Melissa Savage is the author of Bigfoot, Tobin and Me. Here she talks to Steph Elliot about her new book The Truth About Martians…
Without giving too much away, can you tell us about your new book The Truth About Martians?
There is a story here in the US about an alleged UFO crash in the desert of Roswell, New Mexico. I am fascinated with the details of this event and I’ve always thought about writing a story about what it was like to live in the town where it happened. I decided to write a book about the crash, a special group of friends who go out to investigate and the journey that leads them on an out of this world adventure!
How is The Truth About Martians similar to Bigfoot, Tobin and Me?
I find cryptozoology (the study of hidden creatures) both fun and fascinating to research. So, I would say that creatures are definitely one similarity between the two stories, as well as searching for possibilities on this planet that have yet to be discovered. The other common theme in both books is how to cope with change and the difficult situations that can happen in life to kids of all ages.
If you could describe your main characters in one word, what would you choose for them?
I can’t decide between kind and brave, but both apply.
Where did you get the inspiration for writing a sci-fi themed book?
Like I said before, I love the story of Roswell and I’m amazed there is still so much interest in the details of this event. I believe that the main reason we are still talking about the Roswell crash even today is that it is the one and only time in history that the US Government confirmed we had a UFO in our possession. However, they retracted the statement very quickly. One of my favourite parts of writing is research. I find something that I am very interested in and learn all I can about it. And what’s more fun to research than UFO’s and Bigfoot? Maybe the Loch Ness Monster!
My next creature adventure, Nessie Quest comes out January 2020.
Which character did you have the most fun writing?
In The Truth About Martians, Dibs is my most favourite character. He just has a flame inside him that doesn’t ever dim, no matter what happens in his life. He is also full of stories that aren’t always completely accurate and loves to share the details with anyone who will listen. Dibs is also that true, blue, best friend that everyone wishes they had and has a heart that’s bigger than all of outer space.
If your main characters had to be friends with other characters from books, who would they choose?
Lemonade and Gracie would be fast friends. They are both strong girls looking to do something very important in the world. I also think Tobin and Dibs would get along in their own way. They are both so open to all the possibilities in the world and refuse to allow naysayers to get in their way.
Tell us about your creative writing process? Do you create the characters or the setting first?
I usually start my stories with an idea and setting first and then the main character comes second. It’s very important to know your protagonist well, so I come up with interview questions for my character and answer them in their own voice. This is a great activity that helps me know things about that person that I wouldn’t know otherwise.
How important do you feel the setting of New Mexico is to the story?
One of the things I strive to do as a writer is create setting as a character. For me, that’s why the place in which I tell the story is so very important. Roswell is important for the story of Mylo and Dibs, as is Willow Creek for Tobin and Lemonade. Both are real towns and both famous for their cryptozoological stories.
What are some other book recommendations you’d have for children (and adults) who loved your book?
If you love cryptozoology as much as I do ( and I LOVE it!), check out Lija Fisher’s The Cryptid Catcher (out now) and The Cryptid Keeper out August 2020. In my opinion, there can’t be too many cryptozoology adventures in the world!
This book deals with themes of sadness and grief, how did you approach this so as not to overwhelm the reader?
I think story can be an amazing way to learn and grow as a person. I also think that it can be very healing in many ways. I think the grief and loss theme is so relevant to all ages. Loss and change is universal and I think story is a wonderful way to expose kids to ideas and concepts that might help them learn healthy coping mechanisms for when they must face challenging times in their own life. I have received so many letters from kids and adults who have lost someone special and they reached out to me to let me know Bigfoot, Tobin & Me or The Truth About Martians helped them feel they weren’t alone in their grief. Those letters mean the world to me.
What have you read recently that you’ve especially enjoyed?
A book called Exit Strategy by Lauren Allbright. It’s a middle grade book that uses a great deal of humour in the midst of the main character’s journey to find the best way to cope with change in his life.
Finally, can you describe The Truth About Martians in three words?
How about four words? Friendship, kindness, family and universe.