RAWA: When did you first discover that you were a writer?
|Kevin Hamilton, Author Enemy Among Us|
KH: It’s cliché, but definitely in childhood. I was always fond of ‘telling stories’ with say GI Joes (which can be a little silly when they were solely for an audience of one, and that was the kid telling the stories as well); but if I had to pinpoint it, I remember in third grade there being an assignment about writing something Halloween themed, and for whatever reason just taking to that. That’s been at least 25 years ago, so I don’t remember all of it, but I recall it being something about a ghost pirate ship attacking the elementary school, and I went all out with it, the ghost pirates had mummies, werewolves, your entire Universal package really..just the whole sort of silliness you can imagine an eight year old coming up with. The most embarrassing part of the whole thing was at the climax of the story, third grade me shamelessly wrote myself in and made myself the hero. I still remember writing the line: “Was I the only hope?” I don’t remember how eight year old me saved the day..something about a sword that was magic (for all I know it could’ve been Excalibur and me straight up inserting that, like I said, shameless), but just he most Deus Ex Machina thing you could think of, lil Kev saved the school. Essentially, this is a long-winded way of saying that I got a good grade and praise by the teachers and such, and well that was it I was hooked.
RAWA: What is your favorite part of writing?
KH: I’m a bit of a control freak, so I guess I’d say that aspect of it, that you’re “God” in a way over your worlds and characters, and anything you want to make them feel, do, or say, is right there. Looking at that, wow that sounds really pretentious, so to make the same point but make it in a sillier way I’d say that like Captain Planet—“The power is yours”.Another aspect as I’ve gotten older and grown is when the ‘switch’ came on where while telling a story, you’re also able to include subtext beyond what’s on the page, to where there’s the plot, and then there’s the thematic elements of what the story is ‘really about’. As you learn to weave those together, there’s power in that. Admittedly, one has to be careful so that you’re not as subtle as sledgehammer with your ‘meanings’ as well.
RAWA: What do you think is the most challenging aspect of writing?
KH: I guess there are two. The first, I’d say is the simpler one in that once you come up with a story, you’ve also got to anticipate where any potential holes might be while you’re fitting everything together. In a way, while creating the story, you’ve also got to on occasion think like your theoretical audience and see if there’s anything in your story that could be confusing, and/or picked apart. You’ve got to anticipate the “why would that happen?” sort of questions. The second, and this can be harder, is second guessing yourself, which can happen at any time of course, but for me is most often during the editing process of constructing a second or third draft. The “Is this any good?” sort of thoughts can kind of plague you there, and any plot twists seem really obvious to you since you came up with them in the first place, so separating that and just letting the work speak for itself can be difficult, especially with the whole ‘control’ thing I mentioned earlier.
RAWA: Tell us about your latest release.
KH: Enemy Among Us is my take on the Campbellian mono-myth, the Hero’s Journey. I set out to do my own spin on it, creating an everyman POV character who does want to be a hero, but isn’t quite sure how to become one. Further, he’s not even sure where he belongs, or about anything in his past, as when the story opens, he awakens an amnesiac overlooking a battlefield. The main character, Marcus, has to find his way amid two armies at war while he’s got a head full of fragmented memories and multiple characters telling him things about his past and the world him that may or may not be true. Essentially he’s got to discover what’s true, where he belongs, and if it’s our past that defines us or if we can choose to be who we want; and he’s got to do all that in a world fraught with enemies, monsters, and magic.
RAWA: How did you come up with the title of your book?
KH: I wanted something that was at once both simple and had multiple meanings related to the plot, and also (to me) sounded cool. There are different levels of betrayals and shifting alliances in the book, so the title made sense on that level. Plus, I sort of have at least some of the characters address the question of are there really any black and white ‘bad guys’ in war, or does it all depend on perspective.
RAWA: Who are some of your favorite authors?
KH: There are so many, but off the top of my head: Neil Gaiman, Alexandre Dumas, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Joseph Heller, Ray Bradbury, Bill Willingham, J.R.R Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, Carl Sagan, Kurt Vonnegut, Peter David, Harry Turtledove….I could add hundreds more, and I know if I go look at my bookshelf right now I’m gonna think: “I can’t believe I left off HIM or HER”, so let’s just call that list a good starting point.
RAWA: What do you think has influenced your writing style the most?
KH: With this particular book and series, it’s been the mythology work of Joseph Campbell as I mentioned. His theories were a huge influence on me (and continue to be so), so that’s definitely a major influence. More generally, I suppose it’s the cliché of “anything I’ve ever read”, and it depends on the genre or conceit you’re working it what sort of influence you pull from at any given time. For example the current book I’m working on outside of the Enemy Among Us series is more of a romantic comedy sort of book, and it’s way more snarky and sarcastic in tone, and probably closer to my actual ‘voice’ in many ways, and that has influences as varied as stand-up comics to Bugs Bunny cartoons. I guess to try and make it as unpretentious as possible, your influences on style really depend on what you’re writing at the time. At least it does for me, as I don’t really want to be good in one genre, I want to be able to write anything. Time will tell if I succeed.
RAWA: As a writer what is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
KH: To date, it’s completely Enemy Among Us, and finding at least the beginnings of a readership. Simply finishing the book was a dream of mine, so to have accomplished that goal and have had at least some people enjoy it is just awesome to me. I’m very proud of that.
Going along with that, I’m heard from a few readers that certain scenes I was trying to imbue with emotion worked the way I set out for them to work, so that’s gratifying. For example, a death scene I wanted to emotional has caused a few tears from a couple of readers, so that’s nice to know.Though if I said it like “I made some chicks cry”, that’d be more than a little weird.
RAWA: How did you get published?
KH: After submitting to a couple dozen agents and getting shut down a couple dozen times, I began to get discouraged. I decided to go the self-publishing route, to at least get the work out there. There of course is a stigma to that, and I can certainly understand that, but for now, just to at least have something out there that I created that is being bought, read, and enjoyed is gratifying. Time will tell if I continue with self-publishing, or go another way in the future. I couldn’t even begin to guess at this point.
RAWA: Do you have any advice for writers looking to get published?
KH: Don’t give up, and realize there are multiple avenues to achieve your dream. I can’t speak too authoritatively on getting published by a company since I self-published myself of course, but I still feel like “Don’t give up” is sound advice for anyone.
Enemy Among Us by Kevin Hamilton is available at Amazon.com.