Author Interview: Melinda Metz (Roswell High)

Today, I must say, that I’m a little star-struck! I have such a special treat for you, my fellow blog readers, it makes me giddy!

As you know I’ve devoured the Roswell High Series by Melinda Metz as part of a Read-a-Thon. It’s been a great journey and to cap off an excellent series I have *gasp* the Author extraordinaire herself on my blog.

That’s right! Melinda Metz was kind enough to take part in a Roswell High Interview! And now I get to share it all with you.

Now, in the interest of keeping things on topic the questions below will surround the Roswell High Novel Series. We will be keeping questions about the Roswell TV Show to a bare minimum.

And because I am both a reader and an Author we will be talking about both sides of Roswell High ;)

So, without further adieu...

Welcome Melinda! Let’s dive in shall we. I always like to break the ice with a silly question. So I hope you don’t mind JYou’ve been abducted by aliens. They only have a small spaceship but they’ve allowed you to bring two books with you, what would they be and why?

Awesome question.  I’d bring The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so I’d be as prepared as possible, and Anne of Green Gables, because it brings up great memories of childhood (and so Earth).  It was one of my mother’s favorite books and she read it to me when I was little, and then I read it myself a bunch of times when I was older.

Great answers! I’m a huge fan of Anne of Green Gables. And I love how you’d take a book to prepare you for your adventure.

I understand the initial inspiration for Roswell High came from another source, so how hard was it to take an initial thought, make it your own and run with it?

Pocket Books wanted to do a series called “Roswell High” about teenage aliens, and they asked 17th Street Productions, now Alloy, to develop it for them.  Laura J. Burns was working there at the time, and she took on the project.  Eventually, I was brought in as the writer.  Laura and I had already known each other for years.  We were both editors together at another company, and we had worked on a lot of projects together there.  (Later we became writing partners.)  We were creatively in sync from the beginning.  Once I was hired as the Roswell High writer, we took what she’d already come up with and did more brainstorming and plotting together.  It was great.  Sometimes Laura and I say we share a brain.  That made it really easy to work off of her ideas. 

Oh gosh! Apparently I didn’t do enough research. I didn’t realize Laura played such a huge role in the creations of the book. I have a sad face now L I wish I would have included her in this interview! So, a big shout-out goes to Laura J. Burns, it seems without your help these books wouldn’t have been as awesome as they were.

The Outsider is a huge book in terms of setting the series tone and as we know, bringing the characters to life on the TV Show Roswell in the Pilot Episode. What were the biggest challenges you faced with the first book?

There was so much that needed to happen in the first book that plotting wasn’t all that hard.  I’d say the biggest challenge was establishing the six main characters.  Also deciding how the aliens’ powers should work/be described, like that healing would give the healer a rush of images from the person they were working on.

Right from the start Max and Liz have star-crossed lover syndrome. They also have many obstacles to overcome over the course of the novel, did you ever get emotional, and worry they weren’t going to make it?

Nah, cause I always knew they’d be together.  That was never a question.  Keeping them apart for a good part of ten books was a little tricky though.

This series is huge, as in the amount of important characters. You were able to give each one a unique voice and personality, but you must have a favourite character from both a writing standpoint and as simply a fan. Who is it and why?

I love them all.  I really do.  If I had to pick one, I think I’d go with Michael, just because I like characters who are a little damaged.  But if you asked me on a different day, I might pick another one…because I love them all.

I have a soft spot for Michael too. But I love your answer, characters, often times are like children, it’s almost impossible to favour just one!

In The Wild One a new alien comes to town. He captures Isabel’s attention, and turns her life upside down. How come we didn’t get more of a background on Nickolas, he entered the series suddenly and left it just the same.

The Pocket Book editor actually asked for a new alien as a romantic interest.  To be honest, I didn’t think the series needed a new character so early on.  She also asked that a glowing ring with undetermined powers be found at the end of the book.  She thought it might be intriguing to readers and that maybe at some point we’d want to use it. Or maybe not.  But Laura and I thought it was too big an element to introduce without doing anything with it.  Figuring out exactly what the deal with the ring was ended up generating a chunk of story.

This series has a very tightly woven plot. Each book propels the story forward. Did you have all ten books planned out right away, or did you plan as you went?

Laura had a story arc for the first six books (that’s the number the publisher had committed to) and we expanded it together.   We knew that Valenti would be the initial bad guy and that DuPris would later be revealed as a bigger bad.  We also figured out what part of the overarching story we wanted to reveal in each book.  We talked about how the relationships would play out. The plots of the individual books were planned mostly along the way. 

When the publisher decided they wanted four more books, Laura and I figured out an arc for them.

In The Seeker, Maria gets a little taste of what it’s like to have abilities akin to the Aliens of Roswell High, if you had to choose one of the abilities you’ve brought to life on the page and live with it for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I’d want the healing power.  Although in real life it would probably take over every moment of your life because you’d want to help everyone.

Since the power of healing would come with huge responsibilities, I’d take the Dreamwalking. I think one can have a lot of fun with that!

We learn about the Akino and the Collective Consciousness in The Watcher. This is a plot line that is carried throughout the rest of the novels and plays an important part in the end of the series. This is a crazy cool idea, you’ve described it well but how did you come up with the idea?

I believe we came up with the Akino when we knew there would be more books.  Honestly, it’s been so long since I wrote the books that I can’t remember how!  I know Laura and I were brainstorming together.  I actually asked her, and she doesn’t remember either.  Sometimes when you’re tossing out so many possibilities, it’s hard to trace where the final idea actually came from.

The Intruder shows us more about Clean Slate, an organization out to learn, destroy or just experiment on the aliens or perhaps all of the above (trying to keep this spoiler free) but it doesn’t play as big of a part in the novels as I thought it would. It’s only mentioned a few times after, why is that?

It was pretty much a matter of needing to wrap up the story by the tenth book and not ending up with space.  If the number of books had gotten extended again, I’m sure I’d have revisited Clean Slate.

When I think about The Stowaway and Mr. DuPris, I think Chicken, Kentucky fried chicken, so I’ve got to ask, when you wrote his character, well, were you thinking about chicken at the time?

I wasn’t (maybe because I’m a vegetarian?!), but with his white suit and accent I can see why you would.

Max and Liz’s relationship is really what drew me in when it came to the first book and in The Vanished and The Rebel we see their relationship go from bad to worse. However, the novel isn’t all about the Romance. How did you decide to equally balance romance and action into this teen novel? 

That was the tone everyone wanted for the series before I even was hired as the writer.  I enjoyed the mix.  (I hardly ever write anything without some romance!)

The ending to this series was nicely wrapped up. I think you tied together all the ends into a nice bow. But was there anything you wish you could have added or explained in the last book or did it end just how you pictured?

The thing I most wanted to do with the ending was give Max and Liz a big, big romantic moment and to finally bring Maria and Michael together.  I think I may have almost gone (or gone) too far, but I was happy with the ending.  You brought up Project Clean Slate.  It would have been good to wrap that up more tightly. 

I’m sad to see the series is over and wish it could continue. Did you have any ideas (and if you do care to share them?) on what would happened next if you were able to add more books after The Salvation?

I actually didn’t try to imagine what would happen later.  I was just really focussed on giving the characters the ending they deserved.

As an Author what has been your biggest struggle when it comes to your writing career?

The way it moves in fits and starts.  Sometimes I have books due to publishers in a cluster, then I’ll have a long dead period.  And I struggle for motivation to write new proposals, because they don’t have deadlines.  This is especially true with solo projects.  When Laura and I work together, usually one of us will be urging our current proposal onward, so we can sort of feed of one another’s enthusiasm and drive. 

Do you have any words of wisdom or advice you’d like to share with the aspiring Authors of the world?

Read a lot and study the way authors you like build tension, create characters, etc.  And write a lot.  That’s the way you get better.  And don’t worry about getting published or getting an agent too soon.  It’s a distraction.  Wait until you have finished a book and can’t think of one more thing you want to do with it.

And because I think everyone probably wants to know, what do you think about the Roswell TV show? Were you happy with how they took your novel and turned it into something quite different but still captivating.

The pilot was the only episode actually based on one of the books, and I loved it.  It was a total thrill to watch it and see things like Liz’s cupcake dress appear on the screen.  And there was new stuff I thought was great, like the scene where Max, Isabel, and Michael watch the recreation of the crash (where their parents died) with everyone else in the crowd cheering and screaming.  It was such a great way to show how different they were, and it only took a few seconds.  It was a completely positive, and quite surreal experience.

As the series moved on, I was always curious to see what the writers would do with basically the same characters (there are exceptions, like Valenti and Kyle who were very different) and the same incidents launching the story.  There were some episodes I thought were amazing, others that I didn’t like as much. 

I understand you did get to be a part of the Roswell TV show in Season 3, is it true that you got to write an episode? Which one was it and how was that experience?

Laura and I were staff writers for the show during the third season, which means we were part of the group brainstorming stories and helping do scene-by-scene breakdowns of the episodes.  Laura and I wrote “A Tale of Two Parties,” the New Year’s Eve episode.

Ahh, yes, Enigma! I wished more than once when watching that episode they had a kind of party like that where I lived. That was a great episode!

Is there anything that you would have done differently with the series if you could go back and change something?

 I’m not sure I would have had Max heal the man (the one that Valenti shows Liz the picture of in the first book.)  I think Liz should have been the first person he healed.  I would have liked to have come up with another way for Valenti to try to prove the aliens were a threat.

Do you have a favourite scene from the books? Can you share it with us and tell you why it’s one of your favourites?

Maybe it’s because it was the first one I wrote, but the scene in the Crashdown where Max heals Liz is my favorite.

Honestly, I think if you asked anyone out there, they’d give the same answer. It really is one of those hard to forget scenes.

Can you believe that your books and the Roswell TV Show still have a huge following? I mean, did you ever think they’d still be getting read, watched and talked about?

No, I never did!  And it’s so cool.  It really is.

It became apparent early on that the title of each book reflected a character. I tried to guess which character resembled the title, care to tell me if I’m right, and if I’m wrong, want to tell me who the character is?

Well, three out of ten, I suppose that’s not too bad. *hides face in shame*
I want to give Melinda a super big high five and virtual hug for taking the time not only to write these amazing books with the help of Laura J. Burns, but for also taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer my many questions!
I will always be a Roswell High fan. Reading the books has been a wonderful experience that I’m sure to relive again and of course, without these books we wouldn’t have the very awesome Roswell TV Show!
Please feel free to show Melinda some love by leaving a comment or asking a kick question and you never know it might get answered ;)

7 Response to "Author Interview: Melinda Metz (Roswell High)"

  1. Melinda Says:

    On the advice to writers question, I'd like to add that I didn't start writing until I was 35. For a long time, I had trouble even saying I wanted to be a writer, because writers seemed "special." So, I just wanted to say if you want to write, go for it. Melinda

  2. Melinda Says:

    Oh, one last thing. If anyone has a question for Laura, I'm sure she'd be happy to answer.

  3. Avery Olive Says:

    Thank you Melinda and Laura!

  4. Steven W Says:

    What a great interview! I have just picked up these books and am working my way through them (just finished book two). I wanted to participate in your read-a-thon, Avery, but timing was off for me.

    Melinda, I simply have to ask, do you believe that live exists on other planets? I sometimes wonder if some of the really great novels out there are 'great' because the author has a special connection to the subject matter.

    I have only read two of the series but they really are wonderful reads.


  5. Steven W Says:

    oops, I meant 'life' not 'live'

  6. Ghostly_Whisper Says:

    Great interview!
    Thank you so much for posting it, Avery Olive!

    I recently read the "Roswell High" novels and I only regret spending so many years of my life unaware of its existence.

    I love the friendships between all the characters and their great sense of camaraderie when solving the problems that come their way.

    The sublimity of the love between Max and Liz touched me like none other I've ever read. I would like to ask Melinda if the idea for those characters and the dynamic of their relationship was inspired by real people and real events, or if it's the classical "star-crossed lovers" notion?

    After reading William Shakespeare, Margaret Mitchell, Jane Austen and Emily Brontë I never thought I could be so surprised again, you know... but Max and Liz (specially thinking about "The Salvation") turn the "star-crossed lovers" premise up to eleven!

    I want to thank Melinda and Laura for that wonderful gem of literature!

  7. Melinda Metz Says:

    Hi, Stephen. I do believe that life exists on other planets. Maybe so unlike us that we don't understand it as such!

    Hi, Helena. Max and Liz weren't based on real people or situations. We were going for an extreme version of star struck.

    It was so great to hear that both of you enjoyed the books. That means so much!

    Melinda (and Laura)