We are so excited to have with us here today Gini Koch, author of The Alien Series from Daw books. Gini’s debut novel, Touched by an Alien was released on April 6th and will be quickly followed up by Alien Tango on December 7th. With the great amount of success Touched by an Alien has had through out the blogasphere, we snatched up the chance to sit down with Gini and get some of our questions answered.
Happy to be here, thanks for having me!
Book Pushers: Touched by an Alien was your debut novel, can you tell us a little about your road to publication?
It was long. LOL. But once I wrote Touched by an Alien it went a lot faster. I met the woman who would become my agent at a writer’s conference when I was in the middle of Touched by an Alien. I had two other completed novels, and had already sold in short humor. We hit it off, and when Touched by an Alien was done I sent it to her, since she was one of my top hoped-for agents. She loved it, and signed me pretty much as soon as she finished reading it.
After the jumping up and down portion of the call, she asked me where I wanted to be published, if I had a dream publisher. I did, DAW Books, and thus Touched by an Alien went straight to DAW, who bought it and Alien Tango in a two-book deal six months later. They bought another two books, Alien in the Family and Alien Proliferation, right after Touched by an Alien came out.
While waiting to get my first editorial edits on Touched by an Alien, I also sold in short science fiction, fantasy, and horror.
All that sounds fast, and it is, but really, I’d been writing for years before this series, so I paid my dues and learned my craft and the business of publishing. Patience, professionalism and perseverance are what it takes to succeed, in anything, but especially in publishing.
Book Pushers: Touched by an Alien was received fabulously by the online blogging community. What do you think the success is behind your constant blog presence?
The blogosphere likes me, it really, really likes me! LOL.
I say it frequently — I thank God every day for two things in regard to Touched by an Alien: my cover art/artist and the blogosphere.
Honestly, I think it’s because I’m very involved online — I link to all my reviews, I’m interactive when doing interviews, I respond to comments and emails, I’m active on Facebook and Twitter, and I’m pretty much always going to say “yes” to any idea that involves me supporting your blog (using the general ‘you’, though anything I can do for The Bookpushers is, of course, a given) as long as there‘s a logical or fun reason for me to do so.
Because I’d studied the business of publishing, I was really aware that I’d have to do the majority of marketing and promotion myself. So I was already focused on finding the people who liked or loved my book and supporting them. It equals out — I write a book you like and you tell the world about it, I tell everyone in the world to go to your site.
I also have to give a lot of credit to my fans. By the way, the mere fact that I HAVE fans never stops exciting me, never gets old. I LOVE my fans. And my fans have really taken it upon themselves to let everyone they can know about my books. That’s amazing, and honestly, I have no idea how you “make” that happen. You luck into awesome fans is how I see it, at least, that’s how it’s worked for me.
Book Pushers: Alien Tango will be coming out in December, what can you tell us about what adventures Kitty and Martini will be getting themselves into next?
Alien Tango — it’s all about the gators, baby!
For Katherine “Kitty” Katt, Alien Super-Being Exterminator, anti-alien conspiracies, threats from outer space, and a couple of killer alligators are all in a day’s work. But internal alien schemes and some major romantic complications bring new meaning to the term ‘chaos and confusion’.
It’s been five months since Kitty joined Centaurion Division, working with the aliens from Alpha Centauri. She and Jeff Martini have grown closer as a couple and life looks rosy. But when an experimental spacecraft is mysteriously returned to the Kennedy Space Center, Kitty and the rest of Alpha Team are called out to investigate and are immediately embroiled in life or death situations that scream ‘political conspiracy’.
The team must survive repeated murderous attacks, remove a mysterious space entity from a group of astronauts, and avoid an unhinged woman with a serious crush on Kitty’s old high school boyfriend. And that’s all before the masterminds decide Kitty’s extermination is vital — and take matters into their own hands.
From the science fiction side, we see much more of Centaurion Division that we did before, including more of how they work with government agencies. We also see Alpha Team under a variety of deadly attacks. A good portion of the action takes place in Florida at and around the Space Center, and we have a different kind of alien involved, as well as a different kind of enemy.
From the romantic side, in addition to some conspiracies that catch everyone pretty much by surprise, Kitty and Martini are having the ever-present relationship challenge of “does your family like me, and why not?” I never went through this personally (my in-laws are the best) but I had lots of friends who did, and I certainly went through it with former boyfriends. I think everyone can relate to that issue and the desire to impress the family of the person you love.Plus there’s a romantic rival that Martini may have seen coming, but not like this, and whose presence could change everything for Kitty.
Excerpt from Alien Tango
Gower handed me a folder. “Make sure you all read this before you get there.”
“This is like an inch thick, Paul. I’m a fast reader, but not this fast.”
“You’re not using a gate, you’re flying. In a regular plane.”
“What?” Martini sounded as shocked as I felt.
“I told you, it’s political.” Gower didn’t look happy.
“Crap. This means I have to wear a suit, doesn’t it? And heels.”
“You clean up nice, so let’s take care of that.” Martini took my hand and we headed toward a gate anyway.
“Jeff, you have to leave right now.”
Martini spun around. “No. If we have to leave now, we use a gate. I’m the damned head of the Field and you’re telling me I have to send our highest ranking team via public air, which is like asking Tiger Woods to use a miniature golf club to win the Masters. So, we’re packing for a trip, and if that means we miss taking Slower-Than-Dirt Airlines, then we’ll just use a gate and get there before it’s all over.”
He spun back, and dragged me along with him. “We’ll pack fast,” I shouted to Gower.
We reached a gate and Martini calibrated. I ignored it on the grounds that nausea wasn’t going to be helpful right now.
Reader and Tim came racing up. “Thank God you’re letting us pack, Jeff,” Reader said. “What the hell’s going on?”
“No idea, he’s your boyfriend.” Martini seemed to realize what he’d said. “Wait a minute — Paul didn’t tell you what’s going on, either?”
Reader shook his head. “No. He’s really not happy about whatever it is, though.”
I held up the file. “Here, you live for the light reading.”
The gate was ready and Martini picked me up. Him holding me was always my preferred way to travel. Normally in a rush situation we’d have gone single, but he was angry. I didn’t mind — burying my face in Martini’s neck helped a lot with the nausea.
He stepped us through, I buried my face, he held me tighter. It was comforting. At least something was normal.
End of Excerpt
Book Pushers: Many of your fans out there love Christopher. Can you tell us, will he ever find his own special lady? Will she be AC or human?
Yes, Christopher will make his own love connection. No, I’m not gonna tell you when, other than to say it’s not in Alien Tango. And you don’t get to find out who until the right time, ‘cause otherwise, it’ll spoil the surprise.
Book Pushers: Do you have a clear idea of how many books there will be in the series, or are you thinking one book at a time?
Well, as you guys know, but your readers might not, I just got confirmation that DAW has bought Books 5 & 6 of the series! Yes, I’m still doing the Happy Dance about that, too. So Alien Diplomacy and Alien vs. Alien will be coming out in 2012, after Alien in the Family (April 5, 2011) and Alien Proliferation (Winter 2011).
I’ve got at least through Book 12 mapped out in my mind. I don’t outline because I’m a linear writer, meaning that it’s easy to get a lot more than the 12 I have ideas for. My original plan for Alien Tango was altered completely once I started writing it, and that storyline is still waiting in the wings, for example. Could I go past 12? Absolutely. I’m a writer, I love these characters, why not?
I know there are some readers who cringe when an author says what I say, that I can write as many books in this universe as DAW and the readers let me. But I think they cringe because they’ve hit some series where the characters stop growing and changing. I don’t think that’s realistic and I don‘t like that, either.
Everyone grows and changes as they get older, get married, have kids, change careers, etc. I look at these characters the same way — Kitty’s the same person, but she’s grown between Touched by an Alien and Alien Tango, and I expect the readers will see that. Can I keep it up? Sure. I’m not the same person I was at 22 (and many say thank God for that), but I’m still interesting and do fun and interesting things. Why should my characters do any less?
Bottom line: The characters will tell me when they’re done, and that will be the time to say “last book in the series”.
Book Pushers: The cover artist for your books is Dan Dos Santos. How excited were you when you found out he would be your cover artist? He does such amazing art!
I was beyond excited. I can remember calling my agent and my voice was literally three octaves higher than normal while we were looking at his website and I was screaming, “He did Hellboy! He did Hellboy! Oh my God, I knew I recognized his style, I’ve got the same artist who did Hellboy!“ Yeah, I handled that totally professionally. Then she screamed, “He does Mercy Thompson! I knew I recognized that name!” Yeah, we were both calm, cool and collected. Totally.
Dan’s a wonderful artist, and a really neat person, too. He truly captures the entire essence of my books in one piece of artwork. I find that ability to be beyond amazing. Sometimes I can talk about it in my normal vocal register, too. But not often.
Book Pushers: What do you love most about the Sci-Fi Romance genre?
I could wax rhapsodic on this question, and get all technical and verbose and sound like a creative writing professor talking about juxtaposition and beauty of form and all that. But the bottom line truth is that I like it because I can do all the cool, fun and amazing “what if” scenarios that are at the core of science fiction and also allow my characters to do the dirty deed anywhere and everywhere.
I’m a simple creature, really.
Book Pushers: Since you have written a wide variety of aliens, what aliens in fiction/popular culture are your favourites?
Other than my own? LOL. I’d have to say I really love the aliens in “Galaxy Quest” and “Men in Black”. If I wanted to make an alien love connection with a character other than my own, I go back to “Starman”, because that movie was probably my first exposure to true science fiction romance, and I can still remember how I felt watching it. And because I’m a total comics geek-girl, you have to love the main alien of all comics, Superman.
I hate the “favorites” question because I find it hard to pick just one fave of anything (other than husband and child) and I always forget something and then remember it at 3am, when it’s too late. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something now. But oh well, that’s what 3am is for, right?
Book Pushers: Do you have any plans for future books in the same genre, or do you have plans to write in different genres under Gini Koch?
I’m always writing, so you never can tell. At this point, I’m very busy finalizing Alien Proliferation, then I plan to roll into Alien Diplomacy. Until a book or short story’s done and ready to submit, I don’t talk about it to anyone but my crit partner, beta team, and agent or, in the case of sold properties, editor. I find it both to be bad luck and bad for my creative process.
I also think readers don’t necessarily understand that just because you wrote it, it doesn’t mean it’s sold. There’s many a slip ‘twix the cup and the lip, you know? Which is another reason I don’t talk about things until they’re done, out, and sold, because why mention it if you’re not going to see it for years? Publishing is a slow business; wondering when something is going to sell and/or hit the shelves makes it that much slower, so I don’t. And therefore, I don’t talk about anything but what’s sold and coming to a bookstore near you.
Book Pushers: You write under what seems like a ZILLION different pen names. What else do you have coming out soon?
LOL, oh, not THAT many. But yes, I do write under a variety. I have two short stories written under my Anita Ensal pen name coming out in two DAW anthologies.
“Wanted”, which is a science fiction romance short, will be in Love and Rockets, which releases Dec. 7th (yes, the same day as Alien Tango; yes, I’m gonna be busy). “Being Neighborly”, which is a rural fantasy short, will be in Boondocks Fantasy, which releases Jan. 4th, 2011.
They’re both in mass market paperback and, I believe, all ebook formats as well, and will be in all the major chains and such, wherever DAW Books are sold (which, as we know, is all over).
Book Pushers: And last, but certainly the most fun: If you had the chance to arrange an ultimate fight match, which aliens would you choose (they can be from your books or anywhere else in the world of popular fiction), and who would you root for?
Well. Huh. If I can take any aliens, anywhere, from any medium, I put Jeff Martini against Han Solo (hey, Han’s an alien in OUR galaxy) in a cage fight, though I’d like them to play by mud wrestling rules, so that they don’t beat each other up so much as merely parade around in the skimpy shorts. And I’d root for them to get oiled up and then drenched in water. (It’s MY fantasy, I can do what I want, thankyouverymuch.)
If we’re going more serious in nature, I put Superman up against Venom. Yes, DC versus Marvel. Good guy against evil symbiote. And I put my money on Superman because, well, even when he loses, he wins.
BTW, every time I mention Superman, people seem to think he’s my fave comics character. He’s not. He’s just the most obvious alien in the comics/media to me. My fave comics character is, hands down, now and forever, Wolverine. And I would put Wolverine in a cage against ANYbody or ANYthing and put my money on him, ‘cause Wolverine is da MAN! And yes, I’d also put him in the cage with Han and Martini, all oiled up and in the skimpy shorts. ‘Cause that’s the kind of girl I am.