Melissa Stiveson is passionate about children’s books, inspiring equity and creativity, and empowering children to follow their dreams. She loves to induce watering mouths with homemade and original delights, biking in natural beauty, and getting lost in the mountains or a delicious book. Melissa lives in Westminster, Colorado, with her husband and is the author of Wishes of the World (Sleeping Bear Press, 2023; illustrated by Khoa Le; starred review from Foreward Reviews; included in the 2023 Reading Rockets Holiday Gift Guide). Melissa is a member of SCBWI, 12x12, The Manuscript Academy, Mighty Kid Lit (advisory board), and Rate Your Story. Visit Melissa's website to learn more about her and her work.
1. Do you ever get stuck creatively? If so, how do you get unstuck?
Yes, all the time. It’s amazing how you can be doing anything else and all you want to do is write. And then when you sit down to write, your mind goes blank. To get unstuck, I like to listen to inspirational music, turn on creative movies in the background, take a walk, or (gulp) clean the house.
2. What one piece of advice would you like to give to aspiring kidlit authors?
Everyone’s already heard to keep reading and writing. It’s also invaluable to join critique groups to help you further develop your writing talent and stories. Plus you’ll make wonderful friends.
3. Once you’ve created a first draft, what’s your next step? Critique group? Check in with your agent? Tuck it away to let it age?
It depends. Sometimes the story writes itself pretty well, I’ll tuck it away for a spell, come back to it for revisions, and then send it to my amazing critique partners.
Other times, especially if the story is emotional for me, it doesn’t matter how long it’s shelved, revisions just won’t come. In these cases, I send it to my critique partners with a note explaining the situation and asking for help to nudge me forward.
4. Where did you get the idea for Wishes of the World? What was your inspiration?
This inspiration is from my childhood as I loved making wishes; they made me feel hopeful for the future. My favorites ways were falling stars and four-leaf clovers.
5. If you read this book to a room filled with kids, what message would you want them to leave with?
I hope readers leave with at least two things:
1. Never stop dreaming or wishing. Don’t let others limit you; you can do and be whatever you want.
2. Embrace diversity and learn about others. We’re not all that different and this book demonstrates how alike we are, even through our wishing traditions.
6. Who should read this book?
Anyone who likes to make wishes or wants to learn about wishing traditions should read this book. In addition, my fervent wish is that more books like this will be created and read in schools, allowing children to gain insights and respect for different cultures at an early age.