Melissa Newman is an award-winning journalist and writer, having spent 20 years in the newspaper industry rising
to the ranks of editor and publisher. She has called Southeastern Kentucky home all her life and truly embraces the title of southern writer, bestowed upon her by loyal readers. She credits her writing talent to a colorful family full of natural storytellers and her writing ability to three English professors she had while receiving her Bachelor’s Degree. These professors aided in the discovery of Newman’s true calling. It was then that Newman changed her major from accounting, an area in which she was struggling, to English and journalism a major in which she excelled.
Shortly thereafter, Newman’s journalism career began an upward spiral and even before finishing college, the local daily newspaper recruited her to work as a full-time reporter. By the age of twenty-six, she had become the first female and the youngest editor at the Barbourville Mountain Advocate, one of the most politically-driven and oldest newspapers in Kentucky. As a journalist, Newman has written hundreds of feature stories about people and places in Southeastern Kentucky and elsewhere; covered several murders from the crime scene investigation to the courtroom sentencing; penned government corruption news; and has been instrumental in nudging local and state government to take action through her editorials and news columns.
During her time in the newspaper industry, Newman won many journalism awards, seized the opportunity to write for various regional news magazines and had several stories published by the Associated Press.
Although Newman enjoyed life in the newspaper industry, she felt something was missing. Her focus had gradually shifted to a concentration of the bottom line instead of what she loved most about newspapering, the written word. Newman now writes fiction full time.
Newman’s first novel began with an idea in 1997, which led to an outline that she stuffed in a drawer didn’t rediscover again for over 10 years. Once the writing was finished, a publishing contract came quickly. Newman’s first novel, Sister Blackberry, was released by Whiskey Creek Press in November 2009. The novel begins with the discovery of a dead body and carries the reader through three generations of the Garland women of Rayes County. Set in 1936 rural Kentucky and Northern Ohio, Sister Blackberry is a story about women: friends, sisters, mothers, daughters and granddaughters, and how their relationships are affected by the secrets they keep.
House of Cleaving, Newman’s latest novel, released June 2011, is a story about a young woman who has lost everything she cares most about in life. As a means to escape her small town and the painful memories which haunt her there, Annie Cleaving attempts to sell the only home she has ever known. When she finds out she is holding a faulty deed to the property, she discovers and uncovers a mystery surrounding her now-deceased mother and how the rest of the Cleaving family fits into it.
Her third novel, Growing Up Wilder, was just released in April 2013. She is currently working on a fourth.
Newman lives in Kentucky with her husband, Frank. Together they have two grown daughters, Brittani and Brooke.