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Katy Kelly Interview, March 2009
Melonhead by Katy Kelly
Melonhead by Katy Kelly
Random House Children's Books
Agaes 9-12

Melonhead is my preferred name. Preferred by me, not my mom. She likes people to call me by my real name, Adam Melon. Luckily, it’s too late for that because when my friend, Lucy Rose, invented Melonhead, it caught on fast.

Usually I am the one doing the inventing. All my life, which is 10 years, great ideas have been popping in and out of my melon head. Sometimes they work. This year they’d better, because our class is entering an inventing fair. My friend Sam and I are dreaming up plans. And Capitol Hill has a ton of places to find invention parts. We just have to make sure to get home on time, with no excuses. If we get first place at school, it will be Chantilly, Virginia Regionals, here we come!

The first book in an all-new series by Katy Kelly is nonstop adventure—and trouble. Meet Melonhead!

ETC: Why did you use Washington, D.C., specifically Capitol Hill, as the setting for both your Lucy Rose and Melonhead series?

Katy Kelly: Katy Kelly, Author of MelonheadI grew up on Constitution Avenue, Five blocks from the U.S. Capitol, three from the Supreme Court. My brother and sisters and I played pick-up soccer on the Library of Congress lawn and rode our bikes down to the Smithsonian museums. Lots of people tell me that they had no idea that Capitol Hill is also a neighborhood, with families, dogs, a farmer's market, coffee shops and schools. I wanted to show kids that Washington as more than government.

ETC: How did you come up with the character of Melonhead?

Katy Kelly: Melonhead first appears in Lucy Rose, Here's the Thing About Me. . I based him on my brother, Michael, and my five nephews. Like them, Melonhead is a curious boy with good intentions and sometimes unfortunate results. He is an original thinker, full of interesting, if not well thought out, ideas. His motto might be, "Why take the sidewalk when the roof is available?" Melonhead is active but not particularly athletic. He and his best friend, Sam are rookie inventors with big plans. Unlike my brother and nephews, Melonhead has a nervous mom who, as his dad explains, "doesn't understand the ways of boys."

ETC: How are kids responding to Melonhead?

Katy Kelly: The fist time I read Melonhead at a school, the boy sitting on the floor by my feet looked up and said, "I am Melonhead." He got a "me, too" response from the guys. The girls were testifying, "He is! He's a huge Melonhead." That happens every time I do a school visit.

ETC: What do you want your books to tell children?

Katy Kelly: Mostly, I want them to laugh their heads off. I also want them to see the value of trying. Every time a child tries to write a poem, or climb a rock wall, or invent something, they gain the confidence to try something bigger.

ETC: You have children?

Katy Kelly: My husband and I have two children. Emily is a singer, dancer, actor working and auditioning in New York. Marguerite is an artist who is also passionate about cooking. She is in her third year of college.

ETC: What are you dying to talk about that no one has ever asked?

Katy Kelly: When you visit school's as often as I do, there is no question that goes unasked.

From the 6th Graders
Do you have an entourage? (Like P. Diddy? No.)
Do you have secret service? (Sorry, no.)
Are you at least rich? (No)
Well, how much money do you make? (I don't know until the check comes and it only comes twice a year.)
Have you ever been arrested? (I have not.)

5th Graders
How did you get your book published? (I sent the manuscript to four agents. I am still waiting to hear from them. Luckily, when I sent it directly to Random House, they bought it.)

4th Graders
Are you going to make your books into movies? (Your lips to God's ears.)

3rd Graders
Did you go to college? (Yes. Virginia Common Wealth.)
Did you get all A's? (Not even close.)

2nd Graders
How do you make all of the books? (The printer does that job, thank goodness).
How do you make all the covers? (The printer does that job, too.)
How do you get your books to the stores? (Sales people sells them to stores, UPS delivers them.)
Did you know my birthday is in a Lucy Rose book?

1st Graders
Do you have a pet? (Yes, a dog named Ellie.)
Do you have any hamsters? (No)
Do you have any cats? (No)
Do you have a sister? (Yes, two.)
Do you have any brothers? (Yes, one.)
What are their names? (Meg, Nell, and Michael.)

All Grades
How old are you? (I'm 53, but we don't have to tell everybody.)