Search this blog

Tuesday 15 December 2015

ℚ♫ A Beginner's Guide to Invading Earth[1] - Gerhard Gehrke

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about A Beginner's Guide to Invading Earth (, Booktrope Editions, 326 pages), a Science Fiction novel.

Author Q&A | Synopsis | Trailer | Teaser | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

A very warm welcome to Gerhard Gehrke; thank you for joining us today.

Here at BooksChatter we love music; do you have a music playlist that you used in A Beginner's Guide to Invading Earth, or which inspired you whilst you were writing it?

"As far as music I usually need silence to write.  I occasionally put on some classical (post-Baroque).  Here's an example with Brahms Symphony #2"

What was the inspiration for A Beginner's Guide to Invading Earth?
"A Beginner's Guide to Invading Earth began in my work truck's notebook with the line “No one likes them very much.”  This was to be the conclusion reached by aliens intent on first contact who reached the USA and decided to try other parts of the planet after some unfortunate experiences. This notion evolved into the aliens wanting nothing to do with the entire planet and them hanging a virtual “Do Not Disturb Occupants” sign on our doorknob.

As I fleshed this out over a few months I decided a more focused story that centered on one man's experience as a scapegoat for an alien conspiracy just felt better.  By then I had a rough idea on where I wanted the project to go."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"For emotional honesty each character has a part of me in them.

The main character, Jeff Abel, is paranoid and fearful of technology, which is understandable considering the revelations in recent years about NSA spying.

The second lead character, Jordan, is faced with the temptation to betray her own kind in exchange for being taken from Earth.  How many of us wouldn't at least consider giving up everything for a chance to experience something no other human has?

And the main villain is just frustrated in doing a job that no one understands and no one appreciates and that has driven him a bit loony.  As a long time service business owner, you mostly only hear from your customers when you've done something wrong."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover.  Can you tell us about your cover for A Beginner's Guide to Invading Earth - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"Greg Simanson, a graphic designer, did my cover, and he captured the tone I was looking for.

I wanted a scene depicted that suggested an early event in the book where the initial attempt by some aliens at first contact with a human fails miserably.  The main element is obvious: an alien is standing on a lonely highway with a rather mundane sign and good intentions of having a peaceful close encounter.  But the oncoming headlights behind him suggest doom for the little fellow.

Thanks Greg!"
Why should we read A Beginner's Guide to Invading Earth and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"The reason A Beginner's Guide to Invading Earth should be open in your lap is that it is a fun adventure story that exploits the many tropes and cliches attached to tales of alien encounters.  So often aliens' intentions are either inscrutable or mundane (Mars needs women or Mars needs water.  Why doesn't Mars ever just drop by so we can gossip about Venus?)

I also wanted to have fun with the notion that the disparate conglomeration of aliens running the Alien Welcome Committee isn't of one mind in even wanting humans invited into the galactic commonwealth.  Shenanigans ensue and I want you along for the ride."
Can you tell us something quirky about A Beginner's Guide to Invading Earth, its story and characters?
"My editor had me change both the title and the main character. Apparently Jeff Miller (my original name for the main character Jeff Abel) is the kid from Lassie so she suggested going with something else. And my original title was First Contact.  Quite bland.  Also the name of a Star Trek movie.  Who wants to get sued by Paramount Pictures?

Something else quirky is that I also always wanted to put a race of plant-based aliens in a book that practiced the forbidden art of proctobotany. "
Proctobotany?(!)  I think I might need a definition for that one...

Who would you recommend A Beginner's Guide to Invading Earth to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?

"The book should be accessible to non-science fiction fans and be right up the alley of those comfortable with the genre.

It is not overly grotesque or graphic and is appropriate for younger readers. There's some disrespectful language and mild violence.

Three aliens get accidentally impaled with a kite, so be warned."
If you could / wished to turn A Beginner's Guide to Invading Earth into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"I'd love to have a slightly younger Clancy Brown (The Kurgan in the original Highlander, etc.) as Jeff Abel.  Such a great voice and the right build.

Aimee Garcia (Dexter) could fit as Jordan, as Jordan is a Mexican-American woman.  Aimee would need to punk up her hair and add some purple.

The villainous Grey alien could be played by any angry three-year old.

Locations would be comprised of the fake names I gave to real locations in Northern California.

And get me Kubrick!"
Ah! Kubrick and this story line... my mind can't stop imagining the possibilities...
And if you have never seen Clancy Brown in Highlander, go do it now!

What do you like to write and read about?  Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?

"I like exploring most of what falls under speculative fiction.  Horror has so much in common with science fiction without all the burdensome explanations.  I'm very interested in some post-apocalyptic stories as they explore the question “what do you do when you have less than you have now?”

I also read a lot outside of the science fiction genre, especially history and other non-fiction. Continually improving one's understanding of how the world works can only improve one's writing.  I'm now reading Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror about the 14th century and the black death."
What is your writing process?
"When I can't shake an idea, it goes into a notebook.  When the note in the notebook has enough friends I see what happens when I put them on a page.  If they play well together and get my figurative juices flowing, I keep on it.

I work with loose outlines, more of a connect-the-dots where I want a story to go.  My notebooks have lists of out-of-order scenes, words, and phrases that I later add to whatever I'm working on.  Plenty gets left behind and never used.

Most of my writing gets done early in the morning because my brain turns to mush by 9am when the coffee wears off and I turn into a pumpkin once the sun sets."
I know that feeling... my brain does the very same thing until about 11 PM when I then start to become lucid again... go figure!

What is in store next?

"My second novel was accepted by Booktrope and is a sequel to A Beginner's Guide to Invading Earth.  It picks up soon after the events of the first story.

I also have a work in progress set during the decline of civilization.  No aliens in that one yet."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"My wife has two adopted cockatiels.  She swears they're mine.  They regularly find their way to my desk in search of almonds and head scratches.  Recently Jasper (the young boy bird) decided he likes the taste of my computer cables. It took me a moment to realize my backspace and period key were no longer working as he chewed most of the way through the keyboard's cord.  He's a rescue project that we took on as a neighbor kept him in a dark room for about seven years with little human contact.  When he's not biting me he loves getting his head and neck scratched, so we've made progress."

What a cutie!  Jasper, you are a very lucky boy! :-)  (BTW, I am glad that person was not my neighbour...)
Thank you for sharing Jasper with us - he seems to behave just like a kitten ;-)
And thank you again for joining us today.  We hope you have a great tour!

A Beginner's Guide to Invading Earth
Available NOW!

UK: purchase from purchase from Nook UK purchase from iTunes UK find on Goodreads
US: purchase from purchase from Barnes & Noble purchase from iTunes US


Gerhard Gehrke said...

Good morning Books Chatter and thanks for having me today and conducting the interview! I'll be at a computer for the next hour or so and be back around noon (PST) to check in and answer any questions.

A question for your audience: What's been your last favorite adaptation of a book to movie that you felt was faithful to the original material?

BooksChatter said...

Hi Gerhard, thank you for stopping by!

Your question: that is a tough one. I am going to have to think about it... I have plenty of examples of the opposite... (including the Hunger Games - the latest disappointment - and Interview with the Vampire, which was my first one!)
In fact, I now tend to make sure not to read a book before I watch its film version...


BooksChatter said...

At the moment I can only think of one film that I liked as much as the book... Misery.

As it was released some 15 yrs ago my memories may be tainted, but it felt true to the book, bar some very minor differences that did not really change the ominous feel of the story.

BooksChatter said...

Having said that, I truly hope they DO change / completely rewrite the last part of the Divergent trilogy (Allegiant), or that will be one film to miss as far as I am concerned.

Ben said...

The Harry Potter films in general seemed quite in keeping with the books. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo...

Gerhard Gehrke said...

Good answers. It's always harder to find the good adaptations. I like where it's clear that the director respects the original property yet knows she can't keep everything. I thought The Martian was a good recent effort. The book made me laugh out loud more. But there's so many more disappointments...

Gerhard Gehrke said...

A big thanks to Bookschatter for your hospitality and letting me blab on about myself. I love all the images you posted. Hope everyone has a good night. --GG