By Srilekha Cherukuvada
S: What is your name, age, and location, and what do you do? Feb 8 2020
M: My name is Mel Torrefranca, I’m 16, and I live in Northern California. I am a youtuber and a soon-to-be published author.
Could you tell us a little bit more about your upcoming book, Leaving Wishville?
My book is a teen and young adult magical realism novel and it takes place in a town called Wishville where everyone who leaves will never return. The main character is a kid named Benji, who’s 14, and wants the truth about what happened to his dad when he left town ten years ago.
How did you get the idea for Wishville and what impact do you hope it will have on readers?
I think it was a few years ago when I was in eighth grade and I was considering sort of the idea of what would happen if you knew you were going to die. And so I was playing around with that idea. I just thought of it and sort of added more elements until eventually I developed the town setting, which I actually [based] after the area where I live, because I’m pretty close to San Francisco. There’s a lot of fog [and] the oceans are pretty cool. I’m hoping the impact will have on the reader is-well I’ve always been a fan of books that sort of has bittersweet endings. So I’m hoping it’ll sort of create a story where the ending could be interpreted in a variety of ways.
As a teen author, what advice would you give to other aspiring teen writers?
I would say the number one thing is to just make time to write. It can be really challenging with school and sports or whatever other responsibilities you have to take care of. But if you really force yourself to sit down and maybe create a schedule, like on these days I’m going to write from this time to this time, and this sort of stick to it, and create a habit out of it, it will really help us try not to overthink things too much, and just write as much as you can. Don’t stress over what you’re writing or the right way to write, just do it because practice is the best way to learn.
What is your favorite thing about being a youtuber?
To be honest with you, my YouTube journey has been sort of a side hobby; it’s not really one of the main things that I do. But I mostly use it as a creative outlet, just any ideas, I get really creative. It’s been a pretty satisfying experience just seeing that there’s other people out there who have similar interests to me like especially writing. I’ve a lot of screenwriters have reached out to me about their own writing journeys which has been really cool. I have some videos about music and also some videos about writing, but I was actually planning to sort of narrow it down to a specific topic, I’m not really sure what at the moment.
Who is your role model and why?
[Abbie Bennons is my role model.] She’s a YouTuber I found her when she hadn’t read reached 1000 subscribers and now she’s almost 20,000. And she does sort of writing-related videos. But the thing that really inspired me about her is that she has a lot of hobbies that I do, too. She likes music and she’s been doing some songwriting which is something I also enjoy. And of course she does writing and she’s also mentioned that she’s done martial arts and stuff like that. So there’s just been a lot of creative talents that she’s pursuing. And it’s just crazy to see someone out there who’s balancing all these different things, you know, music and writing, she has a lot going on. And so I’ve always found her really inspiring, from the very beginning, as there’s a lot of people on YouTube, but a lot of them only do one thing. And she sort of showed me that you can do many things at once and still be successful, and you don’t really have to have a specific niche.
How do your jobs with YouTube and being an author connect and interact with each other?
In terms of balancing, it’s pretty challenging at times, because of course you have to prioritize certain things and sometimes I have trouble deciding which ones to prioritize. For example, I take school very seriously, but I also have deadlines for my book. Sometimes [I can’t decide] what I should really put my energy into. Should I put it into my homework today or should I really focus on my book? And so sometimes that can be a little bit stressful. But the thing that’s really helped me is to sort of circulate my hobbies. So sometimes, I will prioritize my writing and then other times, I’ll say hey, I think I’m gonna focus more on guitar, or piano. And in doing that, I can really create time for everything, and I don’t feel super stressed, from trying to bounce around everything at once. In terms of interacting with each other. I would say writing has definitely helped me with my English at school, like English class has gotten so much easier from writing. And I would also say that it’s helped me in songwriting and sort of creating lyrics for something that is very creative hobbies, so it’s helped in YouTube and video editing. So I would say that everything’s very interconnected and creative. Pretty much any creative hobby that you have linked to your other ones that will help others.
What do you hope to achieve as a youtuber and author?
Well, I love being an entrepreneur, and just being able to travel and work online. That would be really amazing. I’ve never really been attracted to ordinary jobs where you’re just sitting at a desk or working for someone else and there’s not really a creative aspect. There’s just a lot of jobs out where you just learn a skill and you apply it. I really want to create a sort of a job for myself that allows me to be creative and push things up a lot so I think that if I do a lot of different things like YouTube, writing, and maybe some other hobbies as well, and develop those into sort of mini careers and tie them all together- I think that would be really ideal, and would help me from feeling bored at my job.
Could you tell us a bit more about your music career?
[My music career is] just a hobby for me but someday I do plan on taking it more seriously, I just have a little bit too much going on at the moment to take on another project like that. I have been considering just practicing at the moment and making covers. Eventually I do plan to potentially take it in a more serious direction. I started learning guitar when I was around seven years old, but I stopped having lessons I think about sixth grade. I still continue to keep practicing and during my freshman year of high school I started taking piano lessons at school. It’s like a group candle class. And that kind of rekindled my interest in music, I started listening to music more. I went to a concert for the first time, and I’ve just had a much stronger emotional attachment to music lately and I would like to take that to the next step.
In general, what advice would you give to a teen trying to make an impact on the world or achieve their dreams?
I would say breaking down [your goal]. You can have a really big goal, and sometimes it can be really daunting because you’re so far away from it. But I think that if you break it down into steps, and those steps down into more steps and really look at the small picture it becomes a lot more manageable of having this sort of dream career. For me, one of those steps along the way is to publish a book. Even that has a lot of steps and steps inside of them. I’ve definitely had times where I thought that I should just stop working on my book because it’s just too much, or thinking ‘I’m never going to get there’ and I’ve just felt like giving up. But at the same time, if you break it down into more manageable steps like for the next few weeks, I’ll work on this part of the book and then move on to editing and publication- that’s a lot more manageable. I’d say, don’t look at the big picture too much. Use it as sort of a goal that you want to reach- a sort of an image. But don’t let it distract you from working on what’s important right now.
To read Torrefranca’s book, which will be published February 8th, 2020, visit her website here.