Friday, August 12, 2016

YA Pioneers: Melinda Metz

YA may have blown up over the past decade, but it used to be a small section of bookstores.  In the early nineties, it consisted mostly of "teen thrillers," which mostly featured dark mysteries and serial killers, although there was some supernatural fare as well.  The authors of those days were ahead of their time and built an audience in teenagers, and paved the way for the YA that is beloved by so many today.

Some pioneers in teen wrote books based on ideas formed by committee.  Melinda Metz's wildly popular Roswell High was such a series, dreamt up by a publishing company.  This method proved fruitful in some cases, and for Metz at least, launched a career that continues to this day.

YA Pioneers

Melinda Metz began her career in the book industry as an editor.  After seven years, she made her leap to writing, penning an adaptation of a Goosebumps television episode in 1997 (Attack of the Mutant).  Soon after, a publisher at the time, Pocket Books, was searching for someone to write a series based around teenage aliens called Roswell High.  They eventually hired 17th Street Productions to develop the project for them, a company that fellow editor Laura J. Burns worked for at the time.  Burns came up with the six main characters of the series and filled in the details with her friend Melinda Metz, who continued on to write the novels, beginning with The Outsider, published in September of 1998 at a special introductory price of $1.99.

Roswell High was quickly picked up as a television series by The WB in 1999, retitling it simply Roswell, and starring Jason Behr and Shiri Appleby.  The first five books in the series have photographs of characters featured on the covers, while after Roswell went into production, the actors replaced them to tie in to the TV series for further volumes, and for reprinted versions of those initial books.  Metz and Burns worked on the television series as writers as well, and Metz continued writing books in the Roswell High series through book ten, The Salvation, where the characters' stories ended in 2000.  Roswell went on to air on television through 2002, and books based on that show have been published since, but followed the television series more closely than the books it was based on, and none of those were written by Melinda Metz or Laura J. Burns.

Following the success of Roswell High, Melinda Metz launched another series for HarperCollins called Fingerprints.  In 2001, the first book, Gifted Touch, debuted, introducing readers to Rae, who could hear a person's thoughts if she touched the fingerprints they left behind.  The series would continue for seven novels, and the first three books were reprinted during the YA boom in 2010 in an omnibus edition entitled Echoes.  ABC bought the rights for a television series based on the books in 2002, retitled Paranormal Girl, but after producing a pilot episode, it was never ordered to series.  Fingerprints lasted seven volumes, ending in 2002.

Melinda Metz wrote another YA thriller in 2004, Raven's Point, and then went on to write several books tied into media properties such as Everwood and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as two books in the Sweet Sixteen series.  She also wrote books for young readers in series such as The New Adventure of Mary-Kate and Ashley and King Kong, and ghostwrote two Animorphs books (The Sickness and The Prophecy) back in 1999.  She wrote many of these books with co-writer and friend Laura J. Burns.  The pair also created a middle grade mystery series called Wright & Wong, while Metz herself also created another young reader series entitled S.M.A.R.T.S.

Metz returned to YA in 2010, releasing the first book in the Crave series just after the release of the Fingerprints-repackaged Echoes (which never saw a sequel volume).  She co-wrote the series with her collaborator Laura J. Burns, and released the second book, Sacrifice, in 2011.  The writing team continues writing for both middle grade and YA, having released Sanctuary Bay, a teen mystery, in 2016.

Melinda Metz YA titles

The Outsider (Roswell High #1)
The Wild One (Roswell High #2) (1998)
The Seeker (Roswell High #3) (1998)
The Watcher (Roswell High #4) (1999)
The Intruder (Roswell High #5) (1999)
Julia (Sweet Sixteen #1) (2000)
The Stowaway (Roswell High #6) (2000)
Sunny & Matt (Sweet Sixteen #6) (2000)
The Vanished (Roswell High #7) (2000)
The Rebel (Roswell High #8) (2000)
The Dark One (Roswell High #9) (2000)
The Salvation (Roswell High #10) (2000)
Gifted Touch (Fingerprints #1) (2001)
Haunted (Fingerprints #2) (2001)
Trust Me (Fingerprints #3) (2001)
Secrets (Fingerprints #4) (2001)
Betrayed (Fingerprints #5) (2001)
Revelations (Fingerprints #6) (2001)
Payback (Fingerprints #7) (2002)
Raven's Point (2004)
Crave (Crave #1) (with Laura J. Burns) (2010)
Sacrifice (Crave #2) (with Laura J. Burns) (2011)
Sanctuary Bay (with Laura J. Burns) (2016)

Book Synopsis Samples:

The Outsider (Roswell High #1)

He's not like other guys. Liz has seen him around. It's hard to miss Max-- the tall, blond, blue-eyed senior stands out in her high-school crowd. So why is he such a loner?

Max is in love with Liz. He loves the way her eyes light up when she laughs. And the way her long, black hair moves when she turns her head. Most of all, he loves to imagine what it would be like to kiss her.

But Max knows he can't get too close. He can't let her discover the truth about who he is. Or really, what he is...

Because the truth could kill her.

Gifted Touch (Fingerprints #1)

Sometimes, when I touch things, words fill my head. Words that feel like thoughts--thoughts that are inside of me...but not mine.

I used to think I was crazy. Used to.

I'm starting to wonder if there's a reason for all the voices that tangle together in my mind. And if I'm right, then it's not my sanity I'm worried about--it's my life.


Shay could never do the things her friends could--never try out for sports, never go to parties, never fall in love. Because of the mysterious and incurable blood disorder she was born with, she can barely make it through three days of school a week.

But now, her doctor-turned-stepfather has a brand-new treatment that he thinks will change everything. And it does. As soon as the new blood starts pumping into Shay's veins, she has visions of a different life...Gabriel's life. She sees an orphanage, loss, fangs, blood, and lust that she can't explain.

Is Gabriel real? And if he is, could he really be what she thinks he is?

Raven's Point

No one who lives on the beautiful little island of Raven's Point knows the island's dark history, of the evil that was born there. But high-school students Jane Romano, Tavia Burrows, and Seth McFadden will be forced to learn the truth about their island's violent past and their part in it--because the evil has returned, and only they have been given the powers needed to defeat it.

Sanctuary Bay

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn't sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate's dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay's glossy reputation.

In this genre-bending YA thriller, Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, Sarah's new school may seem like an idyllic temple of learning, but as she unearths years of terrifying history and manipulation, she discovers this "school" is something much more sinister.

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