Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Kevin Berry. I’m 53.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I’m from Christchurch, New Zealand.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I have a degree and I’ve spent most of my working life as a software developer, but I’m an analyst now. I lived in London, England, for 16 years and travelled a lot around Europe, but I returned home to New Zealand in 2005. I have two boys, aged 14 and 11.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I’ve started writing a private investigator series, noir style, and that’s a lot of fun. So far, I’ve completed one novelette, and I’m working on the first draft of a novel. I’ll probably write at least two novels before releasing everything a month or two apart.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing monster stories as a little kid, probably because I enjoyed reading so much and wanted to write myself. At high school, I wrote a short mystery novel, but it wasn’t very good.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I didn’t write much for years, but it was always in the back of my mind. Then I wrote a few short stories and managed to sell them to magazines. But that wasn’t enough to consider myself a writer. That only came after I had a novel published.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I co-wrote three fantasy books first, but they are now out of print. The first book I wrote completely on my own was Stim, a contemporary YA novel about a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome who wanted to find a girlfriend. I wrote that because, although there were fiction books available for young children in which the main character had Asperger’s, there were very few for teens / young adults. Also, the portrayal of characters with Asperger’s on TV and in movies gave viewers a one-sided picture. I wanted to write a book that truly enabled the reader to be inside the head of a young man with Asperger’s, not a caricature.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Stim is an unusual title, and it’s a word most people aren’t familiar with. It means regular self-soothing behaviour such as foot tapping, hair twirling, leg jiggling, gesturing, rocking, pacing, finger clicking, or any number of other activities. Everyone does this sometimes to some extent, but people with autism and Asperger’s (ASD) do it more frequently and to a greater extent.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I don’t have a specific writing style, nor a particular genre. It varies from book to book, deliberately, and that’s part of the challenge for me. Stim was written from the point of view (POV) of Robert, a young man with Asperger’s, and it has a distinctive voice. The sequel, Kaleidoscope, was written from the POV of his friend Chloe, with a completely different voice. It took me about three months of writing until I was happy with her voice in the book. Teleport, my science fiction book, is written from the POV of a scientist, so that voice is again different. The middle grade You Say Which Way books have a different flavour to them too. Finally, the private investigator series I’ve started to write has a unique noir voice that I’m still working on, but it’s a lot of fun to write.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Haha. Good question. Stim, to some extent, and Kaleidoscope too. The earthquakes that occur in the book were real (the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010 and 2011), and I experienced those, the many, many aftershocks and the subsequent upheaval.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
No, I haven’t needed to travel as my contemporary books are set in my home city, and for my other books, I only needed my imagination, which takes me many places.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The cover for Teleport was designed by Kate Strawbridge of Dwell Design, and it won a Sir Julius Vogel Award last year for Best Cover Art.
The covers for Stim and Kaleidoscope were designed by Rebecca Berto of Berto Designs.
The covers for the You Say Which Way books were designed by Fairytale Factory, the publisher.
The covers for my new noir private investigator series are being designed by Dawné Dominique of Dusktildawn Designs.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Stim and Kaleidoscope have a message: acknowledge and respect the differences in other people.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I read a wide range of fiction, but lately I’ve been reading several of my fellow New Zealand authors’ books. In this (different) Down Under, it’s like we’re on the edge of the world, and our writing doesn’t get the attention it deserves. So, I’ll name some New Zealand authors I like (sorry, I can’t name everyone): Lee Murray (military adventure / horror), Eileen Mueller (YA, dragons), A J Ponder (YA humorous fantasy), Charlotte Jardine (historical), Debbie Cowens (mash-ups), Paul Cleave (thrillers), the You Say Which Way team (interactive fiction), Paul Mannering (various genres). There are many more. My favourite traditional writer is Connie Willis, and my favourite books of hers are Passage and Doomsday Book. It’s her characters that appeal so much to me – they are so real.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My partner, Nadene Rogers, encourages my writing.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, but few writers (including me) can make a full-time income out of it. That is what I would like to do.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
The last book I wrote was Movie Mystery Madness, a You Say Which Way middle grade interactive fiction book. It was so much fun to write that I wouldn’t change a thing. An earlier book, Teleport, I would change. The publisher’s editor wanted me to write an epilogue to ‘tie up loose ends’, so I did, but I think the book was better without it, leaving some things to the reader’s imagination.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
With Movie Mystery Madness, I learned a bit about the movie business. That was really interesting. I parodied it in the book to make it more fun for kids.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
This is difficult … Stim and Kaleidoscope would need careful casting as the main characters are so complex. For Teleport, I think Kate Blanchett would be great in the lead role of Maddie, the scientist.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Read a lot of writing craft books. Talk with other writers. Swap ideas and help each other. Writing a book is a difficult process, and it helps to have support. Keep your day job.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I have jumped genres a lot, and now I’m working on something new again – the private investigator series. You’ll love it.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’ve just finished reading Into the Ashes by Lee Murray – a very exciting read!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No. I do remember reading series as a child – the Agatha Christie mysteries, Michael Moorcock fantasies, lots of science fiction … I’d find an author I liked and read everything I could get by them. Fortunately there were lots of libraries around then.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I have a quirky sense of humour and a sense of the ridiculous. Word plays, irony and incongruity make me laugh. As for crying, or feeling like crying, thinking about and dwelling on the harm people do to others brings that on.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Yes. There are many people from the past I could easily pick, but right now, this week, the one person I would love to meet is Jacinda Adern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. For those who don’t know, a few days ago, we experienced a mass shooting, an unprecedented event, that has shocked the whole nation. Our Prime Minister has shown herself to be a great leader dealing with this event, consoling grieving relatives, promising rapid change, speaking to the world about our true values. She deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Currently only writing, and reading. I intend to take up modern jive again when time permits.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I like watching European crime dramas mostly. I don’t go to see many films unfortunately.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Favourites: takeaways, especially burgers. I like eating out, too. Green is my favourite colour because it’s the colour of trees and peace. For music, Adele has been my favourite for a while.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
If I didn’t write, I would read more and take long walks in the forest. Reading and walking are great ways to reduce stress.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
I’d spend it with my loved ones. There wouldn’t be a thing else I’d want to do.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Yes. My website is https://www.kevinberrybooks.com/ . There you can sign up for my newsletter, which I send out only occasionally to inform readers of a new release or to recommend a friend’s book. You can also learn more about my books there, and I have a large section of links to useful resources for writers.
Dystopian Cyberpunk Science Fiction: Teleport
Amazon Authors Page USA https://www.amazon.com/Kevin-Berry/e/B00G23NDFI/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1