course. I knew there were deeper connections between us!]
e. Peta or Gale: Oh dear…I still haven’t read Hunger Games. It’s been on my Kindle since it first came out. *hangs head in shame* [Raj here: Okay, I’ll choose for you: Lagan. hehe 😉 ]
f. Rap or Rock: Finally, an easy one! Rock!
g. Berries or apples: mmm…taste-wise probably berries. However, they’re usually expensive to buy and I do love apples with peanut butter. [Me: Yum!]
h. Running or biking: Biking. Running makes me cry. [Raj here: Me too. But I still do it. It’s the chocolate-addicted, Tough Mudder in me. That has no choice but to work off those horrendous little buggers called calories.]
i. Curly or straight: Oh, I should probably say curly since that’s what I’ve got, so I might as well try to be happy with it. [Raj: And might I add, I think you look gorgeous with those wild curls of yours. They are just you!]
j. Dancing or singing: Singing. I’m too clumsy to dance well. Not that I don’t enjoy it in the privacy of my own home…
Raj: A let’s go deeper with Melissa moment, if you dare. What keeps you up at night? What breaks your heart? What one thing would you say, above all other searches, are you looking for? And was there ever a time when the least likely person became a surprisingly good friend?
Melissa: Love these questions. [Me: Why, thank you!] You know what breaks my heart? Seeing loneliness or desperation in someone’s eyes…it honestly rips my heart out. That and just the immense amount of hurt in the world. I realize that might be a somewhat cliché and broad answer…but every once in a while, possibly due to my day job at a homeless nonprofit, I have a weird moment of, I don’t know, just feeling weighed down by the hurt that’s out there.
About a month ago, I took a phone call at work from a man in Atlanta. As soon as I picked up, he just started lashing out at me about how Christians never want to help “someone like him” and he alternated between crying and yelling. That day I went home over my lunch break and lost it, just thinking about how much this random man in Atlanta is hurting, how lonely he is, and how I’m pretty certain he was on the brink of suicide. And he’s just one person. And that goes on every day all around us…and most of the time, I’m blind to it. But then you have those moments…
What I’m looking for? Hmm…good question. Maybe just whatever God has next for me…? Or probably even better, the key to focusing on right now rather than what’s next.
Raj: Okay, finally, the writer journey questions. Sort of. If you could collaborate on a book with any one NY Times Best Seller, who would you choose? Was it harder to write the first chapter or the last chapter of Made to Last? If you could jump into your book and be a fly on the wall for a scene in your book, would you choose a lovey-dove scene or a spicy chapter chalk full of conflict? And finally, what is your umbrella theme as you dive into your writing world, as in, somewhere in you is a life message that you live and die by that wants out. If you feel comfortable hinting at it or summing it up in a few words, what would that be?
Melissa: Ooh, collaborate? Maybe Ted Dekker because I think he brilliant. [Raj: Not Tosca? Oooooh. I’m so telling! 😉 ]
Definitely harder to write the first chapter. I rewrote the thing about a dozen times! Whereas by the end, I was so close to my characters that the final chapter practically wrote itself.
Oooh, I love the fly on the wall question. Hm, I’m going to say spicy chapter chalk full of conflict mainly because I’ve intruded upon Miranda and Matthew’s romantic moments enough already…
Ahh, nice last question too. You know, I feel like I constantly come back to this theme of finding our worth and identity in Christ, in the truth that we are created and cherished by a loving God…when we really, REALLY believe that, insecurities and questions about our purpose and even anxieties tend to dissolve or at least not weigh us down as much. Not that we don’t still have problems or worries or questions now and then…but there’s this mental, emotional, REAL safety net in knowing and really believing my value, identity and purpose are in Christ. It makes it easier to trust and to hope. I want to live my life with that belief at the core of me.
Raj again: Thanks, Melissa! Can’t wait to feature you and your first book adventure!!
Hugs and Happy Release Day!
BACK COVER of Made To Last: : Miranda Woodruff has it all. At least, that’s how it looks when she’s starring in her homebuilding television show, From the Ground Up. So when her network begins to talk about making cuts, she’ll do anything to boost ratings and save her show–even if it means pretending to be married to a man who’s definitely not the fiance who ran out on her three years ago.
When a handsome reporter starts shadowing Miranda’s every move, all his digging into her personal life brings him a little too close to the truth–and to her. Can the girl whose entire identity is wrapped up in her on-screen persona finally find the nerve to set the record straight? And if she does, will the life she’s built come crashing down just as she’s found a love to last?
And a little BIO of the Lovely Melissa Tagg:
During her reporting days, Melissa interviewed presidential candidates and llama farmers, rode a hot air balloon and flew a plane, and once came face to face with a buffalo. But today she gets her kicks by letting her characters have their own fun. She’s passionate about humor, grace, and happy endings.
Connect with Melissa via Social Media:
My website/blog: www.melissatagg.com
And you? Do you have a Home Depot dream that wants out? Well, save yourself a few bruises and pull up a chair to Melissa’s new book, Made To Last. Something tells me you’ll thank me.