Ahoy me hearties!
Avast now! All hands hoay, seems like an age since we last met. The Whimsical Herald has been sailing the high seas to find the most thrilling of tales and this quest has kept your Mistress of Madness hopping as fast as a one-legged swabbie dancing a jig!
Know what a pirate’s favorite letter of the alphabet is? You might say ‘R’ (“Aaaarrgh”)-but it’s really ‘C’, for a pirate loves the sea above all else! ::chuckle it up, or walk the plank!::
Today we enter mysterious waters indeed to interview Young Adult author, Gabe Thompson, who has penned a most quirky, humorous, and captivating new novel ,’My BFF Is An Alien’.
IT'S A MYSTERIOUS ENCOUNTER THAT LEADS TO THE ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME FOR SOCIAL MISFITS EMILIO AND ARTHUR:
MEET TONIGEN DWEEZIL EMYRIS FROM ’NORWAY’
“They stepped into the shed and stood staring at the dripping body of the alien. Condensing moisture beaded on the head and boots and had dripped to the floor to form small puddles.
Arthur walked behind the alien’s head, slipped a pair of sunglasses on him and himself.
Arthur stuffed an unlit cigar in his mouth and grinned.
“Take a picture,” he mumbled around the cigar.”
Arthur Rhodes knows he’s different. Severely OCD, he dreams of popularity and Ashley Green, a girl who won’t even look at him. His older brother, Keith, was in the Army. He’s currently at home taking out all his PTSD-induced rage on Arthur. Arthur’s mother is rarely home. She donates all her time to veterans’ organizations. His father, an anally-retentive Major in the Marine Corps, is currently head of security at Ames Research Center. Between his OCD and his family life, Arthur’s only friend is Emilio Luna who has Tourette Syndrome.
Emilio’s symptoms are twitching and inappropriate outbursts. Arthur barely notices his friend’s idiosyncrasies. As a pair, they’ve suffered torture, bullying and ostracizing through every level of school since Arthur’s family moved to the Silicon Valley.
When Arthur’s military father forces him to go camping, Emilio accompanies him. A space pod crashes in the deep woods on Mt. Shasta and the two sixteen-year-old boys discover Tonigen Dweezil Emyris, a cryonically preserved young Nysian from the Cygnus system. They take the alien home and defrost him, and that's when their entire lives begin to change.
1. As a world traveler and former member of the military, how much of your own experience did you draw upon for ‘My BFF Is An Alien’?
Major Rhodes, Arthur’s father, was modeled after my mother’s father, Colonel Post. My grandfather was a Marine Corps colonel and she used the experience of growing up in that life to develop the Major’s character. Now Arthur’s brother, Keith, came from some of the people I met in the military. They belong in the military. It takes over their personality and creates a different kind of human. My brother-in-law was an Army Ranger and then became a military contractor. He’s a lot like Keith.
2. Comment on the dynamic between your characters Arthur and Emilio.
Arthur and Emilio need each other. School is pretty harsh for a kid with OCD like Arthur and a kid with Tourette’s Syndrome. I did a lot of research about Emilio’s condition. There is a great documentary on Tourette’s called I Have Tourette’s, But Tourette’s Doesn’t Have Me. I watched a lot of material on the condition before I developed Emilio’s character. Tourette’s isn’t Emilio’s only challenge. His family, his sisters, and his family’s religion also are a challenge for him. Emilio’s family life is one of the reasons he’s Arthur’s friend as well. While Arthur’s condition is not a serious, he is also inflicted with a strange and overbearing brother and his father. In the beginning of the book, Arthur is the leader. As the book progresses, Emilio becomes stronger. They both grow from their experiences with Tone. The alien teaches them as much as they teach him.
3. What did you know about Tourette’s Syndrome before writing this novel? What inspired you to have it be part of who the central character Emilio is?
I wanted a boy with a disability that could create humor, but also highlight a serious condition. I did a lot of research on Tourette’s. There are at least three great documentaries, one concentrates on children and how they deal with it. The kids all say they hate the medication. It fixes their tics and outbursts but they feel awful. It’s a sad condition, but Emilio is a great character because he greets his challenges with a lot of inner strength.
4. There is a strong underdog component in, ’My BFF Is An Alien’. The reader finds themselves immediately drawn in to the story. Did you draw on any personal experiences for this dynamic?
I was never a healthy kid. I had bad kidneys and got sick a lot. Middle school was terrible. High School a nightmare until I got a car of my own. I always feel drawn to the underdog. I empathize with their struggles. I thought there must be a lot of kids out there like me who could read this book and feel an instant connection with Emilio and Arthur. They’re a pair you can cheer for.
5.The character of Roscoe creates an additional level of tension as well as relevance to the novel-did you have encounters with bullies in school?
I remember going to middle school wearing two pairs of underwear. I’ve been pantsed, a term meaning my pants were pulled down in public. Two pairs of underwear were necessary. Bullying is a huge problem in schools across the country right now. Anytime I can point out this problem, I will. I think bullying is one of the greatest problems afflicting schools right now. I teach middle school and I see it every day. As a teacher, it’s my job to make sure it doesn’t happen in my classes ever.
6.There is lots of humor and also High School humor in ‘My BFF Is An Alien’. Are you a funny guy?
I’m not a “funny” guy, but a lot of my favorite movies growing up were comedies. Believe it or not, comedy is hard to write. I think having Arthur and Emilio come to life for me, made writing humor easier. Laughing is great medicine. I had to have a kidney transplant in my twenties and being able to laugh at yourself and your condition, having people who laugh with you, makes living through tough times a lot easier.
7.Will there be a sequel to ,’My BFF Is an Alien’?
I haven’t thought about it. Do you think Emilio and Arthur as seniors with Tone returning could be a good story? I could take suggestions.
8.Which part of this novel is your personal favorite?
I will always love the camping scene. My poor mom had to endure things like that with her dad. I know her father, the Colonel, thought like Arthur’s dad that everything could be fixed if you just tried harder. Camping for someone with Arthur’s issues has to be a nightmare.
9.What scenes did you edit OUT of this book?
I’m a pretty serious plotter. I know what’s going into what I write before it’s written. My mom helps me with plotting and with ideas. Between us, we have a good map of our books before we write them, so honestly, none were removed.
10.What book are you reading now?
Andre Norton’s The Game of Stars and Comets and Barry Eisler’s Livia Lone. I’m always writing as well.
11.What actors would you pick to play your characters in ‘My BFF Is An Alien?”
Maybe Emjay Anthony or Finn Wolfhard for Emilio. I’d love a kid like Ty Simkins from Jurassic World as Arthur or Owen Vaccaro. Tone would be harder to cast. Maybe Levi Miller or Max Charles.
12.Please give us a glimpse of your current work in progress and tell us what your inspiration for it is!
I’m currently working on a Young Adult Science Fiction book about a girl whose parents are gone. She’s alone in a refugee camp on a luxury planet, her only friend an ex Patrol Ranger. She gets a job in a pet shop filled with extraterrestrial pets and discovers a plot to implant the pets with a parasitic life form that is really intelligent. I think of it as a cross between Guardians of the Galaxy and E.T. She rescues the pets from the shop’s secret laboratory and begins a run for her life across the galaxy in a stolen space yacht with her ranger friend and another teen, a boy who has underworld connections. Their goal is safety and the only safe haven they can think of is Star Haven, a mythical space station in the outer rim of the galaxies run by the underworld.
Alas and alack, It is time for us to part ways, me hearties! The Whimsical Herald would like to thank the amazing Gabe Thompson for coming aboard and sharing his fantastical tale of beings that live beyond the stars.
Comment at will, and have a chance at a random giveaway of our finest brew, PIRATE’S BOOTY coffee from the Tell-Tale Publishing Gourmet shop.
A great book like ‘My BFF Is An Alien’ by Gabe Thompson, and a delicious cup of Java…
Aye, THERE BE TREASURE!
Patricia Mattern, Mistress of Madness, The Whimsical Herald
Mistress of Madness
Well, do you have any idea why a raven is like a writing desk?
Lewis Carroll, in 1897, proposed this answer, "Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat; and it is 'never' put with the wrong end in front!" (raven, spelled backward, is nevar aka never...or as we like to say here at TT...never more!)