Me, Melina Marchetta
I really hate the overuse of ‘awesome’ as a word, but sometimes, someone possesses so many wonderful qualities that in lieu of actually listing them all, it becomes easier just to call them awesome. Melina Marchetta is one of those people.
And yes, even she mispronounces her own name.
[Her, Susanne Gervay and I are huddled around a copy of the Conference program during a break, quietly joking to ourselves. Melina has a problem with her descriptor: “International Star”.
Susanne, clicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth, says, “Yes, but Melina, you are an international star.”
I interrupt the list – “Now that I’ve got you, quickly, do I say it Marketta or Marchetta?”
“Marketta spelt Marchetta.”
“Ah.” I suppress the urge to admit that I’ve been saying it “Marchetta” for years, and correcting people who pronounced it “Marketta”. I stop feeling bad when she reads her own name aloud 3 minutes later, ch instead of k. I pull her up on it, she laughs a little.]
I’ve only met Melina three times, and yet, she’s so impossibly warm, that bumping into her in the hall is like being reunited with your oldest, greatest friend. The snappy, honest exchange that follows is the sort of thing I’m only used to sharing with people I’ve known a very long time. Sure, I’ve known her through her writing for quite a while, but it’s an experience I’ve had with no other author.
The aforementioned awesomeness helps.
If I had to describe Melina for those that don’t know her, I’d ask you to close your eyes, imagine your ideal friend, imagine that friend is also a superstar author, open your eyes, and BAM! Melina.
It was one of those moments that defines someone more than what they’ve ever said or written.
She is the best kind of celebrity, the kind that we feel good celebrating, without being all self-absorbed and ‘celebrity’-y.
But yes, whether she likes it or not, she is an international star (she did just win the prestigious 2009 US Michael Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature and all). If she doesn’t like that descriptor though, she can always just settle for “Melina Marchetta: Made of Awesome”.