Friday, July 26, 2019

Talking With Authors: Gus Kenney.

Getting to know us:
Author Interviews #2

The Complications Of Being Lucy.

To my dearest friends and followers,

Today I am excited for you to hear from one of my favorite indie authors, Gus Kenney!
I first heard of Gus in the spring of 2017. Being a writer of fantasy myself, I was happy when I stumbled upon his first book on Facebook. I reached out to him to write a review on his book, to which he gladly agreed and sent me the book for free. Since then, I have read all three of his books, and won one of his book giveaways. If you are someone who has been faithful in reading my blog, you are probably aware that his name comes up every now and then in my blogs. I am happy to say that he is now part of my online writing community, and I a part of his. We keep in touch regularly and talk about books and Doctor Who. Thank you in advance for reading and thank you Gus for taking the time to email me back and forth to make this long-distance interview possible!!

Tell me a bit about yourself?

To start, my name is Gus Kenney. I hail from the town of Dansville, famous for being where the Red Cross was first established. I'm married to an wonderful woman whose dreams regularly inspire my writing or distract me from what I'm supposed to be working on. We have three furry children which are so much better than the other kind as I don't have to help them with their homework. And lastly, I have been writing since I was five, but have only really gotten any good at it in the last six years or so.

What books have you written?

I have completed six books, but only three have made it to publication at this time. They are part of a series that became named The Complications of Being Lucy. They star the intrepid young Lucy Bison and her adventures with her family and friends through a world of fantasy and danger. It begins with The Changeling and the Cupboard, continues into The Changeling and the Borrowed Family, and most recently into Traitor's Niece.

Do you plan to write more books?

Of course. I couldn't stop myself if I wanted, though my anxiety has tried very hard. The Complications of Being Lucy will contain a total of six books of which the fourth one, Daughter of Ash, I'm hoping to complete before the end of 2019. I have had a few requests to revisit the second story I ever finished and, foolishly, submitted to get published. It needs a massive overhaul and a thinning out (hence the foolish part, 240,000 words, what was I thinking). I also have several other story ideas that have been begging to crawl out of my head.

What do you think makes a good story?

A good story, for me, usually depends on the characters. They have to be interesting. They have to have a voice to them that stirs something inside me. Whether it is humor, or mischief, or pain, there has to be an emotional resonance within their voice to make it a good story.

Why do you write in the genre you do? Who is your target audience?

Ah, this one is always easy. I write in fantasy because reality sucks. It's an escape and my audience is anyone who wants to join me in that escape (barring youngsters if I use bad language).

What does your writing journey look like? How long does it take you to write a book?

It starts with an idea or an inspiration for an idea that has been sitting on the back burner. I run it around on a loop until I can see it from all angles and watch where things will go from there or how it will fit with another part of the story. This is typically done while I'm working at my 9-5 job or while I'm washing dishes. Once that's done, I procrastinate for a day or two before I finally sit down at the computer to write. I open the document and then waste more time finding music that fits the mood of the story. After that, I get up, grab a drink, start the process over and then finally start writing. An hour in, my anxiety will kick in and make me think I'm tired, which is impressive because my drink of choice is a bad-for-me energy drink. At that point I have to decide if I want to give into the anxiety and take a nap or fight it and continue writing. Either way, after another twenty minutes, the dogs bug me to go out. Somehow in all that a story gets written. It usually takes about eight months or a year and a half.

Do you believe in what you create?

In the vastness of the universe and the possibilities of multiple and parallel universes, yes I believe in what I create, though it is less about creation at that point and more like transcribing some other person's existence without their knowledge. In simpler terms, I believe that I'm creating a story, one that hopes to entertain and maybe inspire.

What is the weirdest/most interesting thing you've had to research for your books?

My search history is crazy: road maps of Panama, rhinos and fire, mangrove trees, Prussian history, Chinese folklore, botox. It has all been weird and interesting. Truly the best thing I have researched is language itself, both words in foreign tongues that translate to things that other languages have no words for, and the root meaning of some words that we use every day. It's like looking at the old souls of words.

Tell me, how did you decide on a publisher for your book? Who did you go through and how was it using their services?

I went through Amazon with The Complications of Being Lucy series because I had heard many good things about it from many people I trusted. I had submitted books to more mainstream publishers in the past, before I understood how the market worked. I decided that I liked the freedom that Amazon offered. As for using their services, it's cake! So simple and easy, at least for the stuff I submit. How all the algorithms and technical stuff works, I have no clue or interest. I just put my books out there and let whatever happens, happen.

What is a favorite book you've read?

This is always a tough one as I have read so many great books and many have been so impressionable on my own books. It's like asking me to pick which one of my kids is my favorite (they know which one, who am I fooling?). I will say that I have read two fantastic books recently that are in my permanent favorite pile for life and I have already read them more than once in such a short span: Wanderlust by L. Costevelos and Toxic Nursery by Carlie Martece. The only thing greater than these books is the talent of these two people and I can't wait to read more of their stuff. These books are true art and they inspire and push me to do better with my own writing.

What writing tips or advice do you have for other writers?

     I only have one tip: never do it for the money!
I was very discouraged when I was younger because whenever I told someone that I wanted to be an author, they always asked what I would be doing to make real money. Another author I read once said that you can either be successful or be a writer. This has always been disappointing to hear, not because I want to be obscenely wealthy, but because my motivation has always been to create a story and share it. Not for profit, not for any gain, just to share a story with anyone who cared to hear it. I never looked at what a book could be worth and even hate having to tell people a price when they ask to buy one. So never do it for the money. Write what you want, the story that calls to you and never lets go until it's all written out and made real in the world. Don't think about if it will be a success, or be praised, or make money. Think of only telling the best version of your story that you can. Your story, your words, your voice, free of any restraint or worries. Being a writer isn't a job, it's a joy. And joy should be shared with everyone without thoughts of a price tag.
     Never do it for the money!

Thank you so much for your time, Gus!!

Be sure to check out Gus Kenney's books on Amazon!!
The Changeling and the Cupboard 
The Changeling and the Borrowed Family 
Traitor's Niece 

Also, give Gus a follow on...

Yours truly,

Friday, July 19, 2019

My Target Audience.

Who am I writing for?

To my dearest friends and followers,

As some of you are probably aware, I have been working on revising my novel, Beyond the Veil. Summer has been a lot more eventful than I anticipated (not that I'm complaining...), which has taken a toll on my book; I confess that I am still within the first quarter of the story. XD

I have shared previously that I am working on more character development and really defining their purpose in the story. I am working on making a consistent theme throughout the story. I am focusing more on the topics that help build the plot. I am rewriting the narrators voice a little bit. Overall, I'm adding a lot more content that I believe will really help my book flourish as it well deserves after all these years!!

I believe that as I was initially writing the story, I was just writing what came to mind. I knew as I was writing it, that some things I would have to make sense of later. I also knew that, as a lover of fairies and the fantastical, etc., I was writing a fantasy novel for me and for me alone. We've all heard it said, to write the book you would want to read. I have definitely accomplished that.

What may be a more difficult question to answer is, "who is your audience?"
So my understanding of younger reading levels, at a glance, is this:

MG - ages 8-12
Upper MG/Tween 11-14
YA - ages 13-18

Based on that, I haven't known someone until recently within those age ranges who:

likes to read
likes to read fantasy
likes to read about female characters

I really haven't known who my audience is. I probably still won't truly know until I have beta readers and gain some feedback. 
Based on a few things from my book, I know it's not MG, as the story as a darker tone to it, there is death, religion is mentioned, and an old-fashioned fairy tale-like writing style is used.
It does NOT consist of swear words, violence (aka fighting scenes, blood, etc.), sex, or a complex plot. My best guess is that it's Upper MG/Tween. Keep in mind that you won't find this category on a shelf, it just means that it's more mature than your typical MG book, or less mature than your standard YA novel.

Though I don't know how the book will be marketed or who the target audience will be, I have only recently begun to feel like I have been writing for someone other than myself.
While I believe it is important to write for oneself, I seem to also find it valuable to write for someone else. That audience, or that one person can be made up, who you think will like your story. Or it can be someone you know, someone you know will love to read your finished work.

It's so easy to feel discouraged while we reread our work. Why did I write this? What if it's not good enough? What if, what if, what if...
I have been continuously working on my book and it feels really refreshing as I look at it now and keep "my" audience in mind. It's actually someone I met nearly two years ago, but have only recently spent time with. She's 12 years old, is a gifted gymnast, loves animals, fantastic creatures and reading fantasy. Brianna, thank you for inspiring me. Hopefully in less than a year from now, you'll have a new book to read.

Stay awesome, stay weird.

Yours truly,