Today’s guest post is an interview with the wonderful Kyle Robertson, author of the Camp Ferguson series.
Q01 – When did you decide you wanted to become a writer?
I knew that I loved writing for most of my life—creative assignments in school were never hard for me, and I’ve always been much more comfortable writing papers and whatnot than most of my friends.
My imagination was also captured very early on by shows like Star Trek and Doctor Who that brought me into an enormous, diverse, and beautiful fictional universe that honestly I liked more than the one we have.
I mostly played around with fan fiction of some of my favorite shows up until high school, when a dare from a friend inspired me to write my first book, and the rest is history!
Q02 – Are there any authors who inspire you?
So many I couldn’t possibly name them all here! But a couple of my favorites are Douglas Adams and Stephen King.
Like I mentioned before, both of them conceive of fantastical, amazing (and sometimes scary) things in the wide, infinite universe that I just find so cool it’s hard to overstate.
Plus, they both have a somewhat dry, cynical, laugh-in-the-face-of-death sense of humor that I love and have really tried to mimic in my own writing. And then of course there are all my fellow self-published and otherwise authors I’ve gotten to know via social media.
Every single one of them inspires me, every day. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s 100 percent true. They’re all fantastic.
Q03 – What is your dream goal for your writing?
I mean, I’d love to make it big, get on the New York times bestseller list, and get enough money that I can just quit my jobs and write books for the rest of my life. Isn’t that what everyone wants? Just kidding.
That would all be nice, but honestly I’ll settle for making a decent supplementary income for another “real” job (maybe in teaching or publishing) and giving people stories that will entertain them, as well as characters they can relate to.
I’d love to have a little group of fans who say I’m they’re favorite author. It doesn’t have to be everyone—just a few would make my day.
Q04 – What is the title (or working title) of your current manuscript and can you tell us a little bit about it?
Currently, I’m working on “Jack Ferguson Strikes Back”—a sequel to my previous book “Camp Ferguson” and the second of four planned novels in the Camp Ferguson series.
It’s a YA fantasy series about young college-age wizards being trained at a government-run summer camp, and about the various mishaps and trouble they get into, from fighting back against their intolerant, incompetent scoutmaster in a war of pranks to protecting all of existence from powerful, legitimate magical threats—and all the while doing it in a very tongue-in-cheek way that’s chock full of social satire and situational comedy.
It’s like Percy Jackson and Harry Potter meet Arrested Development and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Q05 – How long have you been working on this manuscript?
“Jack Ferguson Strikes Back” has been in a works for a little over a year at this point. Right now I’m finishing up the last few chapters and then focusing on revisions and beta-reading feedback, so I’m hoping things will be finalized and ready to print sometime in 2019!
Q06 – Do you plan your stories or just leap into the writing?
While I can’t say I’m totally a pantser or a plotter, I lean much more toward the pantsing side of things.
I usually set up my stories in a framework by creating chapters and making some shorthand notes about the plot points I think need to happen in each one—with room to move them around if I need to.
Also, if I happen to think up a good scene or a clever line of dialogue, I’ll make a note of it, but nothing serious. Then, when I sit down to write, I pretty much just let it flow and come up with the filler on the fly.
Q07 – Do you have a writing routine?
I feel bad for saying this, but not really. My writing process is extremely inconsistent, which is part of why it takes me so long to finish a book.
I can only really write when I’m truly itching and bursting with inspiration, and that feeling comes and goes—I’ve gone weeks where I write for several hours every day and get a lot accomplished, followed by weeks more where I don’t even touch my writing because I’m feeling stumped on how to continue. It’s something I feel I need to work on.
But that said, I think everyone’s different and they should do what works for themselves.
Q08 – What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
It’s definitely the initial drafting process. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I have a compulsion to constantly go back and re-edit things I’ve already written if I feel like I didn’t get them entirely right or I remember something I missed.
I have to force myself to move on and that I’ll get back to fix things later—that’s what revision is for. Sometimes you just have to get something done.
Q09 – What are your thoughts on Self Publishing vs Traditional Publishing?
Since I’ve self-published both of my first two books (and probably will do more), I’m not going to lie to you: self-publishing is hard.
I mean, the process itself is pretty easy, but afterward promoting yourself on your own and making any money off it is very difficult unless you get really lucky.
Since you’re relying on your own connections for editing as well, you have to have a circle of people who are really competent and whose advice you trust. That said, I have so far had a great experience with self-publishing.
There’s definitely something to be said for not relying on paid professionals looking out for their own bottom line for validation of your work, and honestly some of the best books I’ve read recently were self-published.
The community of self-published writers is so wonderful, and I’ve been lucky to meet them: in fact, I’m trying to start a group that supports self-published authors specifically.
The fact that I can hold a copy of my book in my hands and show it off to people without having to wait years for some kind of acceptance is pretty cool. But again, traditional publishing makes it a lot easier for you to get wider recognition.
I think people should do what’s best for them in the end. I’m self-publishing right now, but I definitely wouldn’t rule out trying to go the traditional route with something eventually.
Q10 – What is the single best piece of advice you could give to new writers?
Writing is a commitment, and it can be difficult at times. But much as my karate instructors are so fond of saying, the only way you’re not going to make it to your goal is if you quit first.
Perseverance is the biggest factor in whether or not you’re going to write that book you’ve always wanted to write. Most people give up because the process is long and difficult. Don’t be one of them.
Stick with your story, and have faith in it—take breaks if you need to. Whatever it takes to get it done, no matter how long it may take you.
My first book took me almost six years from start to finish, so I know. If you can do this, you can do anything.
Q11 – Are there any authors you would love to meet in person?
Definitely, but out of the ones that are alive I’d have to go with Stephen King, again. He’s been my number one writing idol since I started reading his books back in middle school.
He has a fascinating imagination and a talent that’s just gotten better with age, in my opinion. It would be an honor to be able to ask someone like that for writing advice.
Q12 – Tells us why you love writing
It’s got to be the escapism writing allows me: to create fantastical new worlds that just absorb me completely and characters that I can get inside, understand, and fall in love with.
To know that you’re capable of creating something like that, and then have other people enjoy it too, is the greatest feeling in the world, and something I think people out there need more of in their lives.
Kyle Robertson lives in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area, and is the author of such works as the historical fiction/crime drama The Showstopper! and the young adult fantasy/satire “Camp Ferguson” series (Camp Ferguson and Jack Ferguson Strikes Back).
He doesn’t like to confine himself to any one genre and enjoys writing and crafting stories of all kinds.
In his free time, he enjoys playing games of all kinds, listening to or playing music on his guitar, devouring movies and TV shows, going on outdoor adventures, and working to improve himself in the martial arts.
Jack Ferguson Strikes Back
As most of them enter their second year of magical training at the government-sponsored Camp Prospero, Jack Ferguson and his teen wizard friends think they have a summer of smooth sailing ahead.
Their enemies are gone–well, for the most part–and their vindictive, incompetent scoutmaster has been fired. But they’re in for a rude awakening when the camp welcomes a new leader who’s secretly a hundreds-of-years-old witch, an expert in dark magic, and whose goals include nothing short of dominion over all of existence.
Playtime is over, and Jack and his gang–with some new additions–are forced to take their resistance underground while they search for an ancient, mystical artifact that could tip the balance in the battle.
But what everyone dreads–and no one more than Jack–is the realization that he himself may be more than he appears, and the true ultimate weapon.
Connect with Kyle
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Big thanks to Kyle for being today’s guest poster. I hope you enjoyed his answers and please check out his links. If you have any questions for Kyle, drop them in the comments below.
I’ll be back on Friday with a regular post.