What is your latest release and what genre is it?
Boat Girl: A Memoir of Youth, Love & Fiberglass – memoir
Quick description: Boat Girl is a memoir of what it’s like to grow up aboard a sailboat.
Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s, Melanie’s family lived aboard a 47-foot sailboat, spending their summers along the US East Coast and their winters in the Bahamas. But the cruising life was not all fun in the sun. The family had to work hard to pay for their way of life. They dodged hurricanes, overzealous federal agents and bullying land-kids. And they endured a boatload of family drama. As her father published articles about how living on a boat brings families together, Melanie secretly struggled with an eating disorder, the alienation of being a boat kid, and confusion over her developing sexuality. As an adult, she lived aboard her own 28-foot sailboat and had several relationships trying to find someone who wasn’t intimidated by her stubborn independence and free-spirited lifestyle. Boat Girl weaves all this together into a story about a girl who, once all is said and done, simply wants her own boat and her own life.
Melanie paints a vivid picture of the trials and tribulations of family life aboard a sailboat without drowning the reader in the technical details of sailing. Boat Girl strikes a perfect balance between a coming of age story and a sea tale, enjoyable for boaters and land-lovers alike.
Melanie Neale grew up living aboard a 47′ sailboat with her parents and her sister. The family traveled the US East Coast and the Bahamas from the mid 1980’s to the end of the 1990’s, and both daughters were home-schooled until they went to college. Melanie began writing poetry and short stories when she was a young child, and she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Eckerd College in 2002 and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Florida International University in 2006. She lived aboard her own 28′ sailboat while in graduate school in Miami. She has taught college, captained and crewed on boats, detailed boats, worked in a bait shop, worked in marketing, and currently works as the Director of Career Services for a private art college in northern Florida, where she lives with her husband and daughter. Melanie has published fiction, poetry and nonfiction in many literary journals and magazines, including Soundings, Seaworthy, Southwinds, GulfStream, Latitudes & Attitudes, The Miami Herald’s Tropical Life Magazine, Balancing the Tides, The Georgetown Review, RumBum.com and Florida Humanities. She is also a recipient of several awards for her writing. Her “Short Story” column appeared bimonthly in Cruising World Magazine from 2006 to 2009. Boat Girl: A Memoir of Youth, Love, and Fiberglass is her first book.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on another memoir. It’s a follow-up to Boat Girl, but will be about the downfall of one of the last great live-aboard marinas in the Miami area (and about life as a single twenty-something adventure-seeking academic female living among boat bums at the same marina). I’m passionate about it, attached to it, and dedicated, but between my day job and my family it’s a struggle to find time.
Melanie’s reading recommendation:
Cecilia M. Fernandez’s Leaving Little Havana