Interview with Kevin Lee, author of the TRIO Trilogy
TB: We are thrilled to have Canadian writer, Kevin Lee, with us—author of the Fantasy series, TRIO—to launch “Author’s Dialogue,” our new author interview series.
Welcome, Kevin. Being that we are, originally, fellow-countrymen, it’s a pleasure to have you as our first guest. I’m curious, when and why did you decide to start writing?
KL: I had the writing bug in high school, but never really put anything else to paper besides homework until I was out on my own and working. I used to be in radio and had some free time during those long music sweeps.
It was on those long overnight shifts that I began to work on my writing when there wasn’t really a whole lot to do– I began to jot ideas down on paper and write up a few stories. It just grew from there until I reached a point where I wanted to take a shot at writing a novel and see if I could pull it off. I found that I really enjoyed putting my imagination down on paper and kept working at it while I was at home during my off days. One idea always turned into another and after a few years I thought I’d give writing a novel a go! The process turned out to be long and tiring at times, but at the same time quite enjoyable! I found myself writing certain passages, taking a day off and then coming back to it and adding further to the developing story. Before I knew it, my first draft of the novel was done. J.R.R. Tolkien and Terry Brooks were both a couple of my favourite authors. It was from them where I found my inspiration to create my own work and attempt to keep anyone who would read my material hooked as they had hooked me.
It is really quite satisfying when you finish a project and then sit back and look at it. Every time I do I always say to myself, I wrote this? Sometimes that’s good, sometimes bad (Kevin laughs) depending if it has been a productive writing session or not.
TB: What have been your best and worst experiences as a writer?
KL: Well the best would have to be every time I receive an email from out of the blue from someplace distant when someone has read my book and enjoyed it. You wonder how in the world they came across your book but those compliments make your day. As for the worst, I can’t really say that I’ve had one as yet, the closest would have to be the simple task of motivating yourself to sit down and just write. Some days it can be quite the challenge.
TB: How have those experiences prepared you for being an author?
KL: The reviews, whether good or bad, help me improve as a writer. If there are things I need to fix, or adjust, then getting that feedback is important. You find out what things you are doing right as well. So then you’re able to keep those factors in the writing process and maybe even improve on those. It’s like anything else you do; you need to be able to take the good with the bad and run with it, using the readers as your teacher in a way. You can take that feedback and use it to give you the drive to sit down and write on those days where it’s hard to find the desire.
TB: Please tell us about your latest work.
KL: My latest work is the third book in my TRIO series of Fantasy novels, TRIO: Book Three ‘Ascension’. It’s the final chapter in the initial trilogy for the characters I introduced in Book One and there are a lot of changes coming for everyone in the story. An old nemesis from book one returns stronger than ever and bent on vengeance and destruction. The characters face an overwhelming evil and are sent on separate quests once again to find assistance in the forthcoming war. I introduce a few new mythical creatures in book three, a few other elf races and I bring some old English legends into play in book three, some of which I hinted at in the previous two books. For me personally, the old English myths of King Arthur, Merlin and Excalibur have always intrigued me so I dropped some of that into the books to bring a little recognition to anyone who reads the books and hopefully pique their curiosity to keep turning the pages.
TB: Who helped you the most with getting your TRIO series to where it is today?
KL: I think those who have helped the most are the few who read the original story and encouraged me to do something with it. When I had given the initial story (approx. 100 pages) to a friend—who was writing some dinner theatre himself—he read it, and then his daughters, who were 12 at the time, got a hold of it and they loved it. All of them offered a few tips on how to make it better, and it just kind of went from there. Although, once it was finished, it basically sat on my desk gathering dust for about 10 yrs before I even looked at it again. So those three . . . plus I have to give a nod to my late father who passed away in spring of 2006. He told me to make sure I LIVED my life and enjoy it, because it really is far too short. So, it was in the fall of 2006 that I dusted it off and decided to try and do something with it. I gave it some touch ups, added a few things to it, and then the rest fell into place. So, I have to give credit to them the most for TRIO becoming more than a dust covered story I wrote to let my imagination loose.
TB: What were your inspirations for writing it?
KL: Inspiration comes from my imagination and the desire to get those ideas down on paper. I had TRIO three sitting in my head for so long that it was great to see it come to life as I worked on the project. By the time I got to work on Book Three I had gone through a few things in my own personal life that I was able to draw on for some of the storylines that played out in book three. There was one part near the end that was extremely hard to write and I believe because of what happened to me personally it made that part of the story so much more realistic for the reader.
TB: Do you think living on the prairies—with the stark contrast of seasonal temperatures—has influenced your writing?
KL: Perhaps a little, depending on the story and where the characters are. We get those fantastic light and sound shows during a prairie summer thunderstorm and I draw on those experiences and their variations in certain aspects of my storytelling. The dark ominous feelings of those thunderstorms are fantastic ways to give the reader a feeling of darkness approaching or the cold dampness of the rain which is a great way to make characters uncomfortable and miserable. Being a hiker it’s easy to relate that damp miserable feeling in my writings. The nice thing about being a prairie boy you do get quite the variation from winter, spring to summer and fall. All of which can be great to use in one’s writing.
TB: To what degree are your fictional characters based in reality?
KL: There is a piece of me in each of my characters. Even a few readers have made that comment to me after reading the books. I think a character needs to have believable qualities that can make the reader connect to those characters. If your reader connects to even one little thing, say, this one character likes to drink a cool one after breaking their back at work all day then your reader will likely say, hey, I do that. So while the characters are created, you can create them to have qualities we can all relate to.
TB: Do your dreams influence your writing?
KL: Interesting question, well, it depends. Sometimes it can come into play if the story I’m working on has certain elements in it. I’ve always wanted to travel over to England, Scotland, and Ireland to see all of the history over there but have never had the chance to. Those dreams definitely come into play in TRIO Book Three with one character that gets to do just that. I’m hoping to travel over there within the next year and live that dream myself.
TB: I was aiming the question more towards the unconscious state of dreaming. Are any of your characters based on dream-characters? And, while you are writing, do you write any of your characters or plots in your dreams?
KL: I can’t say any one character is based on any dream I may have had but I do write my characters and plots in my thoughts all the time, sometimes even in my dreams. For example I could be driving down the highway, which is a great way to let the imagination wander by the way, and an idea pops into my head about this or this and then I begin the process of how can I make that work or how would that character react to that? When I do wake up remembering a dream about a storyline I’m working on, I’d jot down what I came up with and sometimes after reading it I go what the?! (Kevin laughs)
TB: In the TRIO series, you mention an overwhelming evil . . . are you a spiritual or religious man? And, if so, is there a certain catharsis you experience as you work out these battles?
KL: There are some things I won’t get into a debate about, politics being one, and religion another because everyone has their own preference or beliefs. I will say though that I am a spiritual man and I believe there is good and evil. Is there a certain catharsis as I work out these battles? Interesting question, I’ve never thought of it in that way but I’d have to say there is some of that once the scenes are finished. Good and Evil are the one constant in our own world, and in the realm of fantasy you can embellish both and give your characters some real tough choices to make. I would like to think I give the reader some food for thought as to whether they would make those same decisions if facing that circumstance.
TB: Can you tell us a bit about your next project?
KL: I have two projects on the go right now. One is a sci-fi time travel story I wrote years ago and I’m redoing, updating, and improving on it. The other is a third co-writing Pulp project with a fellow writer. I don’t know if I’ll continue with the Pulp stories after this one. After those are done, it’ll be back to work on the next set of TRIO fantasy novels.
TB: Is there a different genre you would like to try writing?
KL: Outside my fantasy novels I have co-written a couple Pulp projects. I wanted to give it a try, and while it’s okay, it really isn’t something I want to continue in. I enjoy sci-fi and I’m currently reworking a time travel sci-fi story I wrote a number of years ago. I wouldn’t mind taking a shot at doing a western novel. I have an idea I might work on one day. Fantasy, though, is by far my favorite, and I’ve just finished off the storylines for the next TRIO series of books. I have an active imagination and I’m always open to trying new genres if it interests me.
TB: Have you ever co-authored a piece?
KL: I’ve co-authored two Pulp stories with fellow writer Calvin Daniels, Black Wolf: Metal Monsters of Doom, and Black Wolf 2: The Demon Door. We’re about to start the third Black Wolf story. It’s Calvin’s story, I just do my part to help it along.
TB: Describe your ideal surroundings/conditions for writing.
KL: To me an ideal condition for writing is a quiet evening, after the day is done, and everything else is out of the way. I can sit down at my desk and throw on some instrumental music of some sort depending on what I’m working on at the time. Then I just let the creativity take shape.
TB: Are you a “blank-pager,” or do you utilize an outline?
KL: I like to utilize an outline for the most part. It may change somewhat over the course of the story evolving but it gives me a guideline to follow and provides consistency in the storyline. I have co-written a couple other projects where we play it by ear and see where the story goes but not knowing where it’s supposed to be going is at times frustrating, even more so when the story isn’t mine and I’m just contributing. It has been interesting to do, but I personally prefer an outline.
TB: What are your quirks and do they influence your writing?
KL: My quirks? Ha, well, I’ve put a few of my habits into some of my character’s traits in my stories (A fondness for a particular drink / catch phrases I say / My like for the great outdoors). I listen to various styles of instrumental music while writing, whether it’s a particular movie soundtrack, classical music or any assorted instrumental pieces. You could say those would be a few of my quirks.
TB: Please share with us, a little-known fact about you which others might find interesting/entertaining.
KL: I have to admit I thoroughly enjoy a good animated movie/cartoon. The creativity that can go into a film/TV show of that nature can be quite entertaining. One of my favorites this past year was How to Train Your Dragon. Great movie! My favorite author is Terry Brooks and would be a dream come true to actually meet the man one day.
TB: Briefly share your thoughts on traditional publishing vs. indie.
KL: Traditional publishing to me would be a great way to get more exposure and have the power of a big company behind you. There are no guarantees anything you write will ever see the light of day. So I think a lot of great writers are not getting a chance. However, with the emerging technology of e-books and other ways to get your book out there, Indie is a good way to see your work in the hands of someone. You yourself will have to do more groundwork and a lot of the grunt work to promote it. I used to work in radio and I always talked to a lot of bands who were dying to get signed by a major label but that isn’t always the better way to go. One band I came across left a major label because they had no creative control over their material so they went independent so they could do what THEY WANTED instead of being told what they had to create. There are advantages to both; it all depends on the individual.
TB: What advice can you share with first-time writers?
KL: If you have stories to tell, then tell them! Be ready though for criticism, for everything good you do there is bound to be certain aspects that will need to be tinkered with so don’t take it personally. Take every piece of advice offered; chances are it will help you at some point. Above all, never quit! If it is something you enjoy then keep doing it!
TB: If anyone is interested in knowing more, do you have a web site?
KL: If anyone would ever like to drop me a line or know more about the TRIO series or any of my other projects they can drop by my website anytime www.kevinleeauthor.ca I always make the effort to return each and every email that comes my way.
TB: Thank you, Kevin; it’s been a pleasure.
KL: Thanks, Terre. I greatly appreciate it!
About the Author, Kevin Lee
Originally from Sturgis, SK, Kevin currently resides in Theodore, SK, CAN. His career began in radio but was hooked on writing during a long overnight shift. Inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien and Terry Brooks, and drawing on personal experiences combined with his imagination, although he has dabbled in co-authoring Pulp novels, he is, first and foremost, a Fantasy writer.
All paperback copies are signed by the authors.
The TRIO Trilogy will be available as eBooks in the near future.
You can contact him and purchase his books through his web site www.kevinleeauthor.ca
Meet Kevin on YouTube
Cover artist for TRIO: Book Three ‘Ascension’: Joewie Aderes.
The book covers are also viewable at the Sirius Press, Inc. Facebook Fan Page. Check it out and leave a comment!