Discussion Guide for A WORK OF ART by Melody Maysonet

1. In the book’s opening paragraph, Tera says that painting her dad is “all about mood.” What mood does the author create in describing this painting? After reading this paragraph, how do you think Tera sees her father? 2. In chapter three, Tera’s dad is teaching five-year-old Tera to draw a self-portrait. In what ways does this chapter foreshadow their relationship? 3. Tera spends the first third of the book trying to protect her dad from the allegations against him, even using her money for art school to hire an expensive lawyer. Do you think she has blinded herself to...
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Writing About the Taboo

People have asked me how hard it was to write about child sexual abuse in A Work of Art. It’s a touchy subject—raw and often shameful to the abused and not something most people like to think about. But when I sat down to write about this painful subject, I found it freeing. Just as Tera, the main character in my book, finds therapy in her painting, I found therapy in my writing. So I think it was harder to imagine writing about child sexual abuse than it was to actually write it. Because many victims never report abuse, it’s...
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Inspiration in Strange Places

My muse is an elusive thing. Sometimes it swells my chest and comes out through my fingertips, but most of the time, it stays locked in a box at my feet, only occasionally making a surprise appearance. It’s hard to pin down what inspires me to write—what makes my muse come out of its box—but in thinking about it for this blog, I remembered a chance encounter I had when I was eight years old. I was sitting in a laundromat while my mom and I waited for our clothes to wash. I’d brought along my spiral notebook, and I...
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How One Character Can Have Two Points of View

A WORK OF ART is a first-person narrative, but the main character’s flashbacks are told in third person. This was a deliberate choice on my part to show how seventeen-year-old Tera has removed herself from her past, as if her memories belong to someone else. To further set off the flashbacks, I gave each one its own chapter, and whereas none of the other chapters have titles, the flashback chapters do. Once again, I wanted Tera’s memories to feel like events that she’s packed up and stored in a box, with the chapter title acting as the box’s label. The...
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The Art of Symbolism

I remember studying symbolism in high school after reading a short story called “The White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewett. The story is filled with symbolism, and to be honest, it bored me, but I absolutely loved the idea that literature could be bubbling over with these mini riddles called symbols. Shortly after studying “The White Heron,” I began inundating my own stories with hit-you-over-the-head symbolism that I thought for sure made my writing more deep. I might include, for example, a main character who was watching a bird escape from her cage. (Look! That means my character wants to...
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Interviews & Features

Girls In Capes Interview with Melody Maysonet, author of A WORK OF ART girlsincapes.com Cynsations New Voice—An Interview with Melody Maysonet on A Work of Art cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com TheYoungFolks.com, interview with the author of A WORK OF ART theyoungfolks.com “Decatur Native to Publish First Novel,” an interview with Re: Decatur redecatur.com...
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Winners Announced for A WORK OF ART Teen Art Contest

For the teen art contest at my book-launch party, I asked teens to draw or paint one of two things: (1) A self-portrait. One of the book’s themes is about how we see ourselves. Tera, the main character, paints a number of self-portraits, and in each one, she sees herself in a different way. (2) A secret. In the book, Tera draws a secret as “a black wad in a girl’s stomach. A black wad with tiny teeth” that gnaws at her. Teens were asked to draw what a secret looks like to them. Party guests enjoyed viewing all of...
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Celebrating A WORK OF ART

Book party, or no book party? That was the question three months ago, mostly because it felt a bit egocentric to throw a party for myself. Then my publicist told me to think of it as throwing a party for my book. That made sense to me, especially after all I put Tera through in A Work of Art. The least I could do is throw her a party, right? I’m so glad I did! Right now, just hours after the party ended, I’m still overwhelmed by the amount of support I’ve received from family, friends, and the South Florida...
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A Writer’s Lucky Day (Part 4 of a Countdown to Publication)

Today, I’m feeling pretty lucky. Aside from the fact that I have a wonderful family and that we’re all in reasonably good health, March 18, 2015, is the official release of my first novel: A Work of Art. Not only that, but I got to celebrate by sitting in on a parent book-club meeting at my son’s school where they were discussing (dun-dun-DUN) my book! Yes, I know it sounds narcissistic, but you have to understand that getting to discuss a book that I wrote (and getting to discuss it with people I respect) was something I’d fantasized about long...
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Best First Book Sighting Ever! OR Countdown to Publication, Part 3

When I last left off in Part 2, I was jumping up and down (in my head) because A Work of Art was chosen as the next selection for the parent YA book club at my son’s school. I was riding high, and then, something even better happened… Ten days before release date: A writer friend told me she saw my book in a certain Barnes & Noble, so I rounded up Adam (my husband) and Caleb (my 10-year-old son), and off we went to have a look. Sure enough, my book was there in the teen section—10 days before...
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