Melody Grace is a USA Today Bestseller of new adult titles, but readers don’t know that Melody Grace is a really a young adult author by a different name.
Melody Grace is young adult author Abby McDonald. She spoke with Hypable about why she chose a pen name and what she’s working on next.
Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer.
I’ve loved books and reading ever since I was a child. I was always the girl with too-big glasses and her nose buried in a book: from Enid Blyton to Sweet Valley High, I loved it all. I even sneaked my older sister’s Sweet Dreams and Harlequin romance novels too, and that’s where I discovered my love for romance. I always thought I needed to be an adult to have something to write about myself, but I started working on my first novel in college and knew I’d found my true love. By the time I graduated, I wanted to take a shot at making writing my career, so I moved back home after college, took a whole bunch of part-time jobs to support myself, and worked on my writing. I won my first book deal aged 22, and have been so fortunate to have been able to continue writing and creating stories ever since.
Why did you choose to write under a pen name?
A year ago, when I had the idea for Unbroken and the Beachwood Bay series, I knew it would be different to anything I’d written before. For most of my career, I’d been writing YA: fun coming-of-age stories with cute boys and kissing. Those books were about navigating high-school and life as a teenager, but I wanted to write about what happened next: the time in life when you’re making adult decisions for the first time – and discovering adult relationships. Juliet and Emerson’s story took hold of me and refused to let go, but I wasn’t sure how it fit with my other books, or what my publishers wanted from me. When a friend pointed me towards some of the amazing New Adult books around – Jamie McGuire, Cora Carmack, Emily Snow – everything clicked into place, and I decided to try self-publishing the book myself rather than try and squeeze it into a box of what a publisher might want.
It was a scary and exciting time, writing something so different. I wanted the book to explore the extreme emotion and passion of the characters, but as I tried to write it, I felt myself holding back. I was worried about what my younger readers might think – and that they might stumble on the sexier scenes before they (or their parents) were ready. Then I realized I could publish under a pen name, and suddenly, I felt free. I’d used a slightly different name (Abigail Haas) when I published a dark thriller YA Dangerous Boys with Simon and Schuster, but I’d make it clear that was me. This time, I would be completely anonymous.
There’s a great quote: “Give a man a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” That’s how I’ve felt writing as Melody Grace – free to write the stories in my heart. It was pretty daunting to find myself back at square one again: I didn’t have any fans or followers starting out, but the warmth and support of the romance and self-publishing communities has blown me away. When Unbroken debuted on the USA Today bestseller list, I couldn’t believe it, and since then, the success of Beachwood Bay has exceeded my wildest dreams. I know that without all the amazing book bloggers, authors, and fans, none of this would be possible.
How does writing new adult differ from writing adult and young adult?
For me, my YA was always about discovering your identity within the boundaries of a teenage life: school, parents, friendships. New adult is about the time when your choices create the world you live in. The relationships you have in your late teens and early twenties are the ones you remember for the rest of your life: everything is intense and new, but has so much consequence too. That vivid, crazy emotion is so much fun to write, and it’s been an amazing challenge to explore the adult side of relationships too.
Where’s your favorite place to write?
I moved to LA from England four years ago, and I love to work in different coffee shops around town. I stake out a couch, grab a vanilla latte, and eavesdrop like crazy. Sometimes, I even spot a celebrity too – that never gets old!
What is easier to write: The first line or the last line?
My books are all first person POV, so I won’t start a book until I have the perfect first line. Often, their voice will appear in my mind before I’ve even figured out the plot, and suddenly, I know exactly what I need to write. Writing the last line is always bittersweet, because I know it’s time to let them go.
What are you working on now?
The latest book in the Beachwood Bay series, Unconditional, comes out March 18. It’s the one-year anniversary of the series, so I’m currently planning lots of fun celebrations to thank readers for all their support. I’m also getting started on the next installment. All the books are stand-alones, but they do overlap with recurring characters; the next book sees a familiar face get tangled up in a bet with a sexy ex-rockstar, and it might just be the most fun book yet.
On the YA side, the paperback of Dangerous Girls comes out in May, and I have another thriller, Dangerous Boys, publishing in June.
Fall in love with Beachwood Bay in Melody Grace’s USA Today and internationally bestselling series!
“I’ve spent my whole life chasing perfection: perfect looks, perfect man, perfect home. But in one brutal moment, I realized it was all just a beautiful lie…”
Carina MacKenzie is fleeing from her past. Picking up the wreckage of her shattered dreams, she seeks comfort in the only place she’s ever felt safe: Beachwood Bay.
Garrett Sawyer isn’t looking to be anyone’s savior. Scarred by old betrayals, he’s sworn never to put his heart on the line again — especially not for a damaged, high-maintenance girl like Carina. But passion knows no logic, and soon, their reckless chemistry is making him forget his bitter vows.
Two damaged hearts. The hope of true love. As their passion blazes out of control, Carina and Garrett struggle to escape their legacies of hurt. But can you ever outrun the past? And when everything is on the line, can they trust enough to build a love that’s unconditional?
*This book contains adult situations and explicit content. 17+*
ABOUT MELODY GRACE:
Melody Grace is the USA Today bestselling author of UNBROKEN and UNTOUCHED. A small-town girl turned SoCal beach-lover, she spent years with her nose in a book before deciding it was time to write them for herself. She loves bad boys, good books, and pistachio-flavored ice-cream.