It gives me great pleasure to be touring SMALL TOWN SINNERS by the fabulous Melissa Walker.
Does falling in love mean falling out of faith?
“Lacey Anne Byer is a perennial good girl and lifelong member of the House of Enlightenment, the Evangelical church in her small town. With her driver’s license in hand and the chance to try out for a lead role in Hell House, her church’s annual haunted house of sin, Lacey’s junior year is looking promising. But when a cute new stranger comes to town, something begins to stir inside her. Ty Davis doesn’t know the sweet, shy Lacey Anne Byer everyone else does. With Ty, Lacey could reinvent herself. As her feelings for Ty make Lacey test her boundaries, events surrounding Hell House make her question her religion.”
A few reviews:
“Walker has written a credible and tender evocation of the moment when a young person’s beliefs begin to emerge and potentially diverge from the teachings of a family’s religion… Near the end, Lacey contemplates a verse from the prophet Isaiah: ‘Come now and let us reason together.’ It’s a good summation of what Walker asks of her characters and, by extension, of her readers.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A non-judgmental, nuanced, fascinating look at the teenage religious right… Walker writes an outstanding contemporary novel with a cast of characters who, far from being portrayed as hateful zealots, are relatable for readers of all faiths. The extremism of Hell House is tempered by the perfectly understandable attitudes and intentions of Lacey Anne, who struggles with what it means to grow up, to question and to think for herself.” —Romantic Times
“Both tender and provocative… Walker creates an astutely balanced portrait of a conservative congregation’s in-your-face response to perennial issues of domestic abuse, teen pregnancy, and suicide, as well as of those who struggle to fit the prescribed Christian mold.” —Publishers Weekly
“This secular story about religious people could easily devolve into camp mockery, but because Walker takes her character’s crisis of faith seriously and sensitively, readers will, too.” —Kirkus Reviews
Before Melissa writes the book, she does little interviews with her main characters. That information almost never makes it into the manuscript, but she likes having it. Here’s a tiny bit from Starla Joy, the best friend:
What makes you mad?
People who judge on looks. I really hate that. My sister’s the pretty one, but I’m smarter. And both of us know it.
What makes you happy?
Laughing. I love to laugh and I do it a lot. I can find the bright side of things. I do hate it when people fake laugh. Or when the say,“That’s funny,” but don’t laugh.
Favorite childhood memory?Probably just hanging out with Lacey and Dean. We played in the woods, went down by the river, just hung out together all the time. Lately adults give us looks for spending so much time with Dean—me and Lacey. He’s going through a darker phase and sometimes paints his nails. We know it’s no big deal but other people give him a hard time. And our parents suddenly don’t want us in the room together—like they’re expecting something bad from us. That bugs me.
What do you love about your mom?
That she stays out of my way.
What you hate about your mom?
Melissa has worked as ELLEgirl Features Editor and Seventeen Prom Editor. She is the author of the Violet on the Runway series as well as Lovestruck Summer. Melissa manages I Heart Daily, an e-newsletter and blogs for ReaderGirlz, an online community for teens. Check out her website www.melissacwalker.com