Meet Local Author Melinda Long of How I Became a Pirate

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Ever wonder where the words come from? Children’s books have always been my passion, so I was excited to sit down and chat with children’s author, Melinda Long. As the author of many wonderful books for kids, including How I Became a Pirate, she’s someone you’ll want to learn more about too.

Meet Melinda Long

KAG: Where are you from and what led you to Greenville?

ML: I am originally from Spartanburg, SC. Growing up, my family lived in Tennessee and Columbia, to name a couple. We moved to the town of Travelers Rest when I was ten years old. Once I met Tom and got married, we moved closer to Greenville.

KAG: At what point did you decide you wanted to be a children’s author?

ML: I’ve been writing since I was six years old. I would make up stories and write on anything I could get my hands on. I remember my mother buying me a typewriter to “keep me company!” In elementary school, I was always making up stories and telling them to my friends. The teacher even allowed me to perform puppet shows for my classmates. When I was in college, I had a professor at Furman University who loved Children’s Literature. She encouraged me and that’s when I decided I wanted to pursue children’s writing as a career.

*Melinda’s first children’s book, When Papa Snores, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2000.

KAG: What made you decide to write a series about Pirates?

ML: Believe it or not, I loved to play pirates when I was a kid. I’m no artist, but I would draw pirate hats on paper. Mom’s earrings were the perfect “treasure” to hide in the backyard! After I finished my first book, I remember walking through Barnes & Noble with Tom, envisioning the exact spot where my books would be placed on the shelf. A sales lady walked up and we began chatting. At some point in our conversation, she told me that “there aren’t many books written about Pirates…” And the rest is history.

*Fun Fact: How I Became A Pirate is being performed around the world as a play. There’s even a Christmas musical with the same characters based on a short story written by Melinda (Jingle “Argh” the Way).

KAG: What was your favorite children’s book – what did you read to your children?

ML: When I was growing up, all we had was Little Golden Books (insert a few chuckles here). One of my favorite authors is C.S Lewis.  I loved reading The Chronicles of Narnia to my kids.  A Wrinkle in Time is another great one, by Madeleine L’Engle.  I love her too. Of course, my favorite children’s book is probably Where the Wild Things Are.


KAG: How do you balance writing and speaking in schools with being a wife and mom?

ML: I set my own hours so I can be as flexible as I need to be. When my children were younger, it was more difficult because I wanted to be involved in everything they did.  I had to schedule my work around their activities. Now that they’re grown, it’s much easier.

KAG: What is your favorite part of being an author?

ML: I love creating stories. I get so excited when one of my books is about to come out. I also love traveling around to schools. I taught school for twenty three years, so speaking to students is my way of staying connected.

KAG: Let’s change things up a bit and find out a little bit about Melinda on a non-professional level.  What does a typical Friday night look like for you?

ML: There’s so much to do around our town. We love the live music during the warmer months and the Shakespeare in the Park series. Although it’s not uncommon for my husband and I to enjoy one another’s company and relax in front of the TV, either!

KAG: What is your favorite thing to do in Greenville?

ML: Tom and I really love the Greenville Drive games. A lot of times our kids will give us suggestions of things to do. It’s always fun to try things out that they’ve enjoyed. Greenville is growing so much!

KAG: Which of your books would you say is your favorite?

ML: Probably Pirates Don’t Change Diapers. Honestly, it changes. I’ll really be hung up on one, but when a new one comes out, it’ll be my favorite for a while.

KAG: If you could travel to one place in the world, where would it be?

ML: Actually, I’m a homebody. I love everything about where we live and I’m content to stay around home. Wait… I do want to see New Orleans at some point.

KAG: Do you like to read in your spare time? (Insert more chuckles at the word “spare time”), If so, what genre is your favorite?

ML: Yes! I love to read when I have time. Anything filled with suspense. I love a challenge – putting pieces of a story together. Character development is important to me, I want to get to know the characters. I love to read young adult suspense novels because I’m interested in writing for young adults, too. I love reading novels by Janet Evanovich. And, of course, it’s always nice to read funny stories – you know, just enjoy the ride of a book without having to think too hard.

KAG: Is there anything you would like to share? Something you’d like our readers to know about you?

ML (without hesitation): I love to act. I’m a member of a theatre group at my church, St. Peter’s Episcopal on Hudson Rd. We typically perform two plays a year.

Learn more about Melinda Long

Visit her website here. Learn more about (or purchase) her books here.

This interview was so much fun for me! The only thing I value more than the words is the writer. Now that you have the low-down on Melinda Long, check out her website and be on the look- out for her next book, Mates!

About the Author
Andrea Beam works for the Greenville County School System, but her passion is writing! Greenville has always been her home. Her family enjoys exploring everything the town has to offer. In addition to Kidding Around Greenville, she blogs at Sunshine & Rain.

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