Sunday, April 18, 2021

Romance Daily News, my Interview

 What's the story behind your latest book?

One of my earliest memories is of a cereal box—Super Sugar Crisp, now called Golden Crisp—with an actual, playable cardboard ‘flexi record’ printed on the backside. My mom had just taken the box from the grocery bag, and it sat on the kitchen table, waiting to get stored. At age 4, I was already a music fan and pop culture scholar in the making, so I was both fascinated and excited. Still a preschooler, and so not great with scissors, I enlisted by big sister’s help in cutting the record from the package. I’m guessing the box, missing most of its backside, ended up in the cupboard.

The small album, featuring brightly colored images of Archie and the gang, played at 33 1/3 speed and had 4 songs from cartoon band, The Archies, including one of my favorites, the mega-hit, Sugar, Sugar. The flexi-record stayed on my family’s turntable for at least a day. Which, in little kid time, is forever.

Fast forward about two decades, and I have a son who reads, collects, and studies comics and comic culture. As we strolled through garage sales, flea markets, and used bookstores for old issues of Batman and other superhero comics, he’d encourage me to find some for myself. Just like that, comics, specifically Betty and Veronica, were back in my life.

Fast forward a few more years, and I’ve become a fiction writer and a college professor. As I scroll through TV shows, waiting for something to catch my attention, I spot an ad for Riverdale. I’m intrigued. They’ve created something new yet still familiar. I’m curious and wondering what is similar and what is different. Soon, I’m tuning in to the show on a regular basis and using my fiction writing experience to analyze the storyline and the characters. What works? What doesn’t? Why did the creators make the decisions they did? Eventually, I was so far down the Riverdale rabbit hole that I began to do more formal research.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

Two things: telling stories and growing as a writer. Each story is unique because of the characters. So telling stories is a way of giving someone a voice. I know, the characters aren’t real people, but they represent real struggles, difficulties and motivations.

Growing as a writer matters to me; I constantly test boundaries and give myself opportunities for growth. Expanding into non-fiction, after years of writing fiction, gave me a new challenge.

What do you read for pleasure?

Like most writers, I read everything. Most recently, I read Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica and The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse.   

Describe your desk

My desk is a beautiful antique, a gift from my mom. She used it for many years in her law office, then retired and passed it on to me. It’s a dark walnut stain, handmade in the mid-1800’s in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It has super deep drawers, so I have plenty of room for my postcards, extra pens, post-it notes…

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?


I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio which is sometimes referred to as the gateway of the south. There is a tradition of story-telling that is unique to the South and it continues to influence me. I see it in the way I connect characters back to their families and my love of small details.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a science fiction novel and an article about creative writing theory. I usually work on more than one project at a time. That way, if one needs to sit for a minute while I sort something out, I can continue writing the other.

What drives you to keep on writing?

Readers! They are the best. Their excitement for the next book is so appreciated and always keeps me excited too. They love reading as much as I do! And, of course, the above mentioned challenge that comes with writing.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Having fun matters. Writing what you love matters. So–if it isn’t fun and writing it doesn’t make you excited, move on.

What is the one thing you want your readers to know about your books?

I switch genres and subgenres to nurture my love of writing. I love a challenge. As soon as someone tells me something can’t be done…I’m off to try and do it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Solstice MFA Graduate Melissa Ford Lucken Publishes Her First Nonfiction Book


The Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program of Pine Manor College celebrates the publication of graduate Melissa Ford Lucken's newest book, The Binge Watcher's Guide to Riverdale: An Unofficial Companion from Riverdale Avenue Books. Melissa, as her alias Isabelle Drake, has released many fiction titles, such as Everglades Wildfire, The Invitations Series, Satisfaction Guaranteed, Finally Right, Unfinished Business, and many more. 

This title is her first nonfiction book. In a world where binge watching television shows is almost a cultural expectation, it can be difficult to keep track of which character did what five episodes—and seven hours—ago. The online resources don't cut it (spoiler alert!), and your viewing buddies are of no help to you; they're just as lost as you are. Never fear! The Binge Watcher's Guide has got you covered. 

Enjoy the first four seasons of CW's hit gothic horror show Riverdale with this book as your unofficial companion for trivia, quotes, episode commentaries, literary analysis, and even connections to the comics that inspired the show. This fun and interactive experience will keep you informed and entertained throughout the entirety of your viewing journey.

ABOUT SOLSTICE & PINE MANOR COLLEGE

As an undergraduate institution consistently ranked among the most diverse in the country, Pine Manor College emphasizes an inclusive, community-building approach to liberal arts education. The Solstice MFA in Creative Writing Program reflects the College’s overall mission by creating a supportive, welcoming environment in which writers of all backgrounds are encouraged to take creative risks. We strive to instill in our students an appreciation for the value of community-building and community service, and see engagement with the literary arts not only as a means to personal fulfillment but also as an instrument for social justice and real cultural change.
 
Directions to Pine Manor College, complete bios of our authors, and more information about the Solstice MFA in Creative Writing Program can be found at 
www.pmc.edu/mfa.

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MEDIA CONTACT
Quintin Collins
Solstice MFA Assistant Director
qcollins@pmc.edu