Meet the Author of MEET ME IN OUTER SPACE, Melinda Grace!
Say bonjour to the first of four wonderful new authors joining the Swoon Reads family, Melinda Grace! We fell hard for her wonderfully voice-y tale of a girl with CAPD who reluctantly enlists the help of the super-cute TA to pass French 101 in Meet Me in Outer Space. #OwnVoices!
What inspired you to write Meet Me in Outer Space?
A lot of different things went into the inspiration for Meet Me in Outer Space, my own personal experience being the primary influence. The secondary was music. It seemed to be a situation in which all the pieces to the puzzle in my head came together at the same time.
The first piece was the idea to create a character with an Auditory Processing Disorder, which came while writing a scene for a different book. I started to consider whether or not that character could have CAPD, but then decided she already had enough going on. So, even though I chose to nix it for that character, I still spent a lot of time thinking about where/how I could fit this idea into its own book.
I'd been pondering this concept one day during my 45-minute commute home from work, when Stellar by Incubus came up on my playlist. This has always been a favorite song of mine and as I listened to it I thought “in what situation might someone tell another person to meet me in outer space,” which then led into all the things I mishear because of my CAPD. So I thought, "this is probably something I would hear someone say," which is totally possible since one time a colleague of mine told me he was "going skiing tomorrow" and I'd heard "eating spaghetti and meatballs" (Don't ask). I got home that day and wrote the scene in which Hudson says it to Edie.
The next piece is the song Not Myself by John Mayer. For a long time I'd wanted to write a character that could be the subject of this song and that was how I built Hudson. The song conveys so much in so few words, but I think it is universally relatable. I think everyone, at some point in their life, wonders if who they truly are is enough; whether their real self is worth something. I love it. I always have.
The last piece was as Edie’s story started to evolve I realized how little my target audience may or may not know about CAPD or, on a much broader level, what it's like to have a learning disability in college. The struggle is real when it comes to the adjustment from educational law at the primary-secondary level to the disabilities act in the real world. I wanted to convey something real in a way that people completely unaware could still connect with.
What is your favorite moment in the book?
I really love the scene between Serena and Edie when Edie finally admits that her disability doesn’t define her, as she defends Hudson for not wanting Serena to write anything about him. I love when Serena says that the article is no longer about Becky Smith. I think it’s a real turning point for Edie.
If you could travel anywhere—real or fictional—where would you go?
If there is no time constraint I would go back to 1964 and see The Beatles perform live on The Ed Sullivan Show in person. I think, in terms of real life swooning, this takes the cake and I wholeheartedly believe I would have swooned.
If time travel is out of the question, I want to visit Tokyo. I really want to experience the culture of that city firsthand.
Who would play your characters in a movie?
Edie: Gatlin Green
Hudson: Logan Lerman
Serena: Leighton Meester
Makenna: Park Shin Hye
Dr. Clement: William Hurt
What makes you swoon?
Smiles meant only for me. Books about characters falling in love in a realistic/awkward/ quirky way. When love is love is love.