Judi: Okay, the title totally “reeled” me in because it’s right up my alley (river, creek, whatever). Where did you come up with this idea, Melissa?
Melissa: “Swimming Upstream, Slowly” is a novel about Sasha Salter, who wakes up one day to find she is pregnant. Only problem is she hasn’t had sex in over 2 years. The doctor’s diagnosis is that Sasha’s body has been harboring a ‘lazy sperm’. Sasha must now open up the Pandora’s box of her past loves to figure out which of her exes is the father – and what the future holds in store.
The idea was born because I was having lunch with a friend and overate. I lifted my shirt to expose my bloated belly and the friend said, half joking, “Are you sure you’re not pregnant?” and I said, “Yeah, right, from a lazy sperm.” I went home that night and started outlining the idea for a movie. I decided, eventually, to write it as a novel instead.
Judi: I love the premise! Which part(s) were easiest to write?
Melissa: I love writing dialogue. I’ve written a few plays in the past and found it incredibly satisfying. I learn so much about my characters through what they say. I often have the feeling that they speak through me and I’m just listening and transcribing their words. I know a lot of writers feel this way. It’s hard for me to slow down and be descriptive – really describe a setting or something. I am very aware of this and tried to do it more consciously in the new book.
Judi: Your bio is very interesting and I’m wondering if you could give us a little more in-depth about your writing background?
Melissa: My dad is a writer, so I was always playing on his typewriter and writing on legal steno pads. I wrote short stories from thetime that I could write. I studied writing and literature in both college and graduate school. In my 20s to mid-30s I worked as a writer in television. I created a kid’s show called “Braceface” which ran for 5 seasons. I loved that experience, but really wanted to write a novel, so I quit my own show and set out to write “Swimming Upstream, Slowly.” It was the best risk I’ve ever taken!
Judi: What do you love most about this book?
Melissa: I appreciate this question because I feel a little weird loving it so much. I feel genuinely tender toward my characters and feel very disconnected to the fact that I created them. I appreciate their personalities and foibles. Every time I reread the book, I enjoy going on the journey with them all over again. When I was writing the book I had that swoony feeling of romantic love. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, I bumped into things all the time, etc. I’ve never told anyone this before!
Judi: So What’s next for you?