Thanks to the wonderment that is Twitter, I have virtually met Ruth Wheeler, the author of “All Aliens Like Burgers.” And thanks to Doctor Who fandom, I managed to sit in on a panel at the Gallifrey One convention where she was a guest. So it finally dawned on me that I should interview Ruth for this blog. I’ll admit having an ulterior motive, however, as I’ve started my first novel and a little advice from someone who is published is always helfpul! Ruth was kind enough to answer some questions for me:
I have to admit that “All Aliens Like Burgers” really reminds me of Douglas Adams. Was he an influence in your work?
I have had several comparisons to Douglas Adams and I’m truly flattered because he is certainly a hero of mine. He is so quick-witted and his unorthodox sentence structures really make the brain work and I find him a compelling read and great escapism. His Trilogy was some of the first SF I read as a teenager so I would say that he is definitely one of my influences.
Do you have any other influences as a writer?
I loved the Harry Potter series, and am also a big fan of comedy. The work of Rob Grant (co-writer of Red Dwarf) such as the SF Comedy adventure Colony is also a big influence. I love Grant’s characters and the way they fall from one situation to the next. I grew up with a lot of science fiction; everything from The Day The Earth Stood Still to Lost In Space to Doctor Who. I also watch a lot of comedy; from classics such as Laurel and Hardy to geek tv such as the Big Bang Theory and The IT Crowd.
When you sit down to begin a novel, how do you start? What is the process like?
I think the process is different for everyone. Personally, I don’t make too many hand written notes – mainly because my handwriting is so awful even I can’t read it! I usually have an idea of how and where the story is going to start and where I need the characters and storyline to ultimately end up. I literally just begin to write from chapter one, introduce the characters and then they often write it themselves. It’s hard to explain. Sometimes it’s easier than others. Sometimes I can write for three hours straight and will draft out a couple of chapters during that time. Other times the creativity just refuses to flow and it’s those times when I just have to close the laptop as it can’t be forced. Those are the frustrating times. But the whole prcoess is great fun and just something that I feel I have to do.
Where do you feel the story comes from?
It can come from anything really. The premise for AALB came to me from a visit to a service station (truck stop) which lead me to think about how generic these places are and all the services they provide for all the thousands of visitors which pass through every day. Being a science fiction fan, I began to wonder how an intergalactic version would look and all the services it would have to provide to all manner of species with all manner of spaceships to re-fuel. My mind then went into overdrive as I began to think of characters and situations and as I started to write the main plot just grew from there.
How do you feel about digital books and readers?
It is a tricky debate and I can see the views for both sides. Persoanlly, I think that any medium which encourages people to read; paperbacks, ebooks, audiobooks, is good. And all three formats can help to promote eachother. My husband is currently doing a physics degree and carying around a kindle rather than a back-breaking bag of books is much simpler in that sense. Personally, however, I still prefer the feel, smell and collectability of a paperback.
What are some of your personal favorite books?
I have a long list, but classics for me include The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy series, Clockwork Orange, Harry Potter, 1984, Brave New World, Red Dwarf: Better Than Life and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.
Are you reading anything now? And if so, what?
I am currently reading Diary of a Parrellel Man, by fellow Hirst Books writer David Elham which I can highly recommend!