Melody Carlson: Truth and Consequences
Her On the Runway series dives into the world of fashion and reality shows. Paige and Erin Forrester are two normal teenage girls living in LA. Sure, their mom is a producer for a local news station, but that only gives Paige an occasional chance to practice her wannabe star skills in front of the camera while Erin picks up tips from the camera crew. When Paige turns a boring segment about a theme park into a fashion critique, the girls are given the opportunity to host their own fashion reality show.
But the stories are about much more than designer shoes and glitzy stars. First, the books are narrated by Erin, who prefers comfortable secondhand clothes to haute couture. She loves to take in the action behind a camera and let her sister revel in the limelight. She’s the only Christian in her family, and while reluctant to get into the backstabbing world of fashion and reality shows, she sees what God can do with this opportunity.
Second, as Melody points out, the books have much more meat than their Gossip Girl counterparts. “I love to show what I call truth and consequences. I want to show girls making decisions and what happens as a result of their choices. We see Paige making some crazy choices and some of them are devastating not only to her but to everyone around her. And Erin makes some mistakes, even in her own faith walk, but she’s trying to live a little bit differently.”
The sisters’ differences have roots in Melody’s own past. “In some ways the relationship between Paige and Erin is very similar to the relationship I had with my sister. My sister would have been more of the Paige and I would have been more of the Erin. I came to faith before she did and kind of helped her come along and eventually she came along! In my little teenage mind I saw her as being kind of shallow and superficial and making some silly choices. Though this is a different generation, some things never change.”
The fourth book in the series, Spotlight (Zondervan), takes the sisters to London as the growing fame of their increasingly popular show hits home. The final two installments of the series release in 2011.
Writing so many novels a year has its challenges for the author. She only writes one book at a time, and prefers standalone novels to series. But, she says, “I know girls love series. They become so attached—the characters are real people to them.”
That’s one reason characters from her Carter House Girls novels pop up in the On the Runway books.
Another challenge is coming up with new ideas. “A few years ago I thought, I’m done writing for teens; I don’t think I can write anything else. The response I was getting from the teens was, You’re not done. And then more ideas and more books came.”