Melissa Walker's Violet on the Runway and the sequel, Violet by Design, are smart novels about a young fashion model -- and what life is really like on the catwalk and in front of the camera. The third, Violet in Private, comes out this summer. Melissa is a fashion insider (see her blog for proof) and she really knows what she's writing about.
Anyway, I know Melissa from teen author readings at the New York Public Library, and she's really sweet and interesting, and tall! We also went to the same college, although I am (cough cough) quite a lot older.
(Vassar! a breeding ground for YA writers such as: Cassandra Clare, Scott Westerfeld, Mariah Fredrickson, Carolyn Mackler, Megan Crane -- well, she's not really YA but teens would love her books -- and more whom I'm forgetting right now).
Anyway, I got Melissa to tell us her Disreputable History, meaning I got her to submit to my questions based on The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, in which the heroine infiltrates an all-male secret society and stages ornate and controversial pranks on the campus of her boarding school.
Melissa has invented an excellent secret society, plus she is a sneaky-puss. Read about it, below.
1. Tell me the sneakiest thing you ever did.
Hmm, once in high school, I stood watch as my friends rearranged the letters on a Burger King sign from "Free Whoppers" to "Free Whores." Is that too racy? It wasn't especially intelligent, but we got a laugh driving by the next day.
2. Tell me the sneakiest thing that happens in your new book.
Well, in Violet by Design, Violet's frenemy Veronica manages to finagle a fashion campaign out of Violet's hands while making it seem like it was all the designer's idea.
3. Are you a prankster? Tell me a story.
I'm not really a prankster, but we did used to do these elaborate scavenger hunts around my hometown when I was in high school. I remember once, one of the items was the Ben & Jerry's tip cup. I felt so bad taking it that I ran in, dumped the money onto the counter, and ran out. But it was worth 10 points so I had to get it!
4. Were you in any clubs or societies in high school? Did any of those club activities make it into your novels?
Violet works on the newspaper staff in Violet on the Runway, but it's really just mentioned in passing. I was editor of my high school yearbook and I was in the Spanish Honor Society. Does that count? It wasn't secret, though I bet it would have been more fun if it had been!
5. Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why, or why not?
Yes, because I am all about women having strong and equal roles in all they do—from family to career to every conceivable opportunity.
6. How does your answer to question 5 show up in your new book?
In Violet by Design, Violet really struggles with the weight issues that are prevalent in the fashion industry, and she finds ways to stand up for herself—most of the time. She's definitely on her way to becoming a resolute feminist, despite superficial and shallow pressures from the world she's in.
7. The club in my book is called The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. If you were to found a secret society, what would it be called, and what would its mission be?
I think it would be called The Honorable Order of Smart People Who Watch Bad TV. My DVR list is hugely humiliating, but I really enjoy my couch time with trashy TV on rainy Sundays—and I know there are others out there like me. Join us!