The Unknown Terrorist
Eleven Questions For Laura Preble, AuthorPreble is an award-winning teacher, a jazz singer and pianist, and the author of The Queen Geek Social Club and its just-published sequel Queen Geeks In Love (both available from Penguin Books). A self-admitted geek, Laura is a science fiction fan and currently lives in the San Diego area with her husband, jazz saxophonist Chris Klich and her sons Austin and Noel. T. Pouncey: I thoroughly enjoyed your novel.
Are any of the elements in The Queen Geek Social Club autobiographical? Laura Preble: Actually, the book is sort of like how I would have been in high school if I'd had better clothes and more confidence. Other than that, a lot of it is based on various elements of the schools where I've taught (West Hills High and Mar Vista High in San Diego, CA). I study my students, then take pieces of various kids, stitch them together, and create new characters. It's kind of like Frankenstein, but with less lightning. TEP: Do you create a character and then visualize what they look like, or do you visualize a character and then create their personality? LP: I think I usually have a voice in mind first.
For Queen Geeks, I woke up one morning at 3 a. and just had this idea, and the character of Shelby in mind. Her appearance developed as I developed her personality; the smart-ass attitude and wry observations definitely shaped her appearance. Plus, she looks a little like me if I'm having a really good day and have access to a foggy mirror. TEP: The character Shelby Chappelle in TQGSC has a great robot sidekick named Euphoria. Which robot would you rather hang out with, R2-D2 or C-3PO? LP: Geez. That's like asking someone to choose which child they'd abandon on The Titanic … but if I had to pick, I think I'd go with C-3P0 because he actually talks. R2-D2 is much more down-to-earth and actually more intelligent, but since he just beeps and sounds like static from a faint radio station, it would probably bug me. TEP: Speaking of movies, if TQGSC was optioned as a movie, would you want to write the screenplay? LP: Yes, and if you happen to know of some really powerful Hollywood mover and/or shaker, please hook me up.
I love to write dialog, so I think I'd do really well with a screenplay. TEP: You once said you grew up in Ohio on a diet of hot chocolate and science fiction. Who were some of your favorite authors? LP: I used to work at the local library, and my job was to go to the basement and bring up back copies of old magazines (this was before Internet … arghgh!). Anyway, when I wasn’t busy, I'd hide in the stacks and read Isaac Asimov and Amazing Stories, Robert Heinlein, Robert Silverburg, Spider Robinson, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, plus fantasy like Tolkien and Piers Anthony. I'm really a sci-fi whore and will read anything anybody puts in front of me. TEP: Any plans for a TQGSC sequel or do you want to work with a brand new group of characters? LP: Well, I do have a sequel coming out in November of this year, and it's called Queen Geeks in Love. It follows the exploits of the same geeky characters (as well as Euphoria), and tackles the thorny problem of what happens when geeks date. Some highlights: attending Comic-Con as homemade superheroes, and putting on Geek Fest, a celebration of talent designed to humiliate those involved as well as those watching. TEP: You have two sons. How do THEY react to Mom's being a self-admitted geek? LP: Ah! They are little geeks in training.
The oldest one, Austin, goes with me to Comic-Con. In fact, we did a singing contest together there on a new lip-sync video game. It was also great this year, because Penguin (my publisher) sold the first book at Comic-Con and gave postcards out for Queen Geeks in Love, so Austin would go up to people near the booth, hand them postcards, and say "Buy my mom’s book so she'll feed me!" Noel, the youngest, is too young to understand the true meaning of the word 'geek,' but he's obsessed with space, aliens, and Harry Potter (at age 4) so I think it's destiny that he'll be a little geek himself. TEP: Is your first novel, Lica's Angel, still in print? LP: Yes … I self published it a few years ago when I thought I'd never get a publishing contract. It's available on Barnes and Noble's website as well as Amazon and iUniverse. When I do book signings, they often have it in the store also. I started a sequel to that book also, but never got to finish it. TEP: How did you become interested in jazz music? LP: My dad had a killer collection of jazz, swing, and Big Band music, and when I moved away to college, I stole all his Duke Ellington records. Then I met my husband, Chris Klich, a consummate jazz professional (sax player), and now we make beautiful music together (yuck! Overt sentimentality!) Our most recent album, Blue Skies, still sells lots on CD BABY (and you can hear it at his website chrisklich dot com). We also had an originals band where I wrote all the music and lyrics, and that album is still floating around out there too, and can be heard at laurapreble dot com, my music site.
TEP: Which is harder to be: a good teacher, a good writer, or a good musician? LP: It's hardest to be all three at the same time, which is what I go for. Plus good mom, good wife, and good Olympic discus thrower. (No, that last one was just to see if you were paying attention.) TEP: Can you tell us about any new projects that will be published before the end of the year? LP: In addition to Queen Geeks in Love, which comes out November 6 — and I'm hoping every person in the United States, Canada, and all English-speaking countries will buy a copy — I'm also working on a novel titled Punk Boy Mysterious which is not within the Queen Geek series, and I am in the process of finishing Prom Queen Geeks, the third book in the Queen Geek series, which will be out in Fall 2008. I've also been writing for Writer's Digest, and will be doing a workshop at the Southern California Writer's Conference. And I'm still hoping for a TV show, a movie, an appearance on Ellen, and perhaps a Pulitzer Prize for humorous literature featuring a robot. (Is that a category? It should be!) Interview by T. Pouncey, and reprinted with permission from GeeksofDoom.
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