The Bookpushers would like to give a big welcome to Keith Melton, Samhain author extraordinaire, and the Lord and Master of drawing in paint! Thanks Keith for coming here today to answer our questions!
Melton is the author of some great gritty Urban Fantasy books, with dark and brooding male heroes and the sexy women who fall for them. His previous works include the Nightfall Syndicate Series and the Nightfall Wolf Clan Series. Keith mentioned on his blog the other day that he just recently signed a contract to write the sequel to Blood Vice. It’ll hopefully come out in summer of 2011.
His newest release, The Zero Dog War is the first in the Zero Dog Missions Series and has had some great buzz and releases on February 15th. Keith, thank you again and welcome!
Keith Melton: Thanks, it’s great to be here. I don’t know about “author extraordinaire” though… probably more like “ADHD problem child”…and I think my official ranking is less “Lord and Master of Microsoft Paint” and more “Weird Guy Who Draws Bad Cartoons Of People Without Feet.”
And now if only I could get a T-shirt with that on the front…
Bookpushers: What got you started in writing? Why Urban Fantasy?
Keith: Actually, I started writing after I discovered in high school, to my vast dismay, that I’d never grow to be a 6’ 6” basketball small forward and roll into the NBA.
I was reading a lot of horror fiction, Clive Barker, Stephen King, Peter Straub, etc, and was inspired to start writing stories. All of my early stories sucked horribly, I’m proud to say. Hey, if you start at the bottom, you have nowhere to go but up. Right?
As to why Urban Fantasy…mostly because it allows me to mix in fantasy, science fiction, a bit of horror, and sometimes either crime noir or military thriller elements. Swords and guns, tanks and vampires, magic and technology. I love the dichotomies and the contrasts. The genre has a good deal of room to play around in, and I like the freedom.
Bookpushers: Do you remember what you were doing when you found out you sold your first book? What was your reaction?
Keith: I was checking my email at the time. I know. Thrilling. Most people don’t realize writers are a lot like super-spies. Danger. Intrigue. Rampant email checking, and so on. However, before you become star-struck, please try to remember that both writers and secret agents still put our pants on one leg at a time.
Anyway, this was September 2008, I believe… back before the economy spontaneously combusted. The good old days, in other words. I called up all the people who’d ever supported my dreams of being published and told them the good news. Then I went out to dinner with my wife and kids to celebrate.
Pretty low key, actually. If I had it to do all over again I would’ve started a fire or something, tipped over some cars. You know, celebrate like they do in the big cities after their team wins a National Championship. A drunken one-man writer riot. I think I’d even make the news, and that’s a Grade A Promo Opportunity, right there.
Bookpushers: We’ve heard some great Twitter buzz about The Zero Dog War, what can you tell us about this new release?
Keith: Well, it’s a little crazy. More than a little absurd. It has ninjas. Or wanna-be ninjas, which is the next best thing. Werewolves. Three hundred pound housecats. A woman who can summon inter-dimensional ferrets and squirrels. All this, and MORE!
The villain is trying to achieve global domination through the manufacture of processed gelatin, using an army of zombies to keep labor costs down and HR problems low. The good guys are all members of a borderline dysfunctional paranormal mercenary team. So a lot goes wrong. Oh, and there’s a bit of romance in there for those of you who like the smooching, and also a bunch of explosions for those of you who like your smooching to come with gratuitous explosions and mayhem.
There might even be an amusing joke in there, squeezed in between the zombies and explosions. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it!
Bookpushers: You announced the news that there will be a sequel to Blood Vice. Are we going to see more of Karl? Can you tell us anything about the new shenanigans he is going to get into?
Keith: Yes, I signed the contract last month. I’d be happy to tell you a bit about it.
Karl Vance is in trouble. He’s in Eastern Europe, coerced by the Order of the Thorn (a human knighthood dedicated to purging all dangerous supernatural creatures from the planet) into killing a target of their choice. Since Karl’s a vampire, he’s expendable to the Thorn. Karl finds himself staring through the scope of a sniper rifle at a sorcerer who’s raising a paranormal army to challenge the Thorn. He must obey the Thorn to save his lover, Maria, from them and uphold his end of a bargain. He pulls the trigger…and all hell breaks loose.
Meanwhile, Maria Ricardi is having trouble staying at the top of her mafia syndicate. The FBI is after her, the New York Families are highly displeased a woman is running a syndicate, the Order of the Thorn is trying to track her down, and she has traitors within her crime family. Then she discovers Karl is being set up…
Bookpushers: You are so fun to follow on Twitter and your Scribbling Ninjas Blog! How did you get hooked up with Moira Rogers, Alisha Rai, and Vivian Arend?
Keith: I met Moira Rogers, or I should say the infamous Bree of Moira Rogers, after one of the first times I posted to the Samhain author loop. I was trying to be friendly to the other writers, joking around and talking about how gelatin desserts should be banned. You know, normal stuff. Everybody ignored me except Bree, who got all: “Oh, NO YOU DIDN’T! You can’t take my pineapple-strawberry sugar free gelatin away from me! I love it with a love that is MORE than love!”
Then she felt all embarrassed because we were arguing about gelatin on the author’s loop where it’s only permissible to talk about serious intellectual author-ish stuff. I’m guessing Donna—the other half of Moira Rogers—beats her with a cement-filled rubber hose when she gets out of line because Bree was traumatized for a couple of months.
I met Donna on Twitter when it turned out we were both on FBI watch lists for using Google search terms like: “Lime and body disposal” and “Common accelerants for warehouse fires” and “Cross-border narcotics smuggling with llamas.” Which were all writer-research-related search terms—for me anyway. I can’t speak for Donna.
I didn’t know Alisha Rai very well until she finally made a Twitter account. Prior to that she would lament the fact that Twitter terrified her, it had too many clicky buttons, draconian character limits, scary whales and creepy blue birds everywhere, people kept talking like they were shouting random bits of conversation into an empty room and adding weird things like #FF and RT. Oh, and she was deathly afraid of spam bots. It took a lot of therapy for her to work through that fear, but I’m proud of her.
So Bree and I made fun of her until she finally started a Twitter account to hear all the things we were saying behind her back. Now she tweets incessantly about the show Lost, being an Epic Ninja, and how she was viciously attacked by rogue pigeons in London.
I met Vivian Arend when she, Moira Rogers, and I all had werewolf books coming out over a particular summer. Vivian is Canadian, so she has some issues: namely she cheers for Canadian hockey teams and believes Canadian maple syrup is the best. She also can survive for months in the winter wilderness with only a pocketknife, two matches, and some cellophane.
Warning: There are varying degrees of truth in the above statements. Your narrator may qualify as “unreliable.”
Bookpushers: Other than the Blood Vice sequel, what are you working on? Can you give us any hints? *Waves decadent chocolate cake as a bribe*
Keith: What? No pie?
Well, I’m working on a lot of things, all at once, which seems to be standard procedure with me.
I’ll have another Urban Fantasy novel out in April with Etopia Press called 9mm Blues. It’s about the Thorn knights from the Nightfall Syndicate (the Blood Vice books) fighting ghouls. It’s a type of military Urban Fantasy combo. Lots and lots of intense action.
I’m working on the third book in the Nightfall Syndicate series—which will be the final book in the Karl and Maria vampire trilogy. I have to finish this or my editor casually mentioned she’d kill me.
I’m writing a Zero Dog prequel. Just for fun, I’ll let you guess the answer. The prequel has one of the following: A) a steampunk villainess B) explosions C) airships that won’t fly D) drunken Fae E) All of the Above.
(If you guessed answer “E” you win yet another reason to gloat about your awesomeness on the Internet. Feel free to do this in the comments section as much as you’d like.)
I’m writing a sequel to my werewolf novella Run, Wolf for the massive throng (totaling three readers) who actually liked it and requested more.
…And a bunch of other partially completed projects.
Bookpushers: Do you have any plans to explore and write in other genres?
Keith: Yes, eventually. I have a couple of high fantasy novels sitting in the old trunk (honestly, which speculative fiction writer doesn’t have a few of those lying around, completely neglected?) that someday I will re-write. I have an idea for a creepy horror novel for the new Samhain horror line.
Also, I am one hundred and ten percent confident I could write the best Self Help book in the world. The title will be: How I Used My Overweening Ego To Change My Life And Rule The World. The subtitle will be: Find Your Inner Self-Actualization In Just 47 Easy Steps!
It’s gonna be big.
Bookpushers: Which of your characters do you think you are most like? How about the character that made the biggest impression on you, or was most memorable?
Keith: Hmm. A difficult question. The easy answer would be to say there’s a little bit of every character of mine locked inside me…but then people would think I was seriously unbalanced, perhaps even a danger to small furry animals. I assure everyone that is not the case.
I’ll tell you my favorite character (at the moment): Jeremiah Hansen, Ambitious Entrepreneur and Zombie Overlord.
Bookpushers: What is your writing style like? Do you plot or just fly by the seat of your pants?
Keith: I’ve done both. And both have their strengths. If I do pants it, I find myself plotting out the entire story and all the character arcs in my head before I write. So it’s a bit of mental plotting, even if I don’t sit down and write it all out in outline form.
I believe plotting/outlining can really help a writer gain an overview of the three act structure of the story (if that’s what he/she is following) and the character arcs. However, a writer shouldn’t feel constricted by an outline. He/she should feel free to run in a different direction if a new and better idea comes up, even if it significantly changes the story.
Bookpushers: If you had the ability to make an UF heroine real which one would you choose to Kiss, to Marry and to hurl off to space? *don’t have to answer the last one!*
Keith: I really like Mercy Thompson. She’s good people. Also, I wouldn’t have to change my oil anymore because, as a mechanic, she has that kind of thing locked down.
Hurl into space? Hmm. Probably any character who was consistently and unrepentantly TSTL.
Bookpusher: And followup to the UF heroine question—if you had the ability to make an UF male hero real, have a beer, make him best man or hurl off in some deep dark crevice? *Don’t have to answer the last one either :D*
Keith: This is probably the stock answer, but I’d have a beer with Harry Dresden. Hell, I’d buy that dude a beer. Or ten.
Maybe put John Taylor of the Nightside down for a beer, as well. Especially if I’ve misplaced my keys or cell phone and need someone to help find them.
As for hurling people into crevices, I think I’ll go with the same answer as above. Any character who consistently acts Too Stupid To Live.
Bookpushers: If you had to describe your books as a dessert, what kind would it be? *We like our desserts here on the Book Pushers*
Keith: Pie. Hot apple pie. Or pumpkin pie with ice cream. Maybe even lemon meringue. I also like key lime, and wouldn’t be adverse to having people say my books were a bit like key lime pie. Or some kind of chocolate pie…mmmm!
Anyway, thanks for letting me ramble. I have a feeling I talked too much…like “that guy” at the party…but that’s what happens when you ask questions about pie. Oh wait, it was me who talked about pie, wasn’t it? Now that I think about it, I’m hungry. ^_^
Anyway, I’m giving away a free ebook copy of The Zero Dog War to a randomly chosen commenter. You can comment on anything, including the weather, or you can tell me your favorite paranormal creature and/or intriguing and completely non-serious idea for a Self Help book.
Keith’s contest will be open until Friday the 18th, and the winner announced on Saturday.