Week 14 Reflections: Writing from the “Deep Heart’s Core”: Melina Marchetta in the Bookhenge

19 04 2011

In Scott’s opinion, “you didn’t lose much by meeting with the author virtually.” And that’s high praise from an aspiring author who has studied with acclaimed writer Jill McCorkle who once brought four authors to class at once.

Odds of our class having a chance to attend a public event in the actual world with Melina Marchetta who lives in Melbourne, Australia, are not great. But meeting with Melina in the Bookhenge in the virtual world of Second Life may be more than the “next best thing” — there’s a kind of intimacy that almost seems more possible when we’re all comfortable in our own space, maybe in our jammies, with the author’s voice in our heads. Perhaps the author standing by her Mac in her own kitchen is a bit more relaxed, too. I’ll be curious to see what others thought.


Highlights:

Melina’s literacy development —
Melina, when asked by Jen if a teacher had encouraged her writing, replied no, and theorized that the space she had to write without a teacher’s critique probably was the best thing for her exploration and evolution as a writer. Melina also spoke of being a voracious reader and its impact on her writing. “My writing grew out of my reading,” Melina said.
[16:07] 2B Writer: Writing is the most open space in school

Music’s influence on Melina’s writing — both process and its place in her books
[16:14] 2B Writer: that’s so cool to learn about characters through their music tastes [16:14] Felicia Usbourne: agreed [16:14] 2B Writer: Ah, we were curious about the music for Finnikin [16:14] Greensleeves: I can see the connection between that song and Finnikin.

Writing backstories for characters . . . Melina was asked to write a backstory for Dominic to prove that he deserves the title credit, The Piper’s Son. Out of this backstory comes the lovely scene where Dominic shames his family into meeting with him on a hill where there’s a red vinyl sofa to celebrate the sunrise.
[16:21] Trixidawg: I think I would love the backstories as much as the real story. I too didn’t realize the complexity of the character development.

Melina discussed the power of language.
[16:25] BelieveAchieve: “Because without our language we have lost ourselves. Who are we without our words (Finnikin, p. 65).”
[16:27] BelieveAchieve: Silence was a very eloquent language in The Piper’s Son.

Melina spoke of writing about familiar places for her fiction while doing extensive research for her fantasy, Finnikin of the Rock.
[16:35] BelieveAchieve: So, family background, teaching, and traveling inspired your writings.

Others:
[16:35] Greensleeves: I like how your teen characters begin to appreciate and accept the adults in their lives.

[16:50] 2B Writer: “identity is such a universal experience” — love that

[17:15] NikkiCastle: thas ok. I feel I learned so much about being a REAL writer!

Cris: That Jimmy Hailer, one of Francesca’s friends in Saving Francesca, who won our hearts by being so kind and sensitive to Francesca’s mother who suffered depression, and was mentioned in The Piper’s Son, would probably not reappear because he was a character most like one of her former students and the news was that the student was happy and doing well. Talk about the actual-virtual connection!

Cris: A gem I’ll take with me — that Marcus Zusak (Melina was so humble and said she wasn’t name-dropping) advised Melina to read Louis Sachar’s Holes to jumpstart her stalled Jellicoe Road. She did and what happened? Jellicoe Road wins the 2009 Printz Award.


Please do add other insights you enjoyed or reflections on the experience.

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