Interview with Leo King

August 4, 2014 at 3:53 pm (Interviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

P1000461Periodically, Anakalian Whims interviews authors and artists for the public.  This blog having such a friendly relationship with Grey Gecko Press has allowed for more author interviews than I could have ever dreamed for, and here’s one more.  Meet Leo King, author of the Sins of the Father trilogy.

1. You have a 3.95 average rating on Goodreads for The Bourbon Street Ripper, sounds like people generally like it! (The first few pages creeped me out and I’m holding off until I can muster a non-scaredy cat reading mood out of myself to finish the book.) Tell us a little about your series Sins of the Father.

Sins of the Father is a genre-bending trilogy. While it’s thriller throughout, it starts as a a murder mystery and changes into what could almost be called urban fantasy. The voodoo culture undertones in the beginning become more prevalent as the three books go on.

2. What brought you to the murder/mystery/thriller genre? Is it merely what fit this story or is it your chosen genre?

My chosen genres are actually sci-fi, urban fantasy and epic fantasy. However, I’ve always wanted to write a trilogy that mutates genres in a seamless fashion. Most of this is because I want to show that it can be done. Put enough information in the story to inform the reader, and you can go from mystery to supernatural or fantasy to science fiction, etc. While it’s not recommended all the time (fans of one tend to favor it over the other), there are occasions when it can be very entertaining.

This is my only attempt at genre-bending. I will not do it again. I also will likely never write pure modern-day mystery. It’s not something I think I’d enjoy. I might try a hand at science-fiction mystery some time.P1020027

I love thrillers though, and will likely continue in the supernatural thriller and serial killer thriller genre in the future.

I think I kind of got away from your question. Sorry about that. The genres of Sins of the Father fit the story.

3. Who are your favorite books and authors? Ultimately whose writing career inspires you most?

American Gods by Neil Gaiman is my #1 favorite for modern authors. Otherwise, anything by Asimov for science fiction, Weiss and Hickman for fantasy, and Stephen King for thriller/horror. My favorite old-school novel is Lord of the Rings.

P10200164. You’re published through Grey Gecko Press. How has that experience been for you?

I’ve enjoyed the freedom I get with GGP. They put the author’s desires first and foremost. I consider GGP a great starting place for any author.

5. Although you’re a Houston local, I see in your bio that you’re not a Houston native. How do you think your Louisiana roots and life experiences have affected your writing?

I grew up in New Orleans, the birth place of the modern romantic vampire (mostly thanks to Anne Rice). Because of that, I tend to blend romanticism with everything I write. I also try to give my locations and settings enough life for them to be considered a character themselves.

6. Your bio also says that you want your work to be controversial enough to make people think. What kind of thinking were you wanting to encourage with the Sins of the Father series? What kind of themes do you plan to pursue in future work?

If nothing else, I want to dispel stereotypes. Let me explain.

Every person, even the most deplorable, is still a person. Something made them that way. For example, some people in our society believe that anyone who is a terrorist is the epitome of evil and deserves no regard. But what drove that person to become that way? What hopelessness made them susceptible to their cause’s brain-washing? So many people do not ask those questions. They just brand and condemn. It disgusts me.

So I’ll create characters that the reader falls in love with, and then have them reveal something utterly horrible about themselves. Will my readers continue to love them? Will they condemn the actions instead of the person? Or will they suddenly hate the character and put the book down? What they do, and if they think before doing it, will say a lot about them.

I won’t apologize for anything I write, no matter how much it offends someone. Every human being has a story, and that story needs to be told.

7. You’re planning a Halloween release party for your next book. Ideally, what would that look like to you?

As this is my first launch party, I have no expectations. Something voodoo themed would be lovely.

8. Did you put any of your series to paper while listening to music? If so, what kind, which artists, what songs?

I write in silence.

9. Outside of your writing career what does your life look like? Do you have hobbies or interests that you’d like to share with your readership?

I am happily married to my wife of going on nine years. I work from home during the day and write at night. Sometimes I meet friends for coffee or beer, but never coffee and beer. That’s an important distinction!

My biggest out of office activity is my Writing Workshop. It’s a video workshop I started in 2012 and let stall out due to lack of equipment. I am thinking of setting up a Kickstarter campaign to get better equipment. It’s hard to teach writing techniques when you’re recording on an iPhone!

As for hobbies, I am an avid gamer. That’s both video games and role-playing games. I have a BS in Video Game Design that I’ve never used professionally, but I design game mods and develop indie games all the time. Yes, game development is a hobby for me. I love martial arts and am a sword collector.

10. If there were one thing you would want your fans/readers to know about you, what would it be?

Someone once expressed concern about my mental health because of some of the scenes in The Bourbon Street Ripper. I want to say that it’s just a book: I don’t endorse any of the horrible things my characters do!

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Leo King, second from the left in the black shirt, interacting with fans at one of his book signings.

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Interview with Science Fiction Author George Wright Padgett

July 20, 2013 at 2:12 am (Interviews) (, , , , , , , )

George_Inset_Photo_compactGeorge Wright Padgett is the author of the science fiction title Spindown .  He lives in the Houston area.

1. Describe your book and its inception. What was your muse, so to speak?

I tend to question things about the world and our place in it.  When I started writing Spindown I wanted to explore the age-old topic of nature vs. nurture – Are we born who we are to become, or are we only the byproducts of our experiences?  And what does it mean to be free?  Believe it or not, I leaned heavily on Golding’s The Lord of the Flies as a study of characters reacting individually and as a tribe with and against each other.  I freely admit that the Draad flashlight is a version of the conch shell of authority that is found on the island in his book.

My writing style is that I tend to reverse engineer my stories.  I start with the question and then work my way backwards filling in the holes until there’s a logic for why things are as they are.

For example, I decided to start with characters that were blank canvases that I could expose to extreme situations and watch how they reacted to each other and solve problems.

For it to work I had to answer to myself why would these people would not have any emotional experiences and yet be full grown adults?  The solution was make them have lives that were severely isolated – keeping them from each other as much as possible and when they were forced to interact with each other they would be drugged into a stupor.

Then the question arises how or who would do this – So by reverse engineering I realized that it must be an ore corporation behind it and to save money from sending people to Jupiter to mine, they use harvested clones to do the labor.  That’s just one example of how as I would walk through one door and answer a question, there’d be another waiting behind it.  When all of the doors were opened (save the final one) the story was over.

Spindown box

2. Your book has ‘classic science fiction’ all over it.  What authors do you read and do you consider them heavy influences on your writing?

I’ve read a tremendous amount from the classic authors Asimov, Clarke, etc.  (as a matter of fact, I recently finished Foundation again).

One thing that I’ve always appreciated about those writers is the level of authenticity in their stories.  I spent many months building and rebuilding on paper the vast mining compound on Ganymede before I wrote a single word.  It required a stupid amount of discipline to resist the urge to dive right in, but my deferred gratification paid off. When it came time to write the story, all that I had to do was to ‘activate’ the characters to run and follow them as if I were an imbedded reporter.

I didn’t set out to write a modern story in the classic sci-fi style; in fact I am humbled to have Spindown even compared to those great works.  All that I can attest the results to be my exposure to their styles must have seeped through into my story.  I feel like the character in The Amazing Colossal Man who accidentally wanders into a plutonium blast in the desert. The radiation transforms him due to his exposure to it, not through anything that he did.  I was exposed to the radiation of many great storytellers.

3. Just like when I read, when I write I find myself enjoying some characters more than others – regardless of their role in the story.  Did you have a favorite in Spindown? Who was it? Why?

Wow.  It’s too difficult for me to pick just one – so I won’t.  (I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers for the uninitiated.)  I enjoyed watching Prall 4167 develop throughout the piece.  Here’s a guy that is used to being in control, and is faced with his entire world being turned inside out.  Readers undoubtedly cast him as a villain, but when you clinically review what he does and why he does things, he sort of makes sense.  He’s the most practical one of the escaped clones and never displays a shred of self-doubt.  Don’t misunderstand, what he does/allows is reprehensible to say the least, but he doesn’t see himself that way- he is only about one thing: Survival of Prall 4167.  Can you blame him?  His Machiavellian approach to situations intrigued me to the point that when it was time to assign the characters their suffix numbers, I gave him 4167 (my birthdate of 4/1/67).

Another part that was fun to write was the interactions between Martin and Buck.  By the time we meet up with them again, they have been companions for a very long time.  They remind me of an old married couple; they bicker with each other, but there’s no mistaking the love that has developed between them over the years.

Ah… then there’s Fowler and Sholve.  I enjoyed how Fowler usually has his plans backfire on him or not go exactly how he thought things would work out.  Often Sholve has to bail him out in some way.  In all, they end up making a good team, with her problem-solving skills and his physical strength. One of my favorite exchanges between them is when they have opposing views on if they should ‘contaminate’ the Setter character with the knowledge of what is actually happening to clones on Marius 516.  They come at the situation with polar opposite philosophies, forcing the reader to pick a side- Do we let him go on, and live blindly?  Or do we confront him with the truth allowing him to decide for himself what to do?

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George and Grey Gecko Press at Half Price Books Humble

4. Did you learn anything from writing your book? What was it?

My inability to spell and use proper grammar is far worse than I could have ever imagined (even with spellcheck)

5. Exactly how much research was needed to pull off this level of scientific expertise? What was that process like?

As I mentioned before, I probably spent way too much time on this.  I found that my compulsiveness seems to require a ridiculous amount of backstory and detail for whatever I’m working on.  An example of this is how an early draft of Spindown had the clones speak a hyper-restrictive tongue called Chone. I developed the entire language removing any ‘hot words’ from their vocabulary.  The result would have made Orwell’s writers of NewSpeak blush it was so limiting.  It took a month of refining over and over.  It was beautiful- and every bit of it ended up on the ‘cutting room floor’.  While readers likely will notice the absence of the personal pronoun of ‘us/we’ from the first half of the book, that is the only thing that remained!  It became too cumbersome for the clones to speak – a month totally wasted!  I also know more about Ganymede than any non-Nasa personnel is allowed.

My habit is to completely immerse myself in the research and the world building of the story.  This is fine, but a good writer has to edit out the artifacts that do not advance the story – sorry, Chone language.

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Click to visit Grey Gecko Press

6.How did you come across Grey Gecko Press? How has that relationship been for you?

I encountered the owner, Jason Aydelotte at a social gathering of other Houston area writers.  He’s the author of the acclaimed Dying of the Light Zombie series.  He had just self-published his first novel in the trilogy and his enthusiasm about publishing was contagious.  He told the people at the table that he was considering helping others learn how to do what he had done for their stories.  Over time, his help and advice transformed into GGP.  He left his day job to start Grey Gecko Press for authors who wanted to ‘storm the castle’ of traditional publishing with him.  I was fortunate (and maybe crazy enough) to be counted among them.  That was ten-thousand books ago.  Since then, everyone there has been remarkable.  Without Grey Gecko, there would be no Spindown because I likely would not have finished it.  Jason’s team was the mid-wife to my book.

7. If Spindown were to be made into a movie, who would you want to tackle it? (JJ Abrams? Joss Whedon? Steven Moffat? Some unknown?)

Sid and Marty Krofft (Google it, kids).

Seriously, I am flattered that so many readers have said that they’d like to see Spindown on the big screen.  I love movies, especially sci-fi, and my writing has been influenced by dozens of classic flicks, but at the end of the day, I’m just a storyteller, not a movie producer.  It’s fun to think of, but what do I know about any of that?  I’d welcome it if someone felt they bring something to the story, but I’ll leave it to the experts.

8. Other than writing, what are your hobbies and talents?

I play jazz piano (under a different stage name), I do graphic design, and am neck-deep in writing the songs and script for a full-length musical.
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9. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what were some of the musical influences you had while writing Spindown?

Music is a very important part of my life, so much a part of it that songs/genres that I listen to when not writing easily distract me when I’m ‘working’.  I do this kind of Pavlovian conditioning thing in which there are some classical and ambient selections that I ONLY listen to when writing. It helps to trigger my brain into knowing that ‘It’s time to write’ when this music is played:

Philip Glass – Symphony No. 9, Low Symphony, Heroes Symphony
The soundtrack to ‘Monster’s Ball’
Brian Eno – Music for Airports
Anything from the band Pauseland
and a minimalist band from Austin called ‘Stars of the Lid’

Listen to Philip Glass/No.9 and read any of the chase scenes from Spindown.  You’ll find that they match up perfectly.

10. If there was just one thing you would want your readers/ fans to know about you, what would it be?

I’m a big dork.  Really I am (my wife and kids will attest to the fact).  I don’t allow myself to take my self too seriously, and I will do anything for a laugh (anything).  I still feel and view myself as the 4th grader version of myself.  Sure, I get to drive a car, I can order wine in a restaurant, and do ‘big people’ stuff like that, but after you pull back all the layers, I am still just as silly, needy, and unreservedly amazed with the universe as I was way back then.  And for better or worse, if I haven’t grown up by now, I think that I’m probably stuck this way – and I’m okay with that.

Click to Visit George's Facebook Page

Click to Visit George’s Facebook Page

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