- Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?
Answer: I chose this particular plot premise because a theft of body parts off a living person by witches is not something you often encounter in urban fantasy books. And further, what appealed to me regarding the genital heist is that the victim is set to wed, which therefore puts pressure on the main character to solve the mystery and bring it to closure before the day comes.
- How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a notebook where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?
Answer: I must say I do take quite a bit of time, thinking about a plot line and weighing whether it will appeal to readers or not. Although I do not make heavy notes about a book before writing it, I do outline a little bit so that the writing process is guided and can be completed faster.
- How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?
Answer: I don’t do a lot of research really, since most of the stuff that I put down is something I create in my head. The plot material for HEIST was never researched on, except for some minor details about the witchcraft trials of Salem Massachusetts in 1692—3, which I speak about in one chapter.
- What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?
Answer: For HEIST I never used any researched materials, except for the dates of the small historical event I mentioned before.
- How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police, medics etc when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?
Answer: I suppose in situations where one is writing a novel that closely follows reality, the information you’d get from authority figures would be of great value since they are the ones who actually work in the field you have chosen to write about. Fantasy works differently, though, because almost everything is imagined. Myself I have never approached any authority for background information.
- How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?
Answer: Yes, I have had some early works of mine rejected, and that didn’t surprise me. It’s only the fewest authors who can boast that they have never been turned down. Rejection is all part and parcel of the creative industries.
- Did you need to self-publish any e-books before a publisher took you up?
Answer: Sure, I did self-publish, and still would do so if needed.
- Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?
Answer: Without a doubt, I do believe self-publishing actually offers a viable alternative to the traditional approach. Many authors have succeeded first as indie writers and then gone on to snag traditional contracts. Yes, it’s harder to find audiences when writing as an indie, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. The biggest benefit of being an indie is total control. Everything you put out there, you are responsible for it.
- Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take you before this happened?
Answer: To be honest, current trends show that for the average writer, it’s well nigh impossible to survive solely on royalties. For that reason most authors have a day job with which to support themselves, and they will continue to work until such time royalties have built to a substantial amount. Very few do ever get to that level, though, and I am still a long way away from quitting my day job myself, unless a miracle happens.
- What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour?
Answer: This is my first virtual tour and I am not very sure what could happen. If there is to be anything awkward or embarrassing coming however, we will see about it.
- What do you read when you are ill in bed?
Answer: I haven’t been ill enough to stay in bed for a number of years now, and I can count myself lucky in that regard. What I would read, though, were such a thing ever to happen, would be something perhaps light and fun, think Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, but definitely not something with a lot of ghosts and dead people in it like Darynda Jones’s Charlie Davidson series.
- What is your favourite genre?
Answer: Currently my favourite genre is the paranormal mystery. I have always been fascinated by magic and its elements and at some point in my life, actually believed it existed. To that end, I have sampled everything from Ilona Andrews to Jeaniene Frost.
- If you could recommend a living author – who would it be? A dead author?
Answer: One writer I would never fail to recommend is Dan Brown. He is not perfect by all means, but it’s no fluke either that he has sold hundreds of millions of copies of his books. He is definitely the master of the modern day thriller.
A dead author I’d recommend any day is Charles Dickens—no need for introductions there.
- Which author had the most influence on your writing? Your writing style? Your writing genre?
Answer: No question, I would say Dan Brown has been a great influence. He has this ability to get into a story fast and then keep you hooked till the last word. And you’re left with no idea how much time has elapsed when your eyes are glued to the pages. With that said, I have found myself trying to do things like he does. Genre-wise I am not into the same stuff he is into, though, and I enjoy writing the fantasy story more.
- In your opinion, who is the funniest author now writing?
Answer: I would say two authors compete for that title currently, the first being Janet Evanovich and the second Jim Butcher. In any instalment of Stephanie Plum’s series, she gets into many laugh-out-loud funny moments and her banter with her associates is out of this world. She is quirky and comedic and does things you might imagine as foolish, but she always gets her way in the end and delivers on whatever she set out to do. Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden is another funny character and is very popular for that reason, less so for his ability to work magic.
- Have you ever tried to imitate another author’s style? And if so, why?
Answer: I certainly did do a little imitation during my early days. And the author I naturally chose to write like is Dan Brown, because he is phenomenal and a great influencer. I actually have a novel that bears the same structure as the Da Vinci Code, though it’s one I never got as far as publishing.
Recently though, I have grown up and struck out on my own, and in HEIST you never sense anything Dan Brown-esque at all.
- Which of your books are you most proud of?
Answer: Since HEIST is my only published book, I would then say that debut of mine is the one I am most proud of. It possesses all the elements of what I imagine constitutes a good story. Its plot premise is one that hasn’t been overly done, its magic elements are unique and inventive. Also it has got all the suspense, vulnerability and subterfuge that readers look for.
- What, in your life, are you most proud of doing?
Answer: I’d say following my dreams and doing those things that I love to do is what I am proud of most. Many people go around with a novel idea in their head but never get around to actually put it down on paper, but I have been able to do it. And for that, I’d say I am blessed.
- Do you have an unusual hobby?
Answer: Probably not at the moment, but some years ago, I really tried to get into underwear modelling. That’s, of course, not an easy thing to do and the chances of succeeding are tiny. It’s a fun thing to try though, and when I was at it I was really serious about it, though now when I look back I realize it’s not anything I was made for. It did provide a little entertainment and heartaches, though, while it lasted.
- If you could choose to live in another country/town – which would you choose? And why?
Answer: There is really many candidates for this, and it’s hard to make a choice. Florida with its warmer weather and many good beaches would not be a bad idea, as would be New York City with its variety and bustle.
- What would you take on a desert island to read if you could only take 3 books?
Answer: One Harry Potter maybe, just to have a little magic with me—for in case I need to work some spells. Second, an epic horror from Stephen King, just to make things look as grim as possible, and then a Dan Brown thriller to provide the suspense and quick thrills.
Kezzy Sparks is a Toronto based author and writer. HEIST is his debut fiction in the long form. He enjoys reading as well, and lists works by Jim Butcher, Stephen King, Benedict Jacka, Dan Brown and Kevin Hearne as some of his personal favorites.