Thursday, May 10, 2018

K.C. Herbel Author Interview and a Linky

I discovered The Innkeeper's Son by K.C. Herbel last year and wrote a review for it on my blog post, Dragon Stories. It's the first book in The Jester King fantasy series. There are four books in all, and here are my reviews for all four books! His series reminds me of a blend of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

K.C. Herbel kindly contributed his thoughts to my author interview questions for this week. He was asked to answer any 5 - 15 questions from a list of 30 and had so much fun that he ended up answering 25!

Author Interview:
K.C. Herbel

1. Where do you normally write or where is your favorite place to write?
I have a small home office in which I write. There are lots of books as well as photos, paintings, and a number of items of personal significance – mostly from my time working in special effects. Because it’s “just my office”, it’s also a catchall for lots of family junk. I think it will be my favorite place to write, once I get rid of all the junk and redecorate.

2. When do you find time to read and what do you usually like to read?
I squeeze in reading whenever and wherever I can. Dentist/doctor offices, bathroom breaks, you name it. I’m also always looking to squeeze in some writing. With all the squeezing I’m doing, you’d think I would be thinner or stronger of something... I read a lot of articles and books on writing craft. I’m always looking to improve my craft. Of course, I read fantasy and science fiction as much as possible. If only there were more hours in a day!

3. How many hours a day do you write?
Due to my day job and family, the only serious time I have to write is late at night. Typically, I’m at my desk to write fiction and work on this career about 4 hours each night. Unfortunately, I have perfected the art of procrastination and often let distractions detour me from my writing. This is especially a problem when I’m tired and don’t make the best decisions. So actual writing time varies from a few minutes to a couple hours.

4. How do you prefer to write your books - with a pen/pencil, typing, or dictation?
I generally write the early stuff in a notebook (or whatever is handy) with a pen. This is all brainstorm time. I’m exploring the ideas, letting new ideas bubble to the surface and writing just about everything down – even bad ideas. Later, I’ll take that and make an outline and figure out the structure and plot of the story. Recently, I’ve started working with 3X5 cards as part of figuring out the outline, which has truly opened up some awesome story ideas. When it comes to the actual writing, I type it all on my keyboard. In the past I used Word, but will be trying out Scribner for the next few stories.

5. What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I’ve been to Earnest Hemingway’s home and of course, the Edgar Alan Poe Museum/home here in Richmond, Virginia. I’m not really one to take “literary pilgrimages”, but I am always in writer mode when I travel. You never know what ideas will be sparked by a new locale.

6. What was the first book that you wrote and did you publish it?
The first book I wrote did not get published, nor did the second or third. They’ve never left the desk or dustbin. The first book I actually finished, With a Jester of Kindness, was actually the poor cousin to The Innkeeper’s Son and The Jester. There might actually be a few copies of that still floating around. I’ve got a couple boxes of them stored in the attic in case I need something to burn during the zombie apocalypse.

7. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Everyone is different, but for me I think it was seeking perfection when such a thing doesn’t really exist. Writing is imperfect and sometimes hard to grasp, but there is a certain point when you need to let it go and let someone else read it. Your story will never be perfect. Give up on that idea. This is tied into the fear of rejection. Fear can paralyze you. It can keep that manuscript in the drawer or computer or your head for years. Get it out! It’s kind of like achieving light speed. For us it’s impossible. However, we can approach it (theoretically). The same goes for writing, but you’ve got to get it out into the world where others can help you push it along.

8. How long on average does it take you to write a book?
What’s your hurry? šŸ˜‰ Let’s just say it takes me “too long” and leave it at that.

9. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Being keenly interested in time travel, I’ve given this a lot of thought. I would tell myself to stop procrastinating and finish the book. Then keep writing and stop sitting on my laurels. I would tell him to spend the money for editors and cover artists. I’d tell him to write from the heart and rewrite from the head. I’d also insist that he start building an audience and community, and to focus on building an email list. If I had the time, I’d try to teach him all the big and little things I’ve learned about writing, especially what I’ve learned in the last few years.

10. What would you like readers to know about your latest book or book project?
I’m working on a lot of other projects right now, but the one I’m trying to get out first is the prequel novella for the Jester King Fantasy Series. The working title is The Sword and the Rose. It takes place prior to the events in the existing four-book series and revolves around Sir Hugh and Lady Myrredith, two of my reader’s favorite characters. There will be action, romance, and magic and, of course, the cool twists and turns you’ve come to expect from me. Another project is a science fiction novel titled Forerunner. The tag line is: Humanity’s survival depends on one Marine on a distant planet. OOHRAH!

11. How many books to you plan to write for this series (if you’re writing a series)?
Right now there are four novels. I am writing the one novella and may be writing as many as two or three more novellas.

12. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot or avatar?
A great editor sounds like an excellent mascot!

13. What does literary success look like to you?
To me, literary success looks like me earning a living from my fiction writing – being able to put all my efforts into bringing my stories to life and getting them out into the world. I would add that success for me also includes a lot of avid readers enjoying my writing enough to connect with me and be a part of my readers group and launch team.

14. What’s the best way to market your books?
Your readers list (email list) is your best way of connecting with readers.

15. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I’ve spent years researching various aspects of my books. I’m always researching something. I think it brings a richness to my books, even if my readers don’t know what I know. However, research can also be a trap – a way for procrastinating. I can and have been carried away by research. (This can include world building.) Don’t let this happen to you!

16. What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I think writing from the female perspective is difficult for men because they're just so darned mysterious. There’s always that nagging voice in the back of your head saying, “Would a woman really do that?” However, when I can wrap my head around the character's goals and desires it’s not that hard. That said, I haven’t written that much from the female perspective. I have two books I’m dying to work on, both have female protagonists and I think that may be why I’m dying to write them.

17. Where do you usually find inspiration for your books?
Inspiration can come from anything. Something I see, or read, or someone says, or something I dream.

18. If you didn’t write full-time, what would you do for work, or if you write part-time, what other job/jobs do you have?
My day job is as a contracted technical writer for the U.S. government. Before that, I worked in animatronics and special effects for movies.

19. How do you select the names of your characters?
I try to find names that evoke a sense of the character. I do this not just for the reader but for me. It helps me stay in character when writing for that character. I’m frequently asked why my protagonist (Billy) has such an ordinary sounding name when the rest of the characters have more “fantasy-sounding” names. The truth is I considered going with Will, or Liam, but Billy just fit his personality. I also wanted him to stand out in a way from all the other characters. He’s not like anyone else in the books.

20. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes. Always. I frequently Tweet the better ones or part of them. When it comes to bad reviews, I read them and see if they have a good point. If they don’t, I move on. There are a trolls out there, but you can’t let them curdle your coffee. I have only written to Amazon about a negative review once. The reviewer cast aspersions on the other readers who were kind enough to leave a review. This infuriated me. I pointed out to Amazon that this is against their policies. To date, that review stands. It still makes me mad. Say what you want about my books, but leave my readers out of it!

21. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
I can only think of one or two instances of this.

22. What was your hardest scene or book to write?
I started to write about a series of scenes, but realized I couldn’t do this without including spoilers. However, I do recall one scene that was especially hard to write. It’s a scene in the fourth book where one character comes to realize that his father was/is a villain. I place a lot of importance on father-son relationships and this one was a very difficult circumstance. I’m still not sure I did it justice.

23. What is your favorite childhood book?
Early in my youth, Bible stories had a big influence on me. However, The Hobbit is the first book that I can remember reading on my own that had such a big impact.

24. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
I am in a constant struggle to turn off my internal editor. The writing and passion flows when the editor is asleep. He can do his job later, but he’s stubborn.

25. Does your family support your career as a writer?
Like most writers, I think the answer is, “yes and no.” However, you can’t let that stop you. Writers, like profits are never welcomed in their home town.



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