Indie Author Interview With Kyle Shoop

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Join us for another indie author interview with Kyle Shoop. Read on to learn what he thinks about the craft of writing and why he does it:

If you use a Pen Name why did you choose it?

I don’t use a pen name, though often my novels appear with my middle initial, Kyle L. Shoop.

Why do you write?

First and foremost, I write to entertain. The purpose of my novels is to allow readers to escape and just enjoy a fun, compelling story. There’s also a more personal reason that I write. To make a long story short, I once set a goal to write/record a music album (I play guitar), write a novel, and learn to paint. I ended up writing three CDs, and am now on the third book of my trilogy. So – I think I underestimated that goal by a third.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I never actually decided to become a writer, and the fact that people call me one is still very weird to me. I love story telling. I used to do it through music, and now I do it through writing. Writing is just the method to what I ultimately want to do – tell a story. So I’ve never really gotten used to people calling me a writer. I consider myself more of a story-teller. 

What genre are your books, and what draws you to this genre?

My genre is middle-grade fantasy/adventure. There are also traces of mystery interwoven throughout. I write in this genre because my wife taught elementary school for several years. I wanted to write something that both parents and children could read together and actually both enjoy. My novels are similar in genre to the Percy Jackson and Fablehaven series. I’ve also received comparisons to the Harry Potter series, and I think that’s very gracious!

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

The first two chapters of my first book, Acea and the Animal Kingdom, were a dream I had while visiting family over a holiday. I remember drawing out the setting the next day. I then had a long car ride back home a couple of days later. The setting had consumed my thoughts the whole time, but I needed a plot. I ended up outlining most of the plot up during that car ride. So by the time I got home, I was bursting at the seams with wanting to finally sit and down write what was in my head.

Do you write full-time or part-time?

I write part-time, but being an author is a full-time job. It’s actually a second profession for me, since I’m also a practicing attorney. Even though I write part-time, I still spend a lot of time researching and planning for what I’m going to write.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

I’m probably different than most authors in that I will absolutely not write if I don’t have a clear idea of where it’s going to go. This results in me writing in spurts.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

Good question! Frankly, I’m not sure. I try not to overthink my writing style, and instead focus on what the story demands. For example, book one is largely centered around one character – Acea. However, book two involved several other characters. That was a change for me – having to develop distinctive characters. If there’s one thing I would point to which has evolved, that would probably be it.

What have you written?

I’m the author of the Acea Bishop Trilogy. Book one is Acea and the Animal Kingdom, and book two is Acea and the Seven Ancient Wonders. I’m currently writing the last of the trilogy, which will be entitled Acea and the Adventure Thru Time.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?

For me, it has to be a mix of both. I’ll plot out several key points of the novel which I want the plot and characters to get to. However, the rest of it I fill in while writing. That’s the most fun part of writing to me – just allowing my imagination in that moment to take me in a certain direction, and then to step back afterwards and wonder how I did something which was unforeseen to me when I started. I love that rush.

My novels each have a certain structure to them which allow me to write this way. For example, book one has five different “zoo rooms.” I plotted out in advance what those rooms would be and where I wanted the character and plot to be at the end of them. But everything else while Acea is in each zoo room wasn’t structured when I started. I would keep a list of potential animals for each room and would use that list for me to drawn upon as I had fun running away with the story. Same thing with the seven ancient wonders within each kingdom for book two. 

How do you market your books?

I rely heavily on word of mouth – so thanks to all of my readers! I’ve been lucky to have a passionate fan base who help spread the word. I’ve also done some live appearances, such as Salt Lake City Comic Con.

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?

I don’t know – I only keep a tab on general sales figures. That’s probably not a good thing, but I write for myself. I’m genuinely still amazed and grateful for each sale. With that said, though, I did sell out of copies at Comic Con.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in the future?

Oh, I’m sure I have. One mistake I seem to always repeat is not to have enough copies of a novel on hand when people want to make bulk purchases. 

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Do what works best for you! For beginning authors, I’d also say don’t get discouraged. In general, I’ve read so much advice for authors, like: keep writing when you have writer’s block, and read a lot of other work within your genre. Interestingly enough, for me, I do not follow that advice. I’ve just always done what works best for me, and would recommend that other writers do the same.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?

Twelve-year-old Acea Bishop was always more of the nerdy kid who would rather go to the library during recess to read about animals instead of playing basketball like the other boys. But after waking up inside of an ancient kingdom strangely resembling a zoo, Acea is now running from those same animals he used to love reading about. As he unlocks the secrets of the Animal Kingdom in trying to find his way back home, he learns about the father he never knew. He also discovers that there’s a deeply personal reason for why he was brought to the Animal Kingdom. Acea has secrets. Big ones. He just doesn’t know it yet.

Where do your ideas come from?

I spend a lot of time thinking about the big picture of where I want the plot and characters to go. I also spend a lot of time researching the factual bases behind the settings of my novels. From there, it’s almost like a formula for my mind to solve in terms of how to create conflict and character growth interwoven with the setting. This is why I spend so much time thinking about things before I begin writing – I want to solve the formula in my mind first. 

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

Well, I’m currently writing book three, Acea and the Adventure Thru Time. It’s the last novel in the trilogy. And for this book the hardest thing, by far, has been researching for it. The setting involves important events in human history – and I am not any type of history expert! I had to research a lot of different key historical events and then choose which ones to include based on what would work for the plot. That was very difficult – and I’m still not done with writing it!

Which writers inspire you?

I grew up a huge fan of the Myst series. It was a series of novels written about the old computer game. I’d say that series has been a huge inspiration. I also like writers from TV shows and movies. I pay attention to that stuff. 

What do you do to get book reviews?

I’d like to think I’m a purist in that I hope my novels make readers willing to write a book review. I try not to solicit them, and I’ve been very happy by the out-pouring of positive responses I get about my books! Even if it’s not in the form of a book review, but instead emails from readers – I love it and am very appreciative of the time people spend to let me know what they thought. One of my favorite things to hear from readers is what zoo room was their favorite from book one.

How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?

I don’t know – I don’t gauge this. I’m honestly just happy that people other than myself seem to be entertained by my writing. When I started, I was just wanting to write something that I’d be entertained by. Anything else is more than I ever expected.

What is the current book you are promoting? 

I’m not really promoting anything at the moment, but more taking a break from writing the third novel of my series. That said, book two came out about a year ago. I guess I’d say I’m promoting my entire series, since book two won’t make any sense without reading the first one! So – go read Acea and the Animal Kingdom!

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?

Naturally, it’s Acea. Because my novels are written in first person, that’s who I’ve had to connect with the most when writing. I cry when Acea cries, and laugh when he does. In terms of the character I relate more to, though, I’d say it’s actually the evil Sorcerer – Vesuvius. Haha, just kidding. It’s Acea’s father.

Who is your least favorite character and why? 

I can’t have a least favorite – they’re all like my children, since I developed them! But I will say that the character which I had the least amount of joy researching for was the giant tarantula named King Khachatur. This is because I spent hours and hours researching and watching videos about how tarantulas capture prey and feed. Not fun.

If your book were made into a movie, who would you cast? 

Another good question! Acea would be a twelve year boy. I’d probably want more of an unknown actor – so the audience doesn’t have a preset idea of who he is. But for Acea’s father, I’d probably want Brad Pitt just because I’m a fan of the roles he’s taken as he’s gotten older. I’m also a huge Ethan Hawke fan, so we’d obviously have to find a way to have him case in it. The role of Emma would be difficult to cast as well since she has a French background - and I’m not familiar with young, English-speaking French actresses.

What is your next project? 

I’m hoping that Acea and the Adventure Thru Time is released by the end of this year! Once that’s released, I have an idea cooking for another novel. But it would be different than the Acea Bishop Trilogy. It would be a stand-alone novel that’s aimed more at the adult genre. The idea is in its infancy, so I can’t give any specifics away. 

Who is your favorite fictional character and why?

So many. Jack from Lost. Howard Roark from The Fountainhead. These are the two which immediately stand out to me.

What one person from history would you like to meet and why?

I’d say that as of right now, after researching for this third novel, I’d be interested to meet Sir Isaac Newton. The man was probably among the most intelligent people ever on this earth. He did more by the time he was twenty-five than I’ll probably do in my whole life. 

If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?

Volunteer more.

How do you write your books? 

I write them as inspiration comes to me. I’m not a fan of forcing myself to write when I’m not inspired to. Fortunately, once I have a clear idea for the novel, my inspiration is usually pretty consistent. I typically then write at home on my desktop, but I’ll occasionally also use my iPad.

Who inspires your writing? 

I can’t really pin-point this to a single person. Maybe this is because I don’t write for any purpose other than to entertain. Even then, I don’t write with the idea of entertaining any audience, but instead myself. I’m a pretty big critic of my own work, so if I can get lost in my own story then I’m happy. I hope this answers the question… 

Where do you come up with your stories? 

I consider my novels almost a form of historical fiction. This is because each one requires so much research, and is also based in fact. I draw a lot upon my research for developing the setting. For the overall plot, I just write where I think the story would be compelling. I rarely try to draw upon personal experiences, but that can’t be 100% avoided. 

Who is your favorite author? 

Well I have my undergraduate degree in philosophy, so a lot of my favorite authors are actually philosophical ones. That’s a whole different conversation, though… For fiction, I’d revert back to the authors of the Myst series I mentioned earlier – Rand and Robyn Miller, and David Windgrove.

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer?

Never write for anyone other than yourself. Also, be grateful for anyone who chooses to read your work – there’s libraries worth of competition for people’s attention!

What is one thing you hate about being a writer?

The amount of time it takes, and how sometimes I’d write for like an hour and only have one page. I’ll feel like I wasted my time, even though other days I’ll write much faster. 

Tell us something unique about you.

Usually I’d say that I’m an author, but I’m guessing I’ll have to divulge something else about me. Haha. I taught myself how to play guitar when I was bed-bound after a minor back surgery right after high school.

Is there anything else you would like to add that I’ve included?

Thanks for interviewing me! I absolutely love hearing from my readers and reading their reviews. I’m shocked by the wide range of people (kids and adults) which have written me saying they love the series. Feel free to reach out to me at the below methods.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Book Links: 

Book 1 (Acea and the Animal Kingdom):

Book 2 (Acea and the 7 Ancient Wonders):

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