Melissa Landers is a former teacher who writes with a mix of romance and science fiction. She is the author of the bestselling book Alienated. The sequel, INVADED, will release February 3, 2015.
NAW- Tell us about your book, ‘Alienated.’ How did you get the idea for it? How long did it take to finish the book? What is it about? How did you select the title?
ALIENATED follows the adventures of valedictorian Cara Sweeney, who gets more than she bargained for when she agrees to host the nation’s first intergalactic exchange student, the gorgeous-but-haughty Aelyx from planet L’eihr. It’s light, romantic science fiction for teens and the young at heart.
The idea of an intergalactic student exchange program came to me right before NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in the fall of 2009. I completed the first draft quickly—in less than a month—but then I rewrote the book four more times before it sold to Disney-Hyperion. As for the title, I didn’t come up with that. My editor did. But I love it—it’s very fitting!
NAW- Alienated is part of a series, right? Will the subsequent books follow the storyline or will they be independent releases?
Yes, ALIENATED is part of a series that follows the same set of characters. Book one is now available in stores and online, and the sequel, INVADED, will release February 3rd, 2015.
NAW- Tell us about the character of Cara Sweeney. How did you develop her? Your book is unique in being a blend of science fiction, right amount of humor and romance, sort of a full package. How did you get the idea to develop it in such a manner?
As the class valedictorian, obviously Cara had to be intelligent and make logical choices. But I also wanted to give her a personality trait that would make her unique, so I looked at my own quirks and decided to pass along my overly-competitive nature to her. Cara takes competition to a whole new level. I never would have executed an “academic ambush” the way she did. Once Aelyx entered the picture, the story took on a life of its own. It was so much fun to write their awkward first encounters, then the slow transformation from friendship to love.
NAW- Tell us about your other works.
Right now I’m working on an Alienated short story that will release in December—for free!—and will include a sneak peek at the first two chapters of INVADED. I’m also drafting a new novel for Disney-Hyperion that’s tentatively titled STARFLIGHT. It’s about a teenage girl who indentures herself to the rich boy who tormented her in high school, in exchange for passage to a new world aboard a posh spaceliner. But when he loses his memory, she convinces him that their roles are reversed—that she’s the master and he’s the servant—then leads him onto a ship full of fugitives. It’s a new take on the enemies-to-lovers trope, and an absolute blast to write!
NAW- Tell us about yourself. What are your hobbies? What do you do when you are not writing?
It feels like I’m always writing, or doing something related to writing, but in those rare moments when I’m not, I love reading, watching movies, and travelling.
NAW- What is the hardest and the easiest part of the publishing process?
Hmm, the hardest part is probably the lack of control. Most readers don’t realize that authors have no say in when their books are released, how much they cost, or even what the cover looks like. That can be frustrating. The easiest part of the process is interacting with fans, especially at signings. That’s the absolute best part of my job!
NAW- Name your favorite science fiction books.
I’m particularly fond of the DUNE series. Frank Herbert crafted a richly-detailed world and populated it with compelling characters. Definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already!