Today I am very pleased to welcome Melissa Grunow to my blog.

Melissa’s book, Realizing River City, was published on 14th February 2016. Melissa has very kindly sent me an e-book copy to add to my review list. You will find the link to buy later on in the post, but in the meantime enjoy Melissa’s Q&A…..

Author headshot_MGrunow

For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?

I’m a Michigan-based author of the memoir Realizing River City that was published in February 2016 by Tumbleweed Books. It’s my first book, but my work has also appeared in such literary journals as Creative Nonfiction, River Teeth, Yemassee, New Plains Review, Blue Lyra Review, and Limestone, among many others.

I have an MFA in creative nonfiction from National University and an MA in English from New Mexico State University.

Although I’ve written and published short stories in the past, most of my current work is focused on creative nonfiction, such as personal essays and short narratives.

Where did/do you get your ideas from?

Since I write creative nonfiction, I pull most of my content from personal experiences and observations.

Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?

If other people show up in my work, they are usually real people.

How do you pick your characters names?

I use real names most of the time.

Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?

Usually a new piece is triggered by a memory of a scene or even a moment. I jot it down in a journal or on a Post-It and let it ruminate until I think of a way to connect it to a bigger issue. Thematically, my work is often focused on relationships, identity, belonging, and health, so once I make connections between scenes and theme, an essay can start to come together. I write slowly and revise extensively, reconsidering structure and purpose with each review of the piece. I also make sure I spend some time away from the work and go do other things so that I have a fresh perspective when I come back to it.

Do you have a favourite author?

I have many! I adore the writings of Maggie Nelson, Augusten Burroughs, Dorothy Allison, Dinty W. Moore, Charles Baxter, Wendy C. Ortiz, Jill Talbot, and Cheryl Strayed. The list grows as I discover new books and new authors.

If you could meet any author, who would it be? And what would you ask them?

I wish I would have had the chance to meet Judith Kitchen before she died. If I could have a sit-down chat with her, I would ask her to share her thoughts on how writers can overcome barriers to success while still remaining humble and open to learning and growing so their writing keeps getting better. It’s something I struggle with all the time, and I know others do as well, yet nobody really talks about it.

Were you a big reader as a child?

Most definitely. I was pretty restricted on what I could watch on television and movies I was allowed to see, but I was able to read nearly everything I wanted, so I read all the time. I actually used to get in trouble for reading because I would hide out in the bathroom to finish a book or put off my chores just to get through another chapter.

When did you start to write?

I started writing a little in high school and college. My work didn’t really go anywhere, but I learned a lot. I started writing seriously and publishing in 2012, and I haven’t stopped.

What are you working on right now?

My primary project right now is a collection of essays that examines the concept of place and belonging as they pertain to identity and the uncertainty that exists for all of us when confronted with issues that never saw resolution. The twenty essays will examine situations and encounters that raised unanswerable questions, shoddy memories that shudder with remnants of doubt, and always a subtle sense of guilt that has surfaced from introspection and the passage of time. Ultimately, the collection will be a chorus of voices that are finally getting a chance to speak without inhibitions or limitations in search of an absolute, yet illusive, truth.

I was recently hired by Literary Arts Review to be a contributing writer and columnist. I’ll write articles about the literary lifestyle for each issue as well as a monthly piece for “The B-List Writer” column. The first issue is due out September 1, so I’m really excited about that.

Additionally, I’m interested in getting more involved in teaching workshops, presenting at conferences, coaching new writers, and engaging more with authors at various events. The support I got from others while I was working on my memoir was invaluable, and it’s time for me to pay it forward.

When can we look forward to a new release?

Oh, I wish I knew! I don’t have any forthcoming publications right now because I’ve been so focused on writing material for the new book and doing readings and interviews for Realizing River City. I’m hoping to have new work out in early 2017, though. Fingers crossed!

How can readers keep in touch with you?

I always love to hear from readers! I have a contact form on my website as well as resources for Book Clubs.

I’m also reachable on Facebook, and Twitter,

Readers can even post questions on Goodreads (and also give ratings and write reviews) at

Many thanks to Melissa for answering my questions 🙂

Publisher: Tumbleweed Books (14th February 2016)

It’s a story about loss, love, compassion, and finally redemption.

At times, life can feel like a challenging feat of survival. Whether it’s living through abusive relationships or figuring out the complexities of what it means to be a woman searching for love, Realizing River City is a memoir that proves how despite the troubles we may face, there is hope in the way we continually risk ourselves in search for the life we want to live. In her poetic exploration of past relationships, Melissa Grunow’s honest words do not falter in the face of so much loss. Taking the rage we all feel about grief and pain, and funneling it into truth, beauty, and ultimately redemption on each page, Realizing River City is about discovering how the most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves.

Realizing River City

Just the Right balance of vulnerability and strength.

You can purchase your copy here – Realizing River City by Melissa Grunow


“A deeply rich meditation on what it means to be a woman in a sometimes uncertain and complicated world, in relationship to men, but ultimately, and more importantly, to oneself. Melissa Grunow’s Realizing River City raises just as many questions as it answers, circling back always, in beautiful prose and a clear, honest voice, to what it means to be alive, to love, and to be present for all of it.” -Amina Cain, author of Creature and I Go to Some Hollow.
Empowering. Beautiful. Brave. These three words are the epitome of Melissa Grunow’s Realizing River City. Traversing through personal transformations, the strength that lives within her memoir stems from Grunow’s fresh writing and unrelenting honesty. She doesn’t hold back when showing us the complexities of what it means and what it looks like to become an independent woman. This is a book about liberation. This is a book about revolution. This is a book that will live in your body long after you have finished it, a book that will embolden your life, always. -Chelsey Clammer, author of BodyHome.
Realizing River City is the compelling story of Melissa Grunow’s search for love with all the wrong men. It’s a story about loss, love, compassion, and finally redemption, as Grunow learns to stand on her own, embrace life’s messiness, and forge ahead full of hope for the future. I was cheering for her as I turned the final pages! -Kate Hopper, author of Ready for Air and Use Your Words.
In her memoir Realizing River City, Melissa Grunow shares with honesty and clarity the often-precarious landscape of love, loss, and longing. Her book offers readers vibrant details of New Mexico and an intimate glimpse into a woman’s persistent search for acceptance and positive relationships. -Dinty W. Moore, author of Crafting the Personal Essay.
Melissa Grunow has written an intimate exploration of need, desire, doubt, and survival; her memoir is remarkable for its heart-breaking honesty. -Robert Root, author of Happenstance and Postscripts: Retrospections on Time and Place.

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