Recently, I met up with Kevin Rau, author of the super H.E.R.O. action/adventure series inside his penthouse suite at the Beverly Hills La Fontaine Hotel. He sat down with me to divulge a few tidbits about his amazing journey to writing twelve books in the series. Twelve books!!!
Do you remember the very first character you ever created? How old were you?
If you mean character used in writing or otherwise, then no. I started role-playing at the age of 10, more than 30 years ago. I *do* recall some characters I created around 26 years ago, though they weren’t used in writing. The first character I used in my novels was Stephanie Quinn in a superhero role-playing campaign decades ago. She “mutated” from the concept character when she hit the paper in H.E.R.O. – Metamorphosis, though.
What kind of environment do you prefer around you when you write? Complete solitude or a bit of static noise in the background? Does that include listening to music?
I need to have noise at all times. I prefer thumping, dance-type music, but I listen to everything from heavy metal to pop music. No country! It grates on me like fingers on a chalkboard… Lately, I’m finding that I’m far more productive when at a writing desk in another room than at the PC in my living room. The TV is too great a temptation.
Speaking of music, does it flavor your writings in any way? Do you need to listen to music in order to set the mood for a scene while you’re creating it?
No, part of it is just to stay awake and interested. I often put a song on repeat and it fades into the background.
Who influenced you the most to take that fire in the belly and become a writer? A teacher, another author, a parent?
I read about 30 books in December 2008, and became highly irritated at the stories ending each time. I wanted to read MORE about the characters. Laurel K. Hamilton probably had something to do with the inclination to write long (ongoing) series, as I enjoyed her Merry Gentry and Anita Blake series.
Did you always have the confidence to put your work out there for the public, or did it build slowly over time?
No, I sat on my first two books for 2 years, tweaking them over and over. I didn’t think I’d ever release them until I stumbled on an artist, who I had mock up a basic cover (that didn’t work) – but that gave me the idea to create my characters in 3D for my covers, and I started that up. Then, I went banzai for 18 months, writing like an obsessed, uh, writer.
Well, we’re all glad you went banzai then. Do you pay attention to negative reviews or criticism at all?
Unfortunately, I do. I’ve gotten a few, and it seems like the person has their own agenda or very slanted view of things that my writing really set off. But, it still ruins a day or two for me. I’m paying less and less attention to reviews as time goes on due to that. Sorry, but this is art. If someone doesn’t want to see MY artistic vision, that’s fine, but it doesn’t mean attacking my art is right.
I don’t believe in attacking anyone’s artistic vision. On the flip side of that, how do you handle praise when people gush over your work?
I’m embarrassed more than anything, and honored when it happens. I don’t write “deep” stories or super-complex plots. I write light, action-oriented fiction. On the flip side of #8, it makes my day when I get a great review.
If you could sit down with one author and ask one question, which author would it be and what would you ask?
I can’t say as this is something I think about. Heh, I supposed I’d ask another superhero author if they go to conventions, and how many copies of print books to bring to a Con to sell. 🙂
Are you ever tempted to write outside the genre you’re best known for?
Yep! I have a dozen books in my H.E.R.O. superhero series. I’m on the last days of editing my first fantasy novel. So I’m more than tempted, I’m doing it!
A fantasy novel! How perfect! What is your own favorite character or storyline in your work that you love more than anyone else’s, more than any other author you’ve ever read that’s all yours?
I love several of my characters deeply. Not because they are perfect, either, but because they are “mine.” They are like my kids. My top two are Diva and Psystar. Both are vulnerable (in different ways), and yet will go to great lengths to help others.
What are you working on now? And why did you choose it or did it choose you?
As I mentioned above, I’m finishing the last edits on Necromancer’s Ascent. It works as a standalone novel, but is intended to be the first in a series all set in one fantasy world. I’ve wanted to get into my fantasy series since I started H.E.R.O. The story mutated from my original intent, though! It went from being very small in scope to a much grander scale than I planned. I enjoy fantasy (novels, movies, etc.), and wanted to get something started along those lines.
Necromancer’s Ascent. I love that title. What’s the one quirky thing about you that you’d like people to know that isn’t already out there in the public domain? The one thing that’s just a bit odd?
Er, that I’d LIKE people to know? Perhaps this – some people think my superhero characters are falsly narcissistic (e.g. wearing tight costumes and such), but in reality, I’ve been in the position where I lost most of my fat, gotten in to nearly costume-wearing condition, and I would have worn tight clothes like that in a heartbeat. Others that have done the same in my experience do the same, part of it is pride in getting into that kind of shape, I think. In a nutshell, I base some of what my characters to on real-life experiences, even if they seem “too” outgoing.
A few questions for the heck of it. Would you rather be tooling up a coastal highway in a convertible or four-wheeling it through the sand dunes anywhere in the world? In other words, where’s your favorite destination to escape to? Not to write, but to get away from it all for a break?
My happiest vacation that I recall is at Disney World. I’d happily go there again for a few weeks -but how one gets there, and where you stay plays a big part in eliminating any stress. I’d love to check out some old castles someday.
Are you a Big Bang person or a Walking Dead person?
I enjoy both, but I don’t have cable, so my TiVo only records Big Bang Theory. I haven’t seen Walking Dead in a full season due to the cable thing.
Now for the last question. Where can people find your books? Your website? Your blog?
All of them are listed at: http://www.kevinrau.com/books.asp
I also have many 3D pictures of my superheroes on my website, as well as on my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/herobooks
My e-books can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, DriveThruFiction, and iTunes. (Links are on http://www.kevinrau.com/books.asp )
By the way, the first (full) H.E.R.O. novel is free all the time on all those sites. Links are at the very top of that books page. My blog is linked on my website.
Oh, and I’m on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/kevin_rau
Thanks for having me, Vickie!
Kevin, it was my pleasure. I enjoyed our chat. Please come back another time. Maybe you’ll squeeze me into your busy schedule when you publish Necromancer’s Ascent. Until then, much success to you!