Dream big, write often

November 18, 2023 BY

Melissa's third novel, Summer Change, follows the story of 17-year-old Shae as she navigates deception, relationships and self-discovery. PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/MELISSA WRAY

An English teacher at Newcomb Secondary College has released a new young adult novel exploring relationships, deception and love.

Titled Summer Change, the coming-of-age story is Melissa Wray’s third book and follows 17-year-old Shae as she navigates family secrets and an unexpected summer with her cousins.

Wray said the novel was inspired by her own experiences in Townsville and is a love letter to the coastal town.

“When I was 14, I spent time living with my cousins in Townsville. It was a difficult time in my teenage life and as a result I loathed being there.”

“I have come to realise that it was not Townsville I disliked, but the situation that put me there.

“I realised there were many fun and happy moments I can recall about my time there. This novel is a celebration of those memories.”

The novel, published by Wombat Books, incorporates several locations across Townsville that, for Wray, hold “a sense of fun and adventure”.

Self-discovery is also a core theme of Summer Change.

“The idea of discovering who you are and what you’re capable of when you’re faced with a challenging time is really important,” Wray said.

English teacher and author, Melissa Wray, with some of her Year 7 students from Newcomb Secondary College. PHOTO: SUPPLIED


“Teenagers, in particular, they do have lots of challenging moments and a lot of them do have to mature earlier than they need to, but the resilience that they show, and having them come out better for it at the other end, is really important.”

She hopes readers will connect with the novel’s themes and “realise that no matter what’s thrown at them, they can overcome it and become the best version of themselves”.

An avid believer that literacy gives power to change, the Leopold resident and mother of two has been an English teacher at Newcomb Secondary College for four years.

In that time, she has created a creative writing elective that culminates in an anthology of her students’ work, giving them a taste of being a published author.

“Literacy is so powerful,” Wray said.

“People who have the skill set of being able to read and write really can change their lives and the people around them and have influence.

“Ensuring students have the skill set to be able to do that is really important, so dream big, but read as well. The more knowledge of where you are, the more informed you can be.”

Summer Change can be purchased from most booksellers, including Wombat Books.

Find it at wombatrhiza.com.au/summer-change