Melissa Landers is the author of the Alienated Series and Starflight Duology, both of which have been published through Disney-Hyperion. Formerly a school teacher, Landers left to pursue her love of writing full-time and hasn’t looked back. During our interview, Landers pulled back the curtains on what life as an author is like and offers insight through her personal experiences. To get up close and personal with Melissa, visit www.melissa-landers.com
Melissa, thank you for the opportunity to interview you. It truly is an honor to have you here with us at Write On!
What book or author first made you fall in love with writing?
I can’t say there’s a book or an author that made me fall in love with writing, but I once read an interview with Stephenie Meyer that motivated me to write my own novel. Until then, I didn’t think I had the qualifications to publish a book. But after learning she and I had the same educational background and experience, (or lack thereof), I thought “If she can do it, why not me?”
Alienated was an awesome series with romance and conflicts we deal with in real life. What led you to write the Alienated Series?
Thank you! I came up with the idea in October of 2009 while brainstorming ideas for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I was driving down the interstate wondering what to write about. Several ideas came to mind, but I dismissed them because they were boring or clichéd. Then out of nowhere, I thought, “What if a high school senior had to host an alien exchange student?” Boom! I fell in love with the concept, and the rest is history.
Where do you get your ideas?
Usually they come to me when I’m in the shower, driving, vacuuming, or taking a walk, basically when I shut off my active mind and engage in a monotonous task. Sometimes I have to be quiet and let my brain whisper to me.
What is your writing process?
I usually draft a one-line pitch and a back-cover blurb, then send it to my agent to see how marketable she thinks the idea is. If she likes it, I’ll develop the concept into a proposal (3 chapters and a synopsis) and send it to my editor. Once the proposal sells, I’ll write the rest of the book.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
The first draft usually takes 5 months, but that’s just where the work begins. Revisions take another 2-4 months.
Best part of writing? Worst part?
The best part is re-reading the finished project. The worst part is all the work it takes to get there. ☺
Do you ever get writer’s block and if so, how do you overcome it?
Writer’s block usually means there’s something wrong, and my subconscious is trying to stop me from veering too far off course. To overcome it, I take some time to figure out what’s bothering me. If that doesn’t help, brainstorming with an author friend always does the trick.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Self-doubt. It’s the creativity killer.
What does your writing space look like?
I have a dedicated office, and I love it. It’s my favorite room in the house! If you’d like to see what it looks like, there are a few pics on Instagram. (@melissalanders)
What do you think are some misconceptions about publishing or being a writer?
The biggest misconception is that authors are rich. Most published authors don’t make enough money to quit their day jobs.
You’re preparing to launch Starfall, the next book in the Starflight series. Is writing this series different from writing Alienated? What is your favorite part about writing the Starflight series?
Yes, the Starflight books are definitely different—much more futuristic than the Alienated trilogy and also a little more adventure focused. The actions scenes were my favorite to write!
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Hmm…I flew to New Orleans for research once. I wouldn’t call it a literary pilgrimage, but it was super helpful and SO MUCH FUN.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I used to teach junior high school before I became an author, so I would probably still be doing that. When I resigned to stay home with my second child, I had every intention of returning to the classroom, but I discovered an unexpected new career, and now I can’t imagine doing anything else. ☺