INTERVIEW with KIRKUS MACGOWAN

Today we have our first guest author. I want to put him in the spotlight, so I’m going to include a bit about Kirkus, info about The Fall of Billy Hitchings as well as his newest book Wrath, and links to his sites. And of course, an interview, which I know you won’t want to miss! First here’s the info about Kirkus:

Amazon bestselling author Kirkus MacGowan wrote his first book at age eight about traveling to Mars to find the cure for cancer. He put his writing dreams on hold for twenty-five years and focused his energies on playing baseball. He moved on when he found playing softball with his friends more enjoyable than his pipe dream.

Since then, he graduated with a B.S. in Psychology, married a woman too good to be true, and moved back to his hometown. He gave up an amazing career waiting tables and now stays at home with his two crazy children. He spends his time writing thrillers and fantasy, playing softball with friends, enjoying the occasional computer game, and wrestling with his kids.

Second, the interview:

1. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

The biggest challenge was learning how to write, though I continue to do so on a daily basis. I began writing The Fall of Billy Hitchings before I learned a thing! I knew if I didn’t start right then that I may never get that first page completed.

I’d write a chapter or two, and then learn more about writing. I bought probably twenty books on the craft and read most of them in twenty-four hours or less. Between books, I’d spend hours poring over writing blogs absorbing as much information as possible.

The worst part was going back to my manuscript and applying all the new techniques I’d learned. I rewrote the first 50k words multiple times. I’m thankful that around this time I read an interview of Alexander Yates, author of Moondogs. His suggestion was to write without looking back, to put that first draft on paper without any editing.

Though extremely hard as a perfectionist, I took his advice to heart and forged ahead. I chopped 20k to 25k words off the front of my manuscript and pounded out the next 70k in the next month after having taken almost six months to write the first 50k.

Writing my book this way made editing a horrid experience, but well worth it in my opinion. Editing is where my book truly improved. I believe it’s those little details we introduce during editing that really make a book.

2. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of The Fall of Billy Hitchings or getting it published that you would change?

I’m not sure I would. Every mistake I made along the way (and there were plenty) taught me something that will make me that much better in the future.

The one thing I wish I’d learned sooner is that I’d had a better understanding of writing rules. I know now they’re a guideline and we should follow them in almost every situation, yet there is a time and place to break those rules. Determining when and where to break them is the hard part, but at least I no longer feel as if Big Brother glares down over my shoulder while I write.

3. If The Fall of Billy Hitchings were made into a movie, who do you picture playing each character’s part?

Excellent question! I’ve thought about this a lot lately and planned to write a blog post on this very subject.

I had the toughest part with Billy Hitchings because he’s a younger character. I don’t watch television much these days so I’m not sure who could play his role. In my novel, he’s kind of a goofy kid, very real, but also very pure. In my mind, the looks of the character don’t matter as much as whether the actor could portray the innocence of Billy.

I had one reader suggest Jay Baruchel who starred in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice with Nicolas Cage. He certainly has the goofy part down, but I’d like to see if he could pull off the innocence. The reader I spoke with said she believes he could. Maybe I should give Jay a call…

I’d like to see how readers picture John Reeves, the rough and tough guy of the book. The one guy I kept picturing during my writing was Aaron Eckhart from Battle Los Angeles and The Dark Knight. John has a rough exterior, but he’s a softy when it comes to children. From what I’ve seen of Aaron’s acting abilities, he could pull both off well.

My only issue is that John Reeves is supposed to be in his mid-thirties. I guess it depends on where I go with the rest of the series.

The one actor I had in mind for Amfar Ditpra was Naveen Andrews, famous for his role as Sayid in Lost. I’m not sure why he fits this role so well in my mind, but I have a feeling my obsession with Lost may have something to do with it.

4. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

I posted the first few chapters of my book on an online authors critique club before I learned much about writing. I really should copy those first few critiques and tape them on my wall.

Passive writing, grammatical errors, slow pacing, etc. You can pick out any newbie writer’s mistake, and I made it. One critiquer said a middle-school child could have written better. While every comment felt like a knife to the stomach, I took each one to heart and continued. Thank you Mom and Dad for the thick skin!

Since that time, the only complaint I’ve really heard was the lack of details. This is a tough point for me. If you can’t tell by this interview, I have the tendency to go into too much detail. I’ll blame that on my love of epic fantasy.

However, most of what I’ve learned about writing thrillers suggests staying away from any detail that isn’t directly pertinent to the plot. While it’s not technically possible that every detail relates to the plot, I may take this guideline to extremes, especially as it pertains to the physical descriptions of my characters.

John Reeves is an excellent example of this. In my entire novel, the only physical description I give of John is that he has wavy brown hair. Every other detail is inferred from his personality traits and the physical accomplishments throughout the story. Many authors can’t stand this, but I’ve had wonderful feedback from readers.

I hear two compliments on a consistent basis. The dialogue is realistic, and readers love the characters. The realistic dialogue is a bonus, but knowing I’ve created characters the readers love and can relate to is the ultimate success for me. There are literally hundreds of factors that go into creating a good book, but if the reader doesn’t absolutely love the characters, then in my opinion, the story wasn’t worth reading.

5. Will you have a new book coming out soon?

I plan to publish two or three short stories by the end of 2012, but I have a feeling my next book won’t be out until around this time, or later, next year.

I’ve mentioned a few times around the web, but my true love is fantasy. I have a few ideas I’m developing at the moment that may take longer to put together than is typical. I may work on the next John Reeves novel simultaneously, though I’m not sure how well that would work. I’ve had issues in the past when I read fantasy while writing a thriller. The pacing and style are so different that it’s hard to move from one to the other.

What I can say is that I have at least two more John Reeves novels planned, probably three. A sequel for The Fall of Billy Hitchings is in the works as well, though I’m not sure Reeves will be in that one. I have two possible epic fantasy ideas, and I’ve already written 25k words in a post-apocalyptic fantasy, which could easily become a series.

In other words, I have more ideas than I know what to do with!

Before I go, I wanted to say thanks to Sandra for allowing me to grace your blog! Your support is greatly appreciated.

You’re welcome, Kirkus, and I so appreciate your stopping by with such a detailed interview! I appreciated getting to know you better, and am sure our readers do as well. Readers, please leave comments for Kirkus below. (Stick with me, I’m including ALL of Kirkus’s links so you can find him and his books. Follow him on Twitter, FB, Goodreads, all of the above. Buy his books!)

Wrath(A John Reeves Novel) Amazon Sales Page

 http://amzn.to/OK0YJS

Wrath – Amazon UK

http://amzn.to/PwDMS8

The Fall of Billy Hitchings (A John Reeves Novel) Amazon Sales Page

http://amzn.to/vTxwC9

Billy Hitchings – Amazon UK

http://amzn.to/TW2fcF

In Search of Nectar Amazon Sales Page

http://amzn.to/MmE9h7

Blog & Website

Diapers, Bookmarks, and Pipe Dreams

http://www.kirkusmacgowan.info/

Goodreads Author Page

http://bit.ly/AyJj2B

Amazon Author Page

http://amzn.to/HHNfQn

Twitter

http://bit.ly/uCnvtB

Facebook Fan Page

http://on.fb.me/ryK3Uw

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19 thoughts on “INTERVIEW with KIRKUS MACGOWAN

  1. Sandra de Helen this is such a great interview! I really enjoyed learning more about Kirkus MacGowan! This was so insightful and I think both of his works are a must read. Thanks for sharing how you got started Kirkus and Great questions Sandra!

    Syl Stein

    • Mea Culpa Kirkus for the late start. It should have gone live at 12:01am. It was still scheduled for that time when I checked this morning. AM, today’s date, right year. sigh. But we’re here now. Let’s hope everyone finds us. 🙂

      • Haha, no worries. 🙂 My blog fights with me on a daily basis, so I’m not surprised one bit. Not too long ago, I ran a promotion that required entrants to leave a comment… my comment system broke that morning!

        Glad everything is good to go now. Have a great Friday!

  2. Hi Sandra! Hi Kirkus!
    I enjoyed the interview and the chance to learn about a new-to-me writer! 🙂 Kirkus, I think it’s awesome that you have the opportunity to not only follow your dream and write, but you are also able to be a stay-home dad. I have been a stay-home mom for 10 years now, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I also totally relate about the editing-as-you-go pitfall. This is SO hard NOT to do! Any tips you have that help you just get it down?

  3. Kirkus was one of the first authors to follow me on Twitter. I read Billy Hitchings shortly after. Loved the book! I’m now reading Wrath and it’s proving to be every bit as engaging.

    I can so relate to the new author woes. I joined a writing group led by a writers coach. It has been invaluable. I was also coerced into joining a critique group and I thank my bio parents for the thick skin as well, I also have critique partners who have been wonderful!

    Hey Kirkus, here’s my thought for John Reeves. Collin Farrell. And for Billy, Steven R McQueen (yes, Steve McQueen’s grandson). Check out an early episode of Vampire Diaries for reference. I like your choice for Naveen.

    Anyway, great interview, Sandra!

    Robin (RG) Calkins

    • Thanks, Robin. I can only take credit for the questions, Kirkus did all the work. Kirkus is a truly nice guy. We met on Twitter also. I like your idea of Colin Farrell for Reeves! mmm. What say you, Mr. M?

  4. Kirkus, I had to laugh because it’s such a true statement for every author “had to learn how to write” – didn’t we all! Love it! Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Sandra, what a wonderful interview. Thank you for sharing your virtual space with all of us!

  5. I can sure appreciate your road to writing — I stopped counting the number of times I re-write and how many drafts I create. However, I am a great believer in “just do it” and targeting. Thanks for your insight — and thanks for a great interview.

  6. Hello again, everybody. 🙂 I’m back to answer a couple questions.

    Misty Dietz – Hello to a fellow stay-at-home parent! It truly is a blast. To answer your question about not editing as you go, the best advice I can give is just to be aware. Maybe even post a note to yourself so you see it right when you sit down to write.

    What worked for me was creating a separate file for “Suggested Changes.” If I have an idea about a plot change, if I remember a plausibility issue, or if I have a suggested change from a beta reader, I put a note in this file. I keep it simple. I mention which section I need to remember, and the change I want made.

    Once my first draft is complete, I go over this file first, one item at a time. Using my latest novel as a reference, I probably threw away one out of three suggestions because they no longer were needed.

    Hope that helps!

    Rgcalkins – Great idea! I love Colin Farrell, and I can totally see him playing the role. Not only does he have the physical capabilities, I can see him snapping out the cocky comebacks too.

    Interesting thoughts on Steven R. McQueen. He actually has the look too. I’ll have to remember that for when the movie bigwigs come calling. 

    Melissa Foster – I’m realizing that learning about writing never really stops. Even if we stop gaining new knowledge, I’m sure our writing will evolve with the times and experiences unique to each of us. Wow, that sounded really philosophical. I better save that for the novels!

    And to everybody else, thanks again for stopping over. Hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend!

  7. Thanks for popping back in, Kirkus! It’s a gorgeous weekend here in Portland. I hope everyone is enjoying their day as much as I am. I’m just about to go for my writing walk where I think about what I’m going to put on the page later. So happy I don’t have to do this in the rain!

  8. Pingback: The Fall of Billy Hitchings (A John Reeves Novel) – Kirkus MacGowan – Missuswolf's StoryLand

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