I’ve had my eye on The Beast of Talesend for a while now. But I only recently got around to reading it. I enjoyed it so much that I just had to feature it on my blog and author Kyle Robert Shultz was kind enough to give me an interview!
For those of you who haven’t read it, it’s set in the post-magic world of fairytales. The protagonist Nick Beasley is a private detective who makes a living from disproving anything that appears magical. But his neat little worldview is shaken when he is hired to help retrieve a magic artifact. I don’t want to give away any more, but this book is full of action and a whole lot of fun! You can read my review of it on Goodreads here. Let’s get to the interview!
Me: What does your creative process look like? (Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you have a daily routine?)
KRS: My process is a mix between plotting and pantsing. I lean more toward the plotting end of the spectrum–I don’t begin writing a story until I have at least a rough idea of the major plot points and know how it’s going to end. But I try not to plan things too meticulously, as sometimes ideas occur to me while I’m drafting which are better than what I have in my outline. I like to leave some wiggle-room. I don’t exactly have a daily routine, as my work schedule tends to be unpredictable, but I’ve found bullet journaling to be a big help in keeping track of all my tasks and projects.
Me: From start to finish, could you estimate how long it took to write “The Beast of Talesend”?
KRS: About six months…not counting the three months I spent thinking that it was an irredeemable mess that should never see the light of day. I shoved it away in a dark corner of my Dropbox after finishing the first draft and tried to switch to other projects, but I just couldn’t get the characters or the premise out of my head. Then I tried to “fix” it by re-writing it from scratch, and ended up losing all the charm of the first version. Finally, I took the original draft, made minimal edits, and published it. So far, I haven’t been sorry. Here’s hoping future books come a little more easily.
Me: Can you name three books that have impacted you?
KRS: The Magician’s Nephew may not be everyone’s favorite Chronicle of Narnia, but it’s definitely mine. It was the book that sparked my love for speculative fiction in the first place, and introduced me to higher concepts of the genre (like the multiverse) which eventually became a part of my own writing. The books of P.G. Wodehouse, such as Right Ho, Jeeves, have been a major influence on my writing style. In the nonfiction realm, James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure is my favorite craft resource. It helps authors find the logic of their stories without stifling their spontaneity.
Me: What are three tools you use as an indie author?
KRS: Like many other authors, I don’t think I could do without Scrivener. It’s definitely the best writing software out there. I use it for my blog posts and newsletters in addition to my fiction. The website One Stop For Writers, with its many thesauri and story-planning tools, is an extremely helpful resource I’ve discovered recently. I also rely heavily on Adobe Photoshop for designing my book covers.
Me: Have you read any great indie books lately?
KRS: I’m currently reading Beggar Magic by H.L. Burke–it’s fantastic. Great characters and an enthralling magic system. I’ve been fortunate enough to beta-read her upcoming fairy-tale novel Coiled as well. That’s definitely one to watch out for; it’s probably the best work of its kind that I’ve ever read. Another indie gem I’ve been enjoying is Marc Secchia’s Dragonfriend. His worldbuilding and description are breathtaking.
Me: What area do you need to grow in as an author and what steps are you taking to get there?
KRS: I’ve been told by a number of people that I need to spend more time and effort on descriptions. Lately I’ve paid close attention to how other writers handle this in the books I read. It’s easy for me to get too eager as I write and jump ahead to the action while skipping details, but if I get myself in the right headspace by reading a well-written book, it helps me to do better in this area.
Me: If you had to branch out into another genre, what would it be?
KRS: I have a number of genres on my author’s bucket list, though they’re all more or less subgenres of speculative fiction. I’d like to tackle superhero stories at some point; I have an idea for an unusual twist on the genre that might generate some interest. I’d also love to try my hand at something in the space-opera realm. I don’t really feel inspired to write anything without sci-fi or fantasy overtones. I wouldn’t be able to commit to creating a story set squarely in the real world.
Me: What are you working on right now?
KRS: The Stroke of Eleven, a sequel to The Beast of Talesend and a very unusual take on the tale of Cinderella. It’s all outlined, and it’s currently my Camp NaNoWriMo project…though I’m severely behind on my word count at present, so we’ll have to see how that goes. 🙂 I’m also planning some spin-off stories set in the Beaumont and Beasley universe. I have a novella prequel to The Beast of Talesend in the first draft stage, and some companion short stories outlined.
Me: What can we look forward to in the next book?
KRS: More magic, more monsters, and quite a bit of timey-wimeyness. 🙂 The Stroke of Eleven deals directly with the fallout of The Beast of Talesend while telling a whole new story at the same time. There’s another creepy old castle involved, but it’s very different from the one in the first book. A dark secret behind the story of Cinderella is revealed, and some other characters from classic tales make surprise appearances…not to mention a mysterious stranger whose identity will come as an unpleasant shock to Nick and Cordelia.
Me: I know you are a Doctor Who fan. Which Doctor and Companion is your favorite and why?
KRS: On TV, definitely the Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble. There’s just nothing like their hilarious, heartwarming chemistry. But I’d have to say my all-time favorite Doctor/companion team is the one featured in Big Finish Productions’ Doom Coalition audio series: the Eighth Doctor, Liv Chenka, and Helen Sinclair. They have a very unique dynamic and deal with a fascinating mix of story elements and characters from both the classic and new series of Doctor Who.
Thanks again, Kyle!