Every story where the Hero or the Heroine want to prove they deserve what they have because they are good, and not because they are milking a disadvantage, should be read and taken as example.
The story is Meet Me in Outer Space by Melinda Grace, out yesterday in the Contemporary, Young Adult genre.
Smart and unflinching, this #OwnVoices debut contemporary novel stars an ambitious college student who refuses to be defined by her central auditory processing disorder.
Edie Kits has a learning disability. Well, not a learning disability exactly, but a disability that impacts her learning. It isn’t visible, it isn’t obvious, and it isn’t something she likes to advertise.
And for three semesters of college, her hard work and perseverance have carried her through. Edie thinks she has her disability under control until she meets her match with a French 102 course and a professor unwilling to help her out.
Edie finds herself caught between getting the help she needs and convincing her professor that she isn’t looking for an easy out. Luckily for Edie, she has an amazing best friend, Serena, who is willing to stitch together a plan to ensure Edie’s success. And then there’s Hudson, the badly dressed but undoubtedly adorable TA in her French class who finds himself pulled into her orbit…
Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, Meet Me in Outer Space is a sweet, heartachingly real story of love and college life by debut author Melinda Grace.
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Chatting with the Author
Melinda Grace wrote her first piece of fiction in middle school, but didn’t write a complete story until an introduction to creative writing course at SUNY Oswego, where she earned a BA in human development. She went on to earn a MS E.D. in counseling and currently works as a school counselor. When she’s not guiding the youth of America, she’s planning her next vacation to Disney World, laminating anything she can get her hands on, and binge watching Netflix. MEET ME IN OUTER SPACE is her debut novel, publishing March 2019.
I asked Melinda to talk about where the idea of the book came from, and here’s what she told me.
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 and the third was a realization that what I was writing was bigger than me. It seemed to be a situation in which all the pieces to a puzzle that had been floating around in my head came together at the same time.
The first piece was the idea to create a character with a Central Auditory Processing Disorder, which came while writing a scene for a different book. I started to consider whether that character could have CAPD, but ultimately decided that character already had enough going on. So, even though I chose to nix it for that character, I couldn’t let the idea go…which means I spent a lot of time thinking about where/how I could take this idea and make it into its own book.
The second piece came during my 45-minute commute home from work one day, 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 opened the door to all the things I mishear because of my CAPD. So, I thought, “this is probably something I would mishear someone say.” I went home that day and wrote the scene in which Edie believes Hudson asks her to meet him in outer space.
The last piece was a happy accident of sorts, as Edie’s story started to evolve I realized how little my target audience may or may not know about CAPD or, in a much broader sense, what it’s like to have a disability in college. When it comes to the adjustment from educational law at the primary-secondary level (elementary/high school) to the Disabilities Act in the “real world”, things aren’t exactly equivalent. I wanted to convey something real in a way that people completely unaware could still connect with. Because of this, I enlisted the help a few people in my life whose stories could breathe life into Edie’s story.
A former student with CAPD who was diagnosed young. Like Edie, she wore a FM transmitter that she eventually decided she was done with for similar reasons to Edie’s. She was also language exempt in high school and had to take a language other than English for the first time in college. Unlike Edie, my former student attended a college with a stellar Disabilities Services Office and her own strength and self advocacy skills. She is now a special education teacher!
My cousin who was told throughout school that she would never work a “real job” let alone attend college. She attended a college exclusively for students with learning disabilities. A college that understood her strengths and worked with her when she struggled. She has since graduated with a degree and works a job she has always wanted. Her path wasn’t easy, but she achieved anyway. Her disability lies in reading, and despite being a valuable contributor to my book, most likely will not read it. I am advocating for an audio version of MMIOS for this very reason…a book about representing diversity should be available through multiple medias.
My sister’s friend since elementary school, who has a diagnosis of ADHD though more than likely was misdiagnosed, though she is hesitant to self-diagnose, she is quite aware that her symptoms are more typical of someone with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) than ADHD. She stopped taking her ADHD medication in college and hasn’t taken it in years. Her point of view was so important to Edie’s story because her journey was one of true self-reliance and discovery.
All three of these awesome people overcame adversity to reach their goals. Their journeys, while individual, still hold a universal relatability.
MMIOS is a #OwnVoices story, which means that I share the same disability as Edie. So much of Edie’s story is my own story, though I wasn’t diagnosed until I was long finished with graduate school. I am a school counselor and throughout my 12 years in this field I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with students with all different types of disabilities.
I gave Edie all of the behavioral characteristics that I have when it comes to my own CAPD. She asks people to repeat themselves. She struggles to take notes during class lecture. She mishears conversation and attempts to piece the conversation together in a way that makes sense (though it doesn’t always work). She watches people’s faces when they speak. She also “zones-out”, gets distracted, and yells at herself when she doesn’t understand something.
When I began writing MEET ME IN OUTER SPACE I knew what I wanted the story to look like. I *thought* I knew the amount of work that would need to go into it to make it authentic and true and realistic and valuable, but looking back, it’s hard to comprehend all the time and energy I put into making it relatable and honest. I wanted Edie’s story to have specific relatable aspects as well as a universal relatability and that was a difficult task.
You can know more about the Author or the book if you follow the Tour. Find the schedule here (http://xpressobooktours.com/2019/01/15/tour-sign-up-meet-me-in-outer-space-by-melinda-grace/).
Giveaway:Tour-wide giveaway (US/CAN)
- Print copy of Meet Me in Outer Space
Thanks for being on the tour, Vivi!
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