Answers to Your Burning Questions About Space Case

Space Case, my newest book, will be out in stores on September 16.  I’m proud to announce that it has just received a starred review from Kirkus, which is a pretty big deal.  (They’re some big shot reviewers, so a starred review from them is a like a five star review from anyone else.)  Many of you have been asking for more information on it, so’s another exciting installment of “Answers to Your Burning Questions About…”


What the heck is Space Case about?

It’s the first book in a new mystery series — and this one takes place on the moon.  The idea is that, 25 years from now, we have finally started colonizing the moon.  The first families have been sent to live at Moon Base Alpha, and the first kids in space have discovered that space travel isn’t nearly as amazing as Star Wars and Star Trek have led us to believe it will be.  Twelve-year-old Dash, in particular, is frustrated by the awful food, small living space, horrendous toilets — and the fact that the only other kid there his age is kind of a dork.  Then, the base’s renowned doctor dies mysteriously on the surface of the moon.  NASA claims its and accident.  Dash suspects foul play.  So he investigates to find out what really happened and soon finds his own life is in danger as well.

Why are you writing a series that takes place on the moon?

One of my very closest friends was an astronaut.  (Yes, an astronaut.  Coolest job ever.)  Through him, I was lucky enough to tour the Johnson Space Center behind the scenes, get VIP passes to space shuttle launches and send things cool things up to the space station so they could be photographed with earth in the background.  Like this:


When my editor and agent found out I knew an astronaut, they immediately suggested that I should write a book with him.  That didn’t quite work out, because he was too busy, but I was able to take everything about space travel that I’d learned from him and come up with an idea.  One of the big things I’d learned was that traveling in space isn’t quite as glamorous as I had always assumed it was.  For example, if you’ve ever seen an IMAX movie about space travel, the spacecraft look enormous inside, but in real life, they’re claustrophobically small.  In Spy School, I found a lot of comedy in playing up the differences between the spy world of movies and what spying is like in real life.  I thought it’d be fun to do the same thing with space.

So… it’s going to be funny?

Yes. Although there’s also going to be action and suspense.  And the book takes place in a somewhat more realistic world than Spy School.  I don’t really know what the future of space travel will be like, but I made the most educated guess I could.

Was it fun to write something set in the future?

Actually, that was the hardest part of the book.  Writing something only 25 years in the future is kind of weird, because the potential for getting things wrong is enormous.  My readers are still going to be around in 25 years.  Hopefully, people will still be reading this book in 25 years.  So anything that is prescient will seem cool — but anything I get wrong will seem idiotic, probably.  Right before I started writing, I watched the second Back to the Future movie.  (For those of you who haven’t seen it, the movie takes place in 1985, and they travel to the distant future — of 2015.)  They weren’t really shooting for reality in that movie, but it’s amazing how far off they were.  Almost nothing they imagined for 2015 has happened yet.  They have flying cars everywhere.  And flying skateboards.  (Or hoverboards, really.)  And instant food. And all sorts of other ridiculous stuff.  And then, at some point, the hero runs right by a bank of pay phones.  They’re videophones, but still… These guys predicted flying cars, but no one had any idea the smartphone was coming.

Will I still like this book if I don’t like science fiction?

I think so.  It’s only science fiction in the sense that it’s set in the future.  Really, it’s a mystery with some action and adventure and humor in it, just like  my other books.  I’m guessing that, even if you’re not a fan of sci-fi, you’ve at least wondered what it might be like to live on another planet, or to travel somewhere on a rocket.  I know I did as a kid.  So this book hopefully taps into that wonder and expands on it.

So now, with this, you’re going to have three book series going: Belly Up, Spy School and Space Case.  Why can’t you be like other authors and just stick with one series?

Because there’s too much fun stuff to write about.  I love writing, but the idea of only doing one series over and over and over again isn’t that appealing.  I love the Belly Up series and the Spy School series, so I can promise you I’m not abandoning them for Space Case.  In fact, I’m already at work on new books in both those series that will come out next year.  But for now, I like the idea of jumping around between worlds.

You’re not going to start a fourth series, are you?

Not for middle grade.

That’s a kind of a cagey answer.  Are you planning something for YA?

Let’s just say I have ideas.  But it might be a while before I act on any of them.

Is there anything else I should know about Space Case?

I think that, out of all my books, this one might have the best ending of all of them.  I was pretty excited when I came up with it.

What’s so exciting about it?

I’ve already said to much.  You’ll just have to wait until September to find out.

Aw, man.  That’s months away!

Yes, but it will give you something to look forward to when school starts.



43 thoughts on “Answers to Your Burning Questions About Space Case

  1. Yes! First comment an I’m really glad i contibuted to the making of this. And of course, as i do with all the other posts I have tons of questions. First off, is Dash going to like-like someone in this book?, because as you’ve seen on my blog, I like how the romance adds to the story. Also, what will they be doing up there. Will they just try to live, or are they going to explore? And what about his parents? How do they just let him go to the moon, or is he *gasp* an orphan? And can you add something to the book like a mini-poster or a pencil or something for back-to-school? Back to the book, how many people are going with them? And on a side note, are you going to make any apperances in your home-town Texas, because i happen to live there, and I want you to sign all my books. As you can see, I’m really excited, and I can’t wait for the book to come out. And of course you can’t answer alot of these because of spoilers, but i really hope you can, so I can give my blog-readers a behind-the-scenes preview of Space Case ;)
    Your Huge Fan,
    P.S- I hope you never stop writing!!!!!

  2. Oh P.S- Another question. On my blog I asked you something, but i’ll say it again. Can you make one of my evil spy school predictions( remember I’m making two) into a short story on your blog?

  3. Justin –

    To answer your questions:

    1) There is a female character Dash’s age in this book, Kira, but they only meet for the first time, so there’s not much time for romance. Yet.
    2) Dash is not an orphan. He has gone to the moon because NASA wants his parents there. All the adults stationed there are adults doing lunar research (with a small support staff) and their kids are just along for the adventure. There are a few dozen people there.
    3) Right now, my tour hasn’t been scheduled, although it looks like I will be at the Teens Read Festival in Houston around September 26 & 27.
    4) I can’t really add anything like a poster or a pencil to the book. That’s a publishing issue, and that kind of stuff is pretty expensive. They are putting the money into making the book look great. They’ve done something pretty amazing with the cover, so that it the stars on it actually sparkle.

    I hope that helps.


  4. Justin –

    I must apologize. There’s simply no way I can take the time to write a short story like that. I’m working as hard as I can just to keep up with the demand for books.


  5. Ok that’s cool, and thanks for doing your best to answer all my questions. I’m still kind of bummed that you’re not going to the dallas/fort worth area, because that’s nearby where I live(BTW feel free to comment on my blog if you’re going to be nearby there). But Anyway, I have started a mini memorial in my bedroom for you, and I’m jut collecting your books and putting them in there so that’s all. And expect to see more comments asking you questions on Space Case, and they may not be on this post, because I’ll have more questions later in the summer, and I might not want to scroll all the way down to here just to type it in, and I want to have as much as I can, so I can give my readers a nice, back-to-school prediction of Space Case!

    Your Huge Fan,

  6. YAYAYAY! Another awesome series by one of my FAVORITE authors! This is seriously SOOOO AWESOME! :D I love the idea for this book! When I was little… *Sheepish* I wanted to go to Mars… So a book that has a kid going to space is probably the best moment of my week! I do have a few questions though…

    1. Will there be as much action as Spy School?
    2. In this awesome version of the future who does the moon belong to?

    I might think up more questions later! I loved spy school because of the action and how funny it was! Space Case looks awesome so far!!!!! I am a wannabe writer too… How do you write your books? Do you do them one chapter at a time all the way through? Or do you do them in chunks, a little here, a little there? And one more question… How do you put in funny humor that everyone will understand that doesn’t sound cheesy? I have the hardest time with that especially! :) Sorry for so many questions!!! I am soooooo excited!!!! Thanks for writing such awesome books!!!
    ~ Lissa… a huge fan!

    P.S Are you visiting Colorado anytime soon??? :)

  7. Lissa –

    No need to be sheepish about wanting to go to Mars. Dreams like that are how most astronauts got started.

    To answer your questions:

    1) There won’t be quite as much action as Spy School, because the spy genre is pretty much built on action sequences — but there will be some action in Space Case.

    2) In the future, the moon belongs to everyone. The countries of the world have agreed to share it, the same way they agreed to share Antarctica.

    3) I write my books one chapter at a time all the way through, although I outline first and then stop halfway through to outline again.

    4) As for the humor thing, it’s not easy. Jokes are some of the hardest things to write. You have to work on them over and over until it sounds just right. And even then, they don’t always work.

    5) I might be in Denver in August. Where are you?

  8. HOORAY! Thanks for answering me back!!! This is awesome! Ok… I live in Colorado Springs about an hour away from Denver! I am sure my Mom will drive me to see you! This is sooooo cool! I will be sure to buy Space Case as soon as it comes out!!! I have a quick question about Spy School… How did you make all of your characters so personalized? Like Zoe… She makes up funny nicknames like Brianiac, Potatohead, Ice Queen, Black Belt, Smokescreen and Chameleon! And Warren… big chip on the shoulder, blends into his surroundings, hopefully likes Zoe, and is sometimes jealous of Ben! And Chip… Awesome looking, kinda stupid sometimes, a bit of a bully, and sometimes a prankster! I could keep raving like this forever!! I know some authors that just make their main character really personalized and then perhaps just the second main character a little personalized! But sometimes you can have too much or too little! I know of an author that does so much personality that nobody can tell the difference between all of the characters and they all look the same. Another quick question… How do you balance the difference between Dialogue and Description…? I can never figure out the Dialogue as well as Description! Sorry for all the questions! I am a HUGE fan!!! :) ~Lissa!!!

  9. Lissa –

    The best I can say about my characters is, I guess it’s just fun to invent people. So I think of traits that would be really amusing to me and build characters around them. The more distinct I can make them, the more fun it is to write scenes for all of them.

    As for dialogue and description, I try to tell as much of the story through dialogue as possible, and anything I can’t figure out how to tell that way, I describe. If you like your characters, it’s much more fun to describe things in their voice than it is just to tell everything. (At least, it is for me.)

  10. Hey stu! I have another question for you, since you have an amazing website, do you think you could tell me what you used to make it. Like did you use blogger like me or did you use something else? Well that’s all i need to know and I look forward to Space Case!
    Your Huge Fan,

  11. Justin –

    This website is done with WordPress. Though I think yours looks pretty awesome too!

  12. Ok cool, I was just curious how this website was done. Oh and also, can you reply to the 2 emails I sent you, because they’re some things my mom needs a confirmed answer i there ;). Thanks so much. :)

    Your Huge Fan,

  13. Hey Stu! I just thought if another question, and I hope you can answer it. Here Goes. So I’m about to write this story, and I’ve got tons of ideas for characters and the main plot, and I’ve even finished the first few chapters (it’s sort of like a mini-novel). But the one thing I have stuck on is the title. So would you have any good tips to make titles that catch people’s eyes? I like your short titles, an,
    because their short and sweet and they catch everybody’s eyes. So I hope you can help me, and I’ll see you later :)

    Your Huge Fan,

  14. Justin –

    Obviously, I’m a big fan of short titles, but longer ones can work too if they’re very intriguing. (“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” comes to mind.) Whatever the case, while the title is important, you don’t really need it to start writing. “Belly Up” wasn’t called that until well after the book was finished. And I don’t really know what the title is on the next book in that series, even though I’ve already written the first draft. Sometimes, you need to be done to realize what the title should be. So write first and work out the title later.

  15. Ok I will totally use that advice , since it’s coming from the best.???? As I always say expect more comments from me about space case and stuff.

    Your Huge Fan,
    P.S- My birthday is in a few days, so thanks for my b-day present! ;)

  16. Whoops! Messed up there. Just so you’re not confused, all those question marks was supposed to be this: :), I hoped you had a good laugh at that!

    Your Huge Fan,

  17. Hey stu! Got another question for you, and I’m really sorry to have to keep commenting on your blog. It’s just that every time i think that i only have one question left, another one pops up in my head that I NEED answered, so if you can,please bear with me here. But anyway, my question is, How do you write a good outline for a story? Like what are the steps that you use to make a well-contructed outline? Anyway that’s all, and I will make a big post next time I have a question, instead of all these little ones. :)

    Your Huge Fan,

  18. Justin –

    Man, the outline thing is tough to answer briefly. Someday, your teachers are going to spend weeks teaching you about how to outline stuff. The thing is, while I do outline my story, it’s really just a breakdown of how I want to tell the story, chapter by chapter. The key is to figure out the story, I guess. Know where you want to start and where you want to end, and then the outline is really just the map from one to the other. That probably doesn’t answer your question very well, but it’s how I do it. I also don’t outline on a computer. I do it longhand on yellow pads so I can cross out ideas and move them around.

  19. Dude. Just can’t emphasize how much I love your books, they’re awesome!! I would love to write a book one day. Right now I’m thinking about writing a mini-book but I have trouble starting it. Should I start it with someone being kidnapped or should it start with the main character in his/her daily life? Just wanna hear your professional advice!
    Thanks for providing you’re awesome books to book-hungry middle schoolers!!
    – Your huge fan, Neo
    BTW are you coming to San Francisco/BayAres any time soon?

  20. Neo –

    It’s always a little hard to tell someone exactly what order to write something in without knowing a whole lot about it. I might tend to start right with the action sequence, but you’d have to figure out how to layer in all the important information about your character somehow.

    I don’t have plans to come to SF at the moment, but I tend to get up there a decent amount for publicity. If I’m coming that way, I’ll post the info on this site.

  21. OK, thanks for your advice!! I appreciate the time you took to answer my question! Also sometimes,after I have written something, I think of something better, so I rewrite it. After that I think of something even better, so I rewrite it again. So should I just write everything first, even if I think of something better, and then edit it like after a chapter, or what?
    -Your huge fan, Neo

  22. Neo –

    You’re right to realize that rewriting is a big part of writing. You should do whatever feels comfortable. I tend to write something through first, then go back and edit everything at once. But that’s just me.

  23. Hey Mr. Gibbs, can I call you Stuart? Anyways, do you remember visiting Hancock Park School because of Solomon and Gilda’s mom? When I was in Fourth grade, you visited my class to explain to us about Spy School. I remember asking this question when you were there, are you ever going to make any of your series’ into a movie?

  24. P.S.
    You used your childrens’ names in the books right? Violet and Dashiell in Poached and Dash in Space Case.

  25. William –

    Yes, you can call me Stuart. And I remember visiting HPS. The movie discussion about Spy School continues. Sadly, the movie business moves much slower than the book business. Sometimes, I can write an entire book in between two meetings on the same movie project.

  26. William –

    Really? Last Musketeer isn’t on Kindle? I had not idea. I suppose the publisher is now only making it available in good, old-fashioned book form. Sorry.

  27. Hello Mr. Gibbs,
    First, let me say I’m a huge fan. I’ve read Spy School, Spy Camp, Belly Up, and Space Case. I was just wandering if you were going to make a sequel to Space Case? That’s one of my all time favorite books! Thanks!

  28. Never mind, I just looked at your blog and saw your publishing schedule. I can’t wait for Spaced Out!

  29. I do have one more question though. Before you started writing books, did you think that you would write books?

  30. Thank you so much for responding! And I want to be an author also. All my teachers say I’m an excellent writer so.

  31. Hello Mr. Gibbs,

    I just finished Evil Spy School and I loved it! I couldn’t put it down! Very well written, and I can’t wait for the fourth (if there’s going to be a fourth)!

  32. Hello Mr Gibbs

    Which astronaut were you working at the time while writing the book “Space Case?”


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