Planning any wedding is hard enough, but Katherine "Kitty" Katt and Jeff Martini have a lot more to worry about than seating arrangements, because multiple interstellar invasions, Alpha Team in mortal peril, and inter-alien conspiracies are all on the guest list -- and the gifts they've brought explode.
Kitty and Martini should be happily finalizing their wedding plans. Kitty?s biggest worries should be about winning over Martini?s mother, finding the right dress, and lining up her bridesmaids. But protecting the Earth from assorted alien threats seems to keep getting in the way.
The discovery that Martini is actually a member of the Alpha Centaurion Royal Family carries additional news -- emissaries are on their way to see if Kitty?s royal bride material. And they?re not the only things coming from the Alpha Centaurion system.
Amazonian assassins, spies, alien beasties, shape-shifters, and representatives from the Planetary Council, combined with a tabloid reporter who?s a little too on the mark, create a deadly situation for Kitty and the rest of Alpha Team. When the assassins strike far too close to home for anyone?s comfort, Kitty realizes it?s going to come down to more than flowers -- she?s going to have to face an entire planetary consciousness and dethrone a monarch in order to make it to the church on time.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
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, listens to rock music 24/7 (particularly, but not limited to, Aerosmith), 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 also speaks frequently on what it takes to become a successful author and other aspects of writing and the publishing business.
Her interests include seeing how often she can ask, "So, have I told you about this plot twist yet?" of her husband before he goes insane, going to rock concerts with her daughter, and training her pets to 'bring it'. Gini started writing to have an excuse to stay up late playing on the computer while listening to music and mooning over pictures of Steven Tyler and Joe Perry.
Now she's expanded her thinking -- she moons over a wide variety of hunks in order to keep the visual creative juices flowing. So to speak.
Gini also writes under a variety of pen names, including Anita Ensal and J.C. Koch. Because they just can?t stop the signal.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I?ve always had story ideas, run scenes in my mind. However, I was told by a teacher that the only way someone could write was by outlining. And I listened to that really awful advice for far too long.
Finally, though, there were a set of voices in my head that were so loud and demanding, I wrote them down to shut them up. And never looked back.
What surprised you the most about the writing/publishing process?
That, in fact, all those ?absolutes? you hear about and are taught are all bunk. There is no ?one way? to create anything artistic. No one has the right to say ?this is the only way to do something?. What they MEAN is ?This is the way I do it, and so that means it?s the way you have to do it, too.? Which is, again, bunk.
I was very aware that publishing was a business, and a slow one at that, so nothing on the business side has been much of a surprise.
How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I?m a linear writer. I start with the title and the first line and go from there. About half of my story ideas come from dreams. The other half from various influences, including music.
My entire ?process? could be described as a Nike slogan: I just do it. The most important thing for me is the right music playing, and I always need music with lyrics. The bands rarely make sense when juxtaposed against the story, but they work for me. I spend more time finding the right music than anything else, because the wrong music means I?m working on a different book or cutting a lot of words.
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Something you, the reader, enjoy. Something that keeps you turning the pages. Something that you think about after you?ve read it. If you can get all three, then the book is great.
I don?t really delve into good or bad, because writing is art, and all art is subjective. One girl?s trash is another girl?s gold, you know? So I try not to toss anything else onto that particular pile.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
?You want to explain this? Keeping in mind we have both the C.I.A. and the P.T.C.U. represented in the room?? White looked shaken enough I felt it necessary to remind him he wasn?t with family, only.
He shook his head. ?I can?t believe it.?
?Neither can we. Not that we know what ?it? is, but we?re willing to bet we won?t believe it, either.?
White looked at Chuckie. ?Were there lights somewhere??
?Funny you ask.? Chuckie explained the light pattern, both physical and time-wise, and where they were located. ?What about those mountain ranges is significant??
?Nothing, they?re just close and in the right formation.? White had his head leaning in one hand. I was prepared for every A-C to do this shortly.
?So that message could have been sent in to any region?? Chuckie was being polite, but I could tell he was getting tired of one sentence answers.
?No. It went to the nearest formation by the active piece.? White indicated the necklace. ?How did you realize what it was??
Chuckie shrugged. ?I?m observant, more than most people.? This I knew to be true. ?I?ve seen that thing around Kitty?s neck any time I?ve seen her for the last six months. It was easy to recognize. Six months ago, the second time I saw it,? he added.
?Why didn?t you bring this to our attention sooner?? White sounded angry.
Chuckie let the knife show, just a bit. ?Because we had to make sure this wasn?t some kind of dangerous power play being made by Centaurion personnel.? He pointedly looked over at Martini.
?Jeffrey has nothing to do with this,? White said, eyes narrowed.
?Bullshit. He has everything to do with it. However, I?m willing to accept that he had no idea what giving that necklace to Kitty was going to trigger.?
?Richard, it?s sort of creepier than that. The first light manifestation appeared during Operation Fugly.? On cue, White winced. ?Um, I mean, during the Big Take-down. Or whatever you call it.? I never paid attention their names for offensives -- they were always official and boring.
?When Jeff knew he wanted to marry her,? Christopher added quietly. ?As near as Reynolds has told us, pretty much the same night.?
White nodded. ?They are tuned to the family, and Jeffrey?s the last in Alfred?s line.? He closed his eyes. ?This will happen with you, too, son.?
?What?? Christopher looked shocked. ?I?m not getting married. And, I?m part of your male line.?
?Yes, but it?s different for you because of your mother. And, I know you?ve not declared for anyone yet, but when you do?? White?s voice trailed off and he looked at me. ?Oh dear.?
?This just went to DEFCON Worse, didn?t it??
?Oh, hell.? Reader had his head in his hands. It was catching.
?What? James, what??
He looked around. ?Oh, well. Not like it?s a secret to anyone in this room.? He sighed. ?Kitty, Jeff wasn?t the only one who, ah?.? His voice trailed off and he shot an uncomfortable look towards Christopher.
Who went pale. ?Oh, you?ve got to be kidding! We?re past that!? He shot a look at Martini. ?Really, we?re past that.? What we were past was the fact Christopher had also wanted me when we?d first met, and we?d had a brief, wild moment in an elevator. Martini had had a hard enough time letting the incident go, but Christopher and I had been very careful since then and hadn?t done anything remotely romantic, and in fact, acted like opposing magnets when something potentially romantic loomed.
?Yeah, yeah, doesn?t matter,? Martini shot back. ?Reynolds is going to be a bigger problem.?
?Me? Why?? Chuckie sounded confused for the first time.
Martini spun around. ?Because you still want to marry her if you can. It?s complex, and it?s not pretty, and I need to get the rest of the details.? He looked at Gower. ?We need everyone on high alert. Everyone?s going to have to be briefed, in shifts, key personnel first. But down to the youngest child who?s of age to know why we?re all really here. Oh, and all of my family, and I do mean all, down to the youngest kids who can communicate verbally or mentally.? He went back to his corner.
We all looked at each other. ?Richard, you mind telling us what?s going on? I mean, it?s that, or we all just go running off screaming into the streets.?
White took a deep breath and let it out slowly. ?Alfred and my late wife were cousins, not as close as Christopher and Jeffrey are, about as close as Jeffrey and Paul, and Michael, are.?
Interesting, hadn?t known that. ?Okay?so, cousins married a brother and sister. Not totally unusual.?
?No, not at all, on either one of our worlds.? White didn?t want to go on, it was obvious.
Michael, who?d been uncharacteristically quiet this entire time, spoke up. ?You want me to explain it?? He was a smaller version of his older brother -- big, black, bald and gorgeous. He was also a major womanizer, but I doubted that had relevance here.
?How do you know?? White sounded shocked. Gower looked as shocked as White sounded.
Michael shrugged. ?My mother told me about it. She was?concerned I would use our Unity Necklace?inappropriately.? Oh, wow, so him being a womanizer was relevant. Double interesting.
?What did she tell you?? White sounded guarded.
?That we were close enough from a blood standpoint that it could affect us.?
?What could affect you?? I figured the rest of us were getting as impatient as I was.
Michael gave me a wry smile. ?Jeff and Christopher are part of the Alpha Centaurion Royal Family.?
I sat there. This didn?t compute. At all. ?Come again??
?Royal family. You?re marrying into it.? Michael seemed to find this funny.
I looked at White. ?He?s kidding, right??
?No, he?s not.? White looked like this was a conversation he?d never wanted to engage in. ?Alfred and Theresa were the grandchildren of the reigning monarch when we all left.?
?They exiled their own grandkids?!? Oh, I did not want to meet this part of Martini?s family at all.
?No. Alfred and Theresa made the choice to come with us to Earth.?
?Hang on. Paul and Michael aren?t that close to this bloodline, from what you all told me. You and Lucinda have another sister, and their father is her husband?s brother. So, what?s the connection??
?Our other sister also married into the Royal family,? White admitted.
?Farther away from the monarchy,? Michael added. ?More like a distant cousin of the reigning monarch?s, versus his direct grandchildren.?
?Um, is your home world a lot less populated than ours??
?No, more populated, at least it was when we left,? White replied. ?Why??
?It?s a little odd to have this many people married into the monarchy, at least around here.?
?America doesn?t have a monarchy,? Michael reminded me.
?England does,? Chuckie said. ?Were you all in someplace smaller like that??
?I suppose, maybe smaller. Think of it more like living in Washington, D.C. Our families were politically involved, after all.?
I turned to Christopher. He looked as shocked as I felt. ?You didn?t know??
?Not really. My mother never talked about her family. She only spoke about the family here on Earth -- she told me and Jeff they were the only A-Cs who mattered.?
?I can understand why.? I looked back to Michael. ?So, what else??
He shrugged. ?My mother was worried this sort of thing would happen. When a member of the Royal Family declares for someone, it?s a huge political deal. It?s never done lightly.?
?Your mother?s an Earth woman. How did she know this??
Michael laughed. ?How to put it? She?s a lot like you. She badgered our dad until he gave her all the history.? I resolved to meet Mrs. Gower sooner as opposed to later.
I thought about the one image of Terry that Christopher had created for me in the air. She was in a tiara. For whatever reason, that hadn?t seemed odd to me at the time, possibly because I was half-dressed and trying to figure out how to hide what had happened from Martini and marveling over Christopher?s imageering talent. Christopher had called me princess, too -- I?d never made the connection that his mother had been one.
Christopher hadn?t, either, if his reactions were any clue. ?Dad, why didn?t you tell us??
White sighed. ?It just didn?t seem?relevant. You boys had so many other pressures. Why tell you that in addition to everything else, you were related by blood to the monarchy? What good would it have done??
?Did they put the PPB net up to keep humanity in, or to keep Martini and White on Earth?? Chuckie had recovered the quickest, and I could hear the conspiracy theories whirling through his brain.
?Both,? Martini snapped from his corner. ?Almost done here.?
?So, I?m just spitballing here, Richard, but I?d have to guess Terry?s family were no more thrilled with you marrying her than your father was.?
?Less, if you can believe it.?
?How excited were they that Alfred married Lucinda??
?Much less so. They married well before Theresa and I did. Alfred was disowned, it was a huge controversy.? White shook his head. ?They did offer to let Alfred and Theresa rejoin the family if they renounced their marriages to us and remained on our home world while the rest of us went to Earth.?
?So, since they both passed on that offer, why would they care about whatever Jeff?s doing now??
?I have no idea,? White admitted.
Martini slammed his phone closed and turned around. ?I do. And it sucks.?
In Twitter Fashion use 140 characters or less, sum Alien in the Family for us. (if You Can. If Not, then you last book?)
It?s the best book ever and a deal at twice the price!
No? LOL, hey, you can?t blame a girl for trying.
Okay, how about this: It's hard to make it to the church on time when you're trying to avert interplanetary war, avoid assassination attempts, and find a dress.
How did you come up with a story that was such a whirlwind of events?
*cough* Um, it?s just how it plays out when Kitty tells me what went on. Pretty much, I just let the characters tell me what happened and go from there. Seriously, that ?process? of mine? Not really something regimented.
How long did it take you to write it, and did you have any writer?s block along the way?
I?m a fast writer, so it went quickly. And no, I don?t do writer?s block. I think you can talk yourself into it, but I don?t allow myself to do so. I can always cut something that I don?t like or that doesn?t work. As Nora Roberts says, ?I can fix a bad page, but I can?t fix a blank page.?
Will we be seeing a following book to this stories?
Yes indeed! Alien Proliferation will release December 6, 2011, with Alien Diplomacy coming April 2012, and Alien vs. Alien coming December 2012. I have through Book 12 mapped out (as much as I map) and I can ?see? through 16 at this time. Normally the way I work is as I?m writing ?this? book, I can ?see? the next few that would follow it. Plus, some of what I think I?ll cover in one book ends up being ?too big? or not fitting, and so it?s moved to another book.
How did you come up with the character Kitty?
I had a dream. It was a dark, noir-ish, horror dream. And I intended to write a dark, short, noir-ish horror story. Within three pages, though, the character?s voice wasn?t dark or horror-like so much as quirky and sarcastic. As I went on, I realized this character wasn?t going to fit into the mold I?d planned, and I allowed that. Kitty showed up, basically, and said, ?Hey, here?s the poop and scoop,? and we went from there.
I always must ask, If you could pick one actress to portray Kitty on the big screen who would it be and why?
My answer is simple: Whoever can play her well, have great chemistry with the actor chosen to play Martini, open the movie, and ensure it has legs.
I know, that?s not the answer anyone?s looking for. However, publishing and movies are businesses, and you want your endeavors to be successful within those business models.
Plus, for me, no one out there looks like I see Kitty, or any of the other characters, in my mind. There are actresses who could probably play her well on screen, and more coming up every year, but who I say usually depends on what I?ve seen recently.
So, in no particular order, here are some actresses I think could handle the role today: Drew Barrymore, Alicia Silverstone, Isla Fischer, or Emma Stone.
Was there anything you find particularly challenging when writing this book?
Not a thing, honestly. If it?s hard, I tend to figure I?m doing something wrong, and will spend some time figuring out what I?ve done incorrectly. Otherwise, writing flows for me. The hardest part was finding a set of mountain ranges that would work for some key scenes. It took some time, but thank you, Arizona and New Mexico topography, you?ve come through for me again!
What were your feelings when you first saw the cover of your finished book?
LOL, for the covers for Alien Tango, Alien in the Family, and Alien Proliferation, I?ve had nothing but overwhelmingly excited joy. For Touched by an Alien, which was the first, I had a very ?author? reaction, which was that nothing looked like I?d imagined it. I got over that in, oh, about an hour, but my first reaction was to freak out. After I calmed down, and everyone I showed it to raved about it, I chilled out, calmed down, and looked at it objectively -- and just fell in love with it.
I?m very lucky that I have Daniel Dos Santos as my cover artist. He?s an artistic genius, and he really captures the entire essence of the books in his covers. Now I can?t even imagine another cover for Touched by an Alien -- there couldn?t possibly be another one that would be as perfect.
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