An Interview about Planet ATE
With each new release I always post questions I’ve received from fans or collective media outlets. Here are a few of the ones I’ve received so far for Planet ATE, and I’m sure I’ll post more as they come in.
Enjoy, and feel free to ask your own questions in the comments below.
Q: Planet ATE leaps across genre boundaries for you. Was there any hesitation in doing this?
Rick: It was the logical course of where to go next. Everything in the prior books were horror centric, but since Techno Feast began the sci-fi step for me, and Genetic Morsels further grounded that, it was time to make the full on transition.
Q: Your books are very grounded in reality with that fantastical element added. Do you find that it is difficult to combine the two?
Rick: I find it more difficult to NOT combine realism with fiction. Everything that influences me is in real life, whether it be my own experiences or history itself. I’ve always tried to make explanations for the strange things this world has to offer. Genetic Morsels had a political theme underlying the main plot. With Planet ATE I chose to add government conspiracy to the list.
Q: Government conspiracy and aliens in one story seem to go hand in hand. Did you use the X-Files as inspiration at all, and how do you not step on the toes of other current works?
Rick: You know it’s funny you say that. I loved the X-Files growing up, and always wanted to do an alien related novel. It was after I started writing this book that I found out about the new season coming out, and I went into panic mode. I said to my wife, “Damnit, it’s happening again!” We laugh about it. When I was writing my first three novels the subjects were zombies, vampires and werewolves. Then the Walking Dead, and Twilight series became popular shortly after. The beauty of writing is that you can acknowledge what is there in a way by avoiding certain key elements. I’ve never had any problem staying unique in my approach and keeping it fresh. I think the stories that flop (whether in movies or book form) are because they aren’t unique enough.
Q: What makes Planet ATE so unique to alien fiction?
Rick: Aside from research on fact I spend lots of time watching and reading what is out there to keep something totally separate in mind. Planet ATE is nice because it tackles the ultimate question “Why do we exist?” We can go to science, faith or any other means to find the “truth”, but this incorporates that and goes beyond. It takes a look at fact throughout history and ties it together into many supposed sightings of UFOs etc. This book gives an answer as to the why, but then opens the door to figure out what it all means.
Q: Before each chapter you have a quote by a famous person or a fact. Are these real and what made you do it?
Rick: They are real quotes and references to historical fact. I wanted that realism in there to bring the reader back into the real world and really make them wonder about life in the universe. The amount of quotes to find the right ones was exhausting, but well worth it in the end.
Q: The title of your books blends the topic with food. Why the capital letters in this title?
Rick: This title was difficult to settle upon. The word “ate” is my connection to that food world for consistency, but it goes beyond that. Not only is it a culinary term, but it also is the 8th book (eight), and it is an acronym in the book. ATE stands for Alien Threat Elimination. It is the government agency created to take out the antagonist of this book.
Q: This series can be read as individual books, but how far do you want to take it as a series?
Rick: The next book ends the current run with a follow on trilogy that will acknowledge what has already happened. At the end of all 12 books it will sort of make the reader wonder. While all questions will be answered it will allow me to begin writing other things in the same universe as these books, but not be tied to them in any way.
Q: You release compilations in trilogies. Will you release a complete volume of all twelve?
Rick: I write in trilogy form (Eden’s Order Trilogy dealt with monster like creatures; Pandora’s Chaos dealt with the supernatural). After book 9 the Beyond Human trilogy will be released. Then another after books 10-12 are all done. At some point I would like to release a limited edition hardback of everything (the 12 novels and spinoff stories). It is already in the works for down the road, and will be called the ETERNAL HUNGER SAGA.
Q: What is the status of the spinoffs in graphic novel form? Will you be working on more with your brother?
Rick: Dan is automatically involved in whatever I do because he does the cover art. As far as sCrypt Comics goes the future is uncertain. I’m not saying we won’t do any more. In fact we both want to, but it is very time consuming and difficult to manage. It is hard enough to juggle our own schedules let alone getting nine other artists involved in each release. For now we will be focusing on sCrypt Publishing as a whole. That includes graphic novels, but isn’t the main focus. Those stories are written and being written though for the comic book spinoffs so that they are already done when we are ready to go on it.
Q: Tell us about the cover of Planet ATE?
Rick: The last cover featured a mock chalkboard with calculations pertaining to DNA and genetics. This kept with that theme and is a dry erase board. We figured we would add a few grainy UFO pictures Dan created as Polaroid shots hanging by magnets. Think of it as the research board that the characters may be using in the book.
Q: What will the cover be for book 9? Is it something similar?
Rick: My lips are sealed for now.
Q: Politics have come into play in your books without straying too far in either direction. How do real life scenarios and politics play into your writing?
Rick: As I mentioned previously my experiences in life truly come into play in some form in my writing. It could be a simple situation or something more complex that I may tweak and throw the characters into. Politics in general are entertaining. We in the U.S. have a two party system that is honestly becoming a joke. Both sides have candidates that are in my opinion dangerous leaders. I stay up to date with current world events as much as one can, and it makes for great writing in a sense. Politicians are often like the villains of books with their schemes and agendas. I take that into account and try to find a middle ground in which to present my writing in non-biased ways. As an author I can vent my feelings on paper with both sides being accused without actually spilling my opinions on who is right or wrong. People are always going to disagree, but the world today needs leaders who are just and stand for the people, and at this point it’s difficult to see who that is at times; if at all.
Q: Controversy seems to be everywhere in today’s day and age. Everything has to be “politically correct” or be geared towards a certain audience? How does this affect your writing?
Rick: I definitely keep it in mind, but also don’t let it hold me back from creating realistic characters or situations. You have to be careful which lines you cross, but there are ways of doing it without making it seem like those are things that you believe. A prime example is in my BLOOD, THE SECOND HELPING. I wrote a section that dealt with the Chicago mob in the early 20th century. There are things the characters do and say that are flat out unacceptable whether by today’s standards or in general. It was difficult to write because I in no way agree with the things the characters did or said, and I think it was done tastefully to the point where the reader realizes it is just a work of fiction and not my personal thoughts. BLOOD is still considered a fan favorite so I guess I manage my approach fairly well.
Q: How do you juggle your busy schedule? What’s a day in the life of Rick Pipito?
Rick: It’s become such a routine, that I barely notice it anymore. I spend 8 hours every day brainstorming my thoughts. During car rides I record dialogue into my phone (the people driving by must think I’m crazy). Then at night I write after my kids go to bed. Once I sit down at the keyboard the thoughts are ready to be put on paper, so it just flows out of me. I also spend time helping my wife with her business, and the kids with homework and daddy time. It’s a full plate for sure, but I love it. It would be nice to have an extra hour or two in the day (or for sleeping at night for that matter).
Q: What can you tell us about that you are working on?
Rick: Well like I said I’ve officially called the saga the Eternal Hunger Saga. Book 9 is in the works and is called DEVOURED UNIVERSE. That will be released later this year. Dan and I are also putting the final touches on A LITTLE BOY IN THE LAND OF SLEEPLESS KNIGHTS. My prior children’s book was a success and it seemed little girls loved it, so since I wrote that one for my daughter, this one will be geared towards boys and is written for my son. It will be coming out early this summer.
Q: Where can someone get a copy of your books?
Rick: All of my novels are available in paperback at www.lulu.com. They are also available for the Kindle at www.amazon.com. My comics are at www.indypress.com and Audible and itunes also have my first audiobook translation, and hopefully more to come soon.