I recently had the pleasure of talking with fellow VHP author, Melinda Clayton. Melinda Clayton is the author of Appalachian Justice, Return to Crutcher Mountain, Entangled Thorns, and short story, Emma Puckett’s Moment of Indiscretion. In addition to writing, Melinda has an Ed.D. in Special Education Administration, and is a licensed psychotherapist in the states of Florida and Colorado. Her vast experience working in the field of mental health gives her a unique perspective on human behaviors, and she likes to explore this dynamic in her writing. Melinda lives in central Florida with her husband, two children, and various cats.
When you were a little girl, what did you want to “be” when you grew up?
Believe it or not, I wanted to be a social worker and a writer. As a psychotherapist and writer, I've come pretty close!
If we were to poll ten people from your high school, how would they describe you back then? If we were to poll ten people from your life now, how would they describe you?
What a great question! I went through a definite rebellious phase my early years of high school, because my family had moved and I had to switch schools. I wasn't very happy about it. So people who knew me from then would remember me as angry, probably, and a little rebellious. People who knew me my later years of high school would describe me as quiet, serious, studious. I suppose I'd adjusted by then! People who know me now would describe me as quiet, somewhat of a homebody, with a good sense of humor if you know me well, but a tendency to be too serious. I think they would say that my family is my priority.
You worked as a Psychotherapist for eighteen years. Do you think that experience helps you in developing the characters in your novels? Have you ever built a character around the characteristics of one of your previous clients?
Love this question! Yes, it definitely helps me in developing characters. I haven't built a character specifically from a previous client, but I do draw from my experiences to try to portray the struggles my characters face in a realistic way. I have huge respect for the people with whom I worked over the years; they showed incredible courage and tenacity in the face of great trauma and adversity. My characters are made from bits and pieces of the issues I assisted people in dealing with back when I was practicing.
If you were told you could only have one more meal and then you’d never taste food again…. What would that meal be?
Ha! That's easy. I'd have a quarter pounder with cheese and large fries, from McDonalds. I haven't had fast food like that since I started watching what I eat about three years ago. It would probably make me sick at this point, but it would be worth it!
How does it feel to have your short story, Emma Puckett’s Moment of Indiscretion, nominated for the Pushcart Prize?
It feels a little surreal. But very, very cool!
Tell us about one of your most embarrassing moments.
I had to laugh remembering this one. I used to work as the program director at an agency for people with developmental disabilities located in Colorado Springs. Every month the directors would take turns hosting a "Directors' Meeting." The day it was our turn to hold the meeting, I set up the conference room, put coffee on, set out the donuts, and finally took my seat on one side of the table. Which promptly fell apart. Seriously! The chair collapsed and I ended up on the floor, caught somewhere between laughing and crying. I had forgotten we'd set that particular chair aside to be fixed, and when I set up the table I retrieved it from where it sat against the wall. I guess in hindsight, it's a good thing it was me that ended up with it!
Where can readers find about more about you and your books?
Thank you, Melinda, for chatting with me today and letting my blog friends get to know you a little better. Best of luck with the Pushcart Prize Nomination! Wishing you future success, health and happiness. :)