Interview with Melissa Senate

November, 2009
Melissa Senate

Quick Start

SS: How would you describe your life in only 8 words?

MS: Optimistic single-mother writing, reading, observing in lovely Maine.

SS: What is your motto or maxim?

MS: Just Do It. (It was mine before Nike's.)

What Readers want to know...

SS: How would you describe perfect happiness?

MS: Right now, I find it in little things: listening to my seven-year-old son read to me; meeting a friend for coffee; writing a sentence that makes me proud; eating good Indian food; driving down a rural Maine road on a sunny day with good music and lots of farms and grazing cows and horses as beautiful scenery.

SS: What’s your greatest fear?

MS: It's unspeakable.

SS: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?

MS: In the Vatican museum, showing my son the frescoes.

SS: Which living person do you most admire?

MS: Barack Obama

SS: What do you regret most?

MS: Everything I've done has led me to where I am now, which is a pretty good place to be, so I can't regret anything.

SS: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?

MS: To play any instrument and make lovely music. I also wish I could knit (really knit).

SS: What is your greatest achievement?

MS: Typing The End on the last page of my the first novel I wrote. (And it became my debut!)

SS: What’s your greatest flaw?

MS: How oddly introverted I actually am.

SS: What’s your best quality?

MS: Kindness.

SS: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?

MS: I gotta stick with myself.

SS: What trait is most noticeable about you?

MS: That I march to a slightly different drummer.

SS: Who is your favorite fictional hero?

MS: Anne with an E from Anne of Green Gables. She taught me as a girl that imagination could take you places.

SS: What is your biggest pet peeve?

MS: When people talk loudly on cell phones.

SS: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?

MS: Rolling down grassy hills with my seven-year old son. Impossible to do without smiling.

SS: What’s your fantasy profession?

MS: Olympic gymnast (though I suppose that's not a professsion).

SS: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?

MS: Kindness. Taking responsibility. Humor.

SS: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?

MS: I want to sound more sophisticated, but a toasted onion bagel with good cream cheese and smoked salmon.

SS: What are your 5 favorite songs?

MS: Romeo and Juliet (Dire Straits); Let's Get It On (Marvin Gaye); Helpless (Neil Young); Hold On (Sarah McLachlan); Over The Rainbow (Judy Garland)

SS: With whom in history do you most identify?

MS: Still thinking about this one...

SS: What are your most overused words or phrases?

MS: You can do it (not that that's a bad bunch of words to overuse.)

SS: Who is your favorite fictional villain?

MS: I am not a goody-two-shoes, I swear. But I hate villains, even the fun ones.

SS: If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?

MS: I would say a big thanks to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and fellow suffragists. How amazing were they?

Questions About Books and Writing

SS: Who are your favorite authors?

MS: Anne Tyler, Elinor Lipman, Richard Russo, Terry McMillan, Anne Lamott, Marian Keyes, Maeve Binchy, Pam Houston, Sarah Dessen, and I love all the contemporary women's fiction being published these days.

SS: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?

MS: Anne of Green Gables A Tree Grows in Brooklyn To Kill A Mockingbird Wuthering Heights Bridget Jones Diary

SS: Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?

MS: Believe in yourself.

SS: What comment do you hear most often from your readers?

MS: "I relate."

SS: Is there a book you love to reread?

MS: Birds of America by Lorrie Moore. Have read each story at least 20 times. Brilliance.

General Questions

SS: What is your birthdate?

MS: 8/15

SS: What were your previous occupations?

MS: For ten years I was a Harlequin romance novel editor. I've also been the editor of the New Adventures of Mary-Kate & Ashley, about 9 year old twin detectives ("we'll solve any crime by dinner time!" and Sweet Valley University (Jessica and Elizabeth DID graduate from Sweet Valley High).

SS: What was/is your favorite job?

MS: The current one--author. But I did love working in an office, complete with gossipy coworkers and holiday parties and politics. And BENEFITS.

SS: Where did you go to high school and/or college?

MS: High school in New Jersey. College in Connecticut.

SS: What is your favorite movie?

MS: Annie Hall. I've seen it at least fifty times, and my heart still leaps at the opening black and white credits.

SS: Name of your favorite composer or music artist?

MS: Impossible. I love music.

SS: What is your favorite television show?

MS: Anything smart-funny

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