How did you come up with the original concept for Roswell?
Mel At Pocketbooks, the publisher, one of the VPs came up with the idea of Roswell High. Just basically aliens in High School. Laura was working at a different company then...
Laura After we met each other at Parachute Publishing I had left and gone to a different company. Around the same time Melinda had decided to take the plunge that editors usually take, she was going to go and be a writer full time.
So it was good timing for both of us because I got to this different company and they wanted me to develop this idea, Roswell High, for Pocketbooks. I had come up with the tone of it, using the wackiness of Roswell.
Mel I came up with the name Crashdown and the wacky alien theme.
Laura Basically I came up with the characters and the set-up and rough outlines of plots. Then, because Melinda was going to be a writer and I knew she would be perfect at it, I was able to hire her to write the books.
Mel And then we kind of fleshed it out more together. Laura had the main characters sketched out and the main arc.
Laura Then Melinda made them loveable and wonderful and the television rights sold on the strength of her first manuscript.
Mel That's how it started on its road to TV. It was completely unexpected. That was really the first thing other than a novelisation of an episode of Goosebumps that I'd written. I never thought the first thing I would write would turn into something like this.
Was TV always in the back of your mind, or was Roswell High written as a book first and foremost?
Laura No, we wanted to make the change and go and become television writers, but I don't think that we ever thought [the book would be the way in].
Mel No, it didn’t really occur to me. It happened really fast. The first book was due maybe like a month after [the TV people became interested]. So I was caught up in finishing the first manuscript, I wasn't really thinking beyond that.
Laura We thought we had the skills ourselves to go and become television writers. We had never thought of doing it by developing a book and turning it into a TV series.
Mel We were going to write spec scripts and try and get an agent, we just hadn't done it yet.
How much has Roswell grown into its own life as a TV series?
Mel The pilot and the first episode of season one have a lot of overlap and then they really have gone off in two different directions. They are alternative universes of each other.
I find it fun just to see what other writers did starting at the same point, to see what other people do with the same aliens and the same powers and the same basic relationships.
Laura It's never occurred to us to compare the books to the show, because it's a very different kind of story telling that you can do in a book versus on television. It needs to be so much more visual obviously on television and also, the books were for children.
Mel The books were for young adults.
Laura Sheriff Valenti is one of the characters that's really different on the TV show versus the books, because in the books he was just pure evil.
Mel The books were for teens, and [in that type of book] you don't usually give the adult characters their full back story.
Valenti felt this way because his father was obsessed with aliens. So he didn't really have much motivation except being bad.
Mel He wanted to catch them, put them away and experiment on them.
Laura The show reaches an older audience and it's fun to plot for these people as they're getting older.
Mel [There's] a lot of different kind of stories. And [the characters] are already older than they were in the books.
In the early stages, were you consulted about the series?
Laura It was very separate. We were in New York doing books and they were in Hollywood doing a television show.
The publisher was the one who had sold the television rights and so they had more contact with Jason and the other people doing the show than we did individually.
Mel The books and the show are so different. The characters on the show have different back stories, and both sets of characters experience different things.
They're really just too different to try and work them back around. It just wouldn't make sense for the show characters, it would be inconsistent for them to start behaving like or experiencing things that the other characters did.
Laura We get asked that question a lot, and as a writer I would almost be bored doing the same story again.
The show is its own thing. We very much follow Jason Katims' vision because he's brilliant and he knows exactly what he wants the show to be.
Mel And we love what he did with the show.
Laura Yeah, we love it, we were big fans.
Mel I also wrote six books between Roswell High, so when we started here my book series of Roswell High was all wrapped up. They got their happy ending and everything. It's over so it's fun to get back into that world but it's different.
Out of all the actors that got cast in the show who was closest to your vision?
Laura I think Michael. Brendan Fehr has a gruff yet funny and charming persona that our Michael had too.
Mel It’s that good-heartedness covered by a lot of testosterone. I think that Max is quite a bit like the Max in the books.
Laura The Max and Liz relationship is pretty close.
Mel It’s definitely the heart of the book series too.
But some of the others, like Maria, are very different. She’s sort of funny in both, but in different ways. I do think the cast is amazing. Whether they’re like what I was thinking of when I was doing the books or not, in that alternate universe way, I just enjoy them both.
Kyle in the books was just awful but he’s one of my favourite characters now. He’s very funny.
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