Interview with Colorado author Melanie Crowder!

Colorado is for writersWelcome back to the Colorado is for Writers interview series! Every other Tuesday, I talk to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. Today, I’m happy to welcome debut middle-grade author Melanie Crowder to the blog!

Melanie is the author of Parched, a brutal and beautiful survival story published earlier in 2013 by Harcourt Children’s books. Parched is a Junior Library Guild selection and the recent recipient of a starred review from the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.

Melanie Crowder authorFirst things first: Colorado native or transplant?


I’m a west coast girl—still not sure how I ended up landlocked and living in the high desert. But I’ve fallen in love with the blue sky and the wide open spaces and those big grey mountains.

PARCHED by Melanie Crowder

Tell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

My first book for young readers is a survival story called Parched. It released in June, and it has been so fun to see the reaction of kids and teachers and librarians and even adult readers as they discover Musa and Sarel and Nandi. No matter how long and varied your career, you only get one chance at your debut, and I’m really proud of mine.

With writers though, it’s always on to the next project, and for the past six months I’ve been completely immersed in my next book. This time, it’s a poetic historical novel for teenagers—a huge challenge, and a lot of fun!

my [snowy] writing cave

What’s the view like from your favorite writing space?

It depends on the season. In the summer, I write outside any chance I get. In the winter, I hunker down in my office with a whole pot of tea and a fuzzy blanket. In the in between times, I like to work on the couch, with the morning light coming in through the bay window, classical music on the TV and my dog curled up on the chair opposite me.

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?

We have a real work hard, play hard mentality here. I really do work really hard, so I love that there are so many ways to get out and play in this state. I love that a mountain writing retreat is just a short drive west. And I love that if you go just another hour off the beaten path, you can unplug completely. 

Thank you so much, Melanie, and I can’t wait to read your upcoming verse novel! (Well, read it again–I got a sneak peak at an early draft, and it was amazing. Get ready, world!)

PARCHED launches!

Hello, friends! This week, over at Emu’s Debuts, we’re celebrating the launch of my friend Melanie Crowder‘s debut novel, PARCHED. I have a new blog post up over there (featuring quite a few pictures from my round-the-world travels!) about water use around the world. And if you leave a comment, you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of the book!

Here’s my Goodreads review of PARCHED. It should definitely be on your to-read list.


Parched by Melanie Crowder

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This slender volume packs the punch of a much longer novel, and won’t soon be forgotten by its readers, young and old alike.

Taking place in a drought-plagued country, it alternates between the stories of a boy (Musa) who has been kidnapped by warlords for his unique ability to seek out water; a girl (Sarel) who is orphaned by those warlords; and the brave dog (Nandi) who protects Sarel. The writing throughout is haunting and evocative, but the dog chapters are especially breathtaking, written in a deeply sensory way that truly immerses the reader in the animal experience.

A brilliant debut novel.

View all my reviews


In other news, I recently wrote another blog post for the Emus addressing the writerly question of “When to Stop Asking for Feedback.”  I also participated in the most recent “Mad for Middle Grade” feature at OneFour Kidlit, in which we discuss why we write middle grade.

I’ll be doing quite a bit of traveling over the next month, so I don’t expect to be posting much here, but come July I do have some exciting new plans for this blog. Recipes may be involved. 🙂 Hope your summer is starting off well!