Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Won’t You Be My Neighbor—Melissa Sarno

Hey everybody, welcome to this week’s Won't You Be My Neighbor! This will be awesome, because I have the delightful Melissa Sarno. I've been following Melissa for a while now and I can't wait to interview her.

Melissa lives in New York City, and so in honor of her sophistication I'll forgo the Mr. Rogers get up and wear black. That is the New Yorker's uniform, right? Or have I been watching too much TV?

Melissa: Thank you so much for having me, Angie :)

Yes, yes. Black is still the new black here. But the best thing about living in a place like New York City is that anything goes.

For example, a man who wanders the streets where I work likes to wear lace dresses and a petticoat. He also likes to tie dye his dog to look like a rainbow.

So, rock that sweater, Angie. You'll fit right in with the Brooklyn hipsters...

Angie: That is hilarious! Not many people dress crazy like that in Utah, unless you hit Walmart at 2 am :) Then all bets are off.

Melissa: I'd like to troll around a Walmart at 2am with you.  Actually, I've never been to a Walmart.

Angie: Trust me you aren't missing anything. I only go as a last resort.

Alright I’ve got a great first question...If you had to pick one article of clothing and never wear it again what would you pick and why?

Melissa: Do high heels count?  I would abandon high heels in a millisecond.  To be honest, I've pretty much abandoned them already. Too bad I wasn't a feminist back in the day.  I could easily jump on the bra burning wagon.

Angie: Oh my goodness, yes high heels count! I can understand the appeal that they make legs look nice, but no one can convince me they are comfortable. I do have to keep the bra though. If I didn't I could knock out small children if I moved to fast! TMI? Probably.

Melissa: Oh my goodness, that made me literally laugh out loud, Angie!  I am definitely not as blessed. When I made it to a B-cup, I think I cheered.

Angie: Ha :) I think blessed is in the eye of the beholder. Okay, I'm going to stop now. No more boob jokes.

Another question...I love your blog. I LOVE the way you write. It is so poignant, lyrical, and thoughtful. I always feel relaxed when I read your posts, like I just got a deep breath of fresh air. I've always wondered what is your favorite thing to write? Characters? Description? Dialogue? Setting? 

Melissa: That's really nice of you to say.  I am so grateful that you read it and get something from it because I'm never sure what on earth I'm doing with my blog.

Oh wow.  This is difficult to say. I guess my answer would be that I love to write it all.   I write character-driven stories so characters mean everything to me.  Dialogue is the most fun. But also the most difficult to get right.  I can get much too carried away with description. I am always working to make my stories leaner.  But my first instinct was to say setting.  I love real and imagined places. So, after that tangent... Setting.  Setting is my favorite.

Angie: I love great settings. I love when it feels like a character in the story. You didn't even know it, but that is the perfect tie in for my next question (seriously, I had this planned before your answer).

New York City is a character just by its self. Pick your favorite spot in the city and tell me how it inspires you.

View FROM Valentino Pier
Melissa: You can't possibly do this to me.  A *favorite* spot!  I love this city too much.  And there are far too many places.  I am inspired everywhere I go. After much internal debate, I have decided on Valentino Pier Park in Red Hook Brooklyn, which sticks out into the New York Harbor. It is always hazy there near the water.  So quiet and still.  I cannot express how difficult that is to find in New York. I cling to that quiet because it lets me think clearly.  It makes me feel peaceful.  And peaceful, quiet things inspire me.

Angie: It sounds amazing! I love peaceful places. When everything is quiet, it is like I can finally hear all the things the characters in my head have been trying to tell me. That sounds a little crazy. Hey I might fit into NYC after all :) I could totally rock petty coats.

Melissa: I am with you.  Characters always in the head, babbling away. What color would your petticoat be? (Mine would be purple)

Angie: Oh, I LOVE purple! I pick salmon. I've been digging that color lately :)

Here is a good question...What is the last book you read that you LOVED? What did learn from it?

Melissa: Right now I am reading Tina Fey's Bossypants and I am in love because I'm laughing to a point where I'm near tears.  

But, the last book I really, truly loved and this is so unoriginal given how people are fawning and falling all over it (as they should) is John Green's The Fault In Our Stars.  I learned that funny, real, intelligent characters with tremendous heart are still in demand. :)

Angie: I've wanted to read that! I love when a book is so great it turns off my writer brain and I become a reader again :)

Oh, I forgot to ask you what genre you write, and what you are working on right now?

Melissa: I write Contemporary YA.  I'm querying one novel and at the very early stages of another. 

Angie: No wonder you love Green :) Well done Contemporary is some of my favorite stuff to read!

Last question...pageant question! I was thinking how lucky you are that you get time to think about this and don't have to answer on the spot like most 17 year olds I've interviewed.

Okay, to the question...If you could pick one cliché that sums up your life what would it be? (Example--I would pick "when it rains it pours" for good and bad :)

Melissa: I love the pageant question.  I've been waiting for it.  I do not know how anyone would answer in seconds.  I decided on 'a watched pot never boils'.  I am a very impatient person, constantly looking ahead, pushing too far forward. I've seen that when you're looking away, that's when the good stuff happens. :) But Ill never learn.

Angie: 9.5 and TONS of clapping!!! I'm impatient myself so I understand :) What a great answer. I love it!

Melissa: This was such a super fun interview.  Can we do it every week? Hehe.

Angie: Thanks so much Melissa! I would like to do this every week. If I ever make it to NY you can show me your favorite spot on the pier and the NY public library! 

Everybody drop over to Melissa's blog and give her a shout out :) Happy Tuesday!


Jackie said...

What a fun interview!
I love your Won't You Be My Neighbor posts. :)

Anonymous said...

Fun interview! Thanks.

elizabeth seckman said...

Never been to Wal Mart? I pretty much live there...unfortunately.
Great interview!

i'm erin. said...

I love Melissa! I stalk her blog all the time. I love that she's a New Yorker. But I just peed myself when I read she's never been to a Walmart. Wowza!

Melissa Sarno said...

Angie, thanks for having me. I can't wait to take you to the pier and to the New York Public Library. Hi everybody! I'm sorry Elizabeth and Erin...I feel like I'm missing out. But I have spent a lot of time at Wegmans. Anyone? Wegmans? Anyone?

Jaye Robin Brown said...

Very cute interview - I have a NY friend that I took on her inaugural trip to Wal-Mart - what a hoot!

Donna K. Weaver said...

Fun interview. I don't think I've ever been to Walmart at 2 a.m. But I've seen some of those pictures! O_o

allison said...

Love this interview, and I agree with you on Melissa's posts being a breath of fresh air. They always relax me and help me put things in perspective!

And, Melissa? Never been to Walmart? SO jealous of you.

Emily R. King said...

Great interview, ladies! Am I crazy to like high heels? I haven't been able to wear them because of my growing belly, and I miss them.

I agree that Melissa's blog is fantastic. It was nice getting to know you better!

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed the interview. Never been to a Walmart??? Unbelievable. :)

And gotta get "The Fault In our Stars" because I know Melissa has good tastes in books. :)

Ruth Josse said...

Awesome interview, as always. Nice to meet you Melissa! Oh and I seriously snorted at the boob banter.

Kelley said...

Great, great interview! I LOVE Melissa! Did you see her mad hacky sack skills??? Those are awesome :)

Tara Tyler said...

another cute repartee!
and purple and salmon were my choices for bridesmaids dresses =) whether fall or spring.
you make new york inviting!

Leigh Covington said...

I'm swooning over Melissa and her answers. Can I swoon over a girl?
Hmmm... anyway. I'm so jealous. I want to visit NYC SO BAD I can taste it! Yeah - it doesn't taste good, so I should just go there. Although the guy in the lace dress might make me a little nervous! lol. That's funny. Great interview ladies.

Jenny S. Morris said...

I love Melissa! And I agree with Angie about feeling like a breath of fresh air over at her blog.

In Portland I think we have the Petticoat dude's brother. He wears a pink tutu.

Great interview ladies.

Maggie said...

Wow! Never been to a Walmart??!! It was really fun to read about a blogger who has a life so completely different from mine!

Meredith said...

Such a fun interview! And I can totally gush about The Fault in Our Stars all day. I have to head over and check out Melissa's blog now!

Brittany said...

Love it! And love that she's never been to Walmart. Oh to be young and untainted again.

Brinda said...

I follow Melissa's blog as well! I just bought an autographed copy of The Fault in Our Stars and can't decide if it should be a reader prize or MINE, ALL MINE. :) Great interview. I'm glad that Angie decided to dress up for this one.

Jolene Perry said...

I LOVE Melissa's blog!! Speaking of which, I haven't been there in forever . . .

kmckendry said...

Great interview! You ladies had me laughing out loud!!! I'm heading over to check out Melissa's blog. :)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

What a fun interview! You guys made me laugh out loud. I can't believe Melissa has never been to a Walmart. I didn't know people like that existed. (wink)

Brooke said...

This was a great, fun interview to read. I love all your interviews - they each make me laugh. Thanks for the laugh today:-)

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