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Arts

Melissa Albert

The Best-Selling YA Author Poised for a Sequel

As the founding editor of the Barnes & Noble Teen Blog (and the managing editor of BN.com), it’s safe to say that Melissa Albert knows how to speak to teens. So when she set out to write her first novel, the YA genre was a no-brainer. Albert’s first book, The Hazel Wood, debuted this past year to rave reviews that quickly landed her on The New York Times best-seller list. But she’s certainly not resting on her laurels—Albert is hard at work on book two, set in the same universe, with a 2019 pub date.

When did you realize what you wanted to do in your life?

“I’ve been ‘writing’ since I was really little—with my mom transcribing the two-sentence, always-animal-related stories I dictated to her—but as an adult I thought I wanted to go in the direction of arts journalism. Then, in the course of researching for a freelance project in 2010, I started reading young adult lit for the first time since discovering Francesca Lia Block as a teen. And it changed my life. Suddenly I knew what I wanted to write, and it was weird YA fantasy.”

What is your biggest accomplishment to date?

“Finishing the thing. Before letting anyone read it, before publication, before what came after, I finally—after years of writing and abandoning incomplete drafts—wrote a complete draft of a novel. The astonished head rush of the moment I realized I was ‘done’ with my sh*tty first draft will never leave me.”

What does being a woman mean to you today?

“Making sure your feminism is intersectional and not losing sight of other people’s context. And, as a new mother with true opinions on parenting for the first time in my life, remembering not to judge how other people do it.”

What advice do you have for other women working toward their own dreams?

“Be kind to yourself. Remember that (to paraphrase Ira Glass) the reason your creative output looks so crappy to you is because you have good taste. Let’s celebrate the good taste that makes us so keenly aware of when our work falls short of our vision!”

Habit that has changed your life?

“Saying yes to professional opportunities that scare me. I can look back now at the crossroads moments when I said yes to scary things and see that they led me pretty directly to everything good in my career.”

Desert island question: If you could bring only three things, what would they be?

“Practical response: watermelon, sunscreen and satellite phone. Impractical response: watermelon, sunscreen and all the books I’ve been meaning to read.”

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