Interview: E.J. Mellow

Can you start by telling the readers a little about yourself?

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 I’m one of four girls with two artist parents. Growing up in such an expressive household has definitely shaped my strong identity and need for imagination. While I always wrote, I got my degree in advertising and graphic design which brought me to work and live in NYC. I currently split writing with freelancing as an art director. I recently moved to Colorado with my husband and am loving it!

You've written five books, correct? What first got you interested in writing?

Yes, I’ve written five books (four currently published) and am diligently working on finishing my sixth.

What inspired me to get started in writing, and keeps inspiring me today, were really other stories and books. When I was little—on top of obsessively reading comics—I dreamed of becoming a Disney animator. Drawing characters and imagining their stories was a large part of my childhood. While the animator thing obviously didn’t transpire, the passion to create worlds and people to fill it stayed with me.

 In high school is when I actually thought about trying to write a full story, after I took this amazing English fairy-tales class.

What has becoming a published author taught you?

 That there is no moment of feeling like your job is done. I think, in the beginning, I always imagined the moment my first book published that I’d have a sense of peacefulness or completion. Like, now I can rest. It was almost the opposite. Haha. I couldn’t sit still, feeling like I needed to write more, again and again. I now know this is how most authors feel, constantly chasing the characters swirling in our heads. Of course, I’ve learned how to force myself to take a moment to breathe, recognize the accomplishment. And the word “forced” I use purposefully. Creative ambition knows no sleep.

You also created She is Booked. Can you tell me a little bit about that organization and how you came up with it?

She is Booked is a fundraising organization my best friend, Natasha Minoso (force behind Book Barisatas), and I created to help make a difference. With every bookmark purchased, profits will go toward charities and women’s causes.

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The origin of She Is Booked began after Natasha and I watched some of the Kavanaugh hearing. We were both feeling pretty helpless and angry, not to mention the weeks prior were similarly filled with disheartening political news. We wanted to do something beyond share in the frustration so we posed the question—Is there something we can do within our community? We have these platforms, we need to try and make some sort of difference, especially now. Quickly after is when She is Booked was born.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

That I get to play make-believe every day.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

My alarm. But seriously, I love to start my days early, but know I wouldn’t be able to without that extra push from my buzzer going off.

Alternately, I think life gets me up in the morning. I don’t like wasting moments. I want to get out there and experience things, even if they are within my own home sitting at my desk. So much can happen and change in a single day, I want to seize every opportunity we are lucky enough to cross paths with.  

Do you have advice for girls growing up today?  

I think writing down your dreams, or creating some sort of vision board, is an important way to remember what is sacred to you. What do you want to accomplish and become? Life is rich with unwanted distractions and way too many people who will tell you what you should do or need to be or can’t have. It’s paramount to have a north star nearby, helping your bad ass self stay on course to your bad ass destiny.  

By telling our stories, sharing them, I believe we can open up more paths of learned conversations and healing.

Why do you think it is important to tell our stories? 

For empathy. With the rapid globalization of the world, it’s created large pockets of misunderstandings, which ultimately lead to fear and then violence. By telling our stories, sharing them, I believe we can open up more paths of learned conversations and healing.

I grew up going to a Quaker school, so I believe deeply in conflict resolution, peacefulness, and finding common ground.

What is something in life that you are most proud of?

The most tragic thing, in my mind, is to lose sight of what brings you joy and working on creating it.

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So, I’m most proud of having the strength and courage to stick with my truth and follow my dreams, despite life’s ups and downs, and adapting to them as they have changed direction and size over time.

Do you have a favorite? 

a. Book: Because this is the book, I believe, started my love of reading I will say Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

b. Band/Song/Music Genre: I love all music, but I’m especially fond of jazz.

c. Quote: “She needed a hero, so that’s what she became.”

 What is your life motto?

“Don’t fight yourself, fight for yourself.”

I have this written on a sticky note on my desk and it helps me push past all my self-doubt.