Jeff and Kitty Katt-Martini have learned the ins and outs of Washington politics, not to mention how to prevail in intergalactic war and foil dangerous plots. But, in the aftermath of Operation Destruction, the Gower girls’ powers are burned out, the entire A-C population has been “outed” as the aliens living on Earth that they are, and, worst of all, ACE is nowhere to be found.
Then murder and mayhem are served up at an important dinner party at the American Centaurion Embassy, and when the dust settles Alpha Team and the Diplomatic Corps have more problems than just a dead Congressman.
Is there a single criminal mastermind—or multiple enemies—behind all the conspiracies that want Kitty dead and the A-Cs gone or co-opted to become the War Division?
The return of the best assassins in the business, the reappearance of two individuals long-presumed dead, Agent Malcolm Buchanan felled by something no one can identify or cure, and new technology that can block even the most powerful empath on Earth … all of this means the game’s officially afoot.
Then Vance Beaumont comes to Kitty with a wild theory that someone is systematically killing off the House of Representatives…
It’s up to Kitty and the rest of the gang to find out what’s really going on and why. But will they be able to stop the killer or killers before the rest of the U.S. House of Representatives become casualties? And will the replacement Representative for New Mexico’s 2nd District, who happens to be Jeff Martini, be the next to die?
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Gini also answered some updated interview questions!
You crank out a lot of books under many pen names. What keeps you on top of deadlines, and what do you recommend to published writers who may be experiencing burn-out?
Sheer force of will keeps me on top of deadlines and sometimes even that’s not enough. LOL As for what I’d tell other published authors, it’s what we tell each other -- alcohol is your friend, taking a couple hours off to go out to lunch with your friends is a good thing, and remember that the house can always get cleaned up to perfection once the book is turned in.
Everyone’s different, and we all burn out in some way at some time. But temporary burnout is different from career ending burnout. The best advice I have is that when the people around you start telling you that you need to take a break, it’s time to listen to them and do as they say. Usually your family and friends will spot you burning out well before you yourself do.
It's good to remember that burn-out isn't always permanent--and you're right, down time is important (and necessary). In the acknowledgments section of THE HAPPY ACRES HOTEL FOR ACTIVE SENIORS, I noticed you mentioned your grandmother Julia. Is Julia similar to the main character Maddie? If so, how?
She is somewhat, though honestly, Maddie has a lot more in common with Kitty from my Alien series than my grandmother. But my grandmother was fun and funny, she wasn’t really afraid of anything, and men just LOVED her, so there’s a lot of her in Maddie that way. And she proved to me that you’re only old if you THINK you’re old. My grandmother was in her early 90’s when she died, but she never, ever seemed old.
Reminds me of my grandmother--and why I miss her so much. In the newest book in your Alien Series, ALIEN IN THE HOUSE, Jeff and Kitty Katt-Martini have to solve a murder of a Congressman. What was this idea inspired by, and how do you keep your ideas and characters fresh when writing a series?
My first reading love was mysteries, and I have a mystery in almost everything I write, even if it’s not the main genre or subgenre I’m writing in. I wanted to see how Kitty and Company would handle a full on, straightforward murder mystery, which is how this book came about.
As for keeping the characters and ideas fresh, Kitty and the others are all aging, and changing. As you age, your experiences change you somewhat and what you do changes, and that alters what’s going on around you and how you react to it. I love these characters and I enjoy telling their story, so keeping them fresh isn’t all that hard.
Getting new ideas is a little harder, but again, the characters are on a path and I enjoy getting them to their next pivotal moments, so that’s not so hard. And the characters usually tell me the rest of what’s going on as I’m writing. So it all works out.
Following character paths along pivotal moments sounds like a great way to help a story along too. Great strategy! In our last interview, you said a lot of great things about the art and craft of writing. In your opinion, how is art different than craft, and how does one practice art versus craft?
Art is the thing -- the book, the painting, the sculpture, the TV show, the movie, the dance, etc. Art can be done well or poorly, but even if it’s bad it’s still art, if you will. Craft, however, is how you make art that’s wonderful and amazing. Craft is the constant practice and perfection of your art. The practice of art IS craft, but as with any kind of practice, the goal is to get better and better, not remain the same.
No one would ever want to buy a handmade dining room table from someone who literally just made their first table. Why? Because no one would have the faith that this first table was any good. The person who’d made the table wouldn’t have had enough practice making tables to be 100% sure this table could hold a full Thanksgiving dinner without collapsing. However, after that table maker has made hundreds of tables, then the customer can feel pretty sure that the artisan knows how to make a table that can stand up and stay up.
And yet we tend to treat art differently, as if, merely because we WANT it to be great, we don’t have to practice our craft like everyone else. “I wrote ‘The End’ so it’s READY!” is the cry far too many newer authors rally around. You wrote the end and that means it’s just really the beginning of all the rest of the craft work you need to do to make that book an actual piece of art that someone else wants to read.
Excellent example--and you're right--it's definitely more of a marathon than a sprint! Of all the books you've written, which are the ones you're most proud of? Why?
I’m proud of all of them. Some are published and some are not, but I’m proud of everything I’ve written, even the things no one will ever see. I’m proud because it’s so easy to say “I want to write” and yet so few people actually do, and even less actually finish something, let alone send it out on submission, etc. So I’m proud of everything because I actually walked the walk, not just talked the talk.
But if forced to pick one and only one, it’d have to be the first book in the Alien series, TOUCHED BY AN ALIEN, because that book landed me a great agent, a two-book deal with DAW, and launched my career. So it’ll always be the most special one for me.
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, the Necropolis Enforcement Files series, and the Martian Alliance Chronicles series for Musa Publishing. As G.J. Koch she writes the Alexander Outland series. She also writes under a variety of other pen names (including Anita Ensal, Jemma Chase, A.E. Stanton, and J.C. Koch), listens to all kinds of music 24/7, 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 speaks frequently on what it takes to become a successful author and other aspects of writing and the publishing business. She is also the Lead Editor at Raphael’s Village, an online, nonpaying ’zine. Because she wasn’t busy enough, Gini’s added on featured guest columnist, reviewer, and webcaster for Slice of SciFi and It’s Comic Book Day. She can be reached through her website at www.ginikoch.com.
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