One of the busiest authors in sci-fi, Gini Koch has a number of popular on-going and upcoming series. In order to find out more about her current and future projects, as well as her thoughts on writing and the genre as a whole, I fired over some questions.
[Oh, and if you read right until the end, there are details of an exclusive giveaway!]
You’ve got a number of projects on the go, but I thought I’d start with your Alien series, which will see its fifth instalment this April with the release of Alien Diplomacy. How would you introduce the series to a new reader, and what can fans expect from the fifth book?
The Alien series follows the exploits of Katherine “Kitty” Katt, the world’s best accidental badass, who first discovers that the Roswell rumors are true, but with a twist – the aliens are here to help us and, as a side benefit, they’re all gorgeous. Kitty first gets involved helping save the world from parasitic superbeings. As the series progresses, Kitty gets deeper into Centaurion Division, and discovers that there’s a lot more evil out there to fight, and a wide variety of conspiracies to prevent and disrupt, with dangers both internal and extremely external to guard against.
In Alien Diplomacy, everyone’s dealing with a lot of change, and most of them aren’t dealing with it all that well, Kitty in particular. We see the return of some of my personal favorite supporting characters from an earlier book, and they affect things in a big, big way. And, for those who’ve been wondering when, if ever, they’d get an answer about what’s going on in Paraguay, which is a running, so-far-unanswered mystery in the series – that answer begins in earnest in this book.
Where did the inspiration for the series come from? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
I had a dream. Not a world-changing one like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; more of a nightmare, in that sense. This dream was dark, noir-ish, and scary. So I thought I’d write a dark, short, noir-ish horror story. Instead, Kitty’s voice and personality inserted itself, so by page three I realized it would be neither dark, nor short, nor horror. Martini breezed onto the page, charmed Kitty and me, and the rest is, as they say, history.
I get at least 50% of my ideas from my dreams. The rest I get from music, seeing something that strikes me in the right way, snippets of conversation, and sometimes from “what if” scenarios.
You also have a book that will be published by Night Shade Books, Alexander Outland: Space Pirate, which will be released under your G.J. Koch nom de plume. What can you tell us about this novel? Is it going to be the first of a series?
Trouble’s brewing out in space, and Alexander Outland – the least likely hero in the galaxy – and his eccentric crew have to save the day, despite the fact they’d prefer to take the money and run.
Alexander Outland: Space Pirate is science fiction set in the far future, with a lot of humor, action, mystery, and romance. I think readers who like Kitty & Company, are going to love the Outland and his crew. I think of it as Han Solo meets Pirates of the Caribbean.
I certainly see it as a series, and I’m hoping Night Shade does, as well. We’ll see, and presumably will have more on that later.
How were you introduced to genre fiction?
Early, early on. My family had a “read everything” policy, and my grandmother was a HUGE science fiction fan. I was reading at an early age and was a voracious reader. I went from children’s fare to Nancy Drew, A Wrinkle in Time, and Sherlock Holmes, probably in that order, and very early. So, I’ve always had the mystery and science fiction bent. I discovered humor early, too. The things I came to late were romance and fantasy, but only if you count early 20’s as “late”.
How do you enjoy being a writer and working within the publishing industry? Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?
OMG, does anyone who’s publishing say they don’t enjoy being a writer? I work from home, when I want to, where I want to, doing what I love. I don’t just enjoy being a writer, I LOVE being a writer.
Publishing is a business, and I had a long career in marketing before I started writing full time. Ergo, I’m very clear on how the business works. As with any industry, it’s not always easy, but I’ve been blessed to have had nothing but wonderful editors so far, and I have a fabulous agent, so while this is a hurry-up-and-wait business, I deal with it how I deal with everything – I write another book.
As for specific practices, no, not really. The main one is that I sit my butt in my chair, at my computer, and write. Otherwise, I’m an extreme linear writer – I do NOT outline, ever – and I pretty much approach everything that way: I do it when it needs to be done and not a moment before. I research when I need to know, and force myself to stop the reading/researching when I have my answer (which is the trap of research… it’s so interesting you can spend all your writing time reading about what you’re researching and never get the actual writing done).
I don’t do well in an extremely controlled environment, and I’m perfectly capable of making my own stress, thankyouverymuch, so I don’t force myself into the “I will write from this time to this time and X number of words” trap. For some, that’s the only way they can get it done. For me, it turns it into a job, and I don’t want writing turned into a job. For me, writing is joy, and I want to keep it that way.
When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?
I’d always had story ideas, but due to a teacher (who I knew, even at age 15, was an idiot) saying you could only write if you outlined, and my believing her (hey, I WAS 15), I didn’t write for years. I finally had some characters who were so loud and demanding, I had to write them down to shut them up. I looked up eight hours later with the first 200 pages of a novel done, and never looked back. (I type fast, and they weren’t necessarily 200 GOOD pages, but pages they were.)
I absolutely look back on that fondly – It saved my sanity, showed me the thing I was meant to do, and created my second career. My husband can attest that I’m FAR more sane now that I write than before I started and I can attest that I’m FAR more happy. And, I learned to write on that first novel series. I rewrote it nine times, and worked on a variety of other things along the way. Were it not for that, and for the fact that I didn’t know there were “rules” I was supposed to pay attention to, by the time the idea for Touched by an Alien arrived in my dreams, I was actually in a position to write a novel that would get me an agent and a publishing contract.
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
I see the genre as I always have – it’s a fun, cool place to be. I love science fiction, hard, soft or in-between. Every time I meet a science fiction author or read an SF book, I can feel my grandmother beaming. It’s something that keeps me attached to her, even though she passed away years ago.
I don’t really stress about where my work fits in. I stress about readers finding and enjoying my books, but not so much where I fit within a genre, per se. I don’t care if someone thinks I’m writing nonfiction so long as they enjoy what they read. I guess I’m more fan-driven than peer-driven.
What projects are you working on, and what do you have currently in the pipeline?
I’m writing Alien vs. Alien right now (well, not right NOW; right NOW I’m answering these interview questions, but you know what I mean), and then will roll into the next book, Alien in the House. I have other projects I’m working on and that my agent is shopping, but I only talk about what’s contracted, so that would mean “Three Card Monte”, which is the next in my novelette series, The Martian Alliance, for Musa Publishing. Coming soon. I swear. Soon-ish. This year! Really! (Yes, Musa’s waiting on me for this, not the other way around, LOL.)
“Being Neighborly”, the next novelette in The Neighborhood series by Anita Ensal, released from Musa on March 23rd, so there’s that in addition to the novels coming out this year, and whatever else I get done in between writing, promoting, and not sleeping.
What are you reading at the moment (fiction and/or non-fiction)?
I’m almost embarrassed to say nothing. As I write this interview, I’m on deadline for Alien vs. Alien… and I’m running behind. So, I have no down or fun time right now. I do have a huge TBR pile, that gets bigger every day. Especially hoping to get to the next in Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series, and to Marsheila Rockwell’s The Shard Axe, to name only two I’m salivating for. Nonfiction-wise, I have three P.J. O’Rourke books I still want to finish, again, just for starters. I love being a published author, but it’s cut my free time WAY down.
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
So many things, really. I suppose that one would be that I’m not the stereotype of a shy, quiet author who only wants to hide and write books. I’m outgoing, I love meeting people and running my yap, and I write in chaos. It’s silence that bugs the heck out of me. I have to limit my time on Twitter and Facebook, not because I want to, but because I’d spend hours there, and never get anything else done. Not sure that any of that’s a surprise to anyone who’s interacted with me for even five minutes, but maybe it’ll be a shocker to your readers.
What are you most looking forward to in 2012?
Turning in Alien vs. Alien on time, rolling into Alien in the House, the releases of Alien Diplomacy, Alexander Outland: Space Pirate, and Alien vs. Alien, and my daughter heading off to law school. Oh yeah, and proving once and for all that the whole “Mayans predict the world will end this year” stuff is us not getting that everyone has their version of Y2K. The world is not allowed to end in 2012 – I have books coming out in 2013.
Gini Koch has agreed to an exclusive giveaway for our readers! Here’s what’s up for grabs: One copy of winner's choice of one of the first three books (Touched by an Alien, Alien Tango, or Alien in the Family), signed, personalized, and open internationally.
To be in with a chance to win, please indicate your interest in the comments, including some form of contact details (Twitter handle, spam-proofed email address, etc.). If you don’t want to leave your details in the public comments, then I will also accept emailed entries, to: civilian.reader [at] hotmail.co.uk
Gini Koch lives in Hell’s Orientation Area (aka Phoenix, AZ), works her butt off (sadly, not literally) by day, and writes by night with the rest of the beautiful people. She writes the fast, fresh and funny Alien/Katherine “Kitty” Katt series for DAW Books and the Martian Alliance Chronicles series for Musa Publishing. She also writes under a variety of pen names (including G.J. Koch, Anita Ensal, Jemma Chase, A.E. Stanton, and J.C. Koch), listens to rock music 24/7, and is a proud comics geek-girl willing to discuss at any time why Wolverine is the best superhero ever (even if Deadpool does get all the best lines). She speaks frequently on what it takes to become a successful author and other aspects of writing and the publishing business. She can be reached through her website.