“[Kids] have an honest understanding of the world and a resilience that is so wonderful,” Melissa told Cracking the Cover. “Sometimes, as adults we can lose that somewhere along the way. I learn from them every day. Working with children and writing for children reminds me how to stay focused on hope and resilience and that pure joy for the little things in life.”
Melissa’s debut novel, Lemons, is the embodiment of that focus. Lemons follows Lemonade Liberty Witt as she moves in with a grandfather she’s never met after her mother passes away. Willow Creek, Calif., Bigfoot capital of the world, is nothing like San Francisco, and Lem is determined to make her stay there as short as possible. When Tobin Sky, CEO of Bigfoot Detectives Inc., asks Lem to be his assistant for the summer, Lem reluctantly accepts. But as the two work to capture Bigfoot on film, Lem starts to realize that maybe Willow Creek is just what she needs.
In Lemons, Melissa set out to write a story about a girl named Lemonade who would battle adversity and come across a life’s lemon that she would struggle with. Melissa knows only too well about grief. In 2012, the author and her husband lost their 9-month-old son. She pulled from that, as well as the grief of others she met along her own journey of healing.
“So many people have a story of loss that affects them very deeply, yet we often feel isolated in our grief because people don’t want to talk about it or hear about it,” Melissa said. “I wanted to write a story about embracing the gifts we’ve been given despite a loss and how sharing beautiful memories together, rather than hiding from the memories, can be very healing.”
Lem isn’t the only one in Lemons that’s hurting. There are other stories, including that of Tobin, that needed to be told.
Tobin is a special character for Melissa because he’s named after her son. “Just like Lemonade wanting her mother to remain a part of this world, I want my son to remain a part of this world too,” Melissa said.
The character Tobin is whom Melissa imagined her son, Tobin, would grow up to be. “Stoic and brave, as he was, but also scientific like his Dad and as big a fan of Bigfoot and cryptozoology as his Mommy! Losing someone you love is an extremely tough lemon, as Lem experiences in the story, and she struggles to find how to make lemonade again. For me, sharing my son’s name and spirit with children all over the world is one of the ways I’ve learned to make my own lemonade.”
In addition to being a writer, Melissa is also a child and family therapist. Her writing mirrors the issues many children grapple with. “Most recently I’ve worked with children and families who have struggled with the loss of a loved one,” she said. “Although these subjects are heavy, there is always hope in healing from adversity and more than anything, I want to portray that in every story I create. When a child comes to me and tells me he/she has gone through the same thing or that they know someone who did, I know they are telling me because this aspect of the book resonated with them. And more than anything I’d like kids to know they are not alone in whatever they may be going through.”
Despite the heavy subject matters Melissa chooses to embrace, she also knows there must be a balance. In Lemons, that balance came in the form of Bigfoot. Melissa is fascinated when scientists discover unknown facts about our planet and beyond. That includes species of animals that are extinct, or maybe never existed in the first place.
“That makes the mystery of Bigfoot even more intriguing and fun,” Melissa said. “I wanted to share that with kids set in the very place where Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin claimed to have filmed a real Bigfoot in 1967.”
Lemons is set in 1975 to play off the original film and to remove all modern-day technology from the Bigfoot search. “As wonderful as technology is, and as helpful as it is for all of us, including myself, I think it keeps us tied to screens more than we should be,” she said. “I wanted this to be a fun mystery and intriguing adventure set outside in the very place where the Patterson-Gimlin film was originally created back in 1967.”
Learn more about Melissa Savage, including why she writes and what she’s working on now by reading the complete transcript of her interview with Cracking the Cover.
Visit the other stops on the Lemons blog tour
|May 1: Caroline Starr Rose
May 2: Bookhounds YA
May 3: Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!
May 4: Ms. Yingling Reads
May 5: Bea’s Book Nook
May 6: Diving Under the Cover
May 8: Imagination Soup
May 9: Read Now Sleep Later
May 10: Word Spelunking
May 11: My Brain on Books
May 12: YA Books Central
May 13: Cafinated Reads
May 15: Middle Grade Mafioso
May 16: Much Loved Books
|May 17: Cracking the Cover
May 18: Oh, For the Hook of a Book!
May 19: Batch of Books
May 20: The Owl
May 22: 5 Minutes for Books
May 23: Awesome Book Nut
May 24: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
May 25: I’d So Rather Be Reading
May 26: Here’s to Happy Endings
May 27: Doodle’s Book Reviews
May 29: Reviews Coming at YA
May 30: Swoony Boys Podcast
May 31: Bloggin ‘Bout Books
June 1: Xpresso Reads