Kevin McGill is an educator, in ministry and now a writer, or a published writer. He has also seen his book launched into space. I read an arc of his first series and loved the story and though the writing was excellent. So I asked him to do an interview for the readers at Book Reviews and More.
1. You started writing stories in grade 3 when did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you nurture that dream?
It's come and gone, but I think my writerly tug has always been there. I really didn't nurture it until about seven years ago. But when I did, it was like waking up a sleeping giant. Afterward, I committed to writing at least four hours a day. I also recommitted to reading a good deal.
2. You co-host a blog called Guys Can Read what prompted than endeavor?
Guys Can Read came out of my focus on writing and reading. When I committed to reading, I found that several books missed the boat as story went. After talking with Luke about it, we both recognized a frustration to find a good read.
3. How did you make the decision to transition from pastor to writer?
While I haven't really left the pastorate, I had begun to recognize my writing and storytelling tendencies. Having taken 8 years in ministry education and a couple of years in ministry, I really believed that my storytelling abilities were underdeveloped. So I struck out to refine that. Nikolas and Co was a product of all that.
4. Who were some of your biggest supporters and contributors to your early success?
My wife, definitely. She supported me from day one. My good buddy, Patrick. And my parents. They've spurred me on.
5. Which books or authors had the greatest impact on your work?
True Grit by Charles Portis. J. K. Rowling. Terry Pratchet. Roald Dahl.
6. What does your writing process look like? Takes us through the steps from idea to publishing?
While this is just my first book, it usually starts with a flash, usually a scene or an idea. Then I begin developing the hero, asking what's his or her story. I also like to put my hero up against the world he is in - let the hero and world influence each other. For example, the refugee camp was introduced because I needed a contrast between Nick's posh life and his friend's miserable situation.
7. I once heard Madeleine L'Engle state that her characters were real to her and almost an extended part of her family, she said once that at the dinner table she sat up and stated "Meg just finished her PhD." Are your characters real to you, do you ever get glimpses of what they are up to now, or once you finish a book is that it?
Uhh…yeah. Not quite that real for me :. But it is important that my characters all have a story, whether it's told or not. Magic and world building and fire breathing lions are all cool, but true "magic" is in believable characters. When I care about the characters, I care about their world.
8. What authors influenced your writing style and format?
Bit of a repeat here, but I'd say Rowling, Dahl, Pratchett, Maggie Stiefvater, and Diablo Cody.
Who is Maggie Stiefvater and Diablo Cody? Glad you asked.
Maggie Stiefvater writes YA speculative fiction. Diablo Cody writes screenplays. Both have a knack for writing believable dialogue for young adults. As writing goes for me, strong dialogue is one of my most valued tools.
9. What books are currently in progress for you? Writing, researching, planning or even just ideas that you would like to work on?
I am working on the next four episodes in the Nikolas and Co series. While I can't say much, I'm excited about the next four episodes (vol 2). I really think it'll be a blast.
10. Do you use a playlist when writing? Are certain books written while predominantly listing to the same music?
For episode 1 I listened to a lot of Daft Punk and Explosions in the Sky to get that techno future vibe. For episodes 2 - 4 I listened to Yann Tiersen, Benoit Charest, Sherlock Holmes soundtrack and The Dubliners.
11. With eBooks come the distribution of them through torrents and other illegal means, is this a concern for you as an author?
Not really. Every industry has its black market. Neil Gaiman talked about this. If someone loves your work so much, they tend to buy your book out right just to show support.
12. Some authors monitor torrent sites and have their publishers contact them to remove their content. Do you do so are have someone do so for you?
No. I have found some sites with my book on them, but it really is just a waste of my time chasing after all these sites. For every minute I spend contacting some bit torrent site, I lose another written page in my upcoming book.
13. Who were some of your favorite authors or books in your youth?
Roald Dahl. C. S. Lewis. J. R. R. Tolkein.
14. If you could only recommend 10 books to a reader looking to be a well-rounded and whole person what books would you suggest?
Les Miserable by Victor Hugo
Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkein
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
John Adams by David McCullough
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
The Illiad and The Oddysey by Homer
War of Art by Steven Pressfield
15. What advice do you wish an artist had passed on to you early in your career that you have only learned through experience?
Ignore those urges to worry about the market and advertising before you finish the book. Get the book as polished as possible, then move to marketing. I didn't understand that you need a finished book to even know what you're going to market. Without the book, all your marketing plans are up in the air anyway.
16. Completely off topic but what TV shows or movies do you enjoy?
Right now? Downton Abbey. In the past my favorites have been Firefly. Battlestar Galactica. Suits. The Office. (I seem to like shows with ensemble casts…)
17. I once had a university professor state that the true goal of a university education should be to teach one to learn how to think. What would you state should be the goal of higher education and why?
All I can say is what I got out of my bachelors and masters. Both of my schools taught me how to hold an idea up objectively and explore it. In that, they also taught me how to deal with intellectual tensions. Good critical thinking doesn't help us relieve the tensions, but understand and accept them.
Kevin thank you for taking some time to answer the questions for the readers of Book Reviews and More. I look forward to the next installments and possibly a second series.
Books by Kevin McGill:
Nikolas and Company:
A Creature Most Foul
The Merman and the Moon Forgotten #1
When Boats Breathe and Cities Speak #2