You sometimes get the sense that celebrities come from a planet different from our own, but I’ve never actually interviewed an alien. At least, that is, until now. The intergalactic intermediaries at HarperCollins managed to get the elusive author of I Am Number Four, an extraterrestrial Elder from Lorien named Pittacus Lore, on the phone. The upcoming YA novel follows a teenage alien, one of the last of his kind after his planet was destroyed, now on the run from the warlike race of Mogadarians intent on killing him and invading Earth. We spoke with Lore about the war currently being waged right under our noses. To protect his identity (he’s hiding away from the Mogadarians, you see) he spoke with a voice changer, but all these words are his own. Whether you accept his story like a Mulder or doubt it like a Scully is up to you.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This is your first book, or at least your first book on Earth. What kind of inspirations did you have, either YA-wise or sci-fi-wise?
PITTACUS LORE: I wrote the book to tell the story of the Loric race and their fight here on Earth, their fight for their own survival and their fight for the Earth’s survival. In researching the book, I read some young adult fiction and I read some science fiction, but we wanted to tell our own story in our own way.
Were you afraid that you might be jeopardizing your presence by writing this?
Nobody knows who we are, nobody knows what we look like. We can’t be found, we look no different than you, we talk no different than you, we walk no different than you. I’m not jeopardizing anything. If I’m doing anything, it’s letting the inhabitants of Earth know that they are in danger, that there is a war going on amongst them.
Are you hoping then for your book to bring about some action from people?
Earthlings will play no part in this war. You cannot affect the outcome in any way whatsoever. It will be won or lost by us.
I’m assuming since you’re using the present tense that the war continues.
Yes, the war is ongoing. We are writing the books a year or two behind the actual events.
Gotcha. So you’re currently working on the sequel, which covers events that happened last year?
We are writing another book right now, yes, called The Power of Six.
Is Number Four in that one?
Number Four is in it too. It’s the next battle in the war, the first two have been fought. The third is being fought right now.
Your book is based on actual events, but are there any other sci-fi books that are real?
I can’t speak to the reality of other sci-fi books. I know that we think that all books are real. A story is a story, it doesn’t matter what it’s called or what it’s sold as. A story is a story, and there is no way to tell what is real and what is not. Philip K. Dick’s books could be real. We hear stories of alien abduction, we don’t know if they are real or not. I could only say what I know and what I’ve seen, and that’s in the stories I tell.
Was literature different on your planet? Did you have to adapt your writing style for an Earth audience?
A story is the same in any language, in any culture. We did not use books the way you use them on Earth. We used things similar to your digital readers, but, yes, we told stories. That’s something very universal. In all races, in all beings from all planets, stories play an important role in their lives.
You mentioned that your books were more like e-readers. Does that mean the Kindle is a step forward for humankind?
I wouldn’t say our books were e-readers, specifically. More technologically advanced, yes.
So with yours, it’s not just the ability to store a lot of books, but it’s a tactile experience, too?
Do you really want this interview to be about what books were like on a planet that no longer exists?
Actually, I kinda do. It’s a little fascinating. You’re the first alien I’ve interviewed.
Okay. They were electronic, or what you would call electronic. You could also turn pages. It also included interactive elements to them.
They’re already making a movie adaptation of your book. Are you involved with that?
I am not involved in the movie. I am currently fighting the war. I have much greater things to worry about.
What are your feelings about the movie?
The more people who hear our story or see our story, the better. I am very pleased that the people who are making this movie are doing it. Mr. Spielberg, Mr. Bay and Mr. Caruso are all exceedingly talented storytellers, exceedingly talented filmmakers, so they should be able to get the story out to a wider audience.
And Spielberg does have a lot of experience with extraterrestrial stories.
Telling extraterrestrial stories, not experiencing them.
Duly noted. Do you hope that your book will have the same mass appeal as something like Harry Potter or Twilight?
I think anyone who writes a book hopes that it will have the appeal of Harry Potter or Twilight. We hope that people read the book, enjoy the book and are excited by the book. We hope they feel something when they read the book, and tell people they know to read it too. Yes, we hope for success.
If Number Four got into an three-way fight with Harry Potter or Edward, who do you think would emerge victorious?
Mr. Cullen or Mr. Potter would not have much of a chance.
The book has plenty of sci-fi, but it’s also is a good high-school novel. Did you want to write a book that had that human level to it, even if the main character’s not human?
There are things that are similar in beings across the universe. We all feel love, we all feel fear, we all feel anger, we all feel hope. Number Four happened to be in high school when the events took place, so that’s the setting for the book. And all Loric aren’t that far from humans. We have powers, but we want the same things. We want love, we want stability, we want peace.
How do you keep in contact with these people so you can tell their stories?
I’m not at liberty to discuss that with you.
You mention in the book that the Loric helped the human race in the past, aiding the construction of the Pyramids and stuff like that. And Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein were half-Loric, is that correct?
So how much of a role did you guys play in human history?
We’ve followed the events of this planet for tens of thousands of years. Frankly, your civilization would not exist if not for us. We taught you how to use language, we taught you how to build civilizations and how to organize them, we taught you elementary farming, astronomy, numerology, architecture. We gave you the basic ideas of your philosophies. You owe most of what you know to Loric influence.
Well, on behalf of my species, I’d like to thank you.
We love human beings and we love Earth. That’s one of the reasons we’re here.
Do you hope one day once the war is over to come out and live openly?
When the war is over, I will vanish into your society. You will never hear from me again and I will live as one of you, as normally as I possibly can. If you saw me walking down the street today, and you may have, my friend, because I may have done some research on who you are and where you work, but if you saw me walking down the street you would not be able to know that I am different from any other human.
I’m guessing that you won’t be doing many book signings.
No, I won’t. There are signed books available that HarperCollins sent to me and I signed and returned, but there will be no public appearances.
On your planet, did you guys read any Earth books?
We’ve always been aware of Earth, and what goes on here. So, yes, we have known about developments in art and literature on Earth.
Do you have any personal favorites?
I love the work of J.K. Rowling, I like the work of Stephenie Meyer. I also like Bret Easton Ellis and Norman Mailer. I love Henry Miller. Mickey Spillane is also a favorite of mine. And I like Entertainment Weekly and Vogue.
Do you have an EW subscription? Because I could get you a free one if you just give me your address.
You know I’m not going to give you my address.
Oh, man. I was so close!
No, you weren’t.