Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Gareth P Jones On The Idea For Pet Defenders

Great to talk to a favourite author of ours, Gareth P Jones, on how he came up with the idea for the Pet Defenders series! Book 1, Attack of the Alien Dung - illustrated by Steve May - comes out on Thursday 9th February, published by Stripes.

Pet Defenders – The Idea

2017 sees the publication of my fourth book series. Following on from The Dragon Detective Agency, Ninja Meerkats and Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates comes Pet Defenders. You might think it would get easier. It doesn’t.

I first came up with this idea in 2011 for an experimental weekly online project. I wrote a synopsis then we filmed an introduction with comedian Marcus Brigstocke in a video produced by animation director Andy Walker (a very clever chap who does the animation for Tracey Beaker). I believe you can still find the end product lurking somewhere in a forgotten corner of the Internet.

It was an ambitious idea and never came to anything so my story fell back into my file of old ideas. All authors have these files. These are the stories that sit quietly gathering dust, biding their time, waiting for their moment.

In 2016, that moment came. I was looking for an idea for a new series. I came up with two new ones then selected Pet Defenders as the third. My wife, Lisa read all three. She liked Pet Defenders best. My editor, Ruth agreed.

And so, five years after I came up with the idea, I started work on a series of books about a secret organization of pets dedicated to keeping the earth safe from alien attacks.

What I had forgotten was how much I struggle with space stuff. The last time I tried it was with an MG science fiction book called Space Crime Conspiracy (Bloomsbury, 2010). I was pleased with how the book turned out but had obviously buried the memory of how painful it was to write.

The problem for me is one of believability. It’s easy enough to write “The Flot-holed Grubulling from Zingadinga One opened the large purple eye set in the middle of its belly?” but how do you make it believable? Writing is about creating worlds but when that world is an entire universe there are soooo many possibilities. For this reason, each book in the series has gone through countless redrafts (often complete rewrites) as even a minor tweak can cause an avalanche of ideas that leaves me sifting through the rubble to find the correct building blocks to complete the story.

Thankfully, with my ever-patient editor’s help and guidance I am delighted to say I have now completed three Pet Defenders books. I start work on the fourth soon. It’s been quite a journey so I very much hope readers enjoy the result.

Pet Defenders: Attack of the Alien Dung is published 9th of February. The second book in the series, Beards from Outer Space comes out in May, with the third (Escape from Planet Bogey) being published in September. The fourth will come out in 2018 once it has been written, rewritten, redrafted, rewritten again and redrafted etc.


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