Our Interview with Kevin Rau!

Image of Kevin Rau                                    H.E.R.O. - Horde


Born in 1970, I’ve been interested in fantasy and science fiction since perhaps the age of 10. I believe my love of medieval knights came about when my father built a wooden shield and sword for me to use in elementary school for some event.

Through my school years I read hundreds (or thousands? – it’s hard to recall at this point) of fantasy and science fiction novels. Comic books and super heroes came a bit later, although I recall seeing the Christopher Reeve Superman movies at a very young age (and loving them). Since my later teens I believe I’ve watched nearly every major fantasy, science fiction, and super-hero movie that has come out.

I still love reading fantasy and science fiction, although I wish there were more novels based on superheroes. This is something that drove me to create my own supers universe and heroes in written form. I love supers, but I’ve always wanted more character depth than a comic book can provide. (Not to mention the immense length of time it takes for a comic series to do a story is just plain too long to me.)

Writing is a hobby for me, I’m a full-time computer programmer and systems administrator for a small company. Fortunately the skills I’ve learned allow me to work with 3D programs to render the characters (and covers) for my books. My hope is to put out a novel or two a year, time allowing. At this point I’d like to grow the H.E.R.O. Universe with more novels, as well as start a fantasy series at some point.

                                              Bio provided by author’s site

It was our pleasure to get the opportunity to learn a little more about Kevin and how he came to writting his series of books. So get comfortable and please give a great big warm welcome to Kevin!

1. What makes for a good hook in your stories? Where does your inspiration come from?

The characters are the primary inspiration. They all “feel” like real people to me, and I want to put them in situations that they have to react to. As to the story hooks, I tend to come up with a small group (2-4) of core “problems” that will arise in each novel. For some odd reason, strange things just happen along the way to introduce other issues.

2. Are you an organized writer? Do you do things like take notes and make lists of characters? Or do you free write and work it out as you go?

I do both. Generally, I’ll create a rough outline for 6-12 chapters (for a 30-35 chapter book) and start writing with those in mind. I find that the actual story takes a life of its own and ends up different than my plan in many cases. If I finish the chapters I’ve laid out ahead of time, I’ll think ahead with another 6-12 chapters. There are cases where the story just flows, and I go with it in those cases. I also maintain a spreadsheet with many tabs with information on characters, locations, Stephanie’s course schedule, information on “tech ideas” for a superhero world, forthcoming ideas on heroes and villains, and more.

3. What is your normal writing day like? Do you write when you are inspired or do you have a schedule?

I work a full-time job as a one-man Information Technology department, and the writing is part-time for me. (Part-time being another 40-60 hours of a week.) While in the “writing phase” of a novel I spend nearly all my free time (e.g. time not spent with family and friends) writing or planning, with as few distractions as possible. In this phase my minimum goal is to average 2,500 words per day (averaged over 7 days a week). My “real” goal is to push 3,500+ words a day on average. I hit the editing phase(s) just as hard. After that comes art creation (I create most of the characters in the books in 3D and put them on my website and Facebook) – these I use for the cover art. Oh, and somewhere in there I squeeze in marketing and promotion on nearly a daily basis. So overall I don’t have a schedule – I simply spend almost all my time on it.

4. Who is your favorite author and how did they inspire you to write?

I love Laurel K. Hamilton’s books. One thing I love about books are the characters – I want to see them in many situations, and “live” with them. Hamilton writes her Anita Blake and Merry Gentry series as ongoing series. I like this style of writing because I can continue along with them over time. Single novels (not part of a series) aren’t on my favored reading list because I get into the character(s), and then they … end.

5. It’s easy to see that you have a passion for writing but is there any part of it you don’t like?

The marketing and promotion is rough. My personality doesn’t fit well into it, but it’s required to get the word out. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about my novels and the characters, but the advertising I’m speaking of rarely involves that.

6. Do you make time to read and if you do what are you reading right now?

Right now I’m not reading anything. Most of my reading these days involves blogs, marketing tips and techniques and information on self-publishing. I’m hoping to get past this stage soon, although it seems to be neverending.

7. How did you get started in writing in the superhero fiction genre? Is there personal life experience in the writing?

I’ve been a fan of comic books for about 25 years, and love movies based on superheroes. I’ve also been a role-player for even longer, and have dreamed of being a superhero. After a reading binge at the end of 2008 I hit the “end of the line” with so many characters that I realized the only way I’d truly be able to have characters continue is if I started writing. I thought about both the superhero and the fantasy genres, and decided that I’d go with a superhero series first. At some point I’ll start up a fantasy series, and then will likely alternate books back and forth. As to personal experience … no. While many of my characters have bits of my personality, each is their own person and should react according to their history and personality traits.

8. Your books have been published with Amazon.com, Does this mean you see the publishing industry headed this way?

I think of the publishing industry being much like the great herds of bison in the United States some time ago. There aren’t many left – and that’s what I foresee occurring with the publishing industry. As tablets become more and more useful, portable, and long-lasting, I believe those will become a device we all either carry around or keep on the coffee table. We won’t bring a single book with us when we have the option to bring hundreds, plus e-mail, web-surfing and other interests. We also won’t have the issue of a bookstore being out of stock on a book (or series) simply because it didn’t sell in the last quarter for them. (Also, both publishers and bookstores have a very “Old Boys” club feel to them. If you aren’t welcomed into it, then having your books ordered by a store is very difficult.

9. Do you have any online sites where others can read more of your writings?
http://www.facebook.com/herobooks is my official Facebook page.
http://www.kevinrau.com is my official Author page, although I’m shifting more over time to the Facebook page.

10. Do you have any more stories in the works? What kinds of stories do you plan to write next?
My sixth novel in the H.E.R.O. series is with the editors and proofreader right now. The cover is complete, so it should be released in the next week or so. I’m working on the seventh book for H.E.R.O. – this will be an illustrated guidebook, with information about the roughly 120 characters found in the 6 books so far, as well as 3D rendered artwork of them. After the guidebook I’ll do another book for the H.E.R.O. series.

11. Who would be your first choice to play the voice of Greg Paffen from your book called “H.E.R.O. – Horde”?
Oh my, the guy’s insane and bitter to no end. He’s also dead (but still roaming around). Would it be an insult to name someone? I’ll assume not … Keifer Sutherland might be interesting for the voice, he’s had some nice diversity in voices between roles. Mark Hamill also does excellent voice work.

12. If you could meet anyone from any time who would it be and what would be your first question?
Assuming I could speak the same language I think it would be interesting to meet the person behind the building of the Sphinx. I’d ask, “What’s your reason behind building this mammoth structure?” On the other hand, I guess I’d love to ask J.K. Rowling how to market a book!
Wendy – thank you very much for your time on the interview. Feel free to contact me anytime, and the same goes with readers on my Facebook page. I welcome discussion.