Author Interview: Kevin McGill

On March 31st, the first book in the Nikolas and Company series was released: The Merman and the Moon Forgotten. After reading it, I was thrilled to have its author, Kevin McGill, agree to a Q&A session with me! But before I delve into that, let me first announce that on April 14th, The Merman and the Moon Forgotten is going to be launched into space! Click here for more details. And now, without further ado, here is the interview:

Mara: First off, let me thank you for doing this Q&A session. The very first thing everyone wonders about an Author is: what made you interested in becoming an Author in the first place?

Kevin: For me, it was akin to walking. I just liked story and plot from an early age. I drifted in and out of writing through college and grad school, but when I finally realized the awesome pleasure of developing plucky characters, witty banter, and magical worlds, the rest was history.

Mara: What made you choose this particular genre?

Kevin: I am reminded of something my writing professor said about my style: "Kevin. You are not an existential writer. Stop it. You are a romantic [in the literary sense, of course]." He was right. Not only did I see the world in primary colors, but I saw the magic of life. Middle grade fantasy was the obvious fit.

Mara: Nikolas and Company seems to combine a lot of different elements: a futuristic Earth, time travel, fantasy, and even a little steampunk. How did you even begin to piece these together?

Kevin: Hah! Very carefully. Some things came together out of love for the genre. When I began Nikolas and Co, I knew it would be a fantasy novel. But I also had a hankering to dip into sci-fi, which is also a love of mine. So I chose both! It worked well in introducing my hero. Placing Nikolas into a dystopian future of Earth gave him all the motivation he needed to travel back to a fantastic version of Moon. Other stuff like the steampunk nature of it came out of sheer practicality. I wanted mermaids and mermen to be in the tale, but engagement with that species would become very limited of they had to stay in the water for every scene. Anytime you want to talk to the merrows you'd be forced to sit alongside the shore and converse with them. Even the velles were still limited. So I created automaton legs for them. That gave way to many other steampunk ideas.

Mara: The major thing that caught my attention was how each of the characters have very different personalities that manage to compliment each other rather than clashing. How did you come up with such a diverse company of heroes and heroines? Did they just come along with the story, or did you have to do a lot of character planning?

Kevin: A big inspiration came from Firefly when I watched it back on '06. I'm a Geek. There's just no denying that. The best part of Firefly was the banter. I knew I wanted Nikolas to have the same feel (of course The Lord of the Rings ensemble cast also inspired me, but not quite like the power of Joss Whedon). Yes, it was quite difficult to assemble a group that worked well together. I kept rotating them around, trying out different personalities. Haley was an airhead in the beginning and Daniel was a gun happy, evil scientist. Grouping them into families finally solved that problem. Still, it was tricky. It would bore the Reader (and the writer) to try and work out every relational angle between everyone. Instead, I decided to ask, "How does this particular character feel about Nikolas?" Once I did that, all the relationships fell into place.

Mara: Every Author has inspiration for their stories, be it other writers or books or movies, or even just day-to-day occurrences. What was some of the inspiration for Nikolas and Company? Especially the history of the Moon? As far as I know, no one else has had such an original idea involving the Moon.

Kevin: My inspiration of the Moon actually came from my stepmom. I grew up in the San Joaquin valley, deep in the country. The stars looked like something you'd see from the deck of the Enterprise. My mom, as she usually did, told us all to look into the night sky and use our imagination. What did we see? Well, the Moon was very clear that night. I could see what we know to be craters. I said the craters came from an intergalactic battle between Moon and Earth in some pre-history time. That always stuck with me. Though, this iteration is much more fantastic.

Mara: Well, obviously Readers are going to find that The Merman and the Moon Forgotten ends on an amazing cliffhanger. What can you tell us about the second book?

Kevin: It does leave one hanging. Hmm. What can I tell you? Book Two will be far more magical; many more fantastic creatures. You'll get to see the city of Huron on all its glory. You'll get to meet a fun character named Malmedy. . .one of my favorite characters because she reminds me of my grandmother. Oh, and someone will become DEATHLY ill. The Merrows are involved. How? Well, you'll just have to wait. =)

Mara: How many books are you planning for this series?

Kevin: This volume has three episodes left. I have about four more volumes in the works. The conflict between Earth and Moon will take center stage.

Mara: Do you think you'll write anything else after Nikolas and Company?

Kevin: That's tough. I'd like to explore this world more, but creatively a writer needs a break. I've also thought about developing a short story that I wrote last year. It's called Santa's Double Edge.

Mara: Thank you so much for your time, and I'm looking forward to the next installment!

Kevin: Thanks for having me, Mara!


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