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
Wrath – Amazon UK
The Fall of Billy Hitchings (A John Reeves Novel) Amazon Sales Page
Billy Hitchings – Amazon UK
In Search of Nectar Amazon Sales Page
Blog & Website
Diapers, Bookmarks, and Pipe Dreams
Goodreads Author Page
Amazon Author Page
Facebook Fan Page
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