Stopping by to chat with us today is Kev Heritage, author of Blue Into The Rip, a young adult, sci-fi, time travel novel.
Kathy: Thank you so much for dropping in and answering a few questions for us. I always have to begin by asking what motivated you to become a writer? How long have you been writing, and was it a long process to become a published author?
Kev: Thank you, Kathy. It’s charming to be asked. So… what motivated me to become a writer?
I have an over-active imagination, which means that given the time and the inclination (and without something to keep my mind occupied) I can convince myself of pretty much anything – and it all makes perfect sense! As you can imagine, overthinking in this way can be quite a serious flaw to a happy productive life. I’m a rational chap, and found ways to deal with it, but as young man, I unfortunately developed quite a nasty cancer and my imagination went into manic overdrive. I didn’t have a nervous breakdown, or anything like that, but I got stuck in a repeating anxiety pattern regarding all the tests I had to endure on a monthly basis. My mind worked overtime on every word spoken to me at hospital, every look – everything and anything. The chance of reoccurrence was high, so I had to be ready, but I was obsessing over it. A kind of psychological torture – or at least that what it felt like.
In the end, and against some very stern advice of my oncologist, I went to go and live in Greece for six months (a sort of extended travelling holiday). I needed to get away from the illness and the tests – I was sure my anxiety was not helping my chance of survival. I made my peace with the universe and booked a flight. I travelled the Greek Islands and finally began to relax. Wanting to chart my adventure, I started writing a journal. And writing that journal soon became very important. A sort of catharsis. One morning, on the island Santorini, I had a vivid dream:
A poet in a trench during World War One transported to a fantasy world where his spoken rhymes gave him a sort of magical power of healing.
I immediately needed to know more about him and put all of my thinking time into writing his story. It acted like a perfect heat sink for my overactive mind. I wrote for the rest of my time there. And writing has remained the same for me ever since. I don’t obsess about the minutiae of human relationships, my health, the climate, asteroid impact – anything – anymore. I put all that energy into creating worlds, characters, stories and plots.
And that is how I started writing. I lost my first story somewhere along the way – which is probably for the best – it was bloody awful. I was a terrible writer, heh. I beat my cancer and I’ve been writing ever since.
Kathy: Do you write every day? Are you a plotter or a pantster? How long does it take for you to finish a novel?
Kev: I write and read every day. You have to. You can’t develop the tools you need to be an effective/competent writer by not doing this. An absolute must.
As for my writing process…I’m very much the pantster. The plot finds itself along the way. I let the characters guide me. I write down whatever they want to do, or act like, or say. No constraints. I have no idea who the ‘goodies’ or the ‘baddies’ are until they reveal themselves to me. When I’m about two thirds in, I restructure, work out an ending and fill in the gaps. This gets me to my first draft.
The next drafts are pure hard work. Subbing. Refining. Plotting. Adding better concepts and ideas. Pruning. I always go through a stage where I doubt my confidence as a writer, that the story is rubbish – it’s a tedious process to be honest. I keep going until my gut feeling that ‘the novel needs more work’ goes away. I often ‘finish’ but become consumed with niggling doubts. My subconscious doing its job. I push on again until it sort of becomes something I almost, conceivably, maybe think is sort of perhaps okay. Possibly.
The Ying Yang of my process: first absolute chaos, then enforced order.
With Blue Into The Rip, I knew Blue would be transported to the future, meet some cadets, visit a flooded London, live under the remains of the Amazon Rainforest and visit a spacestation with the story ending with him floating over the Rings of Saturn (although I had no idea why, I just thought it’d be cool) and that was it.
That…and a terrific twist!
I’m very proud of BITR – but the finished novel bears very little resemblance to the absolute mess of the first draft.
Kathy: What is the inspiration for the Into The Rip series? How did you decide to write a young adult series vs. an adult series?
Kev: I was flicking through old notebooks for some or any kind of inspiration and came across a perplexing phrase I’d written: Blue Into The Rip. I’d put an impressive circle around it – but had no recollection about why I’d written it or what it meant. But it looked important and the phrase stuck. Over the next few days, I kept thinking about it. I started to wonder what it could mean. Blue became a character name and The Rip some kind of tear in the fabric of time and space. As Blue was a teenager, the Young Adult genre chose itself.
The story sort of jumped out from there. It’s not the best start, but as my process seems to defy any kind of planning at its beginning, this is usually how things kick off.
Kathy: Did you find it difficult to create an alternate universe? And more importantly, do you have trouble leaving your fictional world behind and rejoining the real one :)?
Kev:I have a passion for science and find it straightforward to imagine possible futures, alternate realities and worlds of pure make-believe. I’m a sort of ‘scientific dreamer’. Being creative is easy, keeping the creativity going in a project for its full duration isn’t. It’s hard work. For me anyway.
I can write anywhere (except on a plane or at an airport as I’m terrified of flying). In a pub. On a train. With the TV on. I can switch it on or off like…um…a switch. I don’t think about the stories in-between. My imagination is always working though. I tend to dream a lot of stuff – it’s the way my mind reveals stories and ideas to me. Working for me at the subconscious level. I often become stuck in plot cul-de-sacs, but I can wake up with the solution in my mind. Like a wonderful little gift from the writing gods. In the same way, I can awake knowing there is a plot flaw, which is not so great…but useful.
Kathy: Do you see yourself ever writing any other genres or time periods?
Kev: Yes, but I have no idea what they may be just yet…
Kathy: Can you tell us a little about Blue Into The Rip?
Kev: It’s a thrill ride. Blue is a misfit with a ‘gob on him’ – as we say in Derby where I’m from. He’s a bit arrogant, cocky – a typical mixed up teen. Except that it’s not just his emotions that are mixed up, but also his genetics. He is an artificially created human living in the past with mysterious hippy parents. And nothing is as it seems. He gets ripped forward in time and well… you need to read the story to find out what happens to him. And A LOT happens to him and his new friends. So go buy the book!
This is the first novel in a series, but the plot is self-contained. So no unresolved cliffhangers. The developing back-story involves Blue’s genetic talents, which we will find out more about as the series develops.
Kathy: What projects are you currently working on? What can readers look forward to from you in the upcoming year?
Kev: The ideas for the next Into The Rip novel: Blue Into The Planet are already being haphazardly scribbled onto bits of paper and bus tickets…Very exciting!
I’ve been asked to write a sci-fi story for an anthology. It’s a sort of fantasy set in an old decaying space habitat. I’m obsessed with space habitats and firmly believe humans can’t survive until we leave Earth into environments we control…so any excuse to write about them!
I will be finalizing Killer~Piccadilly sometime in January. A London based, paranormal, sci-fi, adventure horror comedy thriller…yes all those things.
I’m also looking to publish the first collection of novellas in the IronScythe Series – a pure swords-and-sandals fantasy in homage to Robert E. Howard the creator of Conan. Three self-contained stories adding up to approx. 60,000 words. It features the disfigured and hooded ‘Cowl’ and his wicked blade of forbidden golds and irons, ‘IronScythe’. Pure fantasy fare with a little bit extra in the mix. Nearly complete.
I also write plays and TV screenplays when the mood strikes – my first play ‘Man in a Room’, a competition winner, was staged during the Liverpool Write Now Festival 2012.
Kathy: Now for a few fun, lightning round questions:
Favorite book? A big fat one with lots and lots of pages.
Favorite author? Ones I read when my brain was still growing: Philip K Dick and Robert E. Howard, and Mr DNA himself, Douglas Adams. Oh, and Frank Herbert who I sit next to on the bookshelf.
Favorite genre? Any imaginative fiction – sci-fi perches at the top of that list, but it can come in any form. I respond more to great writing than genre, which I do find constraining.
Favorite song? ‘I Wanna Be Me’ – Sex Pistols and all Drum and Bass, especially when I’m writing on the train.
Favorite movie? Nothing will beat that Imperial Cruiser flying over the top of my head and into movie history. Awe-wonder-sum!
Tea or Coffee? Coffee now gives me migraines. Instead, I have discovered the wonders of a timely leaf infusion. I really should have done this a lot earlier in life.
Favorite TV show? I love any pure entertainment or imaginative, superlative character-based telly. Or anything very, very silly.
Day or night? Thursdays. Always Thursdays. The best day of the week. All 24 hours of it.
Cats or dogs? Dogs, because I firmly believe that without the canine, humans would not have been as successful as they were as an early emerging species. Our relationship with the wolf is an amazing one. Dogs have better social intelligence than chimpanzees. They are quite simply a bio-engineered life-form made by us humans for us humans. We exist in a symbiotic relationship. I adore them. They will care for you regardless of anything. That kind of loyalty is rare anywhere else in human life. Yes, yes, okay, you got me, I want a dog!
Kathy: I have thoroughly enjoyed chatting with you today. Is there anything else you would like to share with us before you go?
Kev: I’m just so flattered to be asked such lovely questions. I don’t normally chat about writing at all. It is a solitary world in that respect. So it’s brilliant to share my thoughts on what I do as I sit here on my own tapping away at the plastic with my head in the clouds.
I would also like to offer free e-editions of Blue Into The Rip to the first 20 of your readers to contact me on this email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Put the name of this blog in the subject line.
Kathy: Mr. Heritage, congratulations on your new release and thank you so much for visiting with us today. Feel free to drop by anytime you happen to be in the neighborhood.
Kev: Thank you Kathy. I very much loved talking about myself… 🙂
Title: Blue Into the Rip by Kev Heritage
Publisher: Massive Banger
Genre: oung Adult Sci-fi, Time-Travel, Climate Change (Cli-Fi), Adventure
Word Count: 76,000
Blue didn’t want to be in the future
…they didn’t want him there either.
A Rip in the fabric of time, a far-flung globally warmed future, a flooded Earth and the only remainder of civilisation – a militaristic organisation living underneath ‘Desert Amazon’…
Getting back home to rescue his little sister Annie was the only thing that mattered to messed up, mixed race teenager, Blue (named after his stupid, googly blue eyes) – and that was the problem – home was over four hundred years in the past.
Ripped forwards in time from his odd hippy parents, their peculiar house and his lonely school life, Blue had only one thing on his mind: return. But how does a lowly cadet in a militaristic Academy living in a globally warmed post-apocalyptic future achieve such a goal, especially with the distractions of girls, pilot training, spacewalks and his almost constant unpopularity?
The more Blue found out about this flooded, gung-ho annoying future, about himself – who and what he was (was he even human?) – and the equally disturbing and shocking truth about his ‘parents’ – the more he realised getting home was the only solution. Wasn’t it?
If Blue knew one thing, it was that he would at least try.
I am the author of Young Adult Sci-Fi, Time-Travel, Climate Change Adventure novel, ‘BLUE INTO THE RIP’ – Book One of the imaginatively named ‘INTO THE RIP’ series. More Info here: http://ow.ly/qWPWe
My non-fiction includes: ‘GO SUB YOURSELF! – 50 Sub-Edits to Make Your NOVEL Stand Out from the Competition’. More info here: http://ow.ly/qWQ1l
I was also a runner up in the 2005 Clarke-Bradbury International Science Fiction Competition, published in ‘Running the Line – Stories of the Space Elevator’. My short: ‘Escaping the Cradle’: http://ow.ly/msUQf
I started writing at about age three, mainly in crayon. I moved on to marker pens and spray cans in my teen years before deciding on some kind of plastic tapping device.
I was born in the previous century in one of the more exciting ‘out-there’ decades. I am a two metre tall biped from the genus Homo Sapiens and, like many of my species, I am simultaneously amazed and confused by what I like to call ‘This Life Thing’.
Some of ‘This Life Thing’ has involved me working as a driver’s mate, factory gateman, barman, labourer, telesales operative, sales assistant, warehouseman, Student Union President, University IT helpdesk guy, British Rail signal software designer, Premiership Football website designer, gigging musician, graphic designer, stand-up comedian, sound engineer, Improv artist, magazine editor and Wide Web journo – although I don’t like to talk about it. Mostly.
I have (at some time or other) lived on most of the Earth’s major continents and when not travelling to varied and interesting worlds all over the cosmos, I find myself frequently residing in the county of East Sussex in the seaside town of Brighton.
Free e-editions of Blue Into The Rip to the first 20 of your readers to contact me on this email: email@example.com. Put the name of this blog in the subject line.