As part of the All Authors Blog Blitz I worked alongside the delightful Kevin Hardman who interviewed me on his blog. One of the genres that Kevin writes is “superhero” and this piqued my interest in his work because as a child I always had my nose stuck in comic books. My favourite superheroes were Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk and Batman. When reading Batman I was always so excited by the cool words like Kapow and Wham springing from fists in jagged outlines when our hero was having a fight.This, no doubt, helped expand my vocabulary!
With my love of Superheroes I invited Kevin Hardman for an interview to find out more about the man behind a new superhero.
Tell us a little about your background Kevin.
Well, on a personal level I come from a large family. I’m one of seven kids, which was great because I enjoyed having a lot of brothers and sisters. It made growing up a lot of fun.
From a professional standpoint, I work in an office environment. I have several degrees, which once resulted in a friend jokingly commenting that I had more letters after my name than actually in it. At the moment I enjoy what I do, but I wouldn’t be adverse to writing full-time.
What led you to become an author?
Like a lot of authors, I get a great deal of enjoyment out of reading. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t able to read. Regardless, it was my love affair with books that eventually turned my thoughts to writing one of my own. In fact, I wrote my first story – a contemporary short – around the age of nine.
After that, I didn’t really do much writing again until college. I wrote a few short stories during that time, but didn’t seriously turn my hand to it until after I graduated. At that juncture, I tried to get some of my work published but received the usual round of rejections that most authors are familiar with.
Some time around then, I began writing movie screenplays. I’ve always been a big fan of movies and – like most other moviegoers – I’d seen one-too-many terrible films that left me thinking, “I can do better than that!” Eventually, I was able to get an agent, and some of my scripts supposedly found their way into the hands of some recognizable people. Unfortunately, I never sold anything, and eventually my agent and I parted ways.
I really didn’t attempt to write anything for a long time after that (mostly because I went back to school for another degree and then started working), but eventually the urge became too strong to ignore so here we are.
What subjects do you write about?
Historically, my favorite genre has always been fantasy/sci-fi, but by today’s standards I would expand that to include related subjects like the paranormal and supernatural. That said, I write about anything and everything. Basically, nothing’s off the table; I write fantasies, romances, mysteries…any genre you name, I’ve probably got a story in mind that suits it.
For instance, I currently have two books out: Sensation: A Superhero Novel (which I suppose you could describe as fantasy/sci-fi) and Warden (Book 1: Wendigo Fever), a paranormal/horror story. I had planned to follow these up with a romance I’ve had in mind for a few years and then a mystery. However, I decided to go ahead and do sequels to the existing books before moving on to other genres. Sensation seemed to be resonating with readers, and It didn’t seem fair to keep any fans waiting an excessively long time. (As I write this, Sensation is actually ranked #1 in three categories on Amazon.)
What were your greatest influences?
That’s tough. I’d say that my parents buying me lots and lots of books as a kid probably influenced me to a large extent. If you read enough books you’ll often get the itch to write one yourself.
In terms of writers, I would say that Jack Vance was a strong influence on me. I simply love his prose, as well as his ability to create fantastical worlds and singularly unique societies. In addition, he wrote in multiple genres. Not only did he win every major award in fantasy and science fiction (Hugo, Nebula, etc.), but he also won an Edgar Award for mystery. Finally, he was simply a prolific writer, as his huge body of work will attest to. (Vance was admittedly into writing solely for the money, which might explain why he cranked out so much.) I was deeply saddened by his recent passing, as there just aren’t many people I’d place in the same class with him.
What can you tell us about your latest book?
As I mentioned, I actually have two out at the moment that were published around the same time. Rather than talk about them, it’s probably easier if I simply share the descriptions, starting with my superhero novel Sensation:
Like millions of other kids, Jim grew up wanting to be a superhero. Unlike most of his contemporaries, however, Jim actually had the goods: a plethora of super powers that would have been the envy of any meta on the planet. But when his tryout with the Alpha League – the world’s premiere group of supers – goes disastrously wrong, Jim basically becomes an outcast.
Two years later, Jim is still bitter about what happened to him. However, he soon finds himself the centerpiece in an odd turn of events that gives him a second chance at his dream. But nothing is as easy as it sounds, as Jim soon discovers. Among other things, he’s made an enemy of a prospective super teammate, he’s being stalked by an unknown pursuer, and a shadowy cabal bent on world domination has identified him as the only obstacle to their plans.
It’s a lot for one super to handle, even with a smorgasbord of abilities. But if saving the world were easy, everyone would do it…
And here is the description for Warden:
Part lawman, part tracker and part magician, the Wardens are monster-hunters – tasked with protecting the people from the various, nightmarish creatures that have invaded the world of men. However, despite being descended from a long line of Wardens, 16-year-old Errol Magnus believes it to be the absolute worst job on the planet: How could a single occupation simultaneously be the most boring, abominably stupid and extraordinarily dangerous profession imaginable?
But when his older brother Tom – the current Warden for their region – goes missing, Errol has no choice but to enter the Badlands, where monsters abide in mind-boggling numbers, to find him. During his search, Errol crosses paths with – and finds himself stalked by – the legendary Wendigo, a monster with preternatural strength and speed, as well as enhanced senses of sight, smell and hearing…and an insatiable hunger for human flesh.
Now Errol must do the impossible and not only escape from the monster (something no one has ever done before), but also avoid the unearthly legacy it leaves on all its victims – a terrifying curse known as Wendigo Fever.
I think that both books can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, although they will probably have greatest appeal for the teen/young adult demographic.
Would you mind sharing an excerpt with us?
Sure, here’s the excerpt from the inside cover of Sensation:
I shot an angry look at Paramount as I braced myself and started to rise from the floor. He put a hand up to his mouth, as if to hide his snickering after having knocked me down. I can’t explain what happened next, but fury such as I had never felt – all-encompassing and all-controlling – exploded inside me.
I switched into super speed, moving so fast that later, even on film slowed down as much as possible, my movements were a blur. I grabbed the chair I had been sitting in, and in one smooth motion folded it up, spun around and hit Paramount with it squarely on the chin in uppercut fashion.
I mentioned before that I don’t actually have super strength, but when moving at top speed I can mimic it pretty well. Paramount’s head snapped back and he went sailing bodily up into the air. He hit the back wall with an audible smack that shattered plaster, then slid down to the floor.
I stood frozen, still gripping the chair. I seriously doubted that I had hurt him; at only 16, Paramount was already practically invulnerable, like his father. The lick I’d just laid on him was probably akin to an adult getting poked in the eye by a baby. It catches you a little off-guard, but it’s more irritating than painful, with no lasting effect.
Sadly, I was right. Paramount started to get up…
What inspired you to write a superhero novel?
I’ve always been a fan of comics and superheroes. It probably stems from the fact that one of my older brothers read a lot of comics and loaned me quite a number of his when we were growing up.
As to what made me write a superhero novel first – out of all the stories I wanted to tell – all I can say is that it was the story making the most noise in my head and clamoring the most to get out. Oddly enough, though, the story that ended up being published is nothing like the one I had planned to write. Basically, as so often happens, the story tells itself, and in this case I ended up with something far different that what I initially intended.
What’s the most difficult thing you’ve encountered in your journey as an author?
That’s hard to say, because at various junctures different things would arise as the most difficult barrier to overcome. For instance, when I started writing right after college, the major roadblock was simply getting published. After the advent of self-publishing, one of the biggest challenges for me was simply trying to be a one-man band and do everything myself: the writing, editing, marketing, etc.
These days, I share the load by having a cover artist and an editor. The major obstacle I currently encounter is walking that tightrope between maintaining my day job, finding time to write, and taking care of marketing/promotion (which I still do myself). It’s quite a balancing act, and you often feel like you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul when you have to push something to the side for a little while you sort some other issues out.
What words of encouragement would you give to any potential authors out there?
First of all, if you’re serious about it, you have to treat writing like a job. That means writing every day, no matter what. Beyond that, simply have faith in yourself. For most of us success is not going to happen overnight – whether in writing or any other aspect of life. You wouldn’t expect to be made CEO after two weeks on the job (and you wouldn’t quit after two weeks because they didn’t make you Chief Executive). Likewise, don’t quit writing just because you don’t hit a home run your first time at bat. Just keep honing your craft, getting better, and eventually the world will find you.
And on a side note, don’t discount the power of prayer. I pray about my books on a daily basis and am blessed in that they have been performing well.
Where can readers find your books?