Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why I Write by Author Kevin Gerard


by Guest Author Kevin Gerard (comment for a chance to win a copy of one of his books in the Conor and the Crossworlds series)


I write because I want to make a contribution.

I always wanted to write but never found the courage. I took one creative writing course in college and wrote the first twenty pages of Conor’s story. The class loved it. The teacher encouraged me to write more of it.

Fifteen years after leaving that class I met a martial arts instructor who had written a conditioning book for Tae Kwon Do. I asked him how he found the discipline to write an entire book. I took home what he told me and failed miserably, but something about what he said sparked another idea. I decided I would write one double-spaced page every day. For the next five years I wrote every day. It started out as one page; eventually it became five pages a day. I’ve never moved beyond that amount, but I’ve written every single day. Two things happen when you do that; you get into a habit and your writing gets better very quickly.


Margaret Weis caused me to become an author more than anyone else. She wrote a trilogy called the Star of the Guardians. Without exception it is the greatest story I’ve ever read. She’s written a number of fantasy stories with Tracy Hickman, and I enjoyed them, but her solo effort just blew me away. I cry like a baby at movies, but this was the first time I ever cried while reading a fantasy story, or any story for that matter. There was a female character in the trilogy, Maigrey Morianna, who I’m sure influenced the creation of the Lady of the Light, a central character in Conor’s story. I’d love to meet that author some day so I can thank her for writing that phenomenal story.


I write with abandon. When I edit, I’m in a structured mode, but I’m strictly organic while writing. I feel this is especially important when writing a fantasy story – you really need to have total spontaneity or the story will suffer. I mentioned the Lady of the Light before; she has a relative that appears at the end of Book Three. I had no idea the relative even existed until that moment. Sometimes you have to let the story tell itself.

I don’t know whether it’s fortunate or unfortunate, but there is no typical writing day for me. If I had my druthers, I’d do all my writing in the morning. I’m up early always, I love that time of day, and I seem to be very productive then. I am a college professor, though, and I also spend huge amounts of time promoting Conor and the Crossworlds. I write whenever I have a spare thirty minutes. I keep a flash disk in my pocket with the latest ten pages of any story I’m working on, and when I see an opening in my schedule, I stick it in the computer and write!


As far as the future, I think there are five more books in the Conor and the Crossworlds series, but I have to make the first five a success before I sit down and write the others. I also fell into a great idea for another story. At a book talk I did in California I gave away a very cool dragon statue I kept on my desk the entire time I wrote the Conor and the Crossworlds story. I have a funny feeling about that dragon, maybe he will inspire that student to write his own books, and that might make a cool story in itself.


I wrote the Conor and the Crossworlds story for a variety of reasons. First and foremost concerns Purugama the magical cougar. This particular creature has lived in my mind for more than forty years. When I was a young boy I used to lie in bed at night and imagine a great beast exactly like Purugama floating down and landing by my bedroom window. After crawling out of bed and dressing, I would step through the window and climb aboard the mighty cougar. I would instantly be transformed into a powerful warrior, and off we’d fly toward our thrilling adventures. Amazingly, I kept that vision in my mind for decades until I finally wrote the first novel.


I never intended for Conor’s story to go beyond one book. A tragic event caused me to continue the story and create the characters for Book Two. The Lord of the Champions, Maya, was a real cat. He belonged to a close friend of my wife’s. An extraordinary cat, Maya befriended me when I married my wife and moved to San Diego. He was extremely proud, he had a right to be; he was a magnificent creature and an amazing individual. One day his mistress called our home with terrible news, Maya had been attacked by a rampaging pack of pit bulls. They ripped him to pieces in his own front yard. I cried openly on the telephone, and then I told our friend that I was going to make him immortal. I knew right then he would become the Lord of the Champions. It fit perfectly anyway, an alley cat in charge of the great wild cats the creators had chosen to be protectors of the Crossworlds.


This is how Therion, Eha, Ajur and Surmitang sprang into existence. If there was to be a force of Champions, they would have to be like no other group of saviors anywhere. Oversized with the gifts of speech and magic, all of the Champions have distinct personalities. From the second book forward their personalities continue to grow and become more interesting. For the longest time I cherished Surmitang over all the others. He is so proud, so in love with himself, and so sure of his abilities, and yet he is such a fragile child. As time went on and the story reached four and then five books, I began to admire Eha more and more. He is such a happy fellow. He loves being a Champion, he loves the Lady of the Light, he loves Conor, and he loves to laugh. One of the great moments in the story occurs during the initial stages of the battle for the Crossworlds in Book Four. Maya directs Eha to lead the horde of slayers and keepers out onto the plains. Using his magnificent speed, Eha keeps ahead of five hundred thousand angry enemies, laughing hilariously the entire time. Even though I favor one or another of the cats from time to time, all of the Champions have intriguing characteristics; they are quite a magnetic group.

The amazing aspect of this series, from an author’s viewpoint, is the trust I gave to the story and to the characters. When I began writing the third and fourth books, I honestly had no idea what would happen, where the story would go, and what would be the final outcome of each novel. I didn’t know until the second she appeared that the Lady of the Light had a twin sister, the Lady of the Shadows. I didn’t know that one of the destroyers would rise from the rubble of his castle to torment Conor again, nor did I understand the importance of the sacrifice at the end of Book Four. Some of the best passages from the Conor and the Crossworlds series occurred when I allowed myself to “go where the characters wanted to go.” I followed and found amazing plot twists around every corner.


Everyone loves the Conor and the Crossworlds story, but I wrote these books for teens because I wanted to give them something I believe they are sorely lacking. I won’t explain exactly what that is, you’ll have to read the books to get the full impact, but I will say that the world is becoming increasingly complicated. Teens have so much thrown at them in just a few short years. I think the important ideas are being pushed into the background, and young folks are dying for direction. I also wanted to give teens a good hero and heroine. Conor and Janine are somewhat complex, but they are also what I think teens would want to emulate.


The last thing I’ll say is that I wanted to write a fun story. I watched a biography about George Lucas once. He created the Star Wars series, and the commentator said, “George Lucas made it fun to go to the movies again.” I hope someday people say, “Kevin Gerard made it fun to read again.”


* * *

More about Kevin Gerard and His Conor and the Crossworlds Books


Visit Kevin's website http://www.conorandthecrossworlds.com where you can download a free Conor and the Crossworlds ebook and keep tabs on the upcoming release of Surviving an Altered World which is due out in December. In it Conor and Janine watch in horror as a powerful warrior sent by the Circle of Evil destroys their world and imprisons everyone they know, including the Crossworlds Champions and the creators. The Lady of the Light appears, explaining that she and her kind deposited the five keys of the creators on different worlds just before the chaos began. If Conor and Janine can recover the keys, the Crossworlds will be restored. You can join in the hunt for the keys by clicking on the contest video on his website to learn the exciting details regarding The Hunt for the Five Keys of the Creators. The contest begins in January.

On November 3, whet your appetite with an inside look at Kevin Gerard's life as a writer at Teens Read Too http://www.teensreadtoo.com/BookReviews.html with a bonus of an excerpt from his book.

And don't miss Great New Books Reviewed http://newgreatbooks.blogspot.com as they host Kevin on November 5 and read more about what Kevin has to say about being a science fiction/fantasy writer.

For more information about Kevin Gerard and his virtual tour, check the schedule at http://virtualblogtour.blogspot.com/2008/10/virtual-book-tour-conor-and-crossworlds.html

15 comments:

Raven said...

oWell, This is just the right tone to spark the interest of teenagers looking for more than a sad, redundant tale about lost love, or love sought, or love thought about...etc... I hear many of our teen book club members saying that they wish for books the offer a break, rather than a guilt trip or a politically-correct etiquette book disquised as a teen adventure. I think simplicity is a good way to go. Let them have fun. Let them believe a little longer in magic and the hero. I really can't stand the idea of making teens grow up because they have to be adults. They ought to grow up at their own pace, with hope for the future and with imaginations fired by authors who know how to dream great dreams.

Ravenne

Donna Sundblad said...

Thanks for stopping by Raven. Kevin Gerard will be by today to read your post!

Personally, I think some of us adults still hold that magic in our hearts, and those with the gift of putting a story into words on paper are a treasure!

Donna

Alan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin Gerard said...

Well said, both of you!

As I may have pointed out, I'm still a little boy at heart. I think that's why writing this story was such a kick. I want to be in Conor's shoes, riding with Purugama the cougar, fighting gigantic monsters using unbelievably cool powers, and on and on.

While I inserted a few dilemmas for Conor to figure out along the way, I think I couched them within the action well enough to make the books a blast to read. I have readers all around the country; I am so glad to hear what they have to say - they love Conor and they love Conor and the Crossworlds!

Thanks for writing!

Kevin Gerard

Raven said...

Mr. Gerald,

May you always be a boy at heart! :) The world needs them very much right now. My own daughter has said that there is a gap in modern literature. She feels that the "new" adventure that books are giving teenagers is the journey towards sex,drinking, and materialism.

And she says, "In the past those were adult things. Now, I have to deal with all that and stories that are politically correct. I just want to have fun and read about characters who win the day. I want to know how to do better in life and how to be the good guy."

Ravenne

TWCP Authors said...

Kevin,

Your interview is fascinating--novelists come to the craft from so many different places and I like to read about their journeys.

Something that reasonated was your telling about the genesis of the Lord of the Champions, Maya. What a tragic occurence and what a remarkable thing you've done to preserve the memory of this cat.

Further, it always amazes me that so many speculative fiction novelists are cat people! What a nice surprise to find one more who appreciates these animals.

I look forward to checking out your writing.

Cynthia

Frank Creed said...

"I feel this is especially important when writing a fantasy story – you really need to have total spontaneity or the story will suffer."--Kevin Gerard

I completely agree. There are many approaches to writing, but a story must tell itself. I'm reminded of a sculptor working with grain in stone, claiming the art is inside. An artist's job is to reveal it.

Faith,
f

frankcreed.com

Kevin Gerard said...

Sorry about not posting sooner - I can't seem to get my password to work :D

Kevin Gerard said...

Anyway, thanks for the wonderful comments. I love all animals, but cats are a special gift from the creators. As a matter of fact, I have a monthly newsletter about Conor and the Crossworlds, and one of the updates is about "Jesse the Wondercat" who we found at our vet's office. If you want to receive the newsletter, e-mail me at mrsaruman@aol.com and let me know.

Frank, I'm glad you're in agreement. I believe spontenaity is king/queen in writing fantasy stories, or any story for that matter. I don't believe Rowling could have brought such magic to Harry Potter had she planned every aspect of the books beforehand. I love to follow the characters, because, after all, they are alive in our minds, right?

Remember, if you're not dreaming, you're not living...

Marta Stephens said...

Hi Kevin,

As I read your post I found several parallels between our journeys. Although I write crime mysteries, the writing process is still the same and, as you indicate, it takes time and a great deal of determination.

I don't teach, but I too work in higher ed and slip a bit of writing here and there as I can. :)

All the best to you!
Marta Stephens
www.martastephens-author.com

Word Crafter said...

It's good to read about other author's trials and false starts - but what's more interesting is Kevin's ability to let his vulnerable side show - I'm sure it flavors his writing and his success with the young - great blog post.
Billie
www.billiewilliams.com

Donna Sundblad said...

Kevin is having trouble with his password and asked me to pass on this message:

Thank you both for your heartfelt comments. It's always nice to hear of other experiences. It certainly helps me with my journey.
Best to you both,

Kevin Gerard

June said...

I sold! I'm going to read the first book! I'm excited.

I loved reading about your writing journey, especially that you let the characters and the story guide you.

I tend to write the same way -- a character will tell me the story and I simply write the words...

Thanks so much for sharing with us Kevin!

Take care,
June

Trish S said...

This is my very first blog I ever wrote. Thank you for being a good example to Amanda on writing, she is so creative in her writing and we are so proud. Christina is our big reader. Hope all is well.

Dr. Kold_Kadavr_flatliner, M.D. said...

Grrr. Git some followers.