Tuesday, 3 May 2011

INTERVIEW: Kevin Hearne

Here at Falcata Times, we always love hearing about new titles and fresh new faces to the authorly club, so when blog friend Suzanne McLeod had Kevin over to guest we trusted her judgement and decided to jump in feet first.

Here we chat to Kevin about his debut novel, Thunder Gods and the gnarly surfing on the wave of concepts...

Falcata Times: Writing is said to be something that people are afflicted with rather than gifted and that it's something you have to do rather than want. What is your opinion of this statement and how true is it to you?

Kevin Hearne: Hmm…well, I’d probably take issue with the word “afflicted,” because it sounds a bit like a disease. However, I think the gist of the statement is probably true. I wrote for nineteen years before I got an agent. If I didn’t get my agent in ’09, I’d still be writing. I have stories in my head and they need to get out whether anybody reads them or not.

FT: When did you realise that you wanted to be a writer?

KH: Back in college. I blame it all on Ken Kesey. He’s the one who got me started.

FT: It is often said that if you can write a short story you can write anything. How true do you think this is and what have you written that either proves or disproves this POV?

KH: I think short stories are definitely tougher for me. They require a lot of pruning and nurturing, but at the same time you have to squeeze in some worldbuilding if you’re doing sci-fi or fantasy. It’s definitely a craft. I have a free short story available on my site called “Clan Rathskeller” if you’d like to take a peek at my attempt to craft one.

FT: If someone were to enter a bookshop, how would you persuade them to try your novel over someone else's and how would you define it?

KH: My book is an urban fantasy featuring a 2,100-year-old Druid and zero emo vampires.

FT: How would you "sell" your book in 20 words or less?

KH: See above, but add “Plus, there’s beer!”

FT: Who is a must have on your bookshelf and whose latest release will find you on the bookshops doorstep waiting for it to open?

KH: Patrick Rothfuss fits that quite nicely. I ran to get The Wise Man’s Fear and I’ll run to get his next book too.

FT: When you sit down and write do you know how the story will end or do you just let the pen take you? ie Do you develop character profiles and outlines for your novels before writing them or do you let your idea's develop as you write?

KH: I have a plot outline that gets me started, but sometimes that gets chucked halfway through the book or I rearrange the order of events completely. And sometimes a character walks in and won’t go away. That happened during the writing of Hexed and it surprised the heck out of me. These two guys walk into Third Eye Books in book two and wind up being fairly major antagonists in book three. They were never plotted or planned out ahead of time or even sketched in as characters. They just happened.

FT: What do you do to relax and what have you read recently?

KH: Those are actually the same thing for me; I recently read River Marked to relax.

FT: What is your guiltiest pleasure that few know about?

KH: I know it’s kind of a goofy flick, but I can’t get enough of The Fifth Element. The performances are hilarious and there’s so much visual humor to it.

FT: Lots of writers tend to have pets. What do you have and what are their key traits (and do they appear in your novel in certain character attributes?)

KH: I have two dogs and two cats. A pug, a Boston terrier, and two furry things that meow. You can see a picture of my dogs on my Facebook page; they tend to be obsessed with snacks. As for fictional pets, there’s a dog in my series named Oberon who can communicate telepathically with Atticus, and for some people he’s the best character in the books.

FT: Which character within your latest book was the most fun to write and why?

KH: Well, the latest book was Hammered—that comes out in July. There’s a Russian thunder god in there named Perun, and he was a blast because he’s not so great with English. Mangling the language on purpose was a highly entertaining exercise for me.

FT: How similar to your principle protagonist are you?

KH: Well, I like trees a whole lot and tend to be concerned about the earth, but that’s about it, other than the whole Irish thing.

FT: What hobbies do you have and how do they influence your work?

KH: I paint miniature models and sometimes canvases. I am especially amused by “miniature dwarfs” because of the redundancy. They don’t have much of an influence on my novels, but I do blog about them. I have a series called “Still Life with Dwarfs and Beer” that makes me laugh over the absurdity of it.

FT: Where do you get your ideas from?

KH: I just surf the zeitgeist and go where the tasty waves take me, dude. Gnarly.

FT: Do you ever encounter writers block and if so how do you overcome it?

KH: Sure, I’ve been blocked. If one project blocks me, I say fine, be that way, I’m going to go work on something else for a while. I always have two or three projects going and I’ve never been blocked by everything at one time.

FT: Certain authors are renowned for writing at what many would call uncivilised times. When do you write and how do the others in your household feel about it?

KH: Oh, there aren’t any worries on that score here. I’m always civilized, except that I barbarically spell it with a “z.” Gives me an edge.

FT: Sometimes pieces of music seem to influence certain scenes within novels, do you have a soundtrack for your tale or is it a case of writing in silence with perhaps the odd musical break in-between scenes?

KH: I often write with music. Most often it’s Yngwie Malmsteen’s Concerto for Electric Guitar. When I have to write fight scenes, I use speed metal.

FT: What are the last five internet sites that you've visited?

KH: Goodreads, Amazon, the blog of my friend Hillary Jacques, the blog of Suzanne McLeod, and Suvudu.com.

FT: Did you ever take any writing classes or specific instructions to learn the craft? If so please let us know which ones.

KH: Never took a class; never attended a convention of any kind. I did buy some books about novel writing here and there, but that was years ago and I couldn’t tell you their names. Mostly I learned by doing it (I wrote three books before I got an agent) and by reading a lot of novels. The best teacher of how to write a good novel is honestly your favorite novel. Whatever that is for you, go back and appreciate it all over again, but look at it as a writer instead of as a reader, and examine how it was crafted.

FT: How did you get past the initial barriers of criticism and rejection?

KH: My answer in every case was to write more. I always had another story to tell anyway. Finally I wrote a story someone was willing to publish.

FT: In your opinion, what are the best and worst aspects of writing for a living?

KH: The worst aspect of writing is the ideas that get away from you, the ones that you half-dreamed and then forgot or the ones that lurk on the edge of your consciousness and never step out fully where you can see them. The best aspect of writing is entertaining people. Books always take me away from my stresses and cares, and it feels great to know that perhaps my books are doing the same for someone else.

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