Melody Carlson’s Conversation With a Character

Inspirational author Melody Carlson gives readers a special look behind the scenes of her YA novel Damaged.

For amusement, I have invited my protagonist from the book I’m currently writing to speak to me outside of the perimeters of the story. This fictional character, sixteen year old Haley McLean, stars in a rather serious novel titled Damaged in my young adult series Secrets published by Nav Press. 

Melody: So, Haley, is there anything you’d like to tell me? 

Haley: Yes. Why are you being so mean to me?

Melody: Mean? I’m not being mean, I’m just telling a story. 

Haley: Says you. I’m the one doing all the suffering here. For starters you give me these practically useless parents. 

Melody: All teens think their parents are useless. 

Haley: Fine, but mine take it to a whole new level. Not only are they divorced, but my mom is a religious freak and my dad is all about himself. 

Melody: Yes, well, that’s just my set up for your story. At least I made you intelligent and attractive and I even gave you a pretty hot boyfriend…for a while anyway. 

Haley: Speaking of that adorable boyfriend, why did you go and ruin everything? I loved him and I thought he loved me—then you plunge ahead with your poison pen and let him rape me on our second date. What was up with that? 

Melody: It’s to make a point, Haley. 

Haley: The point is this is totally unfair! 

Melody: I understand your pain, Haley. Trust me, this hurts me more than it hurts you.

Haley: Yeah, right. You sound just like my mom now. 

Melody: You might be encouraged to know that things will get better for you. 

Haley: I honestly do not see how. Now not only did I lose Harris, and he’s about to go back to Emery, but I don’t seem to have any other friends either. Do you know how alone I feel?

Melody: As a matter of fact, I do. Right now, you’re so upset and depressed about what happened to you (and you should be) that you can’t see how I’ve planted some very sweet and supportive characters around you—“friends” you haven’t allowed into your life yet. But you should—and you will. 

Haley: You mean like Zach and Poppie? Those two think I’m idiot for falling for Harris in the first place. 

Melody: That’s what you think they think. Also, there’s your art teacher Ms. Flores. You don’t know this yet, but I patterned her after a dear friend of mine (a woman who died a few years ago). She was an art teacher too, and she really cared about her students. 

Haley: Now you’re just playing on my emotions. And right now my emotions are raw. All I want to do is sleep. I would give anything to go to sleep for a couple of years, wake up as an eighteen year old, and go out and reinvent my life. 

Melody: This is fiction, Haley, but I do try to keep it real. Sleeping for two years is a bit of a stretch. Besides, I have a good plan for you. I want to help you get beyond your pain. 

Haley: By why did you have to inflict my pain in the first place? 

Melody: Your suffering is to help other teen girls (the ones who will read your story) to understand the seriousness of date rape. We want to show them how it happened to you in the hope that it won’t happen to them.

Haley: So you’re sacrificing me for the readers? 

Melody: Pretty much so. And if you’ll just trust me, I promise that you’ll have a happy ending. I can’t work magic, you’ll still have the memory of that fateful night, but you will be stronger, you will make some good friends, and you will be able to move on. 

Haley: Are you sure? 

Melody: Don’t worry, Haley, I’ve done this a few times before. Hang in there and by the time we reach the last page, you’ll be feeling just fine. I promise.

Look for Haley’s story in Melody Carlson's inspirational young adult novel, Damaged, coming in 2011!