Hi Amber – it’s a pleasure to be here! Close Encounters is the first in the Geekhood books and it focuses on Archie, a self-confessed Geek. We meet him about a year after his parents’ divorce, when he’s starting to get used to the new step-figures in his life, in the form of Tony (his mum’s boyfriend) and Jane (his dad’s girlfriend). Archie’s got a couple of coping mechanisms up his sleeve: there’s his mates, Ravi, Beggsy and Matt, with whom he paints miniatures for Role Playing Games and there’s his Internal Monologue (IM). The IM’s like an extra character, who lives inside Archie’s head and you get to see what he really thinks about certain things and people, although he might be acting in a completely different way.
And amidst all this, a girl, Sarah, walks into the equation. A girl who Archie likes. And then it’s a decision as to whether to leave his Geekhood behind to get her to like him – or carry on as he is and hope for the best.
About a year, door to door. Once I’d finished the first draft, my agent took it to a book fair and it came back with three publishers interested. After some real head-scratching, the reins were handed to Stripes Publishing, who've done a fantastic job. I think what I wasn't prepared for was just how long the editing process can take – but it was peculiarly good fun to do.
I’ve taken advice from my son on this one and it’s The Bieber.
I do know, but I’m going to keep it quiet! I wrote Archie in a way that I hope everyone can create their own version of him that’s entirely personal to them. Once you associate a Big Name with a character, the two become almost inseparable and I wouldn't want that. So, in the event of a film, I think I’d like the part to go to an unknown actor.
Have a point of view or something you want to ‘say’ in your writing. A book is where you can put that theory to the test – and it’ll inform which direction the story takes and what the characters do.
Curse you and your inquisition! Actually, I do tell this story at events I do; it didn't go into the book, but it happened when I was 13. The long and short of it is that I had an Enormous Crush on a girl in my class and ended up telling her. Which was the point at which I passed out. Needless to say, I didn't get the girl.
Chips made by my mum. She’s told me the secret to making them but, even though I've tried, I just can’t get them to taste just the same.
I’m working on two: one YA and one Middle Grade. The YA book features a character as far from Archie as you can get. The Middle Grade book one was inspired by my son and should be a bit of a laugh.
They’re stacking up! Here’s a link to my website, where you can catch them as they arrive: www.theandyrobbsite.co.uk
Thanks for the interview, Amber!