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Monday, 28 November 2016

Our latest brave soul is Kevin Berry ...

Kia ora,
Please welcome our latest victim guest, Kevin Berry. On the metal plate suspended above that puddle by wires is a chocolate fish. Behave and the delicious pink marshmallow fish covered in chocolate won’t end up a goopy mess on the floor.
In the event of an earthquake/zombie plague/or random occupation - you’ll find emergency procedures taped to the bottom of your seat. Yes, just like a flotation device. You’ll also find a Glock 17 with a full magazine.
Remember you cannot reason with zombies and it’s a head shot every time.  


1. What’s your favorite type of takeaway? (Yes, that means take-out in NZ speak)

It’s either Thai food or burgers. I love hunting around Christchurch for the best gourmet burger places. They’ve been springing up all over town lately. Chips are included in my burger order. Obviously. And I rate Velvet Burger the best of the bunch.

2. Describe your current mental status.

The answer to that depends on the day you ask … even the time of day you ask. It varies a lot. Sometimes I can’t write because of my mental state. Other times, I have heaps of energy and love writing. Like now. But today my mental status is pretty good, because I’ve just won $5,500 on the horse racing this afternoon.

3. I know how I do what I do … but how do you do what you do? 

Not having much sleep helps, as does having a coffee dependency. I work part-time, have two young boys as a single parent, occasionally do editing and proofreading, and still find time to write. Though I’d like to write more than I do now.

4. Could you tell us a little bit about your latest work? 

I’ve been working on three things simultaneously (see, I said I have heaps of energy at the moment). I’ve just published a short book, Quotes on Writing by Writers for Writers. I did two editing passes of my science fiction novel Teleport following comments from beta readers, and I need to re-edit it more. Finally, I’ve started working on an interactive fiction book for You Say Which Way.

5. Do you have a favorite coffee or tea?

At home, Moccona Caramel instant coffee. When out, it’s cappuchino (or a caramel milkshake).

 6. Walk us through a typical day. (Do you make sure you’re wearing your lucky underpants before you sit down to write, perhaps you prefer commando? While we’re discussing your underpants, boxers, briefs, or budgie smugglers. Inquiring minds want to know. Yes, that includes my Admins… we don’t piss off the Admins.)

OMG, is there such a thing as a typical day? Okay. Weekday example. Wake by 7am at the latest, either by the alarm or by one of my children (whoever I’m currently looking after). For the next hour, try to actually wake up, work out where I am, who I am, what I’m supposed to do (I’m not a morning person) … and get breakfast. My eldest son has ASD and ADHD so mornings are challenging usually. Check emails and sports results on the computer. School run. Work for five hours as a software engineer. Reverse of school run. Look after whichever child I have (it may or may not be the same one as in the morning). More email checking because I can’t do that at work. Usually there are several I have to reply to, like to teachers or psychologists about what is going on. Spend time with my child. Cook dinner (at which I am terrible so please do not visit at dinner-time unless you want takeaways). Chores. Reprimand myself for doing only some of the chores, and promise myself I will do more in the future (ha!). Play games with my child (depending on who it is – Nicholas is a genius at Scrabble and Bananagrams, Fluxx and even Star Wars Risk). If I have James, then I’ll read dystopian science fiction to him for 30-60 minutes before bed (yes, sometimes he does have trouble getting to sleep afterwards, but I have to prepare him for a zombie apocalypse somehow). If I have Nicholas, he likes to have a conversation instead and then read in my room with me. After my child is in bed (8pm for James, 9.30pm for Nicholas), more emails, anything else I need to do on the computer, make an appearance on Facebook, chat on the phone to my girlfriend, then START WRITING. If I can manage two hours of that, I’m doing well. At about 1am I’ll start reading, usually on the floor. I go to bed about 1.30am to 2am, unless I fall asleep on the floor first. But doesn’t everyone have a day like this?

7. Tell us about your main character. (How did you first meet? Would you like to hang out with him/her? What delights you the most about writing him/her? You get the idea …) 

As I write different genres, I have different main characters. In Teleport (not yet published), my main character is a female scientist, Maddie. She’s a genius at her work but not a particular good parent and fairly hopeless at working out the motivations of other people. I’d have a coffee with her anytime.

8. Who are your favorite writers?

I’ve always admired Connie Willis for her books Passage (my favourite book) and Doomsday Book especially. I think she’s so good with characters. And Jane Austen for the same reason. Suzanne Collins for The Hunger Games. Of New Zealand writers, Lee Murray is my favourite. There are many more I want to read (I have a TBR list to rival a small library). Indie authors I like include Marsha Cornelius and Sara Furlong Burr. 

9. Who inspires you to do better? (Be as corny as you’d like… just go for it! Mmmm chocolate fish.)

Other writers do. Sorry, it’s not corny … I love talking to other writers, sharing ideas and giving and receiving encouragement. Without encouragement from a couple of NZ writers (you know who you are), I probably wouldn’t have written anything.

10. Do you ever put pants on your dog, cat, or budgie?

Only on my ring-necked parakeet, and only for special occasions

11. Describe your perfect day.

It would have to involve pancakes at a café and lots of coffee. Some writing. Lunch with my girlfriend or with another writer. A nice, long forest walk. A burger and chips for dinner. Time for more writing in the late evening. To date, I’ve never had a perfect day like this.

12. Who is your favorite fictitious villain? Or are you all about the hero? Who do you love to hate?

There are so many to choose from! The Balrog, for its immense threat, came to mind, but that is a monster, not a villain as such. I think what I would pick for a favourite fictitious villain is the demon from Terry Brooks’ The Word and the Void series, because he is so understated and so insidious in his corruption of others—pure evil that creeps up on you.

13. Do you have any quirks?
Yes. Possibly many. Very likely including some of which I am unaware. Answering this is best left to the people who think they know me. 

14. All-time favorite movie and why?

This is hard to answer because there are so many different types of moves. But I’ll plump for Bend It Like Beckham, which has made me cry whenever I’ve seen it, and I don’t really know why. That’s an atypical reaction for me. 

15. Do you enjoy the editing process?

I like editing other people’s work. Who doesn’t? But the standard of writing that comes my way to edit varies considerably from top notch to bottom of the barrel. I don’t mind correcting lots of mistakes in someone’s manuscript if the story is engaging and the writing is good, but plodding through a terrible document is worse than drinking Clorox bleach. Fortunately, the good writers come back and the bad ones tend not to. 

Editing my own work is different. I give it to trusted friends, all good writers, for beta reading one at a time, and wait for the feedback. Anything less than 100% praise can give me a migraine. When I’ve recovered, I can see they are right and I set about fixing my story. I’m prone to struggle with doubt and therefore question the value of everything I’ve done, so I need this outside validation.

16. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?

I think if I won the lottery (or it might require winning several lotteries), then I’d like to live in First Class on Singapore Airlines and travel the world for a while. But there is an infinitesimal chance of that happening.

17. Favorite Pizza topping?

Nothing exotic, just swiss cheese and pineapple

18. What were you before you became a writer?

Now you are asking me to reveal secrets. Okay. Here goes.

  • I don’t write full-time, though that is my dream, like many writers (and some I know have succeeded). I work part-time as a software engineer developing risk management software for commodity traders. 
  • I do copy editing and proofreading part-time for clients who approach me directly through my website, or are referred by editors I know in Australia and the USA. 
  • I’ve very recently become a paid horse-racing tipster (under a pseudonym) with a group in the UK. If you could follow my tips, you’d be winning.
  • This year I tried (and failed) to sell tee shirts online. After $500 of costs, I’d sold only one.

In the past, I’ve done a number of other things part-time. Perhaps the most interesting of them are:
  • Tennis journalist and tipster for a national sports paper in the UK.
  • Labourer.
  • Security guard at the Wimbledon championships (for about three days).
  • Visa officer for Immigration.
  • Astrologer.
  • Hypnotherapist.
  • Stock trader.

19. What is the most random thing you have ever done?

I don’t know how to answer this. At times, everything seems to be random.

20.  If you’re not working, what are you most likely doing?

One of (depending on the time of day): Spending time with my children. Eating comfort food. Reading a variety of books. 

21. Who is your ultimate character?

I like to create and write about characters who can make readers laugh, cry, cringe, angry or upset, all in the same book, and never forget them. That’s the ultimate character in my mind. A fictional character who is more real to my reader than their best friend.

22. Whiskey or Bourbon? Red or white wine? Tequila? Beer?

None of the above. I have an addictive personality, so I don’t drink alcohol at all. 

23. What’s in your pockets? (Or handbag, whatever you carry your stuff in. Are you apocalypse prepared?)

Diary (with appointments only partially completed, because I forget to write them in), sometimes a book, notes that I’ve scribbled and tucked away never to be seen again, and a small interdimensional wormhole that swallows money and pens.

24. Laptop, PC, Mac, tablet?

Laptop. I need to be able to take it places, even around the house. I touch-type, so a tablet isn’t good enough for writing.

25. Ebook or tree book?

OMG I have to confess, I buy lots of ebooks, and then sometimes I buy the paperback too. Sometimes I do it the other way around. I have 10 bookcases at home, stuffed full. Thankfully I haven’t got into the habit of listening to audio books yet.

26. Favorite apocalyptic scenario?

Vampire takeover. I’d fight back. I learned to do that by watching this documentary series, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, for seven years.

27. Where do you do most of your writing?

At home, at my desk in my room. It’s not exotic, but as I’m a solo parent I can’t easily go out to a café and write, though I’d like to sometimes.

28. What’s the hardest thing for you when it comes to being an author? (For me it’s marketing but for others it’s the actual writing …)

The hardest thing is reading a bad review. They affect me. I shouldn’t read them,really.

You made it!! Damn, you rock. Now would you like to try for the chocolate fish? Mind the puddles … but hurry. Power surges are common in the dungeon; you don’t want to have one hand on the metal plate containing that delicious chocolate fish and a foot in a puddle...
That laughter you hear is coming from The Knight, he probably won’t flip that switch he has his hand on. Probably …

You can find out more about Kevin in the following places and of course his books are available via our shop and website ...

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