Welcome, Melissa and congrats on your new novel. Can you describe your book in five words or less?
Life, choices, heartbreak, consequences, acceptance,
How did ideas for the book come to you?
When I was 16, I went to live with my father for the first time. Unlike Jessica, I had known him all my life, but my parents divorced when I was very young. So that’s where the idea came from and the rest evolved along the way.
Is there a message in your novel you want readers to grasp?
I want the reader to identify with Jessica and the decision she made and stuck with. No matter how hard it was to leave her mum, she knew it was the right choice for her. In life, we have to make tough choices sometimes.
Why did you choose to write in this genre?
It was really by accident. I never set out to write for YA but once the idea started it just took off. I do read extensively in the YA genre though. In fact, I think it has ruined my ability to read adult fiction because I enjoy it so much!
Does the life of your main character parallel with yours in any way?
There are definitely moments in the story that Jessica goes through the same emotions that I went through. The scene where she runs frantically into the bush after making the decision to leave her mum and live with her dad was written almost true to life. Nearly twenty years later I can still vividly recall that day.
Did you have the manuscript professionally edited before it went to the publisher?
Yes. I sent it to a manuscript assessor (Sally Odgers) who looked over it and made some helpful suggestions. I spent another three or four months working on it after that before submitting it for consideration.
Actually, Morris Publishing was the first publishers I submitted it to! That’s why it was so unbelievable for me when it was accepted. For the record, I have submitted other stories elsewhere without luck and received the dreaded rejection notes!
How did you become a writer?
About six months after I had my first child, I thought I would embark on a professional writing course. I naively thought I would have a lot of time on my hands! But I had always loved reading and studied children’s literature at university. After a while, I entered a few competitions and received some good feedback. In one, I was awarded runner up in the Junior Novel - Honour Book Award for the Ipswich Festival of Children's Literature Writing for Children Competition. This was all the encouragement I needed to keep going.
Destiny’s Road is a story of decisions and consequence. It is a real life journey that changes the life of the main character, Jessica, in ways she couldn’t imagine. Brought up without a father, at 16 Jessica meets him for the first time. Before she has a chance to get to know him, her mother whisks her away to new town. Leaving her life-long friends behind and starting at a new school is more than Jessica can cope with. Being threatened on her first day at her new school doesn’t help at all. She struggles to fit in.
And then she is faced with a huge decision – a chance to go back to her old life – but it comes at a cost. Follow Jessica’s journey as she struggles to find the right path and deals with the trauma of a new life, her first relationship, and growing up.
Destiny's Road is available from bookstores all over Australia, www.morrispublishingaustralia.com, from Amazon, and many popular online stores as a paperback or eBook.