Melissa Shanker

writer of middle grade and young adult fiction

TEST: Not sure what I should write in this section



"Here's my hat.  It holds my head, the thoughts I've had and the things I've read." ~Tony Mitton *

"Here's my hat.  It holds my head, the thoughts I've had and the things I've read." ~Tony Mitton *

a bit more...

Hi Mom! Oh wait, you're not my mom?  But you still want to read more about me?  Okay. You asked for it.

I grew up in Buffalo, New York during the BLIZZARD of '76 and the often overlooked FLOOD of '77.  Let's just say, I missed a lot of school. I'm sure my parents did not appreciate a fortnight of snow days, snow banks that eclipsed the sun, or canoeing down the driveway (after the snow melted) to get the mail, but I loved it. I was an only child, living in a very quiet home where PBS, Beethoven, and pipe smoke were ubiquitous.  Buffalo's extreme weather was as exciting as it got.

After graduating from the University of Michigan, I worked for Leo Burnett Advertising and Baron's Magazine before getting my masters at Loyola.  My husband and I returned to Michigan to start a family, where I wrote and worked from home. 

My life changed course the day my daughter was assigned The Island of the Blue Dolphins. I plucked it out of her backpack and was immediately transported back to middle school. As you may have surmised from the tall monogrammed ski hat*, I didn't exactly fit in with the other Madonna-wannabes at my school.  I explicitly remember thinking that if Karana could survive on an island all by herself, with no parents and a pack of wild dogs trying to eat her, then I could certainly survive the 7th grade. 

Scott O'Dell's story inspired me as a pre-teen and again as a thirty-something.  After reading my daughter's book, I set out to read every middle grade and young adult book I could get my hands on until I felt ready to begin writing my own stories.  Now, almost any day of the week, you can find me walking through the woods brainstorming plot twists with my enormous dog. (He's an excellent listener.)

Other discerning characteristics: I love Terry Gross. Too much kale makes me forgetful. My favorite song in middle school was, "If You Think I'm Sexy" by Rod Stuart. (My poor dad.)  My favorite song right now is anything by Yo Yo Ma.  (My poor kids.)