Interview with Daredevil, Fantasy & Picture Book Author Ken Curtis

Ken Curtis works away at his day job in a medical laboratory and pretends to be an adult. He grew up in the desert of Arizona but now lives in the mountains of Utah. He has an amazing and supportive wife plus four precocious children who serve as his inspiration. He’s always seeking adventure: skiing in the winter, rock climbing in the summer, and pretty much any other fun and challenging outdoor activity.

Post Climb Selfie 29th street crag

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you start?

Since I was a child, I have dabbled in writing. I was always coming up with silly poems, songs, short stories, and the occasional attempt at a screenplay. Most of this was for my own amusement or to give to someone else. It wasn’t until I became a father that I decided that I wanted to take writing more seriously and really put together something long lasting, something to have more of a wide reach. I wanted my daughter, who is an avid reader, to be able to pick up something I wrote and think, ‘My Dad wrote this, I can do this too!’

I had a pretty serious rock climbing accident about 5 years ago that limited my ability to do much for a few weeks while I recuperated. Not that I recommend falling off a cliff or any other near death experience, but that downtime really jumpstarted my journey on being a writer as I finally had the time to bust some things out and think ‘Hey maybe I CAN do this writing thing.’

Can you tell us a little about what kind of book(s) you’ve written so far?

I have written a couple picture books that are my most polished MS’s. I also have written an epic fantasy that is mostly finished and is in the revision stage. I have a few other WIP’s that are slugging along slowly. Ridiculously slow. Like dial-up internet slow.

What genre(s) do you write in? What is it that you love about them?

I am an eclectic writer. At first, I thought I should try and focus on one genre and pursue it full speed. I realized though, that I wasn’t happy this way. Ultimately I write for me and if I can get published, great, but I am not really looking to be a ‘successful’ author. I define my success by finishing something that I can be proud of and at least one other person can enjoy.

So, I write picture books, YA (mystery and fantasy), epic fantasy, historical fantasy, and I even have desires for a non-fiction piece on the history of slot canyons in Southern Utah that I am sure only my mom might read. Maybe.

What is your preferred path to publication?

I would really like to go traditional for my PB’s. For the novels I am working on, I think I would like to pursue traditional, but lately have been more inclined to go the self-published route.

How have you found the submission/querying process so far?

I have only minimal experiences thus far with querying and submission. I have one holiday children’s picture book that I have queried (unsuccessfully) only to a handful of agents. I have pitched it to a publishing house. They wanted it, and were ready to go, but as I looked into it more it didn’t feel quite right and didn’t seem like the fit I was looking for. So, I said no. As time has passed, I feel even better about that decision. I think the biggest takeaway from that for me is that the more you shop around the better the chance you have of finding the best fit. That and picthing in person isn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be!

All writers are readers so who are some of your favorite authors and why?

I probably struggle with my writing because I spend too much time reading. I will read and finish at least two books a week (I read fast). I love Brandon Sanderson, David Eddings, and Brent Weeks. I love the way they world build and create characters in fantasy settings that feel very real.

What inspires your ideas? How do you come up with them?

I try and find inspiration in everyday life. My kids and their antics have been a source of inspiration for characters, dialog and plot. I have a rhyming holiday picture book that I wrote only because my daughter accidentally found the secret stash of Christmas presents. I wanted to keep the magic of believing in Santa alive so I made up a story about how Santa has little elves that go around stashing gifts in peoples’ homes before Christmas because Santa needed a head start on delivering gifts. It very well could become my first published book.

That sounds like a great idea and would help so many parents! It’s also how my sister got busted lol.

Do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?

I am very much a pantser. I will outline and plot in my head all the time, but if I am putting words to paper it is to write, not outline.

What does a typical writing day look like for you/what is your process?

I have to isolate myself fully to really get the writing mojo going. No TV, no peoples, no social media, even (gasp!) no internet. I have tried to do word sprints and even helped host the Friday Night Writes #writeclub events, but I have found that sprints don’t’ work for me. I need prolonged exclusion. In fact, I am doing a three day backpacking trip off the grid in a couple weeks. I anticipate busting out some words on the trail.

What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned on your writing journey so far?

I have recently learned that I am not a social writer. I need to get my words done with no feedback, no accountability partners, no word count reporting. I am all about pinging things off others, but only after the MS is done. I can be a social reviser.

Haha. That works too.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers about writing? What about the process of trying to get published?

Everyone does things their way and that’s ok. I have spent time trying to fit other author’s paradigms of how things should be and it just burns me out. Find what you like and what you want and do it. Shia LeBouf was right, ‘DO IT!” but more importantly ‘Do You’.

Anything else you would like to add or talk about?

I am so thankful for the onine writer community who have been so supportive and become some of my best friends. Even if I never get published, I have made great lifelong friends along this journey.

Thank you so much! Where can people find out more about you and your books?

Website: www.kennethbcurtis.com                                        Online at: @CurtisKen (Twitter)

Interview with Thriller & Crime Fiction Author Ian Patrick

Ian retired from policing two years ago, after nearly thirty years service, mostly as a detective. He has investigated everything from theft to murder. He enjoys photography, drums and being outside. Ian is married with children and lives in Scotland with his springer spaniel that keeps him active along with an outdoor lifestyle. When he’s not writing you can find him on Twitter!  

Author Ian Patrick
Author Ian Patrick

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you start?

I’ve been writing, on and off, for the last fifteen years. I don’t know when I got started! I’ve never thought about that until now. I think it started with a story in my head and I completed the first draft of a novel in over thirteen years. That novel may never see the light of day. It was a learning experience that led me to start the one I currently have on submission.

Can you tell us a little about what kind of book(s) you’ve written so far?

My debut novel has a working title of Rubicon. The opening chapter was shortlisted in 2015 by No Exit Press in a competition to find a new voice for their publishing house. I didn’t win but did get the confidence to continue. If you like your crime dark, gritty and real then you will enjoy it. The question I asked myself is – what if? Some rules are there to be broken. In the world of policing and crime the end game can change.

What genre(s) do you write in? What is it that you love about them?

I write crime/thriller. It works for me because I spent twenty-eight years as a police officer in London and most of those as a detective. I’m retired now as I joined at 19! It doesn’t make you a great writer but it does give you a feel for the subject! I wouldn’t recommend writing what you know but it has felt ok for me. Many great writers have produced work where they have had no experience, of the subject matter, but you feel as though you’re in the page.

What is your preferred path to publication?

Right now I’m pursuing a traditional route to publication. I’m open-minded though and can see the benefit in both traditional and self-publication. I have friends who have used both routes, with success, so time will tell for me. I believe writers should choose a route that suits them, their work and the time they have to promote it.

How have you found the submission/querying process so far?

A road of rejection. There is nothing fun about the submission process and if you can’t take criticism, or cope with negative feelings of self doubt, then don’t do it! This writers life has to be a MUST not a MAYBE. I have had my fair share of critics in my previous job so have a somewhat hardened resolve to it but it still smarts when your work is knocked back or criticised. That’s why it’s crucial to enjoy the love of writing and don’t get hung up on this area. I have had some positive feedback though. Agents and publishers may like your writing but the novel isn’t for them.

All writers are readers so who are some of your favourite authors and why?

I read lots of books across many genres and that helps with my writing as well as exposing me to some amazing authors. I enjoy reading Cormac McCarthy for his style of language and dialogue. Chuck Palahniuk for his crazy mind and concepts. Stephen king because, well, who doesn’t enjoy a book by him! As far as crime goes I was introduced to the genre through reading Ed McBain and he is my all time favourite. His writing is incredible as is Jim Thompson. Two great crime writers.

What inspires your ideas? How do you come up with them?

Reality! I write from the hip and hold no punches. My writing is brief, raw, and ideas just come up at the moment. I hope this lasts or my career could be a short one. I do use my past experiences as a source of inspiration and ideas, but policing changes so much you can’t always rely on them. Sometimes the best books have emanated from the most simple of human observation and that’s where I tend to start.

Do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?

I have a start and a finish, nothing more. I let the characters and situation develop and go with it from there. In reality crime isn’t straight forward. There is always a backstory to each situation. You may end up with the same crime file at the end but the route to get there differs.

What does a typical writing day look like for you/what is your process?

I grab three hours each day when I take my daughter to play group. The hall has a side room and I go in there and get on with it. Time is precious to me and I take each section of it with thanks. I don’t have a process as yet as I’m a newbie and this will need some developing.

What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned on your writing journey so far?

To accept criticism with a willingness to change.

When I first joined the police, in the late eighties, this was part of a statement of common purpose. We had to learn the whole statement and this is the only part I can remember now! It is so true though. The critic may be right! If my first novel weren’t so honestly critiqued I wouldn’t have written the one I have on submission now.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers about writing? What about the process of trying to get published?

Enjoy it. When we stop doing what we value in life then we may as well be dead. Don’t sweat the process and don’t get precious about it all, just write and see where it takes you. The route to publication changes all the time and now more than ever the options available are greater. Where you can, get to know the writing community around you and attend events. Don’t be stuck behind a screen, get out there. Life is brief and writing is a very small part of it.

SUCH GREAT ADVICE!!

Anything else you would like to add or talk about?

Thanks for the opportunity and I wish you every success with your current book.

Thank you so much! Where can people find out more about you and your books?

On Twiiter @imdambassador

Cover Reveal for PRETTY WICKED ~ By Kelly Charron

Pretty Wicked Printable 330 6x9

Cover image by Kellie Dennis – Book Cover By Design

The daughter of a local police detective, fifteen-year-old Ryann has spent most of her life studying how to pull off the most gruesome murders her small Colorado town has ever seen.

 But killing is only part of it. Ryann enjoys being the reason the cops are frenzied. The one who makes the neighbors lock their doors and windows on a hot summer’s day. The one everyone fears but no one suspects.

 Carving out her own murderous legacy proves harder than she predicted. Mistakes start adding up. And with the police getting closer, and her own father becoming suspicious, Ryann has to prove once and for all that she’s smarter than anyone else—or she’ll pay the ultimate price. 

*warning – some graphic content

Pretty Wicked is a mature YA novel intended for ages 16 and up.

Praise for Pretty Wicked:

 “This creepy novel places you inside the mind of a twisted teen killer, which is even more unsettling because of how familiar and normal she seems. Be prepared to leave the lights on and look at the people around you in a whole new way.”

-Eileen Cook | Author of WITH MALICE

“Dark and haunting, this witty thriller with its petite feminine anti-hero is an American Psycho for teens. Be prepared to sleep with the lights on.”

Lisa Voisin | Author of THE WATCHER SAGA

“Pretty Wicked is fresh, thrilling, and deeply haunting. I’ve never read anything like it! The story escalates from page one and will leave your pulse pounding as you wonder just how far Ryann will go. 5/5 stars.”

Tiana Warner | Author of ICE MASSACRE & ICE CRYPT

Excerpt from Pretty Wicked:

I heard the bell ring in the distance. Lunch was over. I leapt up to go when I was struck with panic. What if someone had seen me walk out there with Veronica? No one could know what I’d done. My breath hitched.

I ran as fast as I could back to the yard and to the first teacher I saw.

“Mrs. Hopkins! Come quick, Veronica’s really hurt!” I pretended to be hysterical so effectively that she couldn’t understand me the first few times.

She bent down so we were at eye level. “Where?”

“We went into the woods at the far end of the property. I’m sorry. I know we’re not allowed, but she fell and she’s not moving! You have to hurry!” I sobbed, shoulders shaking, snotty nose. I don’t know how I’d managed to look so distraught, but I nearly convinced myself.

Mrs. Hopkins turned to a kid named Austin, who was in the grade ahead of me. “Go get Mr. Chute. Tell him to call 911 and to come out and meet me in the woods.”

Austin, who was paper white, nodded and took off like his ass was on fire.

I ran back with Mrs. Hopkins to the rocks where I’d left Veronica. She was in the exact position I’d left her. Thankfully there was no miraculous recovery waiting for us.

After she was taken away in an ambulance, Mrs. Hopkins and Mr. Chute walked me back and called my parents.

My dad showed up to the school, hugged me, and told me how brave I was.

After my mother had finally stopped fussing and checking on me every twenty minutes, I sat on my bed and thought about Veronica. It would be weird not to see her in class every day or hang out with her at lunch, not that we hung out that much. I was usually with Bao-yu anyway, but sometimes she came along. Maybe now B and I would be better friends. She wouldn’t have to share me anymore.

I wondered what I was feeling—if I was missing Veronica. But I didn’t think that’s what it was. The twinge in the bottom of my stomach didn’t have the achy hollowness that people refer to as a pit. It was more like butterflies.

Available for purchase September 30th in trade paperback.

Preorder the kindle version now on Amazon

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31394680-pretty-wicked?ac=1&from_search=true

 Questions about Pretty Wicked:

  • What inspired me to write such a dark character

I’ve always been fascinated with psychology and human motivation. Whenever I read a novel or watched a movie or television show, I was drawn to the villain. I wanted to understand what made them act the way they did––delve into what happened in their lives or minds to make them the person they had become.

When there was the odd story from the “villains” point of view, it seemed to characterize them as “misunderstood” and usually spun them into a likeable character who was the hero of that new version of the story. I wanted to write something unique and portray the villain realistically. What would the story look like if they were a true villain? I got the idea for a teenage serial killer who was unapologetic about who she was and what she wanted and thought it was really interesting to explore what her point of view would be if she drove the story and the “villain” was the detective trying to stop her.

  • Why I chose to self-publish

I did query it to literary agents and received a lot of positive praise for the book. In the end I kept hearing the same feedback: it’s a fascinating concept, the writing and voice are great, but we don’t think we can sell such a dark book to a publisher. I completely understand this. I know this book is going to be very polarizing. People will either love the concept or hate it. So far I have had overwhelmingly encouraging feedback from readers who understand that this is a fictional story that is trying to do something different from most novels. There was some interest from small publishers but the wait times were longer than I was comfortable with. I decided if I wanted to see this book out in the world I was going to have to do it myself. It was an intimidating process, but luckily I have an amazing and brilliant support group who helped me along the way.

  • What genres I write in

Psychological thriller, urban fantasy, and horror. I have two YA urban fantasy books, though one may never see the light of day. It’s my first book and would need to be rewritten before I decide its fate. The second (currently titled Wilde Magic) is the first in a planned series that I am very excited about.

Pretty Wicked is the second book I wrote and the first to be published. I have been writing for ten years. My first book was a YA urban fantasy that took me seven years to complete because I kept stopping for huge chunks of time while I completed my degrees (English Lit and Social Work). I finally got serious about writing in 2013 and have just completed my fourth novel.

  • Is Pretty Wicked a standalone novel?

The Pretty Wicked series will continue with adult books. The sequel, Wicked Fallout, is currently going through editing and the third book in the series is brewing in my mind. I have some very fun ideas for Ryann.

Wicked Fallout takes place twelve years later when Ryann is 27 years old. That’s all I can say right now as to not reveal spoilers.

  • Ryann is not a very likable character. I’ve been asked quite often if I like her and…

I actually do. I really enjoyed writing her. I don’t agree with anything she does at all! In that sense, Ryann is deplorable! But what I like is her humor and wit and the way she owns who she is. She was a fun character to write because she is so different to most characters out there. It’s like when you see a Hollywood actor discuss their favorite roles. Often they say the villain roles were their preferred because it was more fun and exciting to play. There are forbidden elements that make it a bit more exciting than the standard hero. It’s no different for me as the writer.

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