I recently had the opportunity to chat with Amazon bestselling author of “The Fall of Billy Hitchings”, Kirkus MacGowan who is one of the featured authors in Melissa Foster’s BEST INDIE BOOK FESTIVAL.
To give you a little background, Kirkus wrote his first book at age eight about traveling to Mars to find the cure for cancer. He put his writing dreams on hold for twenty-five years and focused his energies on playing baseball. He moved on when he found playing softball with his friends more enjoyable than his pipe dream.
Since then, he graduated with a B.S. in Psychology, married a woman too good to be true, and moved back to his hometown. He gave up an amazing career waiting tables and now stays at home with his two crazy children. He spends his time writing thrillers and fantasy, playing softball with friends, enjoying the occasional computer game, and wrestling with his kids.
After reading “The Fall of Billy Hitchings” and thoroughly enjoying it, I can see why Kirkus is a top five finalist in Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Books of 2012 Awards in the Mystery/Thriller genre.
Without further adieu….
1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started as an author?
Before I answer any questions, I have to say thanks to Belinda for allowing me to take up space on her blog, and to Melissa Foster for the wonderful support she shows Indie authors on a daily basis. On to the questions!
I’m a stay-at-home dad with two crazy children and a puppy. I played baseball for twenty-three years including three years in college, and three in amateur leagues. Reading and writing came and went throughout my lifetime, depending on what dream I pursued at the time.
In December of 2010, almost two years ago, I’d recently graduated with a degree in psychology and stared at my computer screen pondering life’s next challenge. I glanced at my two-year-old boy rolling around on the floor, and I remember asking myself, “What can I do to ensure my son has the best chance at living a happy and successful life?”
The answer hit me like a fist between the eyes. I needed to lead by example, to follow my dreams in a responsible manner. How could I tell him it was okay to chase his own dreams if I never gave my dreams a real shot?
I went through my pipe dreams one by one. I wasn’t a very good singer, I was too much of an introvert for acting, and I was beyond my prime for baseball. There it was. Writing! I’d tried a few times in the past, but this time it was as if a switch flipped on in my brain. I approached writing with a passion that, until that time, I’d only shown in my love for my family. And here we are today.
2. In “The Fall of Billy Hitchings”, both John Reeves and Billy Hitchings are compelling characters. When creating characters, where do you find your inspiration?
I can’t give away my trade secrets! Ha ha, Billy Hitchings was the only character I feel I actually created. I had an idea, but I wasn’t sure where to start.
Many authors say to write what you know. What did I know? Baseball, tending bar, and psychology. I didn’t want to write a baseball story, and I’d hoped the psychology would come into play with character development. So I created Billy. He’s just an everyday kid working in a restaurant, wondering what his next step in life will be.
The other characters just appeared when they were ready. John Reeves didn’t show up until I’d already written 50k words! I wanted to punch him in the eye. It’s as if my brain knew there was something missing so it threw John into the mix. After cutting almost 30k words from the beginning and working John into the other 20k, I knew I was on to something.
3. What is a typical writing/work day like for you?
Typical? No such thing in my household. I’ve had insomnia on and off since I was twelve years old, so that comes into play first. What time did I finally pass out the night before? What time did I actually wake up? Was my wife home or did I get up with the kids?
When my wife is home (she works twelve-hour shifts at the hospital), things go much smoother. She knows when I head into my office (a tiny storage room in our basement) that it’s my time to write. Ha ha, I say that so official like.
What that really means is she tries her best to keep the household under control until I come out. She’s truly amazing, and I couldn’t do it without her, but even a supermom needs help once in awhile.
A typical day? It revolves around nap times, grocery shopping, mealtime, etc. Once I enter my writing room, it’s all business. Usually in fifteen to twenty minute bursts. All this social media stuff I try to do on the main computer in our living room. That way I still feel as if I’m part of the family. If you’ve ever wondered why I’m so distracted on Twitter, now you know.
4. What is the most memorable response you have had to your work?
Honestly, every response is amazing. I have so much fun writing, and then to hear someone say they enjoyed it, I just don’t know how to describe that feeling. Surreal seems fitting.
Probably the best feeling was when I finally let my wife read the manuscript. She’s my biggest fan, and beyond supportive. Have I mentioned how lucky I am? Well, even with that support, we all know she had her doubts, as I did myself.
She sat down to read… and read… and read… and finally, she puts her kindle down and looks at me. The look of wonder and surprise in her eyes was great. She said, “Kirk, this is really good.”
My response, “Well, it needs some work, and I’m sure it’s okay, but,” This is when she cut me off.
“I mean it, it’s really good. I assumed it would be okay, but this is REALLY good. I had no idea.”
After my heart leapt around in my chest awhile, I finally came to believe her. I even told her to be honest to the point of being blunt, because if she didn’t, we knew the readers would.
5. In addition to “The Fall of Billy Hitchings”, you have two other titles: “In Search of Nectar” (short story) and “Wrath (A John Reeves Novel)” As far as writing, what is next on the horizon for you?
Remember how I said earlier that a switch had turned on in my brain? It’s still on. I can’t keep up with the ideas bounding around in my noggin. Notebooks filled with character traits, plots, exotic animals, and more, cover every corner of my house. The hardest part is choosing where to go next.
I have at least three more John Reeves novels planned, as well as a sequel to “The Fall of Billy Hitchings.”
I also plan to publish a few humorous short stories by year’s end.
My real love, however, is fantasy. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but I absolutely love the fantasy genre. Epic fantasy is probably my favorite, but I also enjoy traditional and dystopian. I can’t get enough.
I’m about 25k words into a post-apocalyptic fantasy series, I wrote the first few pages in a separate epic fantasy, and in the last week, I believe I came up with my next book. I’m still working on the details, but I’m extremely excited. I’m not sure whether I’d designate it epic or traditional fantasy yet, but I can see it easily becoming a four book series, if not longer.
I wrote my first two novels in third-person limited, but I’d like to try first-person. I did so with a couple shorter pieces and I’ve heard good things. I may even write a John Reeves prequel from his point of view, but don’t quote me on that.
In other words, I won’t be stopping this writing gig any time soon!
Thanks again for your time and support!
I would like to thank Kirkus for taking the time from his “not so typical” day to answer a few questions for his fans, which I am proud to say I am one! To learn more about Kirkus, check out his website http://www.kirkusmacgowan.info and at the links below!
Join Kirkus and 9 other award-winning authors in the
BEST INDIE BOOK FESTIVAL,
Featuring 10 Literary Fiction & Thriller Titles!
TWO DAYS ONLY!
Tues. Sept. 18-Wed., Sept. 19th.
10 Award winning books and SEVERAL chances to win a
$10, $20, or $50 Amazon gift card
(3 lucky WINNERS will be chosen!)
Click the image below for details