Today we sit down with author and anthropology and archaeology professor, Kurt Springs. He is going to share a bit about his love for writing, his inspiration and his work in this edition of 20 Questions. Please enjoy.
Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I first started writing when I was in the fifth grade, that would have been in 1975 or so. I would write stories for English class. My teacher, Ms. Dougherty always encouraged me. I tried my hand at writing off and on through the years.
Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?
I don’t know that I have a typical length of time. Price of Vengeance was started in the summer of 2010, just when I realized how little call there was in academia for someone with a PhD. in European Prehistory. The draft was finished in 2012. (I’d already started on Promise of Mercy.) I had a manuscript ready to submit to publishers by 2013. It was accepted by Tate Publishing and Enterprises and was released April 2014. Promise of Mercy was out and ready a year later.
Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
That is actually the biggest change. I started working at a local community college in Manchester, New Hampshire in 2013. Since then I’ve acquired more courses. I always found it easier to write when I should be doing something else.
Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Much of science fiction often focuses on technology. I still like to focus on people. While geeks love the new ideas for how to do things (guilty), everyone finds the interactions between people to be much more enthralling. In science fiction, you have the opportunity to expand this interaction to people who aren’t human.
Q5) How are your books published? (traditional, indie, etc.)
Tate Publishing and Enterprises is what I would call Traditionalish. It does give me some support, though I find I do a lot of marketing on my own.
Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?
I get ideas from a lot of places. Some ideas come from some of my favorite authors, though I have to find ways to make the ideas new again. The same with TV shows and movies. I also get ideas from current events.
Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book and how old were you?
I was in High School, around 16 years old. I had some five subject notebooks that I started writing stories into.
Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like cooking, and reading of course. I like to take walks and have done some landscape photography.
Q9) What is your favorite book?
My favorite book is the late Andre Norton’s Forerunner.
Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?
Friends and family are very supportive. My brother, sister-in-law, mother, and younger niece have acted as Alpha readers and editors for me.
Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Something that should not have been surprising: writing the book is the easy bit. The hardest part is the marketing.
Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?
Writer’s block if truth be told. I know the story is in me. Not being able to overcome distractions to tell the story is frustrating. However, I’m mature enough to realize that I’m the only one who can fix the problem.
Q13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve tried my hand at a couple of science fiction and fantasy novels that didn’t pan out.
The two books I’ve published so far are part of the series, A Dreamscape Warriors Novel. They are Price of Vengeance and Promise of Mercy. I have a draft of the third book that is going through Alpha reader edits. I was going to call it Gift of Peace since it deals with the end of an interstellar civil war. But I realized that evil was still out there so final peace is eternally elusive. Part of the process is to come up with a new title. I’m writing a prequel whose name I’m still working on. I’m also working on a book called Legacy of Valour which will come between Price of Vengeance and Promise of Mercy.
A favorite? That’s hard to say. Each of them contains a little piece of me. If I were choosing between those I’ve published, I still have a difficult time deciding. I would say there is a soft spot in my heart for Price of Vengeance, simply because it was my first published book—my proof that I can do it.
Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?
I have two pieces of advice. The first is moral: Never give up. If there is a story in you, it needs to be told.
The second is technical. You need a plotting system. In other words, you need a way of keeping control of your material. I use a plot out lining system that I learned in the 1990s. You start with the idea, then move to your three basic plot crisis points. When does the protagonist end up on a collision course with the antagonist? When does the story turn around, taking protagonist and antagonist in entirely new directions? When does the antagonist have the protagonist pinned down, on the verge of becoming a memory? This becomes a framework for key scenes. Once you have your key scenes, you need to create a scene outline.
Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?
My readers often say they like the family nature of the story. I mean that to the characters, family is all important to them. In Promise of Mercy, Deirdre, Aisling, and Bayvin are prepared to go against orders to find their father.
Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?
Anyone who likes science fiction with a touch of battle and paranormal.
Q17) What do you think makes a good story?
A good story should be a page turner. An author needs to make the reader eager to know what happens next. This is a function of how the story is put together. In addition to being an author, I am also a book reviewer at Kurt’s Frontier (kurtsfrontier.wordpress.com). I’ve often come up against very frustrating books where all the elements that could have made a great story were there, but the author bogged the story down in unnecessary detail, too many subplots, or just told the story in a very episodic way and couldn’t make it interesting.
Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
That would depend on which point in my growing up you’re talking about. When I was very young, I was enthralled by dirt moving equipment like bulldozers, backhoes, and frontend loaders. Around age five, I became interested in dinosaurs and told everyone that I wanted to be a palaeontologist. Later I thought about a career in the military. In many respects it’s still evolving. Writers aren’t allowed to grow up, you know.
Q19) Where can we find your books?
My books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and can be ordered through your local independent book store.
Q1) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your favorite works?
Liam got up and walked to a window. “Jarek is coming with a fleet, but right now, they can’t get to us because of the force field. I learned that it was Azurius who put it around the planet.”
“It makes sense,” Dillon said thoughtfully.
“I need to rest,” Liam said. “Let’s take this in watches.”
“I’ll take first watch,” the corporal said.
“Wake me up after three hours, Corporal,” Dillon said. “Then I’ll wake you up, sir.”
Liam went back to the chair behind the desk and leaned back in it. Soon, he was breathing softly.
Liam hovered outside the tower. He had left out this part of his dreamscape activity. They were already questioning his sanity. Besides it wouldn’t take long. Soon, the minefield was down from near the Bistro and surrounding Tower 99. This was information Ephram and Dillon didn’t need to know anyway.
Still in the dreamscape, Liam went out into the city. He watched the hordes of chitin entering the city and saw how they were combining with the first groups. Liam worked his way back toward the Military Center, scouting for anything useful. He hoped that Azurius had not destroyed everything at the Military Center armory. He was was startled at the pounding the building had taken. He moved though the building, seeing evidence of the destruction. At least there were no chitin around.
Suddenly, Liam felt himself seized by the back of the neck.
“I thought someone was snooping around,” said a familiar voice. “You had a good idea, establishing an alarm. I thought it might be wise to follow your example.”
Azurius struck with an open hand. Liam was thrown backward. While his head was still ringing, Azurius grabbed him again.
Lieutenant! came a panicked voice as if over a great distance.
“You need more experience in dream combat if you are going to sneak around like this,” Azurius said with a laugh.
Liam’s hand shot out and went into Azurius’s skull. He almost felt brain material as Azurius cried out and threw him back. Then Azurius was gone, and Liam snapped back to his own body.
About Dr. Kurt Springs:
Kurt D. Springs is presently an adjunct professor of anthropology and archaeology in New Hampshire. He holds a PhD. in anthropology from the State University of New York at Buffalo, as well as a Master of Literature in archaeology from the National University of Ireland, Galway, and a Master of Liberal Arts in anthropology and archaeology from the Harvard University Extension School. His main area of interest is megalithic landscapes in prehistoric Ireland.
Kurt also writes reviews on Kurt’s Frontier.
Professor Springs currently lives in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Connect with Kurt:
My website is: www.kurtsprings.com
Book review blog: kurtsfrontier.wordpress.com
Find Kurt’s Books:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Kurt%20D%20Springs/_/N-0