Hugo author’s message of hope and triumph

Press Publications recently interviewed Hugo resident Melissa Steussy about the publication of her first book, “Let Your Privates Breathe.” 

Steussy has been working on writing a memoir for the last decade. Once the pandemic hit, she had some extra time on her hands and decided to hire an editor to look over the 60,0000-plus words she had written so far. Ultimately, they decided to start over. 

Her memoir, titled, “Let Your Privates Breathe,” is a young woman’s message of hope and triumph after breaking a long cycle of addiction and unhealthy habits. Steussy tells of her struggles to find freedom after being raised in an unpredictable home environment, and trying to find love and stability in all the wrong places.

When she is court-ordered to Alcoholics Anonymous after a DUI, Steussy is forced to take responsibility for her actions and her journey of self-love and healing begins. Melissa not only shares her trials and struggles throughout her recovery and active addiction, but celebrates her breakthroughs and the beautiful connection she develops with herself, her family and her community.


Q. Tell us a little about yourself. 

A. I currently reside in Hugo with my husband and 12-year-old son. I have an older son who attends college in Washington State, where we are from. We relocated to Minnesota in 2017 to be closer to my husband’s family. My husband works in Hugo/Columbus and I work in the White Bear Lake Area School District. 


Q. Is “Let Your Privates Breathe” the first book you’ve written? 

A. I had been working on writing a memoir for the last decade. I had about 60,000 words written, and so with my extra time during COVID, I decided to hire an editor and turn it into a book. Upon looking at what I had written, we decided to start over from scratch as my writing had improved over the last couple of years. 

Together, we created an outline and I wrote the book, “Let Your Privates Breathe,” which is something my grandma (pictured on the front cover) used to say to me.


Q. What inspired you to write this book? 

A. I grew up near Seattle, Washington, and had a pretty tumultuous upbringing. I write about being an only child to an alcoholic parent and having a father in prison.


Q. Provide a brief overview of the main characters and plot. 

A. I write about my own deep dive into addiction as young as 12 and how I scraped my way out at 21. I have been sober for 23 years and share my experience to light the way for others. 


Q. What do you hope readers will gain from the story? 

A. This is a book for anyone who loves a great memoir or story about overcoming adversity. I hope for this to be a story of inspiration and hope.


Q. Who are your favorite authors? 

A. A few of my favorite authors are Augusten Burroughs, Glennon Doyle and local author Nora McInerny.

Q. Where can Press readers find the book? 

A. Press readers can find this book in a few different places. Currently, it is on presale at a discounted rate until Aug. 31. Copies can be purchased online through The Black Hat Press (a local publisher here in Isanti, Minnesota). You can also find out more about the book here:


They can also be found on my website:

Toward the middle to end of September, copies will be available for purchase at the Lake Country Booksellers in White Bear Lake, 4766 Washington Square.


Q. Do you have any plans for future works? 

A. I plan to get started on another book this fall. 


Compiled by Shannon Granholm

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