Monday, December 12, 2011

Magan Vernon's HOW TO DATE AN ALIEN: Book Review/Interview!!

High school senior Alex Bianchi's estranged father gets her an internship at Circe Operations Center to pad her college applications. But Circe isn't your typical military base. It's an alien-run operation center and not all of the aliens are friendly, especially the one that tries to kill Alex on her first day. When Ace, a dark-eyed Caltian, enters and saves the day, she can't help but be drawn to him. Can these star-crossed lovers survive when they're on the brink of intergalactic war?

I've been following YA author Magan Vernon's blog for quite a while now, and let me just say: she sure can entertain. That's why it's no surprise I freakin' l-o-v-e-d her debut novel, How To Date An Alien. Alex Bianchi is not only a fun narrator, but a relatable one. She's self-conscious yet confident. Kind yet badass when the situation calls for it. I particularly love how she reacts to the whole aliens-and-humans policy inside Circe--aliens are forbidden to date humans, and some members of the latter believe themselves to be superior than the former. The novel's tone is light and fun, but scenes where this bias was explored really spoke to me. How mean can people be to those they don't understand? To those they feel threatened by? Alex certainly had a few low points in regards to learning how to deal with this, but as the story goes on, she manages to handle herself like a pro (an awesome moment inside a cafeteria will forever be my favorite scene). 

And my other fave part about this book? Ace. A-c-e. He's probably one of the most complicated love interests in YA, and that's why I love him. At times, I was like, "Ooooh, I SEE WHAT YOU'RE DOING THERE, ACE." Then I was like, "Umm... WHAT?" But I never stopped rooting for him. As a victim of prejudice and petty jokes, Ace is guarded. He's dedicated to his work (monitoring blogs/websites to make sure aliens aren't revealing their true identities to humans), and he treats Alex with respect, but at a distance. Their chemistry is undeniable, though, which grows even stronger as the story moves along. And I LOVED how they weren't afraid to tell it like it is to each other (a conversation about guyliner comes to mind...). By the end, I understood why they'd fallen in love, and why they'd done everything they did in order to protect that love.

If you like your scifi with a buttload of laughs, How To Date An Alien is for you, folks. 

And now I have a special treat for y'all: an interview with ze author herself, Magan Vernon!!

Check it out:

On the book

1) Tell us about How To Date An Alien's inception. How did this story come to you?

Oh geeze, good question. About two years ago I started really focusing on writing. I wrote a contemporary new adult novel that didn’t get anywhere when I started actually looking at trends. The market was so saturated by vampires at the time that I thought, “You know, I think we need to throw some aliens in the paranormal mix.” Slowly but surely the idea of an alien operations center and a kick-butt heroine came into play and the seed of How to Date an Alien was planted.

2) Your novel is described as a YA sci-fi. What is it about science fiction that appeals to you?

 Truth be told, I’m deathly afraid of aliens. I think that is probably why I’m so attracted to the idea. Aliens may frighten me, but they also intrigue me at the same time. I can’t help but get sucked into all of those alien specials on the History channel even though they give me nightmares.

3) You recently blogged about why you went with an indie publisher for How To Date An Alien. What have you enjoyed most about going indie? What's the hardest thing about it?

The thing I love the most would have to be DarkSide publishing. The girls are so supportive and I love how they’ve given me suggestions that have made my story even better than I ever imagined. I also love the freedom. I was able to pick out my own book cover and I had the final say on changes. The hardest thing is the fact that Indie publishers don’t exactly get the same respect as traditionally published. Somehow we got a bad reputation and people will try to knock us down just because we aren’t with a big publisher. But I’m a fighter and I know that fans of this story will agree.

4) Is How To Date An Alien a standalone, or does it have sequels on the way? 

There are two sequels (I’m not giving away the titles yet) and then two shorties that will go along with the series. The first one is Ace’s story, which is titled ‘A Very Alien Beginning.’ That should be out in Spring of 2012 and the second book in the series should be out by Summer/Fall of 2012.

On writing

1) Are you a pantser or a plotter? 

Pantser, all the way. I actually had no idea where How to Date an Alien was going the entire time and just let the characters tell me.

2) Revisions. Love them or hate them?

I used to hate them, but now that I’m working with DarkSide I actually enjoy them. GP Ching, Karly Kirpatrick, Megg Jensen, and Angela Carlie give the best suggestions and I look forward to my revisions when I get their notes back.

3) How much of How To Date An Alien's first draft made it into the final version?

Funny you should ask. The first chapter was written and re-written at least five different times. Alex’s name actually started out as Sofie White (shortly after she became Italian and Bianchi means white in Italian.) There were a lot of changes along the way and I didn’t even have a name for Ace until Stacey Kade came up with it. About the only thing that made it into the final version from that original draft was an alien operations center and a girl with glasses.

4) What's your #1 piece of advice for aspiring authors?

Never stop loving what you do. If you stop loving the story, then it’s time to move on.

On randomness

1) Favorite TV show/movie: Roswell the TV series and Dogma the movie

2) Favorite candy: Reese’s

3) You're stranded on an island by yourself. Which book would you read over and over again? Ugh this is a hard one!  I would probably go with the Bible. Not only for the religious aspect, but there are so many different stories to choose from with so many different interpretations.

4) If you weren't a writer, you would be: I currently work as Claim’s professional for a   major insurance company by day and I actually love my job. It’s kind of like people watching on the  phone.

Thanks so much to Magan for letting OA be a part of her blog tour!!! Make sure you go follow her blog, her Twitter, and buy your copy of How To Date An Alien over at Amazon!  


  1. How to Date an Alien sounds really fun! Just what I need this holiday season!

  2. Awesome interview! This book sounds right up my alley. Thanks for highlighting it.

  3. The book sounds great! And I love the cover too. Hooray for Magan!


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