I am the oldest (AKA the boss). Growing up with so many siblings meant we were never alone--there was always someone to fight or play with. Quite simply, it was the best. We've remained best friends.
How does your experience of growing up in such a big family influence your writing?
My books tend to focus on love of all kinds, which is what I felt most in my large family. There were always so many people to love me and in turn, to love back.
Are any of your characters biographical sketches of people you grew up with?
I'll never tell. *wink
Have any of your siblings recognized themselves in your work?
I think there's a saying that the people you write about in your books never recognize themselves. That said, I do believe writing tends to be emotionally autobiographical by nature. We write what we know, especially emotions. My siblings aren't in my book, but the emotions we've shared together certainly show up.
How has your family supported your decision to become a full-time writer, and how has that helped you reach your goals?
My husband Shea is the number one supporter of my work and dreams. In fact, he said one of the reasons he wanted to date me was because I was a writer. He's a rare gem, he "gets it", and without him, this journey would have been much harder.
The rest of my family is supportive, too, but I think all authors would agree that there are few in our lives who truly "get it" and that's okay.
If the dedication of your book includes your siblings, please share.
From the acknowledgements: To my sisters and best friends, Crystal, Tasha, Emily and Laura, and my brother Josh, for knowing me since they were born and loving me anyway. (BTW, I’m the boss.)
Melissa Gorzelanczyk is a young adult author who believes love is everything. A dreamer for life, Melissa has been writing books since she was nine years old when she penned her first story about a beloved black horse. She is a member of the SCBWI, The Sweet Sixteens, and the Class of 2K16. She lives in Green Bay with her husband and family. Her debut novel ARROWS is being published by Random House/Delacorte Press, January 5, 2016. She is represented by agent Carrie Howland of Donadio & Olson. She can be found online at MelissaGorzelanczyk.com and on Twitter @MelissaGorzela.
As hard as it might be to believe, the two aren't very different. There are revisions and feedback and lots and lots of changes from the first draft idea to a finished product. There's also a lot of creativity required in design. My task at work every day, whether I'm in the "fun" brainstorming part of designing or "not so fun" testing or paperwork, is to help improve healthcare, help surgeons, and improve patients' lives. Creativity--in implants and instruments--is so important if I want to make that happen.
If you boil Engineering down to its most basic essence, it's problem solving--there's a gap to be filled or challenge to be overcome, and engineers take this nebulous "what if?" and turn it into reality. Writing is also problem solving--you want to move your characters from point A to point B and you craft your plot and story to make it happen.
And even though I need to wait until January to confirm this, I can imagine holding my book in my hands will feel a lot like holding one of my finished implant designs for the first time: amazing.
How would compare crafting a beautiful sentence to choreographing a dance?
My favorite part of dancing or skating is when a piece of music hits you so hard you can't help but let go. Everything flows and feels just plain magical. All of the work and practice in getting to that point falls away and you become the music. It's the exact same feeling when the stars align and words flow effortlessly out of my fingers and onto the page.
Then there are the days when the music *doesn't* click and everything is hard and I wonder why I even try to do this at all...but I push through because I know just because today isn't clicking, it might tomorrow.
How would you compare fencing to plotting?
Back when I fenced, my weapon of choice was foil, even though I really had the body and technique for epee. I absolutely loved the art and beauty of foil fencing and competed in it (and, since I fenced on a men's team, the epee boys hit HARD, which was another reason why I loved foil), and, well, because it wasn't the best weapon for me, I lost most of my bouts. Being honest with myself now, it was like trying to write in a genre or voice that didn't fit me. I was always fighting (literally) for success in foil, instead of letting myself be the epee that I was.
Anyway, onto plotting: Just like my preferred "plantster" method of plotting, where I need an outline but then let the story go where it needs to and then adjust my outline accordingly, when I go in for an attack in fencing, I need a plan. I study my opponent to find his or her weakness and then adjust based on their reactions. Fencing can be a very physical version of plantsing!
Which one of your characters mostly resembles you? Explain, please.
I always laugh when people who read BOOKISHLY EVER AFTER comment on Phoebe's big sister, Trixie, a very minor secondary character, because she is very much like me. While there are bits and pieces of me in Phoebe (hello booknerdery!!!!!!) and all of her friends, Trixie is the only one I consciously realized was me from the minute I created her. Just like Trixie, I'm the oldest and love making dresses and costumes for my sisters (I made my baby sister's wedding dress and my middle sister's wedding veil, among other things). All my baby sister had to do was turn her big eyes up to look at me and I'd melt and make/buy anything she wanted. And just like Trixie, I love my younger sisters, even though we don't always get along.
How have your travels inspired your writing?
A lot of travel is about meeting new people and seeing new places that help expand your worldview. Our planet is amazing and beautiful and incredibly diverse, and I'll be lucky if I catch even a fraction of its magic on paper. Sometimes, you don't have to travel far for inspiration, though. BOOKISHLY EVER AFTER is set in South Jersey, where I grew up. I've traveled back to the camps that inspired the second half of the book and have broken out of writing slumps by taking walks around my hometown. Writing about home reminded me how much I love all these places.
Some of my favorite non-hometown places also made it into the book, and each mention is like a little love letter to these places that imprinted themselves on my soul.
Isabel Bandeira grew up surrounded by trees and lakes in Southern New Jersey, right on the edge of the Pine Barrens. Her summers were always spent in Portugal, where the cathedrals, castles, and ancient tombs only fed her fairy tale obsession. Between all those influences and her serious glitter addiction, it wasn’t a surprise when she started writing stories of her own. In her free time between writing and her day job as a Mechanical Engineer who designs and develops medical devices, she reads, dances, figure skates, and knits. Isabel lives in New Jersey with her little black cat, too many books, and a closet-full of vintage hats. She is represented by Carrie Howland of Donadio & Olson and BOOKISHLY EVER AFTER, published by Spencer Hill Contemporary, is her debut novel. She can be found online at isabelbandeira.com and on Twitter @Emberchyld.