Well, at least I can do something right at the moment. Even though most everything else goes to shit, I’m a pretty rad interviewer.
So, onto the cool stuff! I will be interviewing as many entrants into SPFBO as possible. I doubt I’ll be able to interview all 299 entries, but I’ll try and get as many out there as I can. Today’s unfortunate victim (wait, I said that? I meant to say, wonderful volunteer…*cough*) is Kevin Wright, author of the Lords of Asylum novel which is his entry into 2018 SPFBO! I could do with one of those uniforms for my men. Tyir, you need to get your shit together, son.
In order to check out the previous interviews, click on the respective awesome book covers and it will take you straight to it! (The joy of learning new things about WordPress…)
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
My name is Kevin Wright and I’ve worked as a firefighter and emergency medical technician for the past eighteen years in my home town. I train in a martial art called bagua that most people have never heard of and have begun dabbling in HEMA, which even more people have probably never heard of. I’m not good at either, but they’re fun and a great workout. I adopted a pet bearded dragon named Julie last November. And lastly, I’m married with two awesome kids. I write fantasy, horror, and steampunk, none of it very well. I prefer to spread out my lack of writing prowess along a multifaceted front so that a wide variety of readers can dislike my work. I’m kidding, obviously… I hope.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
I consider the process of developing plot to be like planning a road trip. I like to have a destination and map before I begin. There. I know where I’m going. I jot down a few landmarks so I know how to get there.
Then, along the way, if I find a cool side road I’d like to check out, I take it, even if it veers off in the wrong direction. Then I reassess, reconfigure, and move on. And on, and on, and on… With characters I start off with a basic idea of what kind of person a character might be, then, as I write him/her, they’ll gradually form in my mind and on the paper. It’s like getting to meet them piecemeal as I write, which is fun.
Tell us about your current project.
I’m working on the second draft of, ‘Husk,’ a sequel to my SPFBO 4 entrant ‘Lords of Asylum.’ ‘Husk’ follows the further exploits of Sir Luther Slythe Krait and his cohorts as they try to survive the aftermath of the events in ‘Lords of Asylum.’
Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!
The main character of ‘Lords of Asylum’ and ‘Husk’ is Sir Luther Slythe Krait. Both stories are told in the first person from his perspective.
Krait’s an ex-lawman now down-on-his-nonexistent-luck hedge knight wandering Europe during the Black Plague years. Say 1350 to early 1400’s. His grand scheme in life is to just scrape together enough cash to get loaded and maybe find a warm bed with a warm body in it.
There is a sadness to him, though, and while his past is opaque, it’s evident he’s has lost a great deal. It’s also evident that he used to be a man guided by morality and integrity. That has, for the most part, fled, with the occasional act of chivalry either forced upon him by his brother Stephan or some vestigial impulse.
Along with Krait are his brother, Stephan, the brains and moral center of the crew, and their feral comrade in arms, Karl.
What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
First off, read the stuff you want to write. Have some grounding in your neck of the woods. Know what’s out there. Go online to groups and ask what a good primer set of novels is for your genre, then get to it.
Next, read everything else. Mix and match.
You never know where you’ll find inspiration for your next work or the one you’re working on currently. Grounding yourself in a variety of genres will only enhance your writing. Read women’s lit. Read cookbooks. Read classics. Contemporary. History is huge.
Finally, but most importantly, WRITE. Get your butt in the chair and just do it. And don’t wait. Do it today. Now. I’m fairly boring, so stop reading this and go do it.
Also, if you’re inexplicably still there, listen to everyone’s advice on writing then find out what works for you. What gets you results? Then do it. Do it as much as you can and be patient. It’s a marathon, as they say, not a sprint and the race keeps going on long after you’ve published.
What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
I used to work in a neighboring city that is fairly downtrodden. Seeing old pictures of what it used to look like in its heyday and comparing it to what it is now is sad. You get this feeling of a treasure trove of history that lies buried just beneath the surface. You see old mill buildings hundreds of yards long that are completely abandoned. Towering red brick smokestacks dot the horizon. Empty lots overgrown with tangles of weeds amidst the most urban environment you could imagine. It’s spooky and abandoned but kind of awesome in a sad way.
What inspires you to write?
Anything with a kernel of truth in it. People I meet. Places I visit. Shows I watch. Music I listen to. Books I read.
My favorite is when someone says something off the cuff and awesome. I tell them right there and then that I’m going to use it in a book someday. Then I write it down so I don’t forget it. Sometimes.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The first draft is always the hardest part for me. I struggled through writing the first draft of ‘Lords of Asylum.’ It took about a year and a half. I went through depression. Anger. Regret. Then something would click and I’d feel awesome again and burn on for a couple chapters until I’d start over with the depression again. I’m not sure it’s a healthy process, but it is what it is, and it works.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
My favorite is Chapter 8, where Krait meets Brother Tomas the mad monk amidst a banquet of the dead. I love that chapter for its horrific atmosphere and the interplay between the sarcastic Sir Luther and Brother Tomas, who’s lost more than a few of his marbles.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
Perseverance. I’m married with two children and when my first child was born, it really hamstrung my writing time. I actually stopped writing long fiction and focused exclusively on short stories for almost three years because I didn’t think I could maintain focus long enough to complete a novel. But, on my second child’s first birthday, I told myself I could do it and started writing ‘Lords of Asylum.’ I told myself that despite everything going on in my life, I could maintain. I could persevere. I could complete it. And I did. It took me five years of snatching moments to write, but I it got done. For me, maintaining forward momentum, even if it’s just a fifteen-minute session each day, is crucial.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
It’s about empathy. I write a character into a situation and then go through the mental exercise of putting myself into his/her shoes. What would I do? How would I react? What would I say?
The problem is, I’m pretty boring so I set a boring baseline. So, I consider how I would react if I wasn’t boring? How about if I were a knight trained from birth to fight to the death in single combat? Or an acid-tongued queen who’s been widowed and trying to survive the aftermath of a civil war. Or a monk who’s lost everyone and everything he’s ever known?
What are your future project(s)?
I have a book entitled ‘The Clarity of Cold Steel’ which is a steampunk detective novel set in an apocalyptic alternate future. It’s the first in a steampunk detective series. I also have a standalone horror novel in the back of my mind that’s set in a homeless camp amid an outbreak of terrifying monsters. I’m not sure which is next up but one of those two.
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
I think it’d be awesome to be a detective. Piecing together disparate narratives into a single cohesive story all in order to right wrongs and serve justice? Sign me up.
What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
My Facebook author page or email.
– Facebook fan page: http://bit.ly/1nZem3j
– Lords of Asylum http://amzn.to/242AqeO
-Amazon Author Page http://amzn.to/2noAXKj
An excellent interview Kevin, and best of luck to the event! I’ll leave this with a little sneak promotion of my own entry The Thousand Scars. Just click the badass cover. You know you wanna!