MG Harris has completed Gemini Force One: Black Horizon and is now working on the second book – “Ghost Mine”. We asked her about the challenge of completing the work of someone as iconic as Gerry Anderson, and here’s what she had to say:
Channeling Gerry Anderson
When I sit down to enjoy an episode of Thunderbirds or Stingray, I’m consciously looking forward to a certain quality of adventure – there will be exotic locations, cool technology, beautifully designed interiors, quirky characters, and nail-biting tension in the final act as people and technology are pushed to the absolute limit. usually in a race against the clock!
In the video We All Owe A debt To Gerry Anderson (below) I discuss how far Gerry’s work unconsciously influenced my creation of a cocktail of action adventure tropes for The Joshua Files.
Writing Gemini Force One was particularly liberating, however, as I no longer have any reason to put the brakes on if I get a particularly Andersonian impulse for where to take the story, characters or design.
Adding New Characters
Working on the second of our three-book deal with Orion Children’s Books for Gerry Anderson’s Gemini Force One, I’m introducing a new teenage character.
Gerry himself hadn’t specified the ages of any characters except for Jason Truby and Caroline Carrington, but he’d called for a group of highly qualified people. Early on, we resisted the temptation to turn the entire team into a bunch of teenage savants. (Although this was suggested…)
It just didn’t feel very Anderson. One special kid can be believable, a whole bunch of them stretches the point. More importantly, it undermines the competency of the main crew.
Also – teenagers single-handedly saving the day was the plot of the 2004 Thunderbirds movie that Gerry so hated. We were on safe ground refusing such a modification to Gerry’s plan!
However, it’s not always so cut and dried. Sometimes there’s almost a need to channel the spirit of Anderson.
Given that the book series is being published for readers aged 10+, for 16-year old Ben to be the only teen in GF One isn’t entirely satisfying. He needs at least a few other teenagers, if only for banter and flirtation. The rest of the Gemini Force crew are Ben’s mentors, maybe even friends, but he’s not yet their equal.
Guidance from Thunderbirds
Gerry left no guidance as to how the characters were to interact socially. That leaves me with an interesting challenge – how to write character interaction especially of teenage characters that both feels authentic and up-to-date?
I was a little stumped, but then remembered that in Thunderbirds, the Tracy brothers do enjoy banter between themselves, even gentle teasing. It never goes too far – this isn’t a dysfunctional family. Maybe ending an adventure with everyone gathering around to share coconut cake would be a little too twee for today’s trend to ‘gritty’. In channeling Anderson, therefore, I’ve taken the family atmosphere of the group (a surrogate rather than literal family, in the case of Gemini Force), and added a twist of teen angst.
And once in a while, especially when it’s someone’s birthday, there’s even cake. (Shall I make it coconut?)
What expectations does an Anderson production evoke in you?