Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Congratulations to Amanda from South Carolina, and Pedro from Portugal for winning a signed hardcover copy of How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend + Halloween French goodies. You were 2215 entering the giveaway to win and two lucky goodreads users to go Bingo!

Friday, September 30, 2011

An essential introduction to Bullshitarian (with a selection of useful sentences commonly used by Bullshitters all around the world)

I was in Paris eating veal brain at a lovely restaurant with my adorable friend A. The brain was whitish and gelatinous and served on a bed of carrots, onions and boiled potatoes and really made me feel like I was Doctor Frankenstein about to transplant with a fork and knife and plenty of garlic. 

My friend was telling me about her last misadventures in dating guys. The funny thing is that I had a very similar meeting just a day earlier with another friend of mine lamenting on the uselessness of all men.

The main problem with both of them, I believed, was that they lacked the proper tools to handle boys-girls communication. While we can easily translate Swahili into Albanian online, there’s still no Google Translate tool sophisticated enough to help girls get boys talk.

I think Google should start working on it. Like, its translation engine should immediately detect guys’ bullshit and translate it in plain English for better inter-gender understanding.

To help Google team of linguists, I list here a few obvious suggestions.

“I’m just out of a very emotional relationship” = “You were just a one night stand. I was using you.”
“I’ve got to work now.” = “We just had sex. I’m not aroused by you anymore. I don’t want to cuddle.”
“Sorry, I’m ticklish.” = “I’m not physically attracted to you. Don’t touch me.”
“Should we split the bill?” = "I could be spending this money on a better looking girl.”
“I’ll phone you.” = “I will not phone you.”
“I’m a quiet guy” = “I will not phone you.”
“I’m so busy.” = “I will not phone you.”
"You're really important in my life right now." = "Though I don't love you and you realized it, I don't want you to leave because you're providing me with perfectly fine free sex."
"No, I don't feel like going out tonight." = "Sure, I want to have sex with you tonight but I don't want to spend money on another restaurant bill for it."
“Your friend X is really nice.” = “I would rather date your friend X.”
“We need to talk.” = “I think I just gave you an STD.”
“The spark is gone.” = “I'm going to cheat on my girlfriend/wife with you tonight.”
“It was great.” = “How soon can I leave without upsetting you?”
“I’m not ready for a relationship” = “This was a booty call. Get real.”
“Yeah, me too, babe.” = “I don’t love you and please stop telling me that you love me. That's annoying.”

Otherwise, the best wine to go with brain is a dry white Muscadet.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

San Diego Comic Con 2011

Get into your spandex/leather/pleather pants and your Black Mamba Cape and come get a copy of How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend @ChronicleBooks booth (1506) at San Diego Comic-Con July 21-24

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Blog Tour Planet Earth June-July 2011

6/20/11 The Book Cellar - Interview /Give Away  
6/21/11 YA Librarian Tales - Guest Post
6/22/11 The Children's and Teen's Book Connection - Interview /Give Away  
6/23/11 Word for Teens - Guest Post
6/24/11 Teens Read and Write - Give Away Guest Post
6/25/11 Carrie's YA Bookshelf  - Guest Post
6/26/11 Friendly Reader - Give Away  
6/27/11 Cracking the Cover - Interview    
6/28/11 Mother Daughter Book Club.com       
6/29/11 The Hate-Mongering Tart/The YA-5/Dear Teen Me - Interview/Give Away/Guest Post
6/30/11 Novel Novice - Give Away/ Guest Post
7/1/11   Pink Me - Author Interview


Friday, June 10, 2011

Top 10 foods and drinks for writers

10. Coffee. Forget water. Water is for civilians. Drink it till caffeine pops your eyes out of their sockets. Try not to break your laptop while hammering the keyboard.

9. Extra hot chili sauce. Pour generously on any food. Transform every meal into a slightly painful yet memorable experience. Keeps you inspired. Particularly dandy when used on stale Cheez Doodles.

8. Croissants, donuts, muffins or any carbomegatrons. To keep writing, you need proper fuel. Sugar’s your friend. Don’t forget to soak in coffee to keep the caffeine level high.

7. Crisps. Any flavor goes. The less they look like they once were potatoes the better. Chew noisily. The noise of eating crisps keeps a writer stimulated way past midnight.  

6.  Rum, as in “Mojito with a lot of rum”. A particularly bad review lingers on Google or the blogosphere? Your dream editor just turned down your latest manuscript? Writer's block issues? No problem. Here’s the perfect anesthetic. A pint of heavily loaded Mojito. Plus, you get a lot of hanger out while muddling the mint leaves with the pestle. And shaking the cocktail counts as working out.  If you don’t have rum, vodka or tequila will do the trick. 

5. Cold one day old pizza with extra mayonnaise toping. Also known as ‘Breakfast of Champion’ in this house.

4. Frankfurters. Here is my recipe: Write three pages. Walk away from your laptop. Open the fridge. Take a cold frankfurter. Eat it while absentmindedly gazing into the fridge. Return to the laptop. Write three more pages.

3. Popsicles. They’re the best. Don’t know how anyone can write without them. And you can nervously chew on the stick hours after you finished one.

2. Red wine. The perfect treat after a day of successful writing. Helps you clear out the cholesterol while counterbalancing the effect of caffeine. Avoid phoning or texting ex-girlfriends and unsuccessful flirts after finishing the first bottle. Goes well with extra spicy stale Cheez Doodles.

1. Chocolate. I got this trick from a romance creative writing class. Eating chocolate for a writer is like researching. Chocolate gives you a sensation close to being in love. Eat chocolate and you’ll experience that evasive feeling without the upcoming heartache and arguments about who should do the dishes and take the trash out.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

10 things I will do on “How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend” release day

1. I will wake up at 6 a.m. and be dragged out of bed by two Swedish creatures (6 year old, 4 year old) demanding breakfast, television and cuddles (in that precise order).

2. I will not strangle myself with coffee, yell and throw marmalade toasts at my computer while reading any new reviews and blog-o-things. I will stay away from Goggle. Well, I might goggle a bit. Doh!

3. I’ll spend my morning working on the outline of my new space invasion YA project, super sizing it with extra cursing, ruckus, general disobedience, random inappropriateness and other trademark bits and bobs. 

4. I’ll go and light a candle in front of one of the many Jack Sparrow posters spread all over Stockholm.

5. I will have a thought for my father who was still alive and prouder than a mother hen on hatching day when Chronicle Books bought my manuscript. I’m sure he'd be even prouder today.

6. I will buy enough booze to slow down a large herd of reasonably sized ponies.

7. I will prepare finger version of traditional Swedish gourmet food (hot dogs, burgers, crisps, cake… I’ll throw a herring or two in there for good mesure).

8. Guests, food, drinks, laughs: PARTY!

9. I will get wasted and still resist the urge to phone ex-girlfriends and regale them with babbling tales of my literary adventures.

10. I’ll collapse into bed and dream of space invasion, books writing themselves, and sales ranks in the low two figures.  

Friday, May 13, 2011

Free and Laughing in Las Festival de Cannes

I know. I’m supposed to be locked at home outlining my next YA novel to submit it to my publisher sort of pronto. But nobody said I cannot do that in Cannes while doing also… well…? other things!

Doesn’t a writer need to move around, see and experience new situations, get inspired by people and their quirky ways to bring some freshness and originality into the work?

I know what you’re thinking: “Sure! Running after strange bunnies on the Croisette will certainly give you a creative electroshock, Gary.”

Well, exactly! And it also gave me a good glimpse into the human soul. Because, you see, before the bunnies appeared, everyone was busy doing their thing. Like interviewing movie people, actors, producers, directors and such… and everyone looked sort of bored and blasĂ©. Then, shazam! BUNNIES!

They all cut short their interviews, cameramen and photographers just abandoned the poor movie schmucks mid-sentence, and sprinted after the girls to get a good shot of their ears. And everyone looked terribly amused.

So that’s the thing I’ve learned about human beings today: they always go for the bunnies!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Outline this, Moliere!

When I went up to Paris to study, I immediately joined an acting class. As a teen, I was reading lots of theater. Sartre, Anouilh, Ionesco… I had a thing for Moliere too. We studied him extensively in high school. They showed us this great movie about him. Writing, acting, boozing, loving and never ending parties. That was his life. And I thought… Goddamn!

Though, I soon realized theater was not for me. I was so shy, the first time our teacher put me on stage in front of a large group of students and asked me to embody the letter “O”, I rather turned into the letter “Aaaaaah!” Once, I remember, I had to play a romantic scene with a girl who was a professional actress. She was to tell me that she loved me and kiss me. It took me weeks to recover. And when I did, I quit the acting class.

I’m a book person. An apartment with a view, a laptop, plenty of snacks, lots of coffee and a cat called Claude, that’s all I ever need.

But my work with theater is not over. I still have to write outlines for my novels. And that, ladies and gentlemen, dear public, is my very own little theater.

Let me explain… everyone, silence! Position position! And… CURTAIN!

An outline is like a miniature version of a novel. A neat little stage where I can lay down my story and start acting it up. I’m like Chaplin, or Woody Allen, or Moliere for that matter, I always use the same cast: a boy, a girl, an army of unruly teens and exasperated adults. I distribute the parts. I tell them what to expect: there, a pod from space! There, a deadly alien virus! There, you parents trying to kill you! I tell them how to scream. What to think. How to dress. I choose the sets, the days, the nights, the speed of time and the color of the moon. I’m the stage manager, the set designer, the director and the producer of this show for exactly 15 pages.

When it over, the curtain falls down. The outline is ready. I send it away to my agent, to my editor hoping they will think it’s better than butter.

And if they do think it’s better than butter, I fill my apartment with snacks and coffee and cats called Claude and start writing.

Only writing is never as neat and controllable as outlining. The actors who used to be so gentle suddenly refuse my stage directions. They laugh at me each time I show them my great blueprints for my novel. They just snatch the pages, tear them, trash them and off they go improvising. My little theater falls apart. The stage collapses. The roof caves in. I realize that my theater was built right in the middle of a dangerous and unpredictable jungle. My cast abandons me. I have to follow them if I don’t want to stay alone in the ruin of my well thought plans. Together, we go into the wild and I just try to keep up with them, clumsily taking notes whenever they say or do something totally unexpected.

I wonder: Did Moliere have to put up with this?


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Love, Dating, Romance and other things I should research more

There are two important things I’ve learned during my creative writing classes at university:

1. You should always write about what you know
2. Any story worth writing needs to be researched

There’s a problem there for me. I write romance and humorous science fiction. My daily job includes Alien invasions, spacegirls, and distant planets you access by walking through walls down here on earth.

See. Nothing I know anything about! Nothing I can research if I don’t want to end up browsing through tones of documents proving that Georges Bush Senior is some sort of lizard.

Which leave me with the other aspect of my writing: romance!

There’s something I like to research. Extensively!

There are a few essential conditions to researching romance.

1. You need to be single.

If you’re in a serious relationship or married, or committed to anyone in anyway, you will not make a good romance researcher. Romance doesn’t start after the first kiss, after the wedding, after you moved in together, or after you made any sort of serious commitment. No, no. A first kiss, or a wedding, belong to the last pages of a romance (or the opening pages of a comedy, a drama or a tragedy). No, a good romantic story is a story of first things exclusively. First sight. First date. First acceleration of the beating heart. First kiss. First love. First "marry me, Josie!" The end.

So, to research romance, you need to be single, available, and have a very open schedule. And then, you need to date. A lot.

2. You have to be a good listener and know how to ask the right questions.

When you’re on a date, or just meeting anyone, try to focus exclusively on relationship issues. Also, in a spirit of fairness, let your test subjects know that everything they tell you will most probably end up in a book or a blog. So when they phone or email later to complain, you’ll be in a "I told you so!" situation.

3. Use your time efficiently.

Remember, you’re not looking for a partner. You’re researching! If you lunch with Anna, try to brunch with Laura and dinner with Enia (not their real names). In one day, you’ll have more romantic material than you’ll ever get from a Lifetime TV week’athlon.

For example, Anna will tell you that she’s obsessively single, meaning she’s obsessing about un-singling herself. She will tell you that decisiveness is the sexiest quality in a man. She will say that a real romantic hero is someone who is not afraid to say things like "I’m going to kiss you now!" or "I like you and I want to be with you." Though, Anna will also tell you that she just broke up with a very indecisive person who was also very bad in bed. This might just explain that.

Laura is in a more complex situation. She is in a serious relationship, but she just found out that her boyfriend is using online dating to chat with other women. So she set up an alias on one of the sites he’s using.  Now, she chats with him on a daily basis under the screen name "Natasha". "We never talked so much before. Now that I've become Natasha, he’s like chat chat chat!" she laughs. The only problem with her ruse: she got addicted to online dating. Hence the reason why she’s on a date with you!

And then there’s Enia… Ah, Enia…! You’re not dating, no no. She’s just a friend. But somehow, Enia is very open-minded about discussing relationships, romance, love… She’s like a cornucopia of good romantic data. But she's also absolutely lovely, and extra funny, and clever, and painfully attractive… which makes her a total professional hazard and the possible ruin of any given researcher (you).

Enia is in a serious relationship (ts! Shame… but remember, just collecting data here, okay). She’s in love with her boyfriend (typical!). But they fight sometimes. "He says 'go to hell.' And I take it literally and start packing my things getting ready to leave him and go to hell!" She nearly left him a few times in the past. "The secret to staying together," she explains while the waiter delivers your Baba dessert, "is to co-own a flat with your boyfriend. It makes it much harder to break up and walk away!" Ha. There you got it. Real-estate as the raison d'ĂȘtre for good romance. As soon as you leave the restaurant and part ways, you take out your notepad and write down this nugget of romantic field research: "the solution to a durable loving relationship is… location location location!"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

9 rules I use to write YA fiction

1. I never choose my next story; instead I let the story choose me.

Why: because if it doesn’t choose me, I just walk around my apartment, eating snacks and thinking I should rather be a plumber!

2. I don’t start working on a story until I can summarize it in a single simple sentence

Why: to have a clear compass I can use anytime I get lost during writing and resume walking around, eating snacks and thinking plumbing would have been a very decent career indeed

3. I outline the story very precisely, and then I completely forget about the outline while writing

4. I let my characters act and speak freely; I never impose a line of dialogue or an action on them.

Why: because it’s incredible the stuff they come-up with when you let them improvise!

5. I stick to themes that were important to me when I was a teenager (romance, the on-going war against adults/parents, girls, rebellion against the machine, sex, the supernatural etc.)

6. I don’t write for a given audience or market. I write to impress the kid/teen I used to be, and I try to make him laugh, because he was a bit of a clown too.

7. I try to imagine three of four highly dramatic/climatic moments in the story.

Why: because sometimes, I keep writing just to be able to reach one of those moments

8. During the story, I try to transform everything from one thing to its opposite (the weak become strong, the strong become weak, the living become dead and the dead come back to life, etc)

Why: because a good story is always about something transforming into something else; caterpillars realized that millions of years ago

9. This is not a rule, but a fact: whenever I start a new story, I feel like I’ve never read or written a single sentence in my entire life, and I’m scared shitless that I will never be able to write ever again… and then, I think of plumbing and go back to rule number 1

** This is a reply to a post by Cheryl Klein of Brooklyn Arden, published there and there. Thanks Cheryl!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Writer: A second chance at everything

You were in love. You finally got a date. Everything was absolutely perfect. The waiter was unusually nice. You ordered wine. She drank wine. You said funny things. She laughed. She said funny things too. You laughed some more. Then, you took a post-dinner walk in the most romantic city in the world and came midnight, you were on a bridge over la Seine. There was a light breeze of course. The moon. The freaking stars all aligned. Her hair dancing across her face as she looked at you.  

And then… then…. something absolutely horrible happened: NOTHING.

You didn’t kiss the girl! I mean, seriously! What’s wrong with you, dude? She was there, right in front of you, smiling, and… you know… like open territory! And you…? You stood there talking about the Seine becoming swimmable again, once they're done upgrading the waste water system.

Poof. The moment was gone.

You messed up. She’s gone. Partie. Departed. Dating better guys who would rather French kiss her than talk sewage.

No problem! You’re a writer. All you have to do to get the girl back… when you’re done knocking your head on every wall of you tiny apartment over rue des Martyrs while crying that you’re a freaking idiot for not kissing her… All you have to do to get her back, I was saying, is to switch on your laptop, start your word processor and just… correct that.

See, shazam! You can relive the entire event. The restaurant. The walk. The Seine. The Breeze. You can even pretend it smelled like daisies in spring. You cut out all the embarrassing moments, you don’t mention cleaner water, and, finally, you can jump on the girl and give her that kiss you failed to deliver in reality.

FYI: You can also add UFOs, Aliens, Spacegirls, Vampires, a guy called Nancy - anything that will make this stupid kiss take place, really.

But then, beware of the blank page… the blank page is the literary equivalent of a guy not bungee jumping into a first kiss.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Me vs What lives in the Dark

Most people leave their dangerous tools back at the shop, safely locked away.
What about a fiction writer? Say, someone who writes about nasty little Aliens, zombies, ghosts and ghouls?
Can you detach yourself from your work when night comes? Can you switch off your computer, go to bed in an empty old house and go like … “yeah, everything is hunky-dory, cute rainbows and gentle butterflies… monster and ghost are just business… this is real life… I can safely look into a mirror and my reflection won’t grin back at me while I scream in horror!”
If you write about… the end of the world, you tend to see signs of the forthcoming doom everywhere. If you write about UFOs, bingo – your night sky becomes an E.T. highway at rush hour. If you write about ghosts, even in a comical way, won’t they start walking out of walls and haunt your nights? The wind becomes a spine-chilling complaint. An old cracking painting turns into a gateway for specters to slide into our world and drag you back into their realm of terror.
The problem with ghosts, trust me, is not if you believe in them or not. No matter how irrational ghost fear seems during daylight, at night the argument for their existence sounds more like… ‘WHAT WAS THAT FREAKING NOISE DOWNSTAIRS!?”
Once, a teacher in creative writing told me to be careful when you write fiction. He said writers get haunted by their stories. When I told him mine will be about demons, exorcisms, and what’s undead in general, he told me “good luck with sleeping!” Now that I’m writing this post trying not to look away from my computer screen in case something white and dead is actually staring at me from the darkest corner of this creepy bedroom, I’m convinced he was right.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ten Great things about being a YA writer

1. You get to work in your pajamas and commuting is reduced to 8 seconds (from bedroom to sofa, with short compulsory stops in the bathroom and the kitchen) 
2. It doesn’t matter what adults think 
3. Zombies, Vampires, Death Games, Aliens, Ghosts, the Amazing Creature from the Black Lagoon, Werewolves, Witches and Making out at dusk after surviving a space invasion: those are your main concerns of the day. 
4. People in the industry think you’re not a SERIOUS writer, which surely means that you’re a FUN writer 
5. It’s perfectly okay to quote Scooby Doo 
6. Young Adults are mostly concerned about love, sex, their place in the world and what creature might eat them – all very valid subjects 
7. Your lunch break lasts up to 5 hours
8. You share with other writers a secret handshake 
9. Shopping new books and reading novels while lying in the park is considered “professional development”
10. It’s simply the coolest job in the world, up there with professional surfers and the janitor at Area 51.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

If you have doubts about UFOs, Aliens - or simply Spacegirls! - visiting our planet and interacting with us, just watch this series (narrated by Peter Coyote, btw)

After you watched this, the question won't be “what if...?” anymore, but… “WHY!!?”

Why are they here? Why are they flying around so discreetly? Why couldn’t they land on Times Square on a busy day, get out their flying saucers and ask where to find a reasonably priced restaurant and a decent show?

My answer is simple: little green men are zoologist and you, my friend, you’re the animal!

To study you properly, they try to disturb you as little as possible – just the way any biologist would do – hiding in camouflage, observing, taking pictures, and, yes, time to time, discreetly lifting a sample (that would be your poor uncle Ted who disappeared while duck hunting, even though everyone thought it was Jack Daniel’s and deep water that did him).

So, beware. There must be cameras everywhere. Act natural. Don’t make silly faces when you believe no one’s watching. As I type this, they’re probably observing you taking a shower, while a Zoomoplasmic version of David Attenborough get all emotional about you not dissolving in water, like they do.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Dark Side of Paname

If you love Paris, you need to get a copy of

It’s highly readable, and it will captivate you and chill you to the bones.

Forget the Paris of Lovers! Forget drinking gallons of red wine, long romantic walks along the canal Saint Martin and dinners Chez Flo.

Think blood, pain, murders, and more horror than in the entire collection of Universal Classic Monsters Movies (Creature from the Black Lagoon included).

Very inspiring if you’re working on a horror series set in Paris! If there’s murder, there’ll be ghosts. ;)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Do the right thing!

When the Hunger Games came out, I was desperate. I was in France and I couldn’t get a copy of the book. I didn’t want to wait and read it in French translation. I couldn’t have Katniss go “sacrebleu!” and “merde alors!” every second page. So I did the wrong thing. I found a German website which illegally offered a full version of the trilogy online.

I read it and adored it.

Now that The Hunger Games trilogy is available worldwide, I’m doing the right thing! I just bought it (with a croissant, because I’m still in France).

Now, I'm reading it again (while eating my croissant) – which make me thing… everything always tastes better when it’s legit!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

an old classic: the "beard or no beard" game

Solution 1 - BEARD! (picture taken right after I finished writing How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend and didn't shave during the entire process)

Solution 2 - NO BEARD!!! (Picture taken, like, well... Now)

Dear American friends, what look should I go for while reading excerpts from my book in the US (you have to imagine that I have a really strong French accent before you make up your mind)?

Your help will be much appreciated

PS. don't worry about the "rabbit caught in headlights"  look - it disappear with the third pot of coffee.

Win an ARC of How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend ( + French goodies)

If you can solve the following riddle, my book is yours!

What is hot, black, extra strong and keeps me writing zany spacegirl novels through the night?

Email me the solution and your address at garyghislain@yahoo.com and I'll mail back a copy of my book and something very Fresh, French and Edible.

Oh... I give you a subtle clue in the following picture.

Good luck, Holmes!