Welcome, Keven. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
There’s definitely a little of me in every one of my characters. What is writing but a mild form of schizophrenia with a healthy outlet, anyway? Secretly, though, there’s a little bit of my friends in my characters too. But I’m not telling who.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
That’s an unfair question. We’re all OCD about something. I suppose that my writing OCD has to do with my typing. I’ve often backspaced through an entire sentence as punishment for a typo. That may be the extreme, but I delete entire phrases on a regular basis. But there’s a practical side to this. Sure I could just use my mouse and directly correct the typo, but that would require me to move my hands from first position. And I can’t do that when I’m in the groove. I just can’t. It messes with my head.
Outside of writing, my biggest OCD would be symmetry. If things are supposed to be symmetrical and are not… that will not do. I have to fix it. I can bear asymmetry to a point, as long as it’s obviously on purpose. But if it’s not… Take for example the choir loft chairs at church. Seriously, how hard is it to center them??
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I first started writing in 5th grade, with a couple hand written pages of fan-fic for a RPG video game I was really into. I don’t think I knew I was a writer then, but in Junior High the writing bug certainly began to gnaw. I didn’t really start writing until High School. I think that’s when I realized I wanted to make at the very least a hobby out of it. My first attempt at a book in High School was full of narrative summary, anachronistic dialogue, and teen angst, all wrapped up in a medieval candy shell.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Good grief. What is the range of air that you like to breathe? I have a top ten list of books that I maintain. Most of them are fantasy of some sort. There’s a few paranormal type thrillers and a couple of sci-fi. I like stories with depth. I call it “story-first” writing, as opposed to plot or character first writing. What I want is some underlying theme that transcends the basic plot. I want the story to change me in some way. Every book in my top ten has done that. You want to know what they are, don’t you? Okay. I’ll tell you. 10) Alpha Redemption, by PA Baines. 9) Harry Potter. 8) Lord of the Rings. 7) Red, by Ted Dekker. 6) This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti. 5) Thr3e, by Dekker. 4) Perelandra, by CS Lewis. 3) The Visitation, by Peretti. 2) Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by Lewis. 1) The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I don’t, really, considering I’m a full-time graduate student. But my attempt to do so includes planning and compartmentalizing. In other words, I try to plan my to-do list months a head so that I don’t get behind on any one project and fall into reactionary mode. I work towards the goals I’ve set for that day, week, or month, and once I’ve accomplished the prescribed goals, I stop. I compartmentalize my work from everything else in my life. When work is over, I close the compartment and stop thinking about it. Then I’m free to enjoy time with my family. My wife thinks I’m insane for being able to do that, because if she has a deadline she can’t relax until she’s done. Maybe I am a little. Like I said, I don’t really keep my sanity at all.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Well, since each character is different, each name is chosen with different methods. I’ve chosen some names based on meaning, the way they sound, and even the way they look typed. Both Winter and Summer were chosen because they reflect the personalities of the characters. Peter’s name was chosen for its meaning. Kaci’s name was chosen for its sound. But outside the first-team of characters, names are usually just chosen at random.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Coming to a place in my life with my wife that we genuinely want to do whatever it takes to stay in God’s will. It’s easy to speak of doing things for God or to talk about his will for your life, but to actually get up and follow is something entirely different. For years, my wife and I were stuck in a rut of wanting to do but never actually doing. God whittled away at us until we finally reached the point where we couldn’t stand not doing anymore. I think I take this for granted sometimes, but I’m reminded of it every time a friend says how much they admire us for actually doing what God leads us to do. We’re not perfect. We still have much to learn about this journey. But being willing to actually begin the journey is huge. And taking that first step out the door with my family in pursuit of God, is the thing I am most proud of. God has never let us down or caused us to regret our decision. We are happier now than we’ve ever been.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A liger. It’s pretty much my favorite animal. (Lol. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. I wonder how many of your readers will get that?) Seriously though, how about a tortoise? They mate for life, have a ginormous life-span, carry their homes on their backs, have virtually no natural predators, and are protected by the government. Sounds good to me.
What is your favorite food?
Chocolate, of course.
A man after my own heart. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Using narrative summary, prose, and passive voice. I grew up reading and studying classics. I was always told that these were the masters, so naturally I wanted to emulate them. Verne, Wells, Tolkien, Lewis, Poe, Stevenson, ect. These were great writers of sci-fi, fantasy, and adventure. But people don’t write like this anymore. Publishers don’t want this kind of writing. I shudder to think if these books would even stand a chance in today’s publishing environment. When I started writing, it was this classical kind of style that I tried to copy. It’s taken years of slow evolving for me to transition to the modern active style that publishers want. Even in my current book, my editors have slammed me for this old fall-back style.
Tell us about the featured book.
Winter is the story of a Goth girl…a Goth girl that is a Christian with the gift of prophecy. As she struggles to adjust to college life, she also struggles to understand her new gift. Students are being attacked, and Winter knows there’s more than flesh and blood at work. Because of her gift, she’s the only one who can stop it. Interwoven with the college story, is the story of Winter’s first year of high school, where she has to deal with the slow death of her mom and a new life with her estranged dad.
But the story of Winter is deeper than the plot might suggest. It is the story of Winter’s fall and eventual redemption. On the one hand, we see her descent into the Gothic subculture and experimentation with witchcraft. On the other, we see her being used by God in a miraculous way. It is a story to bring hope that no life is too broken to be used by God.
There is a scripture that prefaces the book and is quoted in the promo trailer. To me, this scripture sums up the book better than anything else. Micah 7:8, “Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall, I will rise. Though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me.”
Winter is a paranormal thriller and is the first of a four book series. It was released June 1, 2011 by Splashdown Darkwater, a new imprint of Splashdown Books.
Please give us the first page of the book.The stairs wandered to the right—old wooden stairs. With the first step they groaned, and she hesitated. Small candles sat on the steps, spread out—only one every four or five steps. They oozed lifeless blood that pooled at their base and coagulated into white scabs. She broke a candle free and continued her ascent, tilting it so it bled on the steps.
Darkness pressed in from beyond the candlelight. The shadows behind taunted her by name, while the shadows above beckoned with false hope. More than once, she thought she recognized a shape—a person or animal—in the shadows, only to have the light flicker and send the phantom away. Slotted windows perforated the outer wall every few feet, staring at her with cold, lidless eyes.
She passed a rough wooden door with an iron handle. It was not her destination, so she continued. On her journey she passed many doors the same as the first. The stairs dissolved into black eternity. Her feet hurt, her knees hurt, and her heart pounded with cold dread. Each footstep echoed in the empty stairwell, answered by moans from the wooden steps. She wanted to flee—to turn and go back. But she couldn’t. She must continue. Sweat leaked from her body, matting her clothes to her skin. A bitter breeze drifted through a window and she shuddered.
Finally, the endless line of candles stopped before a door just like all the others she had passed. She reached out and brushed the handle with the tips of her fingers. It felt cold. Cold radiated from the door like heat from a furnace. Evil waited beyond this door…expecting her. She could feel it, and the instinct to flee seized her stronger than ever. Every hair on her body stood rigid, and she trembled with anticipation. Her arms and legs numbed, but she knew she must enter. Here lay her destiny—her calling. She grabbed the handle, took a deep, desperate breath, and pushed.
Inside was a round room. She hesitated before entering, heart pounding. Fear grabbed her and wouldn’t let go, and her knees threatened to buckle. Never had she seen such a sight.
Blood flowed down the walls like cascading waterfalls. Blood rained down from the ceiling like a summer shower. Blood pooled over every inch of the floor like glassy oil. It was as if she had stepped into the very bowels of Hell itself.
In the center stood a man. No…not a man. A demon. The grotesque black creature reached out a scaly, bony hand to her. It smiled, revealing long, pointed teeth.
“Winterrrr,” it hissed, calling her by name with a roll of the final R. “Winterrrr.”
How can readers find you on the Internet?
www.KevenNewsome.com (Mind the E’s. There are four.)
www.facebook.com/thewordcrafter Come be a fan!
http://newauthors.wordpress.com I’m the founder and administrator of this very awesome joint blog!
Thank you for sharing a look into your life and your new book with us, Keven.
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