Writer’s Words: The Story behind Novelist Melody Carlson
By Sarah Komisky
The mantra, “Do what you love,” is written all over author Melody Carlson’s life. From the time she was age six, typing on her grandma’s Underwood typewriter, the passion for the written word was evident. Pulling from her own life experience as a former atheist to a self professed “Jesus Freak” at age fifteen, Carlson has brought her myriad of stories to life in her characters while also drawing from real life letters and tales from teenage girls. In the pages of fiction are her stories, and this is hers.
Starting out her career as a published author when she felt she must “write or burst,” Carlson didn’t recognize her writing as a ministry until later on. Writing for a teen audience with the historical series Allison Chronicles, she became keenly interested in the genre after the completion of the Diary of a Teenage Girl. This is where she began to focus in on teens and the idea of ministry became clear. Covering issues like suicide, cutting, teen pregnancy, alcoholism, and bullying, Carlson felt led to give answers. Believing God to give the best ones, she began to tie those answers into her fiction for teen readers.
“That began a series of sixteen books where I tried to recreate true-to-life stories that teens could relate to. The diary format really seemed to pull the readers in,” says Carlson. “My next series was TrueColors – stand alone books about specific issues that I pulled straight out of the headlines. I’d hear about something dangerous that was pulling in adolescents (like anorexia or witchcraft) and I’d write a book about it.”
Desiring to write fiction with an authentic feel, Carlson discusses life issues, but also give hope in them commenting, “I have a strong empathy for teens. I feel like so much stuff gets swept under the rug and for some reason I’ve been willing to pull it out and expose it to the light. It’s not always comfortable, but that doesn’t stop me.”
One of the issues that is particularly close to Carlson’s heart is the issue of sexual purity. As a former Young Life counselor she gained insight and a deeper compassion for young women on the subject. Additionally, the writer also was able to share her own story with those she counseled and with her readers as well.
“When I made my own commitment to God I wanted to remain pure in regard to sex. But some of my boyfriends (the Christian ones) were pushy. I realized that I needed to stop dating altogether before I turned seventeen,” confesses Carlson. “I would only do things in groups. This allowed me to have guys for ‘just friends.’ It also taught me a lot about guys and how they think etc.”
The writer further comments on the subject saying, “I advise teens to wait to have sex. I just believe that adolescents aren’t ready for that depth of a relationship and most of the time will end up being hurt by it. I also feel that it will impact the quality of their romantic relationships later in life.”
Through it all, Carlson shares that receives letters from teens about making a commitment to Jesus after reading one of her books is the best thing expressing, “There’s nothing better than that.”
Enjoy summer reading with books from Carlson like Grace Unplugged, Finding Alice, and The Diary of a Teenage Girl series at: http://www.melodycarlson.com.