Today, we have the pleasure of the lovely and talented author of the debut Sci-fi (or sci-fi lite as I lovingly call it) novel Touched By An Alien.
To start off our little chat, let’s break the ice with a personal and perhaps no-no question, cause that’s how I roll.
I’ve noticed that you seem to have an interest in both religion and history, which plays a bit of a roll in Touched By An Alien and has led to some interesting convos between us.
Care to tell us a bit about that?
I do have an interest in both, for different reasons. My mother and grandmother always had an interest in every religion out there, and they studied them, along with astrology, numerology, and biorhythm, as well as anything else that popped up (yeah, it was a party at my house), so I studied them. I was raised as a Quaker (to forestall a lot of inaccuracies -- Ben Franklin/Friendly Persuasion, not the Puritans) but found out a few years ago that my entire family on my mother's side is Jewish, making all that religious study suddenly seem to make a little more sense. I think it's fascinating, what we do for and because of religion, how it motivates both our best and our worst actions, how religions come into being, change, die or succeed. Religion and/or spirituality always manages to creep into my writing. Sometimes in a big way, sometimes not. (So does sex, but that's a whole 'nother discussion.)The Queen B:*cheers for sex*
As for history, I'm married to a history buff, and I find it fascinating, too. The hubs reads huge history books for pleasure (and why not?) so we're loaded with them. I also was resentful of how I was taught history in school -- to me, we should start at the beginning and work forward, not jump around. There were so many fascinating people and events in the past, you could people entire novels with them or facsimiles of them and never run out. And as an author, research is necessary, even if you're writing science fiction that's taking place today or in the future. Have to know where things have come from to know where they could be going. Of course, it's easy to spend all day on the research and not get to the writing, but I do my best to balance the two.
Awesome answers. I feel like we could go off on a whole tangent here, but that would only be interesting to you, me and the two hubs, lol.
LOL, too true. And give the impression that TBAA is a religious meditation when, in reality, that’s only a small part of it.
Now, I read in another interview with you that you write very fast and as we've talked on Twitter you've mentioned how writing is very organic for you. Do you basically go with what comes out in the story the first time? Or does the story ever wander too far off course and you have to
beat it into submission nudge it gently back onto the path?
I tend to write what comes, and most of the time, what comes is what SHOULD come. I edit as I go, which makes what we laughingly call “my process” easier. I will let a story go, re-read the chapters, and then kill my darlings wantonly, if they need killing. I will also leave them alone if they are what they should be, as is.
“Touched by an Alien” was supposed to be a dark short story. By the time Martini hit the page, it was clearly not going to be dark or short. The dark short story did try to reassert itself twice, once during the pivotal scene where Kitty figures out that what’s going on is NOT what it seems, and once during the big fight with the in-control fuglies. I let both get written, re-read them, realized the scenes were completely altering the tone of the book, cut them, started them over, went on my merry way.
I don’t angst about cutting. I don’t angst about writing. I just do it, review it, cut or leave it be as seems right, and move on. I have had to beat things into submission, but if that’s happening, it’s usually a sign of something else going on -- book’s not working right, I’ve contradicted myself or have a character acting out of character, I’m distracted, etc. Not to say that I don’t rewrite things (I do, all the time), but not every time. For me, the easier they come, the happier I am.
Wow, I both admire that and am insanely envious of it. It’s a good thing, I like you….
On to the important stuff: I loved the romance in Touched By An Alien. It was nice to see Martini know what he wanted and go for it. He's a bit of a nice guy character which is really refreshing from all the constant
assholes bad boys that sci-fi/fantasy and romance are often populated with. I recently had a bit of a discussion with another author about good guy heroes and their appeal and I think that a lot more people are starting to get on that bandwagon. I loooove a nice guy who's willing to get down and dirty and be a little bad for his girl. That's kinda how Martini read to me (and hence the drool over here). Did I read him right? Is all that inner passion on tap for Kitty? *coughelevatorscenecough*
I’m really glad that most readers seem to be positively responding to Martini as the romantic hero. Most of my beta readers were Christopher fans. I love him, but he’s not the right guy for Kitty, and I did wonder if I was going to get push-back because of it. (Thankfully, my awesome editor at DAW had no issues about that whatsoever.) And yes, I see Martini like you see Martini.
Martini’s an empath, so he’s very able to spot when he’s finally made that connection. As Kitty says, he’d been searching for her all of his life. So when she finally appeared, he wasn’t going to waste any time staking his claim.
I’m all for bad boys, but I’d like them to be decent people, particularly to the heroine. (The hubs was a bad boy in a way (certainly per all my friends) but he never treated me badly; just the opposite, which is why I fell in love with him.) And, yes, Martini is a nice guy who’s willing to do what he has to in order to protect his girl, his people, and the planet. He’s also very much in control in the bedroom, and not just because he’s empathic, though that, of course, helps.
Martini is an extremely passionate person -- all the empaths are -- but they have to control it or go insane, so their blocks tend to make them seem less passionate than others around them. Martini doesn’t have to control that with Kitty, which is yet another reason why he’s crazy about her. And another reason why he was so pissed about “the incident”, and also why he chose what he did, and how he did it, to completely re-stake his claim and ensure said claim wasn’t going anywhere but right back into bed with him.
::thud:: Sorry, I’ll be good in a minute…… ::picks self off floor. Wipes drool::
Shall we continue then?
In the story, Kitty is a big comic book buff and sci-fi fan. How much do you love comics and sci-fi, too? *shout out to your hubs, btw for excellent taste in Star Trek*
I love science fiction and fantasy, too. My grandmother was a HUGE science fiction buff, and a passionate Trekkie, and she felt that if a science fiction writer could come up with the idea, man could create said idea. To her, the science fiction writers led the way into the future. So, needless to say, it’s a higher calling for me. (As laughably pretentious as that sounds, particularly coming from someone who is in no way writing hard SF.)
I love science fiction, but I ADORE the comics. Far more than I should, I’m sure. But I can’t help it. You have never seen a more hilarious happy dance than the one I did when I found out I was accepted to go to this year’s Comic-Con as a professional. I’ll do my best to act like a professional while there, but I wouldn’t place money on my achieving it. (I’m goin’ to COMIC-CON, baby! AS A PROFESSIONAL! WHOO-EE!) *cough* Um, yeah, you see how it’s going to be. The hubs, aka Mr. Old School Star Trek, is equally jazzed, and sends a ‘the New Star Trek movie was evil to alter the sacred timeline’ holla right back to you. (Going to Comic-Con? Lemme know and let’s geek out together! Send an email to email@example.com to coordinate.)
I love the comics for what you can do with them, the different ways you can address issues and propose solutions, and just how generally cool they are. I am a passionate X-Men fan (Wolverine RULES) and I do love me some Batman. I’m all over both Marvel and DC, and I do like many of the other, smaller imprints as well. One of my fave movies of all time is “Mystery Men”, and “Men In Black”, also a fave, was a comic before it was a movie. The original “The Tick” comics may have been the funniest things ever done, and I loved the animated series, too. I love animation as well as comics (to me they go hand-in-hand), and I’m not too proud to say that I love “Kim Possible”. “Watchmen” is not only the greatest graphic novel ever created, it’s also one of the best novels ever written.
Gads, I’m gonna stop here. CLEARLY I could run the yap about comics, graphic novels, and their related movies and TV shows all month long.
My hubs would love you. Batman and Wolverine. That makes you good people in his book ;)
Your hubs clearly has as good a taste in comics as he does in wives. (Mine too ;-D)
*blushes* Oh you flatterer, you.
Martini and Kitty are a great fit together and I love how they fight, banter, and do....um...other things together. Any hints on how their relationship will develop as the books progress?
Kitty and Martini will hit a major bump in the road in “Alien Tango”, and for a variety of reasons, Martini is always going to be a jealous dude. But overall, if you like Kitty and Martini together, you will be happy campers as the books go on. If you don’t, well, I have a couple alternate universe books planned for later, so we shall see, won’t we?
But, not to worry, the great sex will continue. ;-D
It seems that Kitty was the only one not aware of Christopher’s interest in her. Reader, her mom, Martini (course he's an empath), pretty much everyone knew that Christopher had the hots for her and it took a long time for her to figure that out. Why is that?
Kitty is dense in some ways, but very astute in others. She can tell you every CD and song in her iPod, when she got them, what condition the cases are in, and so on. But she's lost in the Dulce Science Center and may remain so. She can identify which comic book had which situation she loved or hated in it. If it interests her -- like gentics, animal life sciences, music and comics do -- then she's all over the details. If it doesn't, then she learns enough to get by and goes on her merry way.
Kitty isn't really into the whole dating subterfuge thing. As readers will see in "Alien Tango", she hums along (and has hummed along for years) without noticing key clues. She's not overwhelmingly good with romantic innuendo. If you say, "I don't like you," she assumes, hey, you don't like her. She's a very open, straightforward person, and therefore expects those close to her to be the same. (In other words, Martini knows what he's doing. LOL) She knows bad guys lie, but does expect that her nearest and dearest will tell her the truth. As we find out, that's not exactly the case, but Kitty always finds a way to deal.
That said, why she's just what Centaurion Division needs is her ability to look at things from her own completely skewed perspective. She may not pay attention to some things, but she's fully capable of pulling it together when it matters. She's the outsider in the entire situation, and she's a human, who doesn't know what's going on -- and hasn't grown up/spent a lot of years assuming things are 'one way only' -- and who has a very different world view and set of experiences than anyone who's been dealing with the A-Cs and the parasitic threat, so she's looking at everything differently than those who've been dealing with the parasites for their entire lives.
Basically, the sum of what she's done and how she thinks -- which is different from how almost everyone else in and working with Centaurion thinks -- is why Kitty manages to solve issues and save the day. Well, that and her musical choices, her willingness to try the crazy, and her inclination to never go out without her hairspray.
Personally, I appreciate that in a woman. Ladies, take note: Always be prepared.
How many books are we looking at in this series?
As many as DAW lets me write. I could, and would, happily write books in this series for a long time, possibly forever. I see no end to what the characters can get up to and into, and there’s always some fugly monster, evil megalomaniac, or out-of-control psychopath ready to destroy the world and everyone in it.
Basically, if the books sell well, the Alien Series will continue on. So, if you know someone who doesn’t own “Touched by an Alien”, get them to buy a copy, pronto. LOL
Now, when you say that you could write the series pretty much into infinity and beyond (I make myself giggle sometimes), that may make some readers a little head shy. I can definitely see where this series has a lot of potential and there is definitely room for lots more books with solid action and plot and character development. Having said that, there are some series, that shall remain nameless (but I think you know who you are *glares*) that have gone on for so long without any real direction anymore and with little to no character development. I, as a reader, will gladly fork over the cash and continue to support a favorite series and wish that it will never end, but I do start to get resentful if I feel like the author is just milking it for the moolah (heh, I used that in a sentence) and I begin to wish that they would just wrap it up already.
So, after that very long preface, my question is: Do you have a definite stopping point in mind? Is there a time when you would know that the series had "jumped the shark" so to speak and needed to end gracefully? Is there an overall character arc for the series?
Definite stopping point? No. I'm very clear on where the characters -- all the ones you've met and all the ones you will meet in subsequent books -- are going. I don't foresee running out of situations any time in the near future. (And, wait, there is moolah in this equation? I will get moolah? When, I wonder...LOL) To me, if you, as an author, treat your characters as if they're real, living beings, well, they can continue to grow and change, can't they? I mean (and thank God), I'm a very different person now than I was when I was 22, but that doesn't mean I'm no longer interesting and vital -- and I'm still ME, too. I resent the idea that someone might think I plan to keep Kitty aged 27 for the rest of the series. Kitty, along with everyone else, will be growing and changing as her world and life expand and grow. This is the main reason I don't see myself running out of ideas -- what you do when you're 27 and single and what you'll do when you're 30 and married with children may be different, but you can still be awesome about it and still manage to save the day. (I'll put a minivan up against a roadster any day when it comes to ramming power. ;-D)
As for jumping the shark, well, that's all a matter of perspective, and that perspective is in the eye of each individual. There are some series where I stopped reading because the main character just seemed incapable of making a romantic choice, and therefore, to me, the series stalled out. But then there are other series (Terry Pratchett's "Discworld", for example) that keep on going, book after awesome book. I may not love some as much as others, but overall, the series isn't jumping any shark anytime soon.
There are people out there who won't like "Touched by an Alien" and will tell you it jumped the moment they opened the cover. There are those who will follow it (I certainly hope) until I decide to end it. But "Touched by an Alien" is the first in what I hope to be a long series, and, frankly, it's too early for me to be able to say, "Oh, here, exactly here is where I end it."
Rest assured, when it's time to be done, the characters will tell me. They tell me everything else, I can assure you they'll tell me when they're ready to call it a day.
I just have to say that I appreciate that point of view. I love watching my fave characters grow and change and I resent the idea that just because they get married, change careers, have kids or whatever that they can no longer be interesting or have adventures. I, personally, would love to see all these characters grow and face real life issues right along with their out of this world bad guy fighting drama.
Amen, sister. It’s like you’re reading my mind and ahead in the series.
Now, onto one of my fave characters in the book.
It's all about Reader, baby. I want to be a Reader/Me/Gower sandwich. I loved the relationship between Reader and Kitty. They were like friend/soul mates and their sassy banter had me rolling, mixed with their obvious loyalty to each other made for fab reading. What does the future have in store for our hunky and sassy Mr. Reader? Are we going to get more awesome scenes with Reader and Kitty? *makes puppy dog eyes*
I love Reader, and I do mean LOVE him. He’s one of my favorite characters, ever. Kitty has two soul mates, both of whom will be clearly revealed as the series goes on, and yes, Reader is one of them. (Ha! I called that one, beyotches! *pumps fist*)
Honestly, I’ve been surprised that Reader hasn’t gotten more play in terms of reviews and reader reactions -- I think your review of “Touched by an Alien” was the first to mention the character at all (I could be wrong, and if I am, whoever mentioned him first, don’t hate me). But, you know, to each their own, right?
Reader will remain a vital part of the Alien Series. He will also, as far as I can tell down the road, remain with Gower -- they have a very stable, healthy relationship. Gower has a lot of fascinating stuff that’s going to happen to him in “Alien Tango”, courtesy of Kitty, too. I really enjoy both characters, even while I put them into dangerous situations with people trying to destroy them. Of course, that’s business as usual for the entire cast of the Alien Series, so they’re only dealing with their fair share.
Reader and Kitty joke about it, but it’s true -- if he was straight, she WOULD be his girl. But, he’s not, and while they joke, neither he nor Gower are turning straight or even bi any time soon. But there will be plenty of Reader and Gower in “Alien Tango” for sure. (And alligators. But I digress…)
As for the sandwich idea, well, girl, put it this way -- you’re not the only one who’d like that. Maybe as a special treat, somewhere down the line...
I would have your babies if you did that. Just sayin. And I think we could start a whole movement. No lie.
LOL. (The hubs says no babies, no pets, but he’s all over the idea of some other kind of bribe.) Well, I’d be willing to negotiate, if there was enough interest. And by “enough” I mean, “more than just you”. So, let me know who else is hoping for the ‘one off’ stories and we shall see what may be done.
Woo hoo, People! You hear that? I defy you to read this book and not want more Reader and possibly more Reader shirtless and oiled up with Gower and
Me Kitty there, lol.
I want to thank you for coming out and playin with me today.
It was a blast. Great questions and I love your work, babe, so it was a joy to be here.
Gini is loads of fun, y’all. Follow her on Twitter: @GiniKoch. You can also find her at her blog, her website and Facebook.
Now, on to the good part. I am giving away a copy of Touched By An Alien to a lucky commenter. You just need to be a follower and leave a comment on this post for Gini or me or both. We'd love to hear what you're looking forward to in Touched By An Alien or in the next book, Alien Tango, that comes out December 7, 2010. Contest is international. I'll be shipping from book depository so check that you're on their list of countries they ship to here. So stop on by and show some love. ;)
Contest ends on 5/24 at 11:59 PM PST.