Where I Am
About Kevin Rau
I'm the author of the H.E.R.O. series of novels in the SciFi/Superhero genre. I also do character art (as seen on the rest of the page here).
I've launched the Author Interview pages to promote my fellow authors, and hopefully create some cross-links back to their websites or social networks within the interview.
Interview Date: 7/7/2012
Many thanks to fellow author Kevin Rau for his invitation to interview me with a superhero twist! Although I am mortal, I’m happy to have the opportunity flex my lone superpower -- my amazing ability to bend and twist prose. Thanks again, Kevin! I’ll try to keep this interview coherent and on topic. If not, just tell the words to get back in line.
I’m a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. I also write travel adventures. A former U.S. diplomat, I served in South Korea, Paraguay, and Zambia before leaving the Foreign Service in 2011 to write full time. I live in Bangkok, Thailand with my wife Jing and son Alex.
I published Alexander the Salamander, a children's e-book he co-wrote with my son Alex, in May 2011. I released a collection of short stories from different genres, Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories, in November 2011. My latest book, Kilimanjaro: One Man's Quest to Go Over the Hill, published in April 2012, chronicles my quest to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain. It's available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com and other booksellers.
When did you start writing, and was there a significant event that prompted you to do so?
When I was ten years old, my teacher asked our class to write tall tales in small groups and present them in class. Some groups chose to tell the story of Paul Bunyan and other well-known legends. Inspired by the 1981 eruption of Mount St. Helens, I wrote a tale called "How Little Big Chief Calmed the Mountain." Featured in my book Real Dreams, the story tells of how Little Big Chief made the ultimate sacrifice -- offering what was most precious to him to appease an angry volcano. The role of Little Big Chief went to a good friend with cerebral palsy. His amazing performance is one of my fondest childhood memories.
Kev's response: Hmm, I've always found that interesting. Personally, I have no memories below the age of 13 or so. None. I joke that I was hatched at that age. It's fascinating to hear about others with their memories.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be? (Assuming said power would be reasonably powerful.)
I would like the ability to clone myself like Michael Keaton did in the movie Multiplicity. Not that I relish dealing with multiple versions of myself and their escapades, but they sure would come in handy to help me multitask. One could focus on brainstorming ideas for novels, another on writing outlines, a third on drafting the manuscript, and a fourth on editing it. My productivity would soar! At least, that’s how it would work in theory.
Kev's response: Just the ability to brainstorm ideas in a group for storylines would rock.
Do you have a favorite superhero from novels, comics, or movies?
I’m a big comic book fan. My favorite superhero -- long before “The Avengers” movie came along -- has always been Thor. I mean, how can you beat a demigod? I know that Ironman seems cooler, the Hulk is a force to be reckoned with, and Captain America is America’s superhero, but it’s hard to beat a Norse god and his mighty hammer.
Kev's response: Thor is a full-blown deity, you know. Perhaps not in the Marvel Universe, however. He is filled with much awesomeness - and Chris Hemsworth has done an excellent job portraying him in the Thor part. :)
Where do you get your inspiration for writing? What motivates you?
The beauty of the area where I grew up -- the mountains, forests, rivers and lakes -- inspired me to write. I'm grateful to the teachers who assigned school projects that
unleashed my creativity and gave me the freedom to transform them into fantastic stories. One teacher asked the class to turn a list of vocabulary words into a short story,
so I wrote "G.I. Ants," another story featured in Real Dreams about a group of superhuman army ants that escape from a military laboratory.
Nowadays, I’m in it for the money. I mean, isn’t fame, fortune, and those big royalty checks what motivates all writers? No? Okay then, I suppose that I’ll have to fall back my ulterior motive -- I simply love to write! I love taking big ideas and turning them into entertaining stories readers love.
Kev's response: Wait, what? You don't write with the ultimate motive of taking over the world? That's odd. >;P
Do you pre-plan your stories, or are you a by-the-seat-of-the-pants style writer?
I’m a pantser by nature and wrote my earlier books and stories unscripted, but I’ve seen the value of pre-planning novels and am using an outline to write my next novel, a psychological techno-thriller. So far it’s a slow go because it’s like teaching a fish to ride a bicycle, but this fish realizes that the bike will help him cross the pond faster than he can by fin.
Kev's response: Oh my, I just had a vision of a whale flopping along on a bicycle ... and then crushing it.
Do you write only when inspired, or do you have a set schedule where you sit down to write?
It depends on whether I’m inspired. When I’m not, I sit myself down and make myself write every day. Of course, forcing myself to write leaves me uninspired, sending me in a downward spiral that forces me to set a writing schedule. In an ideal world, I would be inspired to write all the time, but life is less than ideal. I’m more productive with a set schedule.
Kev's response: I don't have a schedule, but I agree, it feels more like work when I force myself to sit down as well.
Do you have a favorite genre to write in? To read?
My favorite genre to read and write is fantasy, although I have a diverse book list and have read few fantasy series recently. When I was younger, I loved reading everything from J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis to Terry Brooks and David Eddings, but I have yet to pick up more contemporary fantasy series (is that an oxymoron?) such as George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fice and Ice. It’s on my to-read list, but I’m just as apt to read Steve Jobs’ biography as I am a fantasy novel. Although I wrote several unpublished fantasy novels, I’ve published a children’s story, Alexander the Salamander, a collection of short stories from multiple genres, Real Dreams, and Kilimanjaro, a nonfiction account of my attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. With a psychological thriller currently in work, you could say that my tastes are eclectic and have evolved.
Kev's response: I would agree, you must have very odd tastes to enjoy eating paper! :)
What do you enjoy the most about writing?
I enjoy letting my mind wander and bringing ideas to life for readers to enjoy. I love to write books and stories that not only entertain readers but challenge them to ponder their deeper meaning. I love stories that make great movies and sometimes imagine what they would look like on the big screen and how they would do at the box office.
Kev's response: Much of my writing is documenting "what I see" in my head of a scene. I do the same, imagining what it would look like in movie form.
Is there any part of writing that you don't enjoy?
Writer’s block. It’s the bane of many writers -- those moments when you need the words that won’t come to you when you need them most. Whenever writer's block hits me, I take a "constitutional," a fancy word for a "think" break. I take a walk, go on a short bicycle ride, or read a book. I take a notepad and pen with me so that I can write down any inspirations or breakthroughs that come to mind. I do what I can to get my mind off writing so that I feel refreshed when I write again.
Kev's response: I've heard shock therapy works as well. Or was that to stop the crazy? Hmm. Having problems recalling clearly now.
Can you tell me something odd about yourself?
I’m a cartography buff. When I was a kid, my mother brought home blueprint paper, and I used it to draw fictional cities and states. My parents didn’t know what to do with this odd boy who would spend hours in his bedroom drawing street maps with street names, landmarks, and parks. I took my hobby outside and built an entire city in the empty lot next door using sticks to carve out roads and rocks to represent buildings. It was quite a site, er, sight. I don’t have time now to draw maps like I used to, but I kept them and still look at them from time to time.
Do you write one story at a time, or do you have several novels in the works at one time?
In the past I tried to write several books at the same time, but I had a bad habit of putting one down to start another one, never finishing the first. In the past year since I started writing full time, I’ve focused on finishing one story at a time, and it’s paid off with three published books. It’s still hard to focus on just one.
In my evil plot to take over the world, do you advise I use highly intelligent, self-motivated minions, or simple ones, and why?
Use simple ones, and lots of them. What creatures are the most abundant on Earth? Insects, of course. Ants, mosquitoes, cockroaches, you name it, and that’s not even counting smaller critters like bacteria and viruses. Why are they more prevalent and prolific? Because most do one thing very well -- survive. Your fiendish plot needs to harness the power of the simple bug. Just ask Ant-Man, who may be coming soon to a big screen near you!
Kev's response: Volume! Of course, I'd have to use a constant recruitment program, because any of them coming up near me without me seeing are likely to be squashed at first sight....
Where do you see the future as far as paper books versus digital e-books?
Within a few years, e-books may outsell all types of print books in markets where they’re already popular such as the United States and United Kingdom. They will also make strong gains in growing markets such as Germany, Italy, and Australia. They’re rolling out more slowly in Japan, Korea and other developed countries that use non-romanized scripts. In the developing world, print books will continue to dominate for the foreseeable future. Most e-readers such as the Kindle are not available in places like China and India, and consumers there buying iPads and iPhones generally don’t use them to read books. It will take years for companies such as Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble to make inroads where the domestic publishing industry is entrenched. I explored the possibility of publishing Kilimanjaro in Mandarin for the Chinese market, but I quickly learned that it’s a logistical headache to bring your book to market there -- in print or as an e-book. In a cash-based economy like China, it’s difficult at best to buy an e-book when you don’t have a credit card. Print books will dominate for a long time.
What are your current projects?
As I mentioned, I’m writing a psychological techno-thriller called Hyperlink. The story still up wraps, but let me say that it’s going to freak out a lot of readers when they realize that what happens to the protagonist could easily happen to them. Let me share a bit about my latest book. Kilimanjaro: One Man's Quest to Go Over the Hill is about my attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. I decided to write it for those who have tackled Kilimanjaro or aspire to climb it. It's a book for anyone who feels "over the hill" and needs some encouragement to make a major life change in the face of difficult odds. Visit Amazon.com and other booksellers to purchase the print or e-book.
Kev's response: We're never, I repeat, NEVER, too old to begin tackling things. I've seen out-of-shape people at seventy (70) begin working out, and go from fat and flabby to awesome shape. We can do a lot ... if we stop complaining, or saying we can't.
Do you have any advice for others about self-publishing?
Follow your passion. If you have a passion for writing, strive to become the best writer you can be and stay the course. For those pursuing traditional publishing, I recommend finding the right agent and focus on writing with them in mind. Your agent will help sell your book to publishers. For those who self-publish, be sure to spend time marketing your books through social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook. However, don't forget to strike a balance between writing and marketing. There's no better marketing tool than a great novel.
Do you have any online sites where readers can find out more about you (and your books)?
My home on the internet, http://www.mgedwards.com, is where you'll find links to my blog, World Adventurers, books and stories, travelogues, travel videos and photos, and more. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook, or Google+, or on Twitter as @m_g_edwards. I’m happy to connect with readers. My books are available to purchase in print or e-book format from many booksellers, including Amazon, Apple iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Readers can also purchase books from my web site, http://www.mgedwards.com.
Kev's response: By the gods, you're verbose! One might almost think you do a significant quantity of writing! Good fortune on your projects, M.G.!comments powered by Disqus