Monday, April 2, 2012
Interview with Author, Edward McKeown
Today I’m interviewing Edward McKeown. His book, “Was Once a Hero” is a science fiction adventure with a romantic flavor to it and was released in January for Kindle and in print in February.
Please tell my readers a little bit about your book.
Hero is the first book of a trilogy under contract with Hellfire publishing http://www.hellfirepublishing.com/hero.html that focuses on, reluctant privateer Robert Fenaday’s search for his wife Lisa, a naval intelligence operative who disappears during a war, and the genetically engineered superwoman, Shasti Rainhell’s search for her humanity. The developing relationship between these two as they face adversity, danger and even sheer horror is the focus of the work.
Describe the genre of this particular title, and is the only genre you write in?
Hero is an adventure but with a love triangle at the heart of it. I think love is a more interesting motivator then glory or money. I write stories with the thought that wherever and whenever they are set, that if you, the reader, were there, you would think, “this is what I would feel, this is what I would try to do if I could.” So though I am primarily a science-fiction and fantasy writer, I’ve written mainstream, literary and other forms. To me they are not different things, but merely different facets of the same gem. People are people, their problems of life and love change mostly in detail and the technology is a background. Was Once a Hero could have been set on a 17th century sailing vessel with only minor alterations. Love and loss are eternal.
When I write at full novel length it tends toward serious characters in dangerous situations. My short fiction tends to be more humorous. I write the Lair of the Lesbian Love Goddess series, shorter mock-noir works set in the 24th century spaceport of New York, with an Irish cop/detective, Brian McManus, his young and sexy partner Regina Delmar and everyone’s favorite transgender informant, Freddie Bouvier. I also do an urban fantasy series set present day in my present hometown of Charlotte NC, with Jeremy Leclerc, Knight Templar and his incarnate guardian angel, Shadowheart, which allows me to have a lot of fun with things like the Renaissance Festival, small southern towns and Mary Kay ladies. These can all be found in anthologies through my Amazon page http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B004NM9ZU2
When did you start writing toward publication?
I would say about ten years ago, when I got into a writing group and became serious about both generating work, getting it critiqued and putting it out there mostly in the form of short stories. Starting in the novel, at least in the traditional publishing world is very, very difficult.
Did you have several manuscripts finished before you sold? If so, did you send them out yourself?
Yes, Hero was the first book I wrote but I had the trilogy completed before I was fortunate enough to run into Dawn Binkley of Hellfire and for us to hit it off. I have continued writing and have a series now started on Maauro, a 50,000 year old android from a lost race and her friend, the disgraced military pilot Wrik Trigardt. That too has an unusual love story at the heart of it though the action is intense. It’s sitting on an agent’s desk now, so wish me luck.
What’s it like to be a man writing romance in a genre dominated by women?
Interesting question, I feel that I am a writer, who writes of ordinary people, or recognizable people’s lives, in extraordinary settings and circumstances that cast their flaws and characteristics into high relief. Romance, not just sex, is a part of a man’s life as well as a woman’s. The search for being and connection with men may use a different lexicon and may sometimes seem unrecognizable to women, but it is there.
In Hero we have a husband passionately in love with wife, who has disappeared. He is human, he hurts, and he now has the complication of a burgeoning involvement with another woman, all while the universe seems bound and determined to kill him and his ship. He begins to wonder at what point he stops chasing the dream and restarts a life? When does a living woman trump loyalty to the disappeared?
This may not seem the classic format for a romance, well clearly it isn’t, but each person is moved forward through these books by their loves and their loyalties.
What is your writing routine like?
I write daily. I have a paper pad with me and anytime I have a lunch on my own, or some downtime I usually pull it out. I tend to do the first draft that way, in paper and pen, with the first rewrite taking the raw work off the paper and into text. I try to write at the computer only when I am energetic and focused, but will sometimes write first draft directly into Word.
I belong to a writing group and it, and my wife Schelly Keefer, are my first defense against bad writing. They see everything before it gets anywhere near a market.
What sort of promo do you do? Do you have help?
Like most folks with a small publisher, I do a lot of it myself. Dawn and Hellfire blog for me and use the company site but I have been active in getting radio and press interviews and using Facebook, Twitter and Google to get the word out. I have been fortunate to meet people like you who help writers get the word out. So I am very thankful for your interest.
These days it is all hands on deck. You do all you can to get noticed. I will be at Concarolinas in June meeting readers and other writers. http://concarolinas.org/index.php/cc/ccguestbio/71/164 and Park Road Books in Charlotte carries me so I plan to do a signing there sometime soon http://www.parkroadbooks.com
Are you a member of any writing organizations and, if so, have they helped?
I have been an occasional member of some but honestly I do not feel that beyond the social component that they do much for you. The best thing you can belong to is good writing group.
Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract?
I love what an author on NPR said in response to the question what do you tell aspiring writers? “Stop if you can.” I think that there is a lot a truth to that. If you CAN stop then at some point, overwhelmed by difficulty and rejection, you WILL stop. This is not an easy trade. You have to be able to plow forward, overcoming things like bad reviews that are correct, and worse bad reviews that are not correct or helpful. You need to want to do this for yourself. I do feel that you don’t need to be published to call yourself a writer, but you do need to be willing to put work out there to be seen and read. If you do it and don’t show it to anyone, well that eludes me. It may be useful to you to work out issues in your life but I am not sure it is really writing.
What’s next for you?
Right now we are working on a free Kindle download of a Fenaday short story so we can offer a freebie to drum up interest in the trilogy. It does seem to prime the pump for cash sales if you lead with a freebie. My friend Michael Church is doing all the covers so we have a unified look and feel to the series.
Your other books?
Regret and Requiems, is a story from not long after Fenaday and Shasti Rainhell meet, before they become what they are in Was Once a Hero. That should be out soon. The Second Book in the Fenaday series, “Fearful Symmetry which focuses more on Shasti Rainhell should be out later this year. Then comes the finale for the trilogy, Points of Departure, likely the next year.
Reluctant privateer Robert Fenaday searches the stars for his lost love, Lisa, a naval intelligence officer whose ship disappeared near the end of the Conchirri War. He’s joined by the genetically engineered assassin, Shasti Rainhell, whose cold perfection masks her dark past. Both are blackmailed by government spymaster, Mandela, into a suicidal mission to the doomed planet Enshar. Leading a team of scientists and soldiers, they must unravel the mystery of that planet’s death before an ancient force reaches out to claim their lives.
A little bit about the author.
Here is my bio: Edward McKeown is a writer and editor specializing in science fiction and fantasy with occasional forays into literary and nonfiction. Ed escaped from NY, but his old hometown supplies much of the background to his humorous “Lair of the Lesbian Love Goddess” shorts, as his new hometown in Charlotte, North Carolina does for his “Templar” fantasy series. He enjoys a wide variety of interests from ballroom dance to the martial arts and has the good fortune to be married to the talented artist, Schelly Keefer. He has also edited the Sha’Daa anthologies of wry tales of the apocalypse. His first novel “Was Once a Hero” has been released e-version and print to follow by Hellfire Publishing http://www.amazon.com/Was-Once-A-Hero-ebook/dp/B006UMTBY8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1326144528&sr=1-1 or find him on Facebook and http://www.sfreader.com/authors/edward-mcKeown.
This excerpt comes from after Fenaday and Shasti have been sent to the doomed world of Enshar where every other expedition has perished on landing. The two are in one small craft while their new friend the ace-pilot Telisan is in the other. The crew of the Sidhe watches from orbit as they close in on the world below:
“There’s Gigor,” Fenaday said. The sun cleared the horizon and its rays lit the tops of trees and buildings, leaving the field still cloaked in purple shadow. He heard Shasti’s seat creak as she leaned forward to look beyond the backrest of his seat. Fenaday put the Wildcat in a slow circle at a height of four hundred meters. Shasti and he looked out at the devastated base. Gigor base extended for tens of kilometers. The beige and yellow Enshari buildings in the distance had the squat and unlovely utilitarian look favored by governments. Beyond them, toward the city proper lay the domes and half-domes preferred by the Enshari. Shattered glass in those buildings splintered and threw back the sunlight.
“Looks worse than it did from orbit,” she said.
“Yeah,” Fenaday said. “No question that the base was attacked. By what I can’t imagine, the pattern of destruction doesn’t resemble that from an airburst nuclear weapon. Nothing else I know of—not even a mass driver—creates destruction like this.”
“Only a few military spaceships were based at Gigor,” Shasti said. “Most Navy traffic used the port at the capital city of Barjan.”
Fenaday pointed. “There’s the Navy area. It’s completely destroyed.” They had seen all this from orbit, but it lacked the effect of viewing it with their own eyes.
“Notice something?” asked Shasti.
“Yeah,” Fenaday replied. “Those shuttles on the apron look like they were cut down by a laser fired from ground level. See that neat slice on the metal of that green and white hospital shuttle? It’s cut almost in half. Whatever it was started striking the ground at a low angle, bubbling the apron.”
“Energy weapons don’t work that way,” Shasti said. “Why use massive quantities of power to cut metal when a kinetic weapon does it cheaper and faster? Lasers are for burning flesh, starting fires and damaging sensitive instruments—-”
“These are a few of your favorite things,” Fenaday murmured.
Shasti ignored the comment, “Well, this isn’t Conchirri work. If they had energy weapons like this, we would all be dinner.”
Fenaday brought the Wildcat to a hover near the edge of the apron close to the barracks. The sun had risen enough to light the field. A brilliant, dark-blue ground cover, reminiscent of pansies, dotted some of the nearby tarmac.
“Let’s get this over with,” he said tightly. “Are you ready, Shasti?”
“Locked and loaded,” she said, putting her tri-auto in her lap.
“Telisan, this is Fenaday. I’m going in. Keep circling. If anything happens, run for it. That is an order.”
“Of course,” replied Telisan. The Denlenn’s easy answer made Fenaday suspect Telisan was simply humoring him.
“Fenaday to Sidhe, we are landing.”
The fighter landed smoothly, blowing dust and debris away from the Wildcat. Fenaday throttled back the engines, but didn’t cut them off. He kept the HOTAS stick, which controlled thrust and weapons, in his right hand. Fenaday looked to starboard, Shasti to port. The fighter’s swivel-mounted guns followed the motion of his eyes. The Confed shuttles from the first expedition landed only sixty-three seconds before being overwhelmed by whatever killed their crews. Fenaday didn’t look at the clock. He scanned every shadow, dreading the sight of a dust cloud similar to the one that enveloped the Confederate shuttles three years ago. Telisan circled above, equally vigilant.
From Perez’ station aboard Sidhe, the engineer announced, “Thirty seconds.”
Fenaday kept his eyes on the ground. His heart pounded and his mouth felt dry. “Nothing in sight,” he reported. To his own surprise, his voice sounded calm.
“All clear here,” Shasti said. She didn’t even have the grace to sound concerned.
“Same,” Telisan reported. “Nothing on motion sensors.”
For an instant, Fenaday thought about saying something to Shasti, something about the night before. He snapped a quick glance into the one of the mirrors. She stared out the canopy, catlike, intent, totally focused on here and now.
He returned his attention to the field.
Fenaday held his breath, his finger on the trigger.
“Seventy seconds, Captain. Congratulations on a new world record.”
The breath left his body in a whoosh.
“Okay,” he said, voice shaking slightly. “I’m heading into overheat, initiating engine shutdown.
“Telisan, keep circling. Perez, start the shuttles down. Tell Karass he is to abort if at any time we lose contact before landing.”
How can my readers buy your book?
Readers can go to the publisher’s home page at http://www.amazon.com/Was-Once-A-Hero-ebook/dp/B006UMTBY8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1326144528&sr=1-1 Kindle and Print. We are also available on Smashwords http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/120464
Please find me at Facebook where I have an author page with many links to free work of mine that you can enjoy. http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Edward-McKeown-Author/128235997209701
You can find more information about Edward McKeown and his book, Was Once a Hero by visiting his website, http://www.sfreader.com/authors/edward-mcKeown or his blog at http://emckeown-edwriter.blogspot.com