Monday, 14 May 2012

Geekhood blog tour: Author Andy Robb on his Geekhood inspirations +++ Exclusive Extract!

 Geekhood by Andy Robb
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Release date: May 1st 2012
Ages: 12+

If you haven't worked it out yet, girls don't do this. They don't come to the Hovel. They don't like goblins and dragons. They don't paint miniatures. They don't play role playing games or re-enact fictional battles. And they don't talk to Geeks like me especially if they're pretty. And this girl is pretty. What do you do if you're a fourteen-year-old Geek, and a Beautiful Girl has appeared in the midst of your geeky world? And she seems to like you... For Archie, the natural reaction would be to duck and cover ... run for the hills ... buy a new model elf... Anything but risk stepping into the Real World. But even Geeks have to put their heads above the parapet at some point. With his mum barely able to contain her excitement that her son is about to join the human race, and his step-father, Tony the Tosser, offering crass advice, it's time for Archie to embark on a daring Quest to win the Beautiful Girl's heart and shake off his Geekhood for good...

Guest Post: Author Andy Robb on his Geekhood Inspirations:

I’m an author. Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind is my first book, and it was written over the course of a few months, in my spare evenings. In my other life, I’m an actor, which generally means I have to find extra work to keep the wolf (and his buddies) from the door. So in my other other life, I write stuff for the Internet, which does pay the bills. At the end of each day, I would get around to writing the stuff I really wanted.

I’d heard other authors say that characters write themselves – something I’d never really believed. But, as Geekhood started to unfold, I started to see what they mean. I guess it’s a little bit like acting. When you’re doing a theatre show, you sometimes do something differently one night. You’re not changing things because you’re showing-off or being a pain, but because it suddenly makes sense in a way that may not have come to you in rehearsals. These are known as “shadow moves”. These moves may not have anything to do with the script, but they happen because your knowledge of the character deepens with each performance, and you get more comfortable in your character’s shoes.

This is what happened when I was writing Archie, the main character and narrator of the book. I had an idea of what was going to happen before I started bashing at the keyboard but, often, I’d end up writing something almost completely different. I think this is because Archie (and his Internal Monologue) started to really get inside my head and dictated how things turned out. I’ll cheerfully admit that Archie is based on me, but, as the story unravelled, other facets to his character occurred to me. I realised that Archie is a combination of what I was at the age of 14, what I wanted to be and what I could have been.

But there’s the temptation to rewrite history so that things worked out just right for him/me: maybe he could get the girl on page 52 in some super-suave move. As the guy who never got the girl on any page, it would’ve been a great relief to have things turn out right for a change. But whenever I strayed in that direction, the Archie in my head would let me know it wasn’t going to happen.

There’s a scene in the book where Archie invites Sarah, The Most Beautiful Girl in the WorldTM round to his house to play a Role-playing game. (For the uninitiated, RPGs have a dungeon master who writes a story which the player characters follow, making their decisions on the throw of multi-sided die.) I’m ashamed to say this scene is based on a toe-curling event that actually happened. Like a dunderhead, I thought this was the way to my Sarah’s heart, but I wrote the story so that it involved lots of romantic hints along the way. The poor girl kept finding cryptic love notes in locked chests or meeting Trolls who would tell her their heartbreaking stories of unrequited love and of being cursed to live as Trolls for ever. Needless to say, she didn’t fall for it – or me.

It makes me sweat even to write it, now – and not in a good way. I thought it would be good to write this out as part of the story, but it didn’t work – mainly because I kept getting the message that Archie just wouldn’t do it. No, he was going to mess it up his way.

But even if Archie avoids that particular self-conscious attempt at seduction, he still has his (un)fair share of knuckle-chewingly awful moments. There was another time from my life that informed several scenes in Geekhood: the day I first tried to ask a girl out.

I’d been really tying myself in knots over this girl and by the time she met me at the school gates, I was a mess. But I was trying to keep a lid on it: trying to be all upbeat and funny. It must’ve leaked through because, as we were walking up Marpool Hill, she asked me what was wrong. Of course, I told her it was nothing, but she wouldn’t have it and the inquisition carried on all the way up to the top. 

As we neared the top of the hill, my would-be girlfriend said: “I know what it is! You fancy someone, don’t you? Who is it?”

If I were in a movie, I would’ve come up with some disarming quip and she’d have swooned into my arms, suddenly overcome with love for me. But my life wasn’t a movie and something in me decided to Make the Situation Worse. In slow-motion, I raised my hand, pointed it at her and sort of slurred the immortal words: “It’s you!”

And then I fainted.

I woke up, outside Mrs. Reddy’s Sweet Shop, surrounded by people asking me if I was OK. The girl I liked was looking at me with utter disbelief. Once again, something in me decided to Make the Situation Worse: I got up, apologised several times, and ran home, like a sweaty gazelle. May this serve as a warning to all my fellow Geeks.

So, although there are huge parts of Archie that are based on me, he’s broken free of my apron-strings. He’s become a character in his own right, capable of making his own decisions and mistakes (of which he makes many). As he might say: “It’s all in the details.”

Geek Yourself at
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Extract From Geekhood

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  1. Fab post - I really love seeing where the inspiration for books come from :)

  2. As a woman, it's always cool to read of those awkward teenage moments from a guy's perspective, reaffirming that we are not so different in the end.  Lovely post:)


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