Fiction Ruth Wheeler's Truxxe Trilogy: Review and Author Interview
All Aliens Like Burgers Do Aliens Read Sci-Fi? Ruth Wheeler (Hirst Publishing, 2010, 2011)
These are the first two books in the Truxxe trilogy by Ruth Wheeler, covering the adventures of Tom Bowler when he applies for a job and finds himself working in an intergalactic motorway service station serving burgers to aliens. These two novels rattle along at a great pace, aimed at younger readers but with enough intelligence and witty writing to keep adults interested and entertained. The setting is inspired, and, having worked at a motorway service station, this reviewer can confirm that the scenarios and adventures that spring from it are both natural and possible. Ruth writes with warmth and humour, inventing some brilliantly developed characters and sparkling dialogue. Anyone who enjoys sci-fi/fantasy writers such as Douglas Adams, Robert Rankin or Neil Gaiman will find much to love in these two books. I caught up with Ruth earlier to ask her some questions about the books.
For those not familiar with your work, can you give us a brief idea as to what the trilogy is about (without giving away any spoilers)?
The Truxxe Trilogy follows the adventures of young, formerly unadventurous and shy Tom Bowler. When he applies for a job at a local service station in his gap year, he is unaware that the advert refers to 'local' in the galactic sense. He ventures out to planet Truxxe, stationed between local galaxies Triangulum and Andromeda, where he proceeds to earn some cash selling burgers at an inter-galactic service station for all manner of aliens. Tom, who is used to his whole existence being confined to a small English town, embarks on a series of adventures with his new friend Raphyl and the beautiful Kayleesh. The first book uncovers the secrets of Truxxe...
Is this the end of the characters in the trilogy, or will they be returning?
I have not planned any further adventures for Tom Bowler and the other characters, but I do find myself missing them, so who knows? I'd like to think that they may come back in some form or another, maybe in a different medium!
The trilogy is classic British sci-fi in a long tradition (Doctor Who, Douglas Adams, Red Dwarf, Robert Rankin, etc). What inspired you to start writing, and where did the initial ideas come from?
I have always written. From a young age, I would sit in the classroom well into my lunch break finishing whatever story I was working on that day in English class, and enjoying it immensely. I love to read science fiction and I love that kind of escapism. I like to laugh too, so this was the genre that felt right for me. The ideas come from everyday things and from books and films that I enjoy too, although not always consciously. The idea of the motorway service station has always appealed to me and one day I got thinking about how a service station between galaxies, rather than cities, would cater for all of its varied clientele. And the story and characters just followed.
When did you start writing, and did you always intend to create a trilogy?
I can't think of a time when I didn't write, but the first novella (unpublished) that I actually completed was probably when I was at uni. I started writing part one of the trilogy around 2006. I didn't intend for it to be a trilogy at first, but the more I wrote, the more I wanted to explore the Truxxe universe, as it were. Also, once I knew that people enjoyed the first book and were hungry for more, it definitely gave me some encouragement. I felt that there were more stories that I could tell, so I wrote two further novels.
Have you been surprised by how popular the books have been?
I am surprised about how well received the books have been, and I'm really pleased with some of the feedback. I enjoy making people laugh and I hope that more and more people can enjoy them.
The books are aimed at young adults, but can be enjoyed by anyone. Was this always your intention?
I didn't start out with an age range in mind. All I knew was, from a personal point of view, that I find books with swearing in their dialogue cringesome and I am not interested in writing about copious amounts of violence or anything sexually explicit. So it made sense to aim my work at younger readers. I wanted to write fun adventures that introduce younger readers to the genre of SF and also appeal to older readers too. I am very pleased that the reading age ranges from nine to ninety!
What are your plans for your next book--are you continuing in a similar vein or going in a radical new direction?
I am currently writing a stand-alone novel. It is a science fiction comedy and, again, aimed at a young audience. This one is based solely on Earth. I am actually finding it harder to write about Earth and I'm having to do a lot of research, but I am enjoying it immensely!
As someone who has worked hard to get published, what advice do you have for other writers in your position?
The best advice I can give is not to give up. Scattergun approaches to publishers don't work-- tailor your submission to each individual publisher/agent specifically and research them first. If they're looking for non-fiction cook book writers, don't send them your epic horror novel! Also don't dismiss the idea of self-publishing. Network with other authors, and finally, read--lots!
If you could make the trilogy into a TV series, who would your dream cast be?
It would be amazing to see the trilogy realised as a TV series. I have thought about it and I always thought that Tommy Knight who played Luke in The Sarah Jane Adventures would make a good Tom Bowler, but I haven't really thought much about who the rest of the cast might be. I would be very interested to find out one day!
Many thanks to Ruth Wheeler for her time. The interview was conducted by James Turner. More information can be found at www.truxxe.com.