Welcome to the two hundred and seventy-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with comic book writer and illustrator, TV animation scriptwriter, and novelist Kevin Broden. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Kevin. Please tell us something about yourself.
Kevin: Thank you for talking with me. I’ve been looking to introduce my writing further into the United Kingdom, as I have family in Northern Ireland. Being over five thousand miles away here in Southern California I don’t visit as often as I would like.
Morgen: I’ve never been to the US (actually, or Ireland) so your ahead of me in that respect. 🙂 How did you become a writer?
Kevin: I’ve been writing in one form or another for many years. My first science fiction story appeared in my college newspaper. My lifetime goal has always been to work in comic books, first as an artist, and than as a writer. And on to writing for television animation, and now novels.
I remember writing my first story based on a dream that I had. Started with the scene from the dream and expanded it into a full story. It was terrible, but it was fun to do. That’s what’s important, that you enjoy doing it. Enjoy writing.
Morgen: It’s funny, I’ve had a few people say then became a writer because of a dream. 🙂 What genre do you generally write?
Kevin: I began writing with comic books; super hero stories. Super heroes are a genre unto themselves, mixing science fiction and fantasy. Like my webcomic book FLYING GLORY AND THE HOUNDS OF GLORY. I write more about the teenagers and the everyday struggles they have than about fighting villains in big battles. It’s the characters that are important to me.
As to the genre of my prose, it can vary. My next novel REVENGE OF THE MASKED GHOST is a murder mystery action story in the form of the old Pulp stories of the 1930s.
Over two years ago I began to write a science fiction novel as part of NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month), it was a big alien invasion drama. Then about a third of the way into the story, a complete new story formed in my head. I quickly wrote down notes about it and went back to the sf story.
When NANOWRIMO ended I pulled out my new idea and dove head first into a complete different type of story. CLOCKWORK GENIE is a fantasy, but is also a murder mystery.
So I guess the answer (rather long) is a little bit of everything.
Morgen: That’s OK. I can talk for England so it’s only fair you talk for California. 🙂 And I’ve done NaNoWriMo four times and would urge anyone with an idea for a novel (or collection of stories – I semi-cheated last year!) to have a go. A novel in a month – everyone can spare a month. 🙂 What have you had published to-date? Do you have a favourite of your books or characters?
Kevin: My first professional writing came in the form of television animation scripts for a Japanese series called MIDNIGHT HORROR SCHOOL. So far the series has never aired in the United States, but I would love to hear if anyone in the United Kingdom has seen it.
Morgen: I haven’t. 😦
Kevin: In 2001 we began to publish our online comic book FLYING GLORY AND THE HOUNDS OF GLORY and have been doing so for over ten years now. My fiancée Shannon Muir co-writes with me, and I do the illustrations for a new comic page that goes up every week.
This past November I released my novel CLOCKWORK GENIE that began as those notes two years earlier.
I have love for both my comic book as well as the novel, both are unique yet very close to me.
I suppose my favorite character may be Cecilia Orchard who is the lead in CLOCKWORK GENIE. She writes fantasy, science fiction, and mystery stories like myself. So when something strange happens, like being accused of her grandfather’s murder or when a genie appears out of nowhere, she takes it in stride and uses her writer’s imagination to figure out what’s really going on. I’d like to think I could handle strange things the same way.
Morgen: I love books about writing, authors, books. My passion… or my mum would say my obsession. 🙂 If applicable, can you remember where you first saw one of your books in a bookshop or being read by a member of the public??
Kevin: Since CLOCKWORK GENIE is currently only available as an eBook, I haven’t seen it in the stores. But I did get a thrill watching the numbers on Smashwords and Amazon. Then when the first sale appeared it was great to know that someone out there had bought, and was reading my story.
So this might not be applicable. 😉
Morgen: That’s OK. Me neither but I love getting the review (and of course purchase) notifications from Smashwords (more of the former as more of my eBooks are free), although receiving my first (very enthusiastic) direct email (for April’s Fool – thank you, Ashleigh!) has been the highlight so far – I write because I want to be read. 🙂 What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?
Kevin: Acceptance happens differently now with indie authors releasing their eBooks, but ya, it still is a thrill. The first acceptance thrill I got was selling my first animation script, and that thrill continues now as people like what I write.
Morgen: 🙂 Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Kevin: Like all writers, I get rejections all the time. The problem with eBooks, is it lets people skip that part of the process. Just write something and throw it up. CLOCKWORK GENIE had been rejected by a publisher, and so I went back and totally rewrote it, and the result is so much better. You need the rejects, just like you need poor reviews from time to time, it’s part of the learning process.
A similar tale that makes this point is that a few years ago I developed a television series, and had the opportunity to pitch it to a couple of the television networks. It was a Young Adult comedy similar to HANNAH MONTANA. One of the networks clearly had no interest in my show, I was wasting their time, but the other one was an absolutely great experience with executives who understood what I was trying to tell and liked the concept. Eventually they did pass on it, which is a rejection but they’ll never say that.
All in all, being rejected was a great learning experience all around. I’ve gained a lot and using it in what I do next.
I am currently turning that show pitch into a YA novel; we’ll see how that goes.
Morgen: I found the first rejection (especially coming after an acceptance!) hard but it gets easier. You just have to remember that it’s just one person’s opinion. There will be others out there who like what you do. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Kevin: I probably need to get an agent again, but haven’t had one since the show pitch I mentioned above.
Morgen: You mentioned eBooks, and that ‘Clockwork Genie’ is in that format – were you involved in creating yours? Do you have any plan to write any eBook-only stories? And do you read eBooks?
Kevin: Yes, CLOCKWORK GENIE is available as an eBook in most formats, as will be my next books. Shannon Muir helps with the formatting; she’s great with that.
I do read eBooks, which makes me feel guilty for not reading the printed books I have around here. The eReaders certainly do make things easier to carry around an entire library.
Morgen: I’ve always said that paper for home and electronic for away and despite only having a Kindle for less than a month, that’s still how I feel. 🙂 How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Kevin: Marketing is certainly one the hardest parts of being an independent author. I’m learning something new everyday. I suppose my brand is the title of my blog: FOUR NAMES OF PROFESSIONAL CREATIVITY. I try to impart that professional creativity in my blogs, comic books, scripts, and novels.
Morgen: It certainly comes across, I love your covers. 🙂 Do you write under a pseudonym? Do you think they make a difference to an author’s profile?
Kevin: No pseudonym for me. My name really is Kevin Paul Shaw Broden, and that’s the credit and byline I go by.
Morgen: If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Kevin: You know, having worked and have connections in Hollywood; I have never “casted” any of my stories. I have thought about producing CLOCKWORK GENIE as a television show. I know where certain scenes would be shot throughout Los Angeles, and how to create the special effects for the fantasy elements of the story. Yet never once thought of who would star in it, I don’t know. Tune in to the first episode and be surprised along with me.
Morgen: Wouldn’t that be great? 🙂 How important do you think titles and covers are?
Kevin: Well, yes both can be very important. The cover art is the very first thing they see, even before reading the title. If it doesn’t grab the reader there, they won’t pick it up to see what is inside.
Morgen: That’s really interesting. There’s a debate going on LinkedIn at the moment about how much sway a cover has and the general consensus is that it doesn’t (10% I think they quoted) but it sways me, as do titles, although if the content is rubbish I put it back down. It’s like a burglar alarm on a house; if you have two covers / titles and one grabs you more than the other then you pick that one up first. OK, not quite like a burglar alarm but if one house has one and the other doesn’t you can pretty much guarantee which house the burglar would go for. OK, swiftly moving on. You mentioned covers, what about the title.
Kevin: I came up with the title CLOCKWORK GENIE. I wouldn’t change it for anything, but have had some concerns people might think it is a Steampunk story. Which it is not.
The cover art is also my creation. Using Corel Painter on my computer and a Wacom tablet I first drew the image, and then on different layers, painted the background and the foreground character. Then in Photoshop I dropped in the title text. I believe you have a copy of the cover here.
Morgen: I do (it’s great!). 🙂
Kevin: I do the same for the covers of FLYING GLORY AND THE HOUNDS OF GLORY, and use the same programs to create the interior art.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next? Do you manage to write every day?
Kevin: I certainly try to write every day. Don’t always succeed but am pushing to do more every day.
I’ve made an extensive list of writing projects to accomplish in 2012.
REVENGE OF THE MASKED GHOST will be released this month (February) after I complete some interior illustrations. The cover art is already finished and is shown here.
The next writing project I’m jumping into is a Young Adult Fantasy based on the television series I mentioned earlier. Am also constantly making notes on other novels including a sequel to CLOCKWORK GENIE.
Morgen: What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it?
Kevin: I suppose I do suffer from ‘writer’s block’ from time to time, but to me it’s usually just being easily distracted. Too easy to find something else to do than the writing I know should be done. When I do have those times I just can’t think of what the next scene or the next line should be, I open up a new file and start writing notes about something else. Sometimes it’s a different scene with in the same story, but sometimes it’s completely different idea that I write about for a while. Then come back to the main writing assignment feeling refreshed and creative once more.
Morgen: That seems to be the key (and what most people say); variety. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Kevin: A little of both. Plotting out a book, or outlining in advance can be very hard for me. Because a lot of my creative energy gets drained while laying things out like bricks.
I usually have a rough outline of no more than a page or so, because the rest of it is growing in my head. Then I just dump it on the keyboard. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t.
That said, in planning the sequel to CLOCKWORK GENIE, I need to plot out the story very carefully as there are several characters involved and it takes place in multiple time periods from the 1940s to the present, so I have to get historical facts right as they would relate to these characters.
Morgen: Absolutely, because if you don’t someone will pick you up on it. Characters are obviously so important in the writing (and illustrating) you do. Do you have a method for creating them, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Kevin: Not really. As with plotting, if I work too hard building all the information and background for a character she ends up very dry once I start writing the story. So I learn about them as I go along.
For Cecilia, the lead character of CLOCKWORK GENIE, I knew who she had to be and that I wanted he to be a struggling writer like myself. Everything else about her grew out of the story, because discovering hidden truths was what it was all about for her.
As to other characters. I’ve noticed that they grow into themselves once they begin to have dialog and interacting with one another.
I wasn’t intending the story be a romance when I began, but as soon as Cecilia was being questioned by police detective Marcus Lambert; their dialog just began to flow like a well played tennis game. They were flirting even when I wasn’t intending them too. That was great. All the characters grew out of their interactions, and I learned more about them there than any plotting I could plan.
Morgen: That has to be my favourite bit about writing, it all just flooding out. My dog is used to me clapping to myself. 🙂 Do you write any non-fiction or poetry?
Kevin: Haven’t written any poetry in years. Currently I write a weekly blog about creativity, writing, and employment. FOUR NAMES OF PROFESSIONAL CREATIVITY.
Morgen: An intriguing title (I’m a big titles fan). Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Kevin: Lots of times a story, or at least large sections can come to me ‘fully-formed’, but later I will go through it looking for anything that doesn’t work. After the first draft of CLOCKWORK GENIE was finished I read through it and found the climax just wasn’t working for me. Events moved far too fast, and the villain had no real purpose for what he was doing, so I ripped it apart and began to rewrite. A whole lot more got changed than I expected, and huge new scenes and new characters arrived to become part of the tale.
Sometimes editing yourself just doesn’t work anymore, and you need to be able to see through someone else’s eyes. Not just to help find errors, but also ask questions that you haven’t even thought of while writing. It’s too easy to get trapped with in what you know too well.
Shannon has always been a great help to me in reading and editing. Wish I could say I have been that good for her.
Morgen: I’m sure you have. Just having someone round who also writes must be a great help. You mentioned earlier about having to get your facts right, do you have to do much research?
Kevin: Depends on the story, and what you need. A lot of thing you can make up out of whole cloth in fantasy, but lots of times its good to have a ‘reality’ to begin with. In CLOCKWORK GENIE it became important to know where certain events happened with in the city of Los Angeles. So I did research to know where those locations were, and how best a person could get from one to another. I researched bus routes and more. These little details influences how the story progressed, even altered it some when I had to move a location.
My next novel REVENGE OF THE MASKED GHOST started off as a serial I wrote online last year. As I was pulling it together in book and adding small illustrations to each chapter, I discovered that I had a few bits of information wrong. The most glaring was that in 1934 taxi cabs didn’t have a trunk (a boot), so that extra little bit of research improved things incredibly.
Know there will be a lot of research in store for when I write the sequel to CLOCKWORK GENIE. I actually enjoy doing research.
Morgen: Eek! Do you? It’s probably my least favourite thing although I’m so glad now we have the internet. I love my library but not having to spend my day looking through books to find out a tiny detail is such a relief. Some writers like quiet, others the noise of a coffee shop etc., do you listen to music or have noise around you when you write or do you need silence?
Kevin: I think there’s more noise in my head than around me. 🙂
Morgen: Your characters chatting with each other… planning, plotting… 🙂
Kevin: It actually depends on the moment and mood I think. Sometimes I absolutely need silence to be able to get all the story out of my head and into the keyboard. Other times music can help me with creating an emotion needed for a story. Radio is okay (I tune in to the BBC and Ulster Radio online), but TV is more often a distraction though.
Morgen: Oh, absolutely. If I have the TV on I find I’m sitting, mouth agape, staring at it. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Kevin: Don’t think I’ve tried second person. I tend to write in a third person. Though that can get out of hand. Learning to focus on what the reader needs to know, and enjoy, is usually what keeps me going. I am considering writing my Young Adult novel in the first person, but can I think like a teenage girl?
Morgen: Oh do try second, I love it! I’ve just recently joined TuesdayTales where we write a short story from a prompt word each week and my latest (second) story is in second person. 🙂 Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Kevin: Tons. Yet, every so often, an old idea comes back to me with a whole new perspective, so I take a look at it again. Maybe it’ll be worth publishing this time. Maybe not, lets try the next idea. I go through my folders of ideas every so often looking for something to revitalize.
Morgen: I have that to look forward to. 🙂 What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Kevin: That’s it, the surprise. The discovery, and thrill when your characters do something completely different from what was intended when you began the story. It happens all the time, but only if the story is working from the start. It really is exciting when you start writing and end up many words, and even pages, past where you expected.
The least favorite part? Probably the rewriting, but most likely what I said before, plotting an outline.
Morgen: I’m with you on the rewriting but I don’t plot much (easier for a short story author) so I don’t have that chore. 🙂 What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Kevin: Write. Write as much junk as you possibly can, because soon you’ll be writing the best work, and it’ll live on the page. Keep writing, it’s not going to be easy when people tell you they don’t like it but learn from that. When a bad review shows up, pay attention to what they are saying. If you think the review is garbage, before you throw it out, read it again. Sometimes there may be a gem of wisdom in there that can help you become a better writer. Keep writing.
Morgen: Absolutely. 300 words a day = 100,000 word novel a year. Amazing, hey? What do you like to read?
Kevin: I read a whole lot of things. Starting with comic books. I’ll read science fiction, fantasy, detective. Whatever strikes me. Recently I wrote a guest blog for ParaYourNormal in which I stated that in the end, all stories no matter the genre, are Romance stories. I look for good character stories, whether it be in space, 1930’s New York, or in Middle Earth.
Morgen: ParaYourNormal – I love that. 🙂 What do you do when you’re not writing?
Kevin: Spending too much time on the internet. 😉
My hobbies have always been around comic books and animation. So my times of not writing are pretty close to my times of writing.
Morgen: I live and breathe writing so even if I’m not doing it (too often) I’m thinking about it. 🙂 Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Kevin: I probably should be in more, but I’m not. That’s my failing, I could learn a lot more from my fellow authors.
Morgen: Ah but it gives you more time to do what you want to do. It’s all too easy to let social networking engulfe you. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Kevin: The future for a writer? That’s rather broad. A writer will be able to make his or her future whatever way they do; books, television, movies, comics. What the future is for books? Books are transforming, the future may not be eBooks alone, but it will certain keep books alive. It certainly provides away for more writers to become published.
Morgen: It does, and it’s so exciting. 🙂 Where can we find out about you and your work?
Kevin: CLOCKWORK GENIE is an eBook available in most formats, such as the Kindle, Nook, and Apple’s iBook. FLYING GLORY AND THE HOUNDS OF GLORY, FOUR NAMES OF PROFESSIONAL CREATIVITY BLOG and REVENGE OF THE MASKED GHOST should be released as an ebook in February, look for it then.
Morgen: Yes, folks, please do. Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Kevin: Have I left anything out?
Morgen: Possibly not, you’ve been wonderfully thorough. 🙂
Kevin: I greatly appreciate the opportunity to talk with you about my writing and my novels.
Thank you for the added promotion, and if you’re ever in Northern Ireland say hello to my relatives, tell them about my books. 😉 Thank you again.
Morgen: You’re so welcome. Although I’ve not been to Ireland I do have a friend from Belfast (who’s married an American and lives in Washington) – I wonder if she knows them. 🙂 Thank you, Kevin. It’s been really interesting getting to know more about comics and animation – as a professional artist’s niece, it’s I world I’m in awe of, I have to say. 🙂
Seeking a career in comic books, Kevin Paul Shaw Broden took art courses throughout his education – only to eventually that no matter what the media, he was a storyteller at heart.
Kevin has been telling stories ever since. His first published story was a science fiction tale that appeared in his college newspaper. Since then he has written for television animation, including the Japanese series MIDNIGHT HORROR SCHOOL. Kevin is a member of the Animation Writers Caucus of the Writers Guild of America.
For over the last ten years Kevin has been illustrating and co-writing the online comic book FLYING GLORY AND THE HOUNDS OF GLORY which can be found at http://www.flying-glory.com. The granddaughter of the world war two super heroine Flying Glory, Debra Clay discovers she has inherited super powers and convince her high school friends to become heroes to help support their rock band.
THE CLOCKWORK GENIE is Kevin’s first full-length novel and a description is below.
He will soon be releasing a novel version of his online serial REVENGE OF THE MASKED GHOST.
Cecilia Orchard lives alone. She writes fantasy and mystery stories to escape a humdrum data entry job that barely pays for her apartment, food, and bus fare. Then a handsome police detective arrives with news that she is the prime suspect in the murder of her grandfather whom she never knew existed. If inheriting a fortune from a man she doesn’t know isn’t madness enough, Cecilia finds herself the owner of a powerful genie that could make all her dreams come true, but what are her dreams and is she willing to make the wish. Can magic make a family?
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