Alright! I got an interview with Kirkus MacGowan. I read "The Fall of Billy Hitchings" several months ago and I walked away from it thinking that it was the most creative novel I had ever read. I had never encountered a plot and characters that had intrigued me as much. I think what I loved the most was that the tension was always unforeseeable. I just didn't know what direction Mr. MacGowan was going to take this story next. So, I am happy, brimming with pride to offer you a glimpse into Kirkus MacGowan, from Kirkus himself. Enjoy!
First, I need to say thanks to J. Scott Sharp for the opportunity to guest post on his blog. He’s truly a kind individual and avid supporter of other Indie authors.
On to the interview!
When did you know you wanted to be a writer? What was the deciding moment for you?
I think I knew when I wrote my first story at age eight about finding a cure for cancer (no idea how I even knew what cancer was). However, my brain didn’t allow me to believe I wanted to be a writer until last year at the age of thirty-three.
I graduated with a degree in psychology in December of 2010. I remember staring at my computer screen in January of 2011, wondering what life held for me next. I’d recently become a stay-at-home dad and didn’t have a plan. I glanced to my boy, two years old at the time, and wondered what he’d think of his dad when he grew up (deep thinking for staring at a computer, I know). I wanted him to know it was okay to chase his dreams, but that he should do so responsibly with all the drive he could muster. What better way to teach him than by example?
BOOM! There it was. I knew I’d give writing my all from that day forward.
Who is your favorite writer and why?
If I narrowed it down to one (hard to do with so many amazing authors out there) I’d say Stephen King. Not necessarily because of his books, but because of his dogged determination and his love for the art. He knows he’s not a literary genius, but he works with what he has. And what is that? A vivid and sometimes crazy imagination with the drive to be one of the most prolific authors of our time. On top of this, he is often quoted describing the love he has for his wife and family, the two things in life I love more than writing.
Which writers have you learned the most from? What did you learn from them?
Stephen King is at the top of my list again. I’m not sure I learned as much from him as I learned to emulate his writing habits (minus the drugs and alcohol from earlier in his career). In his how-to book/biography, On Writing, he states his belief that the best way to become a better writer besides writing, is to read. I take this to heart and read as much as life will allow.
The second writer is J.A. Konrath. Early on, I bought his blog compilation named, The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing because I wanted to learn about the literary field. I love that he speaks so bluntly about publishing. He’s willing to say what many others in the field are afraid to bring up. The compilation details his path as a traditionally published author and his transition into Indie publishing.
The quote I attribute to him on a regular basis, and a personal favorite, has helped me through many lonely days and nights of writing.
“Writing is a marathon, not a sprint.”
What advice would you give to a writer just getting started?
Read! And when you’re done, READ MORE! I suggest beginning with one or two simple how-to books. Learn the basics of what a reader expects from an author. Not what we learn about grammar in school, but the little things an accomplished author incorporates automatically into their writing. Like learning not to use weak verbs or passive writing until called for. Then I suggest they move on to reading books in the genre they wish to work in. Learn from others who’ve been there awhile.
Keep writing! When you’re sick, depressed, drunk, poor, rich, upside down, half-awake; keep writing! The only way to get your books out there is to have the words on paper! Or on a screen, I suppose. They may not always be your best work, but that’s what revisions are for. Stimulating your writer’s mind even when you don’t feel like it will pay huge dividends in the end.
Learn to critique, and accept critiques. Not only will you learn about writing from another’s perspective, you’ll learn just how thick your skin should be as a writer.
I read “The Fall of Billy Hitchings” and I thought it was suspenseful and unique. Tell my readers a little about the story and where the idea came from.
“When unseen forces cause a building to implode around a typical college-aged teen working in a fast-food joint, multiple lives intertwine to unearth the source of the evil.”
The Fall of Billy Hitchings is a character driven mystery/thriller. And as J. Scott Sharp describes it, “filled with more twists and turns than a pretzel.”
There is a dream sequence in The Fall of Billy Hitchings
How do you develop ideas for a book? What is your process?
I’m a ruminator. Once I have the main idea in my mind, I simply think about it. Usually on purpose, but sometimes when I’m daydreaming. I may be mid-conversation when and idea comes to me. I carry around a notepad wherever I go, and sleep with one by my bed. An idea may come to me while reading or watching a movie as well.
Over time, my mind will circle around the main idea over and over as characters, plot twists, or dilemmas come to me. I write these down and wait for the next detail. Eventually, it forms a picture. Once I have this picture, the process picks up speed.
This is when I break out the note cards. I pin each plot element on a corkboard in no particular order. Once this part begins, I have the rest of the story within twenty-four hours. I move the cards around, adjusting and adding where needed, until it tells a story.
Then comes the writing. I use the corkboard outline as a basis for the story, but constantly move things around when the story tells me to. I view it as an organic process, growing and changing until everything is just right.
What new projects do you have in the works?
I have a few projects going at the moment. My current work in process is a follow up to The Fall of Billy Hitchings. Not a second in a series necessarily, but a spin-off. John Reeves, one of the three main characters from the first book, returns to his hometown and is almost instantly involved in another impossible situation. The second book is named, The Sixth Deadly Sin. I consider both The Fall of Billy Hitchings and The Sixth Deadly Sin a John Reeves novel, as I will follow him in future mystery/thrillers.
Also in the works is an urban fantasy based in
after World War Three. This one is particularly unique and I can’t wait to get to work on it again. I’m not sure how far I’ll run with it, but I have at least one sequel and one prequel in mind. Toledo
I have a few ideas about an epic fantasy as well, but I plan to work on the urban fantasy first.
Thanks again! If any of you try The Fall of Billy Hitchings, be sure to contact me. I’d love to hear what you think!
Also contact Kirkus MacGowan:
FB Fan Page:
Goodreads Author Page:
I just want to thank you, Kirkus, for a rare opportunity to pick your brain a little and expose my readers to a fantastic author. I look forward to future books and for more opportunities to speak in the future. Your a great guy and a fantastic writer. Thank you, my friend!