Joining us today is Gary Ghislain, author of the YA humorous sci-fi slash romance extravaganza also known as How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend.
Thank you for joining us today, Gary. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?
Here is a bit a about moi: I was born in France and I grew up between Paris and the French Riviera. I studied literature and linguistics in Paris with the definite idea of becoming a fiction writer. After obtaining a master’s degree, I decided to travel the world while writing. I lived and worked in Amsterdam, Lodz (Poland), London, Wellington (New-Zealand), and Stockholm, before returning to France. I read and write in English, though my first language is French and I do speak like Inspector Jacques Clouseau. I now live in Antibes, in the French Riviera, where I write my novels, haunt the fantastic public library (a.k.a. la médiathèque), and occasionally enjoy the sun and the Mediterranean Sea.
When did you first get bit by the writing bug?
I got bitten quite early. And it was quite a bad bite too. I submitted my first completed novel to uber French publisher Gallimard when I was 16. I punished them with one strange manuscript every year after that. Until I thought, ‘mince, alors!’ and swapped to writing in English. I’ve always been bookish. As a kid. As a teen. And now as a wannabe adult. And I’ve always pictured myself as a writer, especially after trying all sort of odd jobs (everything but hanging people, as one of my colleagues once told me) and becoming a real ace at resignation letters.
Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?
I didn’t really choose that genre. I don’t even choose my characters or my stories. I don’t go like, “why don’t you write a vampire story where every teenager is either vampire, werewolf or food?” and, poof, go off to a laptop and write a book. It goes the other way around for me: I need the characters and their story to choose me. I’m like Joan of Arc, in that aspect: to get into action, I need to hear a voice inside my head, the voice of my main character and narrator. If that voice belongs to a teenager, as David in How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend, then I will write a YA title.
What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?
I love bringing back themes that were important to me when I was a teenager: first romance, the on-going war against adults, rebellion against the machine, the supernatural etc. I also love trying to impress the teen I used to be. I love nudging him and bringing him back to life and making him laugh too.
The greatest challenge, of course, is to stay true to that teenage boy I used to be, while at the same time staying true to the adult I’ve become. I remember my teenage years as being very intense and wild and dangerous and rebellious. But as an adult and a parent, I feel like I know better. I’ve given up on violence and destroying things and general wilderness. The hardest thing for me then, is to find a compromise between the adult I am and the teenager I used to be.
Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?
How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend is about an earthling boy falling in love with a girl from outer space. David is the son of a famous French child psychologist. Zelda is his father’s new patient. Zelda believes she’s from outer space. David believes she’s TOTALLY BONKERS. But totally bonkers doesn’t mean much to a boy who’s 14 and in love, and soon David and Zelda are tearing around Paris as she looks for her chosen one so that she can take him back to her planet. And who is her chosen one? The same guy millions of girls wish they could fly away with: Johnny Depp!
Interviewer’s note: I concur with that last statement, especially since the Pirates of the Caribbean movies–though I thought he was a cutie back during his 21 Jump Street days.
What inspired you to write it?
Somehow, I’m always getting my ideas while traveling. Trains. Airplanes. Automobiles or Converse shoes. Every means of transportation goes. This one, I got it in a train, while crossing Sweden. I was thinking about the Norse mythology, the Valkyries, the Vikings, and the crude violence of the early Scandinavian cultures. And, well, I was mostly thinking about Swedish girls! And suddenly, between Gothenburg and Helsingborg, SHAZAM! Zelda was born. A violent space girl, a rude warrior and religious fanatic from outer space who would destroy anyone on her way to her soul mate. A few days later, I was walking through a wood toward Gothenburg City, thinking about Zelda’s story. I needed something more. Something very funny that would drive the story forward. Right there, I had my second SHAZAM moment: she wants what every girl wants: SHE WANTS JOHNNY DEPP! I started to laugh out loud and nearly ran back to my flat to write that story.
Where can readers purchase a copy?
You can order it at my publisher website, www.chroniclebooks.com or add it to your cart at amazon.com, or just walk in your favorite bookstore and pick up a copy at the YA shelf, or just ask them to order it pronto.
Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?
Yes, I do occasionally blog and drop ’10-points-how-to’ lists at http://garyghislain.blogspot.com.
What is up next for you?
Well, I’m working on a new hilarious YA title. Us versus the Galaxy – a fast paced humorous sci-fi meets romance YA extravaganza where all the adults turn into cold blooded Aliens (Invasion of the Body Snatchers Style) – and the teens/kids are left alone to do all the fighting and resistance– it has a good narrator with a funny voice and a deadpan sense of humor.
Do you have anything else to add?
Yes, I do: thank you so much for having me here
Thank you for spending time with us today, Gary. We wish you much success.
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