Last week I read the awesome Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind and decided to ask the author if he’d stop by for an interview. He very kindly agreed.
Welcome Andy Robb.
Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind, is the story of Archie, a fourteen year old boy and a Geek to his core. In the world of role-playing games, he’s a Level 5 Mage, capable of summoning the Undead. In this world, things are rather different. With no rule book to navigate Life’s Big Challenges – warring parents, a crass step-father, orc-like school bullies and rubbish hair – he’s teetering on the brink… Then a Beautiful Girl appears in his Geeky world… Despite the fact that the closest he’s come to an encounter with a girl is painting an Elven miniature, Archie embarks on a Daring Quest to win her heart.
So, why did you want to write this book?
Wow! That’s a good question! Let’s see… I think the reason for writing it became more evident as the book started to unfurl. This is going to sound weird coming from someone who loves escapism, but there’s this thing in a lot of YA where, when something bad happens to the lead character (like their parents split-up or they’re orphaned), they suddenly become aware that they have extraordinary powers or a raw gift that must be honed – which there is nothing wrong with; I love escapist books. But I wanted to write something where the lead character creates his own ‘magic’. I knew that I was going to set the book against the aftermath of a divorce, which I went through at roughly the same age as Archie. When I thought about it, I realised that my involvement in RPGs escalated when times were bad at home; that I was creating, without knowing it, my own ‘escape route’ from reality. I was lucky in that there was a fairly hefty community of RPGers in my area, so finding a game wasn’t hard. Instead of Archie learning to fly or something, I wanted to show that Young Adults are capable of their own blend of alchemy, especially when the chips are down.
Archie describes the process of painting the gargoyle and witch in great detail. Do you know how to paint or did you have to research this?
No… I knew how to paint. I was never brilliant, but I wasn’t terrible, either. My interest was caught by an article on D&D in a Sunday supplement. Alongside the write-up about the game, there were pictures of the miniatures – particularly a Red Dragon – that just blew my mind. They looked like pieces of art and it hooked me straight away. With painting, there are tried and tested techniques that everyone learns to begin with, but you then go on to develop your own, like Archie’s ‘blobbing’ technique. Which is one of mine.
How about the RPG, do/did you play?
I did play, but I was generally the Dungeon Master – primarily because I loved reading the rulebooks. I think every Geek does! I played D&D first and then, as I got to know other gamers, branched out into games like Warhammer, the Judge Dredd RPG and a sci-fi game, called Paranoia. Great fun!
Have you got your own place to write or can you write anywhere?
Geekhood was written on my sofa, scored by Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds and fuelled by tea. I live on a boat and the environment is perfect: peace, quiet and no distractions, apart from the Canada Geese! I’ve never tried writing anywhere else and I think I’d feel a bit funny about it.
Favourite part of being a writer?
I can only answer that in part, as this is my first book and I’m still learning what comes with the territory! I’ve loved taking the book to schools and interacting with Young Adults across the country and I’m enjoying the prospect of a Book Launch. But I think the best bit, for me, is when your brain suddenly puts a few words together that mean something to you. They could be funny, sad or whatever – but when you find a combination that really says what you mean, it’s a fine thing. I guess I have also loved seeing my idea turning into a genuine, physical book, with pages and everything. That’s a bit of a buzz!
Ever suffered from Writer’s Block? If so, how did you get past it?
There were two weeks on Geekhood where I couldn’t touch it; I just didn’t know how to get to where I wanted. So I put it down and ignored it until I had one of those ‘that’s it!’ moments one night. And then it all carried on as before.
From all the characters in the book, which one is the closest to you?
That’s actually quite difficult to answer, because there are bits of me in most of them. Beggsy is how I think I appeared to the world at that age: a slightly hyperactive, over-enthusiastic Geek. But Archie is made up of what I was at that age, what I wanted to be and what I might have been. If I had to hang my hat on any particular head, it would be Archie’s.
Do you think life for Geeks is easier now, we have Marvel movies like the Avengers and TV shows like The Big Bang Theory & Chuck?
I don’t know if I’d say it was easier. I think big films like the Avengers have made certain aspects of geekhood more acceptable, because big-name actors are prepared to wear the costumes, walk the walk and talk the talk. But I guess that those Geeks who buy the comics don’t wave them around, even if they are film-related, for fear of being singled-out. Geeks, in my humble opinion, are still very much an underground culture. Which makes it even Geekier.
Matt is a very wise when he says everyone is some kind of geek – what kind of geek are you would be?
I am a Geek about many things: Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr Who, Lord of the Rings, D&D, miniature painting, books… I’d be an Omni-Geek; knows a little about a lot.
What can you tell us about Geekhood 2?
Not an awful lot! But I think I can say this – and only real Geeks will get it: there is a natural progression from RPGs and that’s where Archie’s going next…
Looking forward to reading that.
Ok before you go, the Quick-fire Round *drumroll*
It takes a lot for a boy to wear a pink hanky to school – would you have dared?
For the right girl – anything. I have done worse.
What would be your superpower?
Favourite non-writing job?
Difference between Geek & Nerd?
Geeks see beauty where Nerds don’t.
Tea or coffee?
According to your blog you can cook, what’s your best dish?
Thai Green Curry and Sticky Toffee Pudding.
What book have you read the most?
Lord of the Rings.
Favourite TV show?
What word describes you best?
And finally, what is the question you wish people would ask and never do?
Q: Would you like to travel in my TARDIS?
A: Most definitely.
And I’d just like to say thankyou for such a load of interesting questions and the lovely words you’ve said about my book. You’re very welcome!
I’m giving away a copy of Geekhood, so if you’d like the chance to win please leave a comment below.
The contest is international, provided the Bookdepository ships to your country.
Competition closes 23 May 2012 @ 11.00PM GMT
The winner will be announced 24 MAY 2012