As part of the buildup for the #Steampunk Lit Extravaganza, we’re doing interview with each other. So here’s mine with the author Martin Kee.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and the book you’re promoting.
I’m a former game developer and content writer. I’ve written all my life, but only decided to write novels around five years ago. Currently I am living in Idaho with my wife, a couple of cats and a rabbit. I am trying to make a career out of not wearing pants.
A LATENT DARK is about that hidden part of ourselves we know is there, but choose to not talk about. It’s about a girl who can see this part of people plain as day, and the theocracy who wants to capture her because of it. She’s pursued by a man named Lyle Summers, who appears as sort of a cross between Fred Phelps (of Westboro Baptist Church infamy) and the Reverend Kane from Poltergeist 2. Summers is a former revival minister, now working as a witch hunter. He’s wealthy, powerful, and relentless, and believes without any hesitation that what he does, no matter how cruel, is for the right reasons. Skyla is forced to flee her city and seek refuge elsewhere. At the same time, she needs to try to make sense of this ability she has, since her mother has essentially been driven mad by it, and won’t tell her a thing. Her only hope of safety is to hunt down and locate her aunt, who lives in another city a good hundred miles away.
2. Why did you decide to write in the steampunk genre?
A LATENT DARK needed to be set in an alternate America, one perhaps emerging from a post-post-apocalyptic scenario. I wanted a modern dialog, but at the same time, I wanted a much slower pace of technology. I also didn’t want my characters to have access to, say, the internet. Resources are squandered and limited, or perhaps people simply lack the technology to acquire them now, which helped to eliminate any “cheating” by the characters in terms of transportation and research.
When it came time to write the very first scene, a neo-Victorian setting sort of just sprang up. The book itself actually takes place somewhere along the Pacific coast of America, so while the technology is a sort of post-tech steampunk, the culture and characters are all set in a fairly modern, American mindset, only with more of a classist slant to social standing. The religious institutions are also more in line with the American baptist revivals of the 19th century, with the older institutions reflecting something along the lines of the Roman Catholic Church of the 13th century.
3. Tell us something about your creative process. Do you use editors, beta-readers, ARCs? How many drafts you go through? Etc.
I’m more of a pantser than a plotter, meaning I write blind for the most part with only a vague idea in mind. I guess I have a kind of ADHD when I write, because even in times when I’ve outlined stories completely, I’ve still managed to become distracted by some shiny object to lead me off the path. The upside to this method is that it’s fun as hell, and I think I discover some pretty interesting twists. The downside to this method is that I have to redraft a lot, and by “a lot” I mean anywhere from 10 to 16 drafts. I think the least number I ever had to do was for an upcoming novella. That one’s going out to editors on the fifth draft.
After I write my first draft, I shelve the manuscript for about a month. Then I take it out, print it, and mark it up best I can. In some cases, it’s clear early on where I went wrong. In other cases it can take me into the 10th revision before I see what the book is really about. I only show the first readable to my wife, then after her input, I send a revision to Beta Readers. After that, it’s off to editors. Since I author-publish all my work, I like to have things as presentable as possible, since editors cost money.
4. What made you decide to go the self-publishing route?
I’m a bit of a control freak, to be honest. I like understanding and being part of the publishing process, and I like having the control over things like the style of the book, the cover. I know enough graphic designers and art directors, that they help me to come up with or find a cover that will look professional and pleasing.
I’m not against traditional publishing at all, and I do on occasion query agents and publishers with some new projects, but so far I haven’t seen a strong enough argument to lead me to go with traditional publishers, aside from just not having to manage the publishing process myself… and I actually don’t mind managing that part of things. But that’s just the other side of the same coin, and if the opportunity came a long, I would definitely consider a tradition publishing house if everything aligned correctly. In the mean time, I can produce more work at a pace I feel comfortable with, and I’m fine with that.
5. Finally, tell us about #SteamLit and why are you taking part in it.
I think steampunk is a fun subgenre, and a sometimes misunderstood subgenre at that. I think A LATENT DARK fits outside most people’s definition of what steampunk is, or what it could be, and I’m looking to try and expand that horizon a little. I also have a second book in the series coming out this summer. THE UMBRAL WAKE takes place three years after A LATENT DARK, so this seemed a good opportunity to pique people’s interest in the first book as well as the subgenre itself.
Martin Kee is an author, gamer, husband, Redditor, cyclist, paper-modeler, reader, and musician. He is the author of A LATENT DARK (2012) and BLOOM (2013), as well as short stories and videogames.
He lives in Idaho with his wife and their myriad of pets. He is a huge fan of technology, cats, dinosaurs, robots, bad science-fiction films, humor, books, steampunk, horror, ravens, and strangeness.
You can follow him on twitter @fersnerfer, or on Facebook