Imagine you’re playing Pokemon Go, and suddenly those cute little critters come to life? Well, that’s sort of the premise behind Gamer Squad, the fun new middle grade series from author Kim Harrington. The first two books in the series are out NOW, and today, Kim stops by to tell us more about the books:
I love hearing the origin stories of books. What was the one little “nugget” that sparked the idea for the Gamer Squad series?
I’ve been enchanted by the idea of mobile games that go viral and have people of all ages and walks of life playing at the same time—from Angry Birds and Flappy Bird to what I will always call “The Winter of Trivia Crack.” But it wasn’t until Pokemon Go hit the scene that these games encouraged people to leave the house and interact. I was obviously a huge fan. My son and I spent a lot of time walking around downtown and playing, and we found ourselves teaming up with strangers and giving high fives and chatting with people we otherwise would have just walked by. There was this overwhelming sense of excitement and community and it all came from a mobile game. I said to my son one afternoon that someone should bottle this feeling and put it in a middle grade book. And then I thought…why not me?
I’m definitely getting some Jumanji-meets-PokemonGO vibes from the description of these books. What board game or video game would you definitely NOT want to experience in real life?
I definitely would want no part of Silent Hill, Resident Evil, or any of those in real life.
Is there one you WOULD want to experience in real life?
How was writing the Gamer Squad series different from your other middle grade and YA books?
All of my other books were mysteries and Gamer Squad is more of an adventure series. It still has my humor throughout and suspenseful chapter-ending cliffhangers and plot twists. But I didn’t have that structure of a mystery novel to fall back on, and I’d gotten quite used to that. So this was something different for me.
Did any of your own childhood antics inspire the characters or events in the Gamer Squad books?
Oh, absolutely. I grew up in the ‘80s—the Spielberg days of The Goonies, E.T., and the like. And even though Gamer Squad takes place now, you can see the thumbprints of the ‘80s all over these books. Especially in the first one, where you see this group of kids spending their summer teaming up to save their town. Even though it’s contemporary, I think there’s a bit of nostalgia in there as well.
What surprised you the most while writing the Gamer Squad books?
I was surprised by how much research I ended up doing. Obviously, I’ve played a lot of games so I had that stuff down pat. But while I have experience in certain PC programming languages, I’ve never programmed an app and needed to research that process. For book two, I visited and toured an astronomical observatory. One of the characters is a dancer, and I know nothing about dance. So I had to get help on dance terminology. It takes a village!
Flash Questions (Gamer Squad Edition):
Favorite board game?
Favorite video game, 21st century edition?
I have to say the Roller Coaster Tycoon franchise because I was completely addicted to those games for several years.
Favorite video game, 20th century edition?
Tetris, but I also really loved this game for the Commodore 64 called Alter Ego.
Favorite card game?
Cards Against Humanity
Go-to game of choice (any kind)?
Lately I’m really into Time Management games on the PC, which look stressful but actually decompress me after a long day.
Col. Mustard, Miss Scarlet, Mr. Green, Mrs. Peacock, Mrs. White or Professor Plum?
I have to go with the femme fatale, Miss Scarlet.
Thanks for stopping by, Kim! Here’s more about all of the Gamer Squad books:
Gamer Squad #1: Attack of the Not-So-Virtual Monsters
What happens when your cool virtual-reality game . . . becomes REAL?
Pokemon GO meets The Goonies in this action-packed middle-grade series.
Monsters Unleashed–where you catch virtual-reality monsters on your cellphone–is one of the hottest mobile games around, and Bex and Charlie just can’t stop playing. They even check out an old map in Charlie’s grandfather’s attic in hopes of discovering some forgotten places in town where the rarest monsters might hide. But they find a strange machine up there too, and after Charlie switches it on, the WiFi goes down . . . and Bex’s entire catalog of monsters vanishes! And that’s not the worst of it: all the creatures she’s collected on her phone escape into the real world. Can the friends nab the beasts before they become monster lunch?
Gamer Squad #2: Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind
First they took on monsters. Now they have to face ALIENS.
Come join Bex and Charlie on their second thrilling adventure in the GAMER SQUAD series!
After their scary adventure, Bex and Charlie have sworn never to play Monsters Unleashed again. Then Veratrum Games Corp releases a new augmented reality game featuring aliens instead of monsters, and the best friends just can’t resist. After all, everyone loves it, even their science teacher, because it includes real star charts. But when they go to an observatory on a class trip, and open the game near a radio telescope, they get more than they bargained for: REAL aliens. One is sweet and kind; the other . . . not so much. Can Bex and Charlie capture the bad ET before it destroys their town?
Gamer Squad #3: App of the Living Dead (In Stores October 3rd)
Monsters. Aliens. What’s next? Use your BRAINS and figure it out!
In their third exciting adventure, Bex and Charlie battle the living dead—ZOMBIES.
After all they’ve gone through, Bex and Charlie have no intention of playing the new zombie game that Veratrum Games Corp just released. But everyone else in town is hooked, and when a flu sweeps the school, turning teachers and students into the undead, it turns out that only non-players are immune. Now, Charlie and Bex have to find a way to save their friends and neighbors—and stop the company from unleashing more of their deadly games.
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