Guest Star: Melissa Walker

It’s time for another Guest Star! Our guest this week is Melissa Walker, author of the brand new novel, Small Town Sinners


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.

Melissa Walker has crafted the perfect balance of engrossing, thought-provoking topics and relatable, likable characters. Set against the backdrop of extreme religion, Small Town Sinners is foremost a universal story of first love and finding yourself, and it will stay with readers long after the last page.

“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”
— New York Times Book Review

“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.”
— Publisher’s Weekly

And here’s my interview with the author, Melissa Walker

Which came first, the title or the novel?

The novel. I was calling it HELL HOUSE while I was writing it, until people started telling me that might not fly with some bookstores/libraries. I never thought of “the H word” as especially bad, but I didn’t want to risk it being an issue, so my agent and I brainstormed SMALL TOWN SINNERS and I love it just as much!

If you could choose one dessert or snack food that you could eat as much as you want of (and never gain an ounce!) what would it be?

Buttered popcorn. I can’t stop eating it if it’s in front of me. I’ll eat until the bottom of the bowl and then I’ll chew on unpopped kernels. It’s a sickness. I blame years of working in a movie theater in high school.

If your main character, Lacey Anne, could give one piece of advice to teenage girls, what would it be?

Explore the boundaries of your world and don’t be afraid to ask questions about why people believe what they believe.

I love the name Starla Joy [Lacey’s best friend]! How do you come up with your character names? 

I love to walk through cemeteries to look for character names, but Starla Joy actually started out as just “Sarah.” Then I wanted her to have a punchier name, so I moved to “Starla,” and I wanted her to have some personality aspects of my friend “Joy” so I added that in the draft to remind myself of who she was. It became “Starla Joy” and I loved it too much to drop the double name.

What are you working on next?

I have a May 2012 novel with Bloomsbury that’s untitled at the moment… but it involves summer sun and a very fraught double-love story.

About the author:
MELISSA WALKER 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 a daily newsletter, I Heart Daily, and handles blogging for, an online book community that won the 2009 National Book Award for Innovations in Reading.

Visit her online at:

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