Here it is at last. I asked Kyle a few questions about his life and writing, and he was very kind to respond in more than a few words. Below is the full transcript. But before we get to that, here are some things you should know about Kyle:
He wrote a book called Acea and the Animal Kingdom. It’s written for kids/young adults and is absolutely fantastic. Here’s my review of it: https://christotaylor.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/acea-and-the-animal-kingdom-book-review/
You can check out Kyle’s homepage for more information about him and the Acea Bishop triology. (That’s right, Kyle is writing two more books!)
Finally, you can buy the book through Kyle’s homepage, or Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Acea-Animal-Kingdom-Volume-1/dp/1480207675?tag=ap0a7eddd0-20.
BONUS: To coincide with this post, Kyle has bumped the ebook price down to $0.99. Go buy that immediately! Also, I know sometimes ebook versions are tricky and look really bad or don’t translate well. I own the kindle version of Acea and it works beautifully. SO GO BUY IT!
And without further ado I give you, Kyle Shoop:
I know when I write a lot, it really takes it out of me. I mean, it’s really hard, exhausting work. How do you find the time to balance writing, lawyering, and a solid marriage?
You’re not alone! Though my wife may sometimes disagree with the “solid marriage” part of the question, I’d like to think I’ve found a way to balance those things. Really, it’s all about prioritization. Being a husband, father, and practicing attorney take up about 90-95% of my time. So, it’s with the other 5-10% I try to use to write.
But whenever I find the time to write, it’s something I genuinely look forward to. Oftentimes, I look forward to it so much that I find myself thinking of plots and characters during commutes and church (shh, don’t tell!). Because if you think about it – writing a good novel requires more than just finding time to write – at least for me, I have to spend a large amount of time thinking about the story and researching things I don’t know about. At the end of a writing period, I usually am mentally exhausted. In fact, when I do write, I normally write until I’m exhausted. But it’s the type of exhaustion I look forward to because of the satisfaction I get from creating something. I imagine it’s kinda like the exhaustion that people who enjoy working out (not me) get – only I really have no clue about that for sure.
Do you ever experience writers’ block? How do you get through it?
Yes. I do something I think a lot of writers tell you not to do – I stop writing. To me, the worst thing that I could do is continue writing if I genuinely don’t know where the story is going to go. I’d hate to have to go back and change so much of the story, because much of what I’ll continue writing in the future depends on what I’ve already written. Waste of time. I stop writing and start thinking a lot about it – and talk to people about what different avenues the story could go down.
This actually happened to me in writing Acea and the Animal Kingdom. I experienced a mental block about ½ way through the Terrarium room. I stopped writing for about a month and just thought through what the plot should be in great detail and how it fit into the larger story. Then, once I decided I was ready to begin writing again, the story just came to me a thousand times easier.
Luckily, I have the ending of books two and three already planned out and I can’t wait to share it!
Why write for children? Do you want to continue with them as your audience? Are there any plans for an adult oriented novel?
I write for children for three reasons. First, because my wife has been a teacher for young kids for so many years, that age group is just organically what I’ve been influenced by. Second, it’s a welcome change from my day job of legal writing. Third, I actually started putting pen to paper (keyboard) after I read a couple chapters of another popular book in this genre. After having read those chapters, I decided my time would be better spent writing the plot I’d been developing in my head instead of reading.
Yes – I love having that age group as my audience! One of my favorite reactions I constantly get is from parents who say they read Acea with their kid at bedtime. I can only really get that reaction that from this audience.
With that being said, though, I’ve often developed plots for more-adult oriented novels, such as horror and love novels (yea, crazy, I know…). In general, any time I find myself really enjoying a movie, I get inspired for that genre. But at this time, I’m so focused on making the Acea series as entertaining, intriguing and rewarding as I possibly can that I can’t even see past it. But, who knows – maybe when I’m done with the third and final book I’ll write something totally different.
You self-published. Any particular reason why? What did that entail?
It’s just the way I roll. I did contact some agents about representation but in the end decided against it. Just wasn’t my thing. I even used to self-record music back in the day – where I played all the instruments and sang on it. Maybe my prior creative independence played a role in my decision.
Self-publishing does take a lot of work, though. You only reap what you sow. I did my own book cover, website, etc. In fact, I’d say making a website was way more laborious than writing. In the end, I’m open to traditional publishing if the right circumstance arises – it just hasn’t yet.
Do you consider all your various endeavors (musician/author/lawyer/etc.) careers/jobs or does one stand out there while others are hobbies?
Being a lawyer is definitely my career and job. But being a self-published author means I have to not only just enjoy writing, but I also have to treat the marketing like a job – which can be tough because writing is inherently an introverted profession. So it’s easy to say all I want to do is write and then write some more – and maybe if stars align people will buy it. I can’t do that – I’m always looking for more ways to bring Acea to more readers. Basically, I treat writing like a hobby – that way I’ll continue enjoying it; whereas I treat the marketing side like a job.
The most common question I get from readers is “when is the next book coming out?” With how often I get that question, it does add a certain amount of pressure to make writing not just a hobby but a job.
Being a musician was always just a hobby. I used to write and record my own albums for personal enjoyment and never really tried to market it. I also like to think that writing music was my “gateway drug” to writing stories – it gave me experience in expressing myself in a way which allowed me to see how people would react to my ideas. If I was never a musician, my novels would probably not be as entertaining.
Where do you get your ideas?
My wife explained best once to someone we know – I guess I’m a dreamer (whatever that means). However, the ideas have to make sense – the plot has to be going somewhere, feel like there are real stakes, and that it pays off.
For Acea and the Animal Kingdom, I tried really hard to have every chapter end in a way that the reader would want to immediately start the next chapter. That actually was a challenge sometimes and I found myself coming up with new twists or raised-stakes that I otherwise wouldn’t have. As I go back and re-read it, though, I’m surprised at how many different things – movies/tv/books – have influenced certain points and I didn’t even realize it while writing. However, I really didn’t want to write a book that felt like it was just re-hashing a prior plot. It had to feel original to me.
How do you go about doing research?
For the first book, I actually visited a zoo and took copious notes about all animals – even ones I wasn’t sure would be included and ones that I’d seen a hundred times before. Then, I’d obviously research stuff online. I can’t tell you how many hours I spend learning about tarantulas and watching videos about them eating. Not fun.
For this second novel, the research is actually a reason why it’s taking longer to write. Instead of animals, it revolves around the 7 ancient wonders of the world. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t know much about them –I must have missed those days in school or something.
In general, I try to have the setting of the novels be based in things that require research. And hopefully I get most of the research based stuff right.
I’m sure you have bouts of “I just want to sit here and watch tv/play a game/eat my dinner and not write anything.” How do you get through that?
Yes, I certainly do. And I can’t say I get through that. I re-watched the last season of Lost with the excuse that I was trying to spark my creativity for the second book, but I think it was really just about re-watching Lost. (Lost-haters – don’t worry. The second book is nothing like the show.) In the end, I think it really boils down to prioritization and motivation.
What’s your favorite part of Acea and the Animal Kingdom? Why is it your favorite? Was it easy to write?
Gosh, so many! My favorite question to ask readers is what their favorite room is, even though I don’t really have one myself. I had to make each room be my favorite while writing it, so it’s tough to narrow it down – kinda like having to choose which child is your favorite. Without giving too much away, though, I’d have to say that I really thought the part where the gorilla rips open the anaconda in the jungle room was an awesome idea.
Finally, why write?
For me, expression has always been a necessity – even if no one ever read a thing I wrote.
It started with writing and playing music and then expanded into storytelling. When I was doing my undergrad, I actually made a crazy goal that I never thought I’d ever follow through on. It was to record a music album, write a novel, and compose a symphony. Five years later, I completed writing/recording my third album and decided to let music-making just take the back burner. Without even thinking about my prior goal, I’d begun crafting the outline of a novel after having a certain dream. One year later, I’d finished the draft of Acea and the Animal Kingdom. Only, just as I ended up actually recording three musical albums instead of one, the Acea series is now planned to be trilogy! Writing – whether music or novels – is such a rewarding form of expression because it’s my own creation.
If you have more questions, leave them in the comments section. I’m sure Kyle will be happy to answer them if he ever gets a break from his incredibly busy life. Thank you Kyle. This was immensely fun.