This week’s #SPFBO Author Interview is with Kevin Wright. He studied writing at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell and fully utilized his bachelor’s degree by seeking and attaining employment first as a produce clerk and later as an emergency medical technician and firefighter. His parents were thrilled.
For decades now he has studied a variety of martial arts but steadfastly remains not-tough in any way, shape, or form. He just likes to pay money to get beat up, apparently.
Kevin Wright peaked intellectually in the seventh grade.
He enjoys reading a little bit of everything and writing sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. He does none of it well. ‘Revelations,’ his debut novel, is a Lovecraftian horror tale. ‘GrimNoir’ is a collection of his best short stories. ‘Lords of Asylum’ is a fantasy novel that received an honourable mention in Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Contest in 2016. ‘The Clarity of Cold Steel,’ his latest novel, is a lightning-paced steampunk detective novel.
Kevin continues to write in his spare time and is currently working on a sequel to Lords of Asylum tentatively entitled, ‘Husk.’ It’s a romantic comedy.
What drew you to self-publishing?
What initially drew me to self-publishing was failing utterly at the traditional publishing route. Like everyone else, I mailed out tons of queries and synopses to publishers and agents and initially felt honored when and if I was lucky enough to receive a piece of boiler-plate rejection in return.
So I started self-publishing. I won’t say I haven’t looked back since, but I still love the writing process and have, over time, learned to enjoy the marketing process.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’m friends with a group of three other writers, Raymond Coulombe, Timothy O. Goyette, and Patrick LeClerc(who is an entrant in this year’s contest with his awesome ‘Out of Nowhere’). The four of us meet for a writer’s meeting about three or four times a year where we review each other’s works and tell the same stories over and over. We also alternate writing the Quantum Muse Books weekly blog.
It’s tough finding people whose opinion you trust. First, you need to know that they’re capable of giving you solid constructive criticism. Second, you have to know that they’ll be comfortable enough with you to be totally honest. Lastly, when you write something good, you need to know they’re not just blowing smoke.
We’re all comfortable enough around each other to honestly review each other’s works whether they be good, bad, and/or ugly. You need someone outside your own head to look at your stuff and give you that feedback. Is what you’re doing working? Is it paced well? There are a thousand different questions you’ll need to ask and have answered, and the bottom line is you can’t do it alone.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I don’t believe writer’s block is a thing in and of itself, I believe it’s a symptom of a larger issue.
If you’re stuck, you’re stuck for a reason. Maybe you don’t understand your character(s) well enough. Maybe you haven’t fleshed out the world you live in enough. Maybe you haven’t put in the time just thinking about what would happen if Character A met Character B in Setting C while a tidal wave was approaching. What should happen? What could happen? What’s Character A like? Does she like Character B? Do they have a history? Is it good? Bad? Is there an escape for both of them or only one?
Sit down and gaze off wistfully into the great beyond, factor in all the variables, and do the mental math. Come up with the answer.
A guy I worked with long ago said something to me in a stressful situation where everyone had frozen, and nothing was getting done. He said, “Someone do something, even if it’s wrong.”
I won’t say it applies to all aspects of life, but I will say it applies to writer’s block. If you’ve done your mental math and can’t come up with an answer, just start writing, even if it’s wrong. If it’s right, awesome! You’re done! If it’s wrong, that’s okay, too, because at least you’re moving. You’re breaking that inertia and once that’s broken, moving forward will be easier. Also, you’ll often know if it’s wrong and there’s no shame in deleting something no one’s ever read.
Favorite flavor of ice cream.
Hands down, Ben and Jerry’s cookie dough.
Without it, I would not have made it through high school.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Generally, I’ll start reading history books concerning the era my book is set in. With ‘Lords of Asylum’ I read medieval history from the period of the Hundred Years’ War, when my novel is set. This was to give me a solid foundation in the times.
Once I felt I had a solid understanding, I started looking at more specialized topics. The Black Plague factors into my novel so I read a few books on that to get it right. I also read books concerning knighthood, everyday life in medieval times, battles, castles, and anything else I could find.
However, I never put off writing to do research. I just start writing and then research as I go.
Once I feel like I’m ready to write, I don’t want anything to slow me down. I want to use what inspirational momentum I have to carry me onward, research be damned. There’s always time to go back and fix a story through editing, there’s only so much inspirational momentum before you’re slogging onward, so don’t waste it.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I just write the kind of stuff that I enjoy reading.
I like fantasy, steampunk, horror, history, and detective novels, so most of my stuff is some or all of those mashed together.
It’s great writing something original, but I wouldn’t go out of my way trying to come up with something original just for originality’s sake. Of course, I’m not the most commercially viable author (read: I don’t make a ton of money writing) out there, so maybe don’t listen to me.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
This is tough. I wrote ‘Lords of Asylum’ in about four years. The first draft took me about a year and a half. The subsequent edits and compilation into book form were another two and a half, which is a long time to be on one project. It’s easy to burn out.
The last book I wrote was ‘The Clarity of Cold Steel,’ and my goal with it was to write it, edit it, and put it into book form in one year. I started writing it on January 1st, 2016 and had it ready to go on December 31st of that same year. I didn’t end up publishing it until March 1st, but I still felt like I accomplished my goal.
So, I guess two years is my average.
How do I deal with bad reviews?
Well, before I started typing this, I mean, literally right before, I received my first one-star Goodreads review on my SPFBO entrant ‘Lords of Asylum.’ Not only did this guy one star my book, he pretty much wrote a thesis on why it’s so terrible. He expressed his hatred for it on a number of levels and in no uncertain terms. He even quoted from it.
So what did I do? How did I react?
I just shrugged and moved on with my day,
Take a look at your favorite book, and you’ll see there’s a contingent of people who hate it. ‘Game of Thrones,’ one of the best fantasy novels ever, has a bunch of one-star reviews. ‘Catch 22,’ the classic, has one-star reviews. Even ‘The Black Cauldron,’ possibly the greatest book ever written has one-star reviews, which to me is insane.
I can’t say I’ve always been this way. There was a time a review this negative would have been a gut punch that would’ve had me queasy for about three days or so. Luckily, now I’m dead inside and feel no emotions ever.
What is your favorite childhood book?
I’m going to cheat a bit here and tell you my favorite series which is Lloyd Alexander’s ‘The Chronicles of Prydain.’
I read and reread those books almost nonstop from about fifth to eighth grade. They’re all fantastic.
If you haven’t read them, go and read them.
I’m actually rereading them now, and I was a bit apprehensive at first. I was afraid that they wouldn’t hold up. My fears were unfounded, however, because they’re still awesome.
Rereading each book has been like meeting a best friend that I haven’t seen in years and not missing a beat.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have three. One unpublished and two half-finished.
The one unpublished was my first novel. I wrote it about twenty years ago when I first started writing. ‘The Gritch and the Gaff’ was a fantasy set in a Middle-Earth knockoff and followed the adventures of a goblin, the Gritch, and his troll compatriot, the Gaff.
Next, I have 100,000 words of the sequel to my book ‘Monster City.’ The working title was ‘The Order of the Pike and Gallows.’ I stopped writing it years ago because ‘Monster City’ never sold many copies. If I could go back, I’d have finished it. I may still do that someday.
Finally, I started a novel called ‘Resurrection Men’ that’s set in the same world as my steampunk detective thriller ‘The Clarity of Cold Steel.’ I got about a quarter to halfway through writing it before stopping. I’m blaming the birth of my kids on this one (which is terrible, I know) but I didn’t have the discipline to finish it with two kids in diapers just needing things all the time. I mean, really, babies are so needy it’s ridiculous.
Check out these links to learn more about Kevin and his work:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Kevin-Wright/e/B00O48MT3K