Monday, March 31, 2014

Author Interview - Kevin Hardman

This month's Author Interview is with Kevin Hardman, author of the Kid Sensation and Warden series.
Thanks, Kevin, for stopping by.  Let's get to the questions:

1)      What were your favorite books growing up? I would be hard-pressed to designate specific books as “favorites.” Basically, I had a profound love of reading as a kid so anything was fair game – everything from Encyclopedia Brown to Donald Duck and the Witch Next Door.  That said, most of my early reading consisted of myths, fables, legends and the like.  Thus, in addition to standard fare like the Arabian Nights and stories by the Brothers Grimm, I also read a lot of mythology (Greek, Norse, what have you), the fairy tale anthologies of Ruth Manning-Sanders, and more. As I grew older, that naturally segued into fantasy and sci-fi (although, again, I read all genres).

2)      Now that you have, let’s say—some life experience, what would you tell your younger self? Ha! I have to laugh at that, as there are about a million things I’d like to tell my younger self (the most important of which is probably to buy Apple stock at 3 bucks a share). 

With a focus on life in general, I’d probably steal a line from an old Marine recruiting commercial and say: “To compete, you’ve got to be strong. But to win, you’ve got to be smart.” To me, that quote always emphasized the whole person concept: Develop yourself in body and mind. Fully nurture and promote all your skill sets, because you will probably have to rely on more than one if you want to thrive.

With respect to writing, I’d probably simply advise my younger self to keep at it and continue producing manuscripts – even if no one else is reading them.  That way, you’ll continue to hone your skills and learn your craft. I essentially took a multi-year hiatus from writing (although that had more to do with my career than anything else), and I just keep thinking about all the manuscripts I could have produced during that time, regardless of whether or not a traditional publisher was interested in me.

3)      Describe your typical day. Ideally, I get up around 5:00 a.m. and write for an hour or so. Then I get ready for the day job - breakfast, grooming, etc. – before heading to the office. I have a notebook that I keep with me at all times, which I use to jot down any good ideas for novels that come to me during the day.

After work – assuming I get home early enough – it’s dinner with the wife and kids. (If I’m late, it’s dinner by myself, usually in front of the television.)  Following this, there’s typically a bit of family time and finding out how everyone’s day went.  By 8:00 p.m., we try to get the younger kids into bed, at which point I start writing again. (Somewhere in there I also try to blog, respond to email, interact with other authors, etc.) I usually keep at it until around midnight, at which point I retire for the evening.

Rinse and repeat.

 4)      Who is your favorite character in your books? Tricky question. (It’s almost like asking a parent which child is their favorite.)

I’m still essentially new to the self-publishing game, so I only have two series out at the moment, with my Kid Sensation novels being the more popular of the two.  Limiting my selection only to what I’ve actually published, I’d probably say that my favorite character is that of Mouse in the Kid Sensation series, which are superhero novels.

Mouse isn’t the primary character. He’s the leader of the world’s greatest superhero team, although he doesn’t seem to have superpowers himself. Still, he’s won the respect and admiration of his colleagues, and shown himself to be a capable leader and formidable opponent.

In short, he’s extremely competent, and that’s why I like him; even with his “limitations” (i.e., the apparent lack of superpowers), his resourcefulness is an incredible equalizer.

5)      What do you do when writer’s block shows up, settles in, and makes itself comfortable? For me, stories tend to tell themselves; often when I’m writing, it seems like there’s a voice in my head orchestrating the action and I’m merely taking dictation. Thus, I’m probably lucky in that if I can just get to the computer and start typing; the rest seems to take care of itself. Thus, my challenge is typically just having an adequate amount of time to actually sit down and start banging on the keyboard.

That said, there are occasions when – after spending 12 hours staring at a monitor for the day job – I just can’t stomach the idea of sitting in front a screen again. So, instead of immediately trying to write, I’ll convince myself to simply go back and read maybe the last couple of pages that I completed. Needless to say, there will be some edits that have to be made, and as I read over what I’ve done and make some tweaks, that “voice” I mentioned earlier will usually start making itself heard again.  Before I know it, I’m typing again and continuing the story.

Beyond that, there are simply times when a scene simply won’t come together in a way that I’m happy with. I don’t really know of a solution to that except to bull your way thorough it – keep trying different things until you come up with something satisfactory.

6)      Do you find yourself pulling details from “real life” or does your imagination rule the roost? I absolutely pull details from real life and incorporate them into my work. Even though fantasy/sci-fi is my wheelhouse in terms of writing, I think it’s important to have those “real life” moments in my work – things that readers can connect and relate to because they are universal in a sense.

For instance, in a couple of my books I have scenes where characters compete against each other in sports. My oldest son loves those, because he considers himself a jock and he can relate to things that the characters are doing/feeling when they face off against each other.

7)      What was the first manuscript you wrote (even if it never saw the light of day)? That’s another question that I don’t really have a direct answer to. I didn’t really start out writing novels. I initially wrote short stories, poems – anything that I thought had a chance of getting published. 

I suppose the first thing I wrote that could probably be considered an actual manuscript was a children’s book.  Of course, nobody was interested in it. Moreover, since this was in the days before everyone had a computer at home, I had actually typed it up on a typewriter. Eventually, unwanted and unloved, the manuscript got buried amongst a mass of salmagundi as I moved from place to place. In short, while I’m sure I still have a copy of it somewhere, I’m really not in a position to put my hands on it. (But if I ever do, I will definitely publish it, as I still think it’s a great story.)

That said, what I personally consider to be my first manuscript was a screenplay adaptation of the sci-fi classic Logan’s Run. Lest there be any confusion, let me state that I’m not talking about the 1976 film (I’m not that old), nor am I speaking of the remake that has been in development hell for roughly two decades. Basically, I read the book and it completely blew my mind. I’ve never read anything like it before or since, and all I could think was that – with modern-day special effects – it would make a fantastic movie. So I wrote a script for it, without any options, rights, etc.

(Just to show that I was trying to be aboveboard, though, I did reach out to the studio that owned the rights. However, they were going through an organizational shift at the time, and their legal department told me they wouldn’t be willing to discuss the sale of any such properties for about six months. Unfortunately, we never reconnected (which is probably just as well since, had they given me a price, I would have found myself scrambling trying to raise the money). Thus – while I still have the script I drafted – I never obtained the rights and therefore never came close to having my script considered for an actual film.)

After the Logan’s Run script, the writing bug bit me hard, but my focus was now on movie screenplays. I cranked out a couple of them and was even lucky enough to land an agent (although it took me a year to get representation), but I never sold anything. Eventually, my agent and I parted ways, and as I got settled in my career I basically stopped writing for anything other than the day job. It’s only in recent years that the idea of becoming an author actually arose in my brain again like some specter from the grave, making me start to write again.

8)      Have you ever pursued traditional publishing? Or did you go straight for indie publishing? As I mentioned earlier, I did try the traditional publishing route ages ago. No one was interested, so I moved on. This time around, I didn’t even bother; I just decided to go indie and haven’t looked back.

9)      What Works In Progress are brewing?  Any target dates for publication? Well, I mentioned earlier that I have two series out; one is Kid Sensation, and the other is the Warden series. I’m close to finishing up Warden #3 (haven’t firmly settled on a title yet), and have high hopes of getting it out soon.

In addition, I’ve started on Kid Sensation #4 (the working title is Revelation), as well as a separate book about the character Mouse from that same world. 

Furthermore, while I don’t know if I would consider them works-in-progress (since in some cases there are only a few paragraphs), I’ve started on:

1)      No less than three different paranormal series;

2)      Three different dystopian series;

3)      Two sci-fi/space opera series; and

4)      Two epic fantasy series.

And, as if those weren’t enough, I also have a western, a romance, and a mystery/suspense story that I’ve begun. (That last one I could probably finish in a few weeks if I actually devoted some serious time to it.)

Long story short, I’m a writer and I feel like I have a lot of stories to tell. However, as said stories are in various genres, I’ll probably adopt a few pen names in order to protect my brand (to the extent that I have one).

As to release dates, it’s a little hard to say. If I could write the way I know I can, I’d be trying to get something new out every 6 weeks or so. However, life (usually in the form of the day job), has a tendency to get in the way. That being the case, I’m more comfortable giving a publication order than release dates. But even then, nothing is set in stone, since I tend to write the story that’s making the most noise in my head, clamoring to get out.  Bearing that in mind, the next book is sure to be Warden #3.  After that, I may go ahead and tee up one of the sci-fi novels, since it’s been gnawing away at my brain recently. After that, the schedule is a bit up in the air, although I’ll probably finish Kid Sensation #4 and the Mouse novel.

10)   How can fans reach you? I’m honestly humbled that anyone would even be that interested, but I’m most easily reached via the following:


Twitter: @kevindhardman

Amazon Author Page:

 Also, anyone interested in finding out when I have a new release can sign up for my email list:  (FYI: I only email you when I have a new release.)

Finally, let me say thanks once again, Faith, for allowing me this opportunity to be on your blog.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Doggie Dilemma

This is only very vaguely about editing, or rather my editing business. So if you are looking for some wordsmithing, this ain't that post.

Just over a year ago, Dudley joined the Atwater Group.

Dudley's the one in the purple collar. 
He's been doing a bang-up job of getting me away from my keyboard for walks, as well as successfully protecting the premises from squirrels.  (Hey, somebody has to do it!)  As a reward for all his hard work, I take him down to the local doggy daycare.  He gets to pal around with the guys and run free in the fenced-in yard (hmmm, I guess that's not technically "free," but whatever).

The moments leading up to the realization that 1) he's going for a car ride and 2) it's to a fun place (where he gets to sniff doggy butts and not where they do unspeakable things to his butt) are amusing and frustrating.

The first clue that he's headed for a car ride is the simple act of picking up his car harness.  I've decided, after several dogs and several instance of less than safe driving, that dog harnesses are the way to go. The harness sits on a little cart by the kitchen door.  Now, we don't actually take Dudley out the kitchen door, so I'm not sure why the harness lives there, but that's where it is.  And God forbid you accidentally touch it while reaching for something else on that cart.  Dudley is trained...attuned, if you hear the soft clink of the snaps on that thing.

This morning, I picked up the harness, and as expected, Dudley appeared at the top of the steps in the office and looked at me.  The stubby tail went swoosh, swoosh, swoosh like a rapid-fire windshield wiper. At my nod, he shot down the stairs.  He preceded to run around in circles at my feet - the international sign of Yes! Yes! Yes!   I called him into the bedroom, had him get up on the bed so I could get the harness around his squirming body. This process takes a few minutes.  He cannot stand still - at all.  He wiggles; he jumps up to kiss my face; he jumps off the bed to head to the door - even if the harness isn't completely on him yet.

I finally get the harness hooked up and the leach on him.  I suppose I don't really have to put a leash on him for the purpose of getting him to the car.  He's so jacked up at this point, any vehicle will do.  In fact, he'll often try to run to ANY car in the driveway...kind of like the Price Is Right - which door will magically open and transport him to heaven on earth?  But, I err on the side of caution because he still doesn't respond all the time when we call his name.  He's improved over the last year, but he's inconsistent in his listening skills.

I open the front door.  This is the door I always take him out of, but when it's car ride time, he drags me down those two front steps and turns towards the parked cars instead of meandering down the path for our walk.  A new addition to our regular walking path is a bird feeder.  And you know what bird feeders mean, right?  Squirrels, of course!  Just as I had opened the door, a squirrel dropped down from the bird feeder and took off into the woods.

In his excitement, Dudley pulled and yanked and dragged me toward the scurvy coward.  In the two seconds it took to get halfway down the path, where we had to veer left to go to the car or right to continue the squirrel hunt, I said, "Dudley, we are going to DAYCARE."  I didn't shout.  I didn't yell.  But I let that last word hang in the air.

The forward momentum stopped.  His face contorted.  I could see the debate in his mind: Squirrel. Must protect against squirrel.  Must chase squirrel.  Daycare.  Must go in car.  Must play. 

Without loosing any enthusiasm, he veered left and ran to the car.

So I am working without my assistant today, but I know he'll be back on duty tomorrow.