A Surprise Visit from David Powers King

Hi all! So this was most certainly not in my schedule, but on Friday, David mailed me. One thing led to another, and we did an interview over the weekend that I decided to share today.

Before I get to that, though. If you haven’t seen my announcement on Friday yet, please go check it out. I’d love you forever if you could help.

Okay. That’s done. Let’s get to the interview, shall we? (Bold bits are by me.)

Welcome to The Five Year Project, David! Let’s start with an easy (or fiendishly hard, depending on your point of view) question. Tell the readers a bit more about yourself?

Much about be can be summed up by the words of Jake the Dog: “I’m just a simple dude.” I love all things science fiction and fantasy, and I write all kind of things. I happen to be a mental health professional as well. You could say I’m a mixed bag of tricks with dollop of awesome on top. Plus I live in the Rockies. Like Bilbo, I gotta have my mountains.

You’ve got a dollop of very awesome on top. 😉 

Do you use your mental health knowledge in characterization? How? Is it something you do consciously?

Always. In fact, when I was in college going for a Behavioral Science degree, people were surprised that I wasn’t going for a degree in English since I wanted to be a writer. But here’s something I’ve learned … If people are invested in the characters, the prose will take care of itself. Having a background in the field of psychology makes complex character creation a cinch. It makes me a more effective people watcher, too. Don’t call the cops on me.

I LOVE people watching. Bonus points if I don’t get caught. Do you make up stories about the people you notice?

Usually, but it can take a lot for something to grab my attention. Even The Undead Road is something of a caricature of my 15-year-old self, using memories of events and people I knew back then.

What inspired you to write The Undead Road?

Zombies are my favorite monster, yet for the longest time I couldn’t think of a way to write them the way I’ve always wanted to see them (more family oriented and presented in a way that people who don’t like zombies would still enjoy the story). The first episode of The Walking Dead was huge in breaking that wall, and I wrote the first chapter that night.

So would you say this was an easy story to write?

I would say the easiest of all my works. It flowed like water. Perhaps I wasn’t approaching it as seriously as other projects and just had fun writing it. Then my critique group liked it so much, they pushed me to get it published. And here we are!

I love when a story like that comes along. I adore my challenging books, but sometimes, it’s important to just let something flow out too. Even if we don’t take it as seriously. 

What is The Undead Road about and where can people buy it?

It’s about a 15-year-old boy named Jeremy, whose family is seeking refuge from the deadly Vectors halfway across the country. They have to get there first, and find themselves caught in the struggle for a possible cure and a girl who might turn on them at any moment. You can find The Undead Road on Amazon: Kindle (.99 all this week!), free on Kindle Unlimited, and paperback, as well as the Createspace store.

Sounds awesome. Where can people find you?

Do I want to be found? Hey, why not! You can find out what I’m up to at www.davidpowersking.com, as well as Facebook and Twitter. Follow the space guy with a cruller in his hand.

Excellent. Thanks so much, David! All the best with The Undead Road.

Nothing brings the family together like a zombie apocalypse …

Fifteen-year-old Jeremy Barnes would rather watch a zombie movie than shoot a real one, but he has no choice if his family wants to survive the end of the world. Their plan? Drive across the infected United States to a cabin in the Colorado Rockies without a scratch, but their trip takes a complicated detour in the middle of Nebraska when they find Kaylynn, a girl who can handle a baseball bat better than Jeremy can hold a .45 Berretta. And when they stumble into a sanctuary, Jeremy soon learns that Kaylynn is stronger than she looks—a deadly secret lies inside her.

After the radio picks up a distress call from Kansas City about a possible cure, Jeremy’s parents go with a team to investigate. They never return. The only way to find their parents is for Jeremy and his sister Jewel to rely on a dangerous girl who might just turn on them at any moment.
David Powers King was born in beautiful downtown Burbank, California where his love for film inspired him to be a writer. He is the co-author of the YA fantasy novel WOVEN, published by Scholastic. An avid fan of science fiction and fantasy, David also has a soft spot for zombies and the paranormal. He currently lives deep in the mountain West with his wife and three children. 

What about you, dear reader? Which is your favorite monster? Who loves zombies?

The Writer’s Life

Thank you, Misha, for hosting me today. I’ve always loved your blog, so I’m really happy to hang out here for a little while!

I thought I’d chat about a writer’s life. Specifically, this writer’s life. Although it took me a while to realize I was supposed to write the stories that collected in my head, those stories have always been there and still are. Some are just snippets. Others are more fully formed. The same with characters – they hang out in my head, too. And I’ve always possessed the outlook of a writer.

People watching. OMG!More like instant profiles. “She has a cat.” “He’s a mechanic.” “He’s way too much in love with her, and she doesn’t love him as much.” Of course, I have no idea if my perceptions come close to the truth. Over time, these observances graduated to include stories about their lives. Sometimes these became the beginning of a new story in my head or blended with one already there. But not always.

Event watching. This is only slightly different from people watching. Or maybe it’s still a part of it. But an event usually occurs when I’m not actively engaged in watching people. It may be as minor as a vehicle parked at an odd location or perhaps even at a strange angle. Or someone whose dress or manner is inappropriate for the occasion, say the man who sits apart at a funeral and doesn’t speak to anyone. Or maybe the two strangers(?) in the pet store who meet, speak, and move on. Events like these truly spark my imagination. And sometimes lead to a plot twist in a story.

Names. I love maps, and I put names of streets, cities, towns, counties together to form names. South Carolina is home to Florence Newberry. Think about a character named Florence Newberry. Can’t you just see her! There are many more, including two Texans, who you’ll meet in stories yet to come, but not the same story—Peggy Whitsett and Brady Ellinger. These characters usually appear with at least a little backstory, and sometimes full stories spilling over and waiting to be told.

So how is your life as a writer? Do you do these things? Different things? Or am I the only one?

Carol Kilgore is a Texas native who has lived in locations across the U.S.as the wife of a Coast Guard officer. Back under the hot Texassun in San Antonio, Carol writes a blend of mystery, suspense, and romance she calls Crime Fiction with a Kiss. She and her husband share their home and patio with two active herding dogs, and every so often the dogs let them sit on the sofa.

Learn more about Carol and follow her here:

No home. No family. No place to hide. For Summer Newcombe, that’s only the beginning.
The night Summer escapes from a burning Padre Island eatery and discovers the arsonist is stalking her, is the same night she meets Fire Captain Gabriel Duran. As much as she’s attracted to Gabe, five years in the Federal Witness Security Program because of her father’s testimony against a mob boss have taught her the importance of being alone and invisible.
No matter how much she yearns for a real home, Summer relinquished that option the night she killed the man who murdered her father. But Gabe breaks down her guard and places both of them in danger. Summer has vowed never to kill again, but she’s frantic she’ll cost Gabe his life unless she stops running and fights for the future she wants with the man she loves.

What a beautiful day… looking around you for inspiration

The morning seems to have covered the world in bright silver light. The sun isn’t technically shining, but the clouds are just translucent enough to allow us to look through them at the blue above. Today, the air  smells fresh and all feels well. Days like this just make me feel happy.

Of course, part of the reason lies in the fact that I won’t be leaving my apartment until noon, so there’s very little that can go wrong until then, barring (touch wood) burst water pipes, messing tomato sauce on my flatmate’s expensive beige carpet etc.

Don’t morning like this just inspire you to write something?

When something like is different about nature, I try to stare at it often and for long periods of time. I want to remember what it was like, because it will never be like that again, unless I somehow manage to awaken it in the reader’s imagination.

Sadly I can’t really spend too much words explaining why the morning just before sunrise is particularly pretty. If you want to know, I seriously suggest you wake up early and see. If you’re the kind of person that stops to smell the flowers, it will blow your mind.

Which neatly brings me to my point. If you want to write, you have to learn how to notice the small things around you. To me the reasons are rather complex.

Like I said, noticing mother nature can help you to explain how she looks and works. If, and that’s a big if, you notice her and think about what you noticed. That’s what I did at the beginning of my post. Those were the words that were running around my mind since I looked out the window. They might seem sparse, but they are enough. I’ll remember the feeling the morning gave me, how it looked, and I will be able to write about it later.

Then, the people around you are mines of inspiration for your characters. Firstly, you can look at them physically. How do they walk? What do they look like? I’ve stolen one character’s mop of dark hair from a passer by. I also inserted the wicked sparkle in his eyes.

Of greater use to me is looking at people from a writer’s perspective. In other words, as if they are the characters in a (your?) book. How do they talk? How do they interact with friends? People they don’t know? People below their social standing? People above their social standing? What do they say?

I mean, what are they really saying? I was friends with someone that shared my passion for books and movies and the friendship grew despite our many differences. All of my friends know that I tend to have a dark, somewhat bitter and a very snarky wit. Because of this, I don’t mind if people turn similar wit on me. In fact I relish sharp senses of humour. Anyway, I eventually moved into this friend’s building and we became neighbors.

Something began to niggle, so I turned my author-like attention onto her personality. I inspected her interactions with others. I inspected her interaction with me.

I found the fundamental difference between us. My wit is used to laugh with people, sometimes about their and especially my own faults. Most of the time we just snark about what one of us said and it turns into a session of verbal sparring. I love it. It keeps me on my toes and my feet on the ground. 

On the other hand, she was using her wit to laugh at people. She was essentially breaking people down and disguising it under a veil of humour. On inspection, I couldn’t even say she did it per accident because she crossed the line without knowing it. She knew exactly what she was doing. I particularly noticed that she targeted me in front of people. Kind of makes you think of school, right?

To sum it up, she was trying to hurt my confidence in order to make her look and feel good in front of others. Big mistake. I have been born with boundless confidence. Or maybe it was my mom telling me I’m special all the time. But I don’t tolerate bullies. I also don’t deal well with stupidity.

People trying to bully me are stupid… and therefore deserve any and all retaliation I send their way. Don’t worry, I didn’t go down to her level. I beat her simply by outmatching her wit at every turn.

I eventually moved out due to problems with my landlord. She actually asked whether it was because she hurt my feelings. I burst out laughing and stated categorically that she couldn’t get to my confidence if she tried. I smiled sweetly and walked away from her. The friendship faded away after that.

I included this anecdote for two reasons. One is to illustrate what I meant. People say things. And then they say things. Authors that master that in dialogue are light years ahead.

The other is to serve as a warning. If you doubt that your friendships will survive closer inspection and if you care for those friendships, DO NOT ANALYSE YOUR FRIENDS!!! Along with all the good things about the person, you’ll pick up on the dark undercurrents to them as well. It’s natural. All people have a dark side. I clearly showed part of my dark side to you. I can be incredibly ruthless, if I want to be.

I just don’t want to be. Even with the friend from above, I stayed reasonably nice, because I don’t want to be that person. That doesn’t mean that Misha the ruthless puppet master doesn’t exist or that she doesn’t appear sometimes. I keep her muzzled. Firmly. But she’s there. And I’m sure that anyone looking for her will find her. Just so all people have their personality faults.

In away that is what makes us interesting people. If we didn’t have the dark side, we would have been bland. The difference between people who are fundamentally nice-ish and those that aren’t is merely the choice they make as to whether they’ll embrace the dark side of their personality. (Insert scary Darth Vader breathing here)

Grr… basically what I’m saying is this: If you dig for the bad stuff, you will find it. Why? Because it is always there. Scarily enough, it’s not even deeply hidden. Why? Because most people you interact with don’t bother to look.

But looking at people this way can alter how you perceive them for the rest of your life. Sometimes it’s for the better. Other times it’s for the worse. And it’s your job as the person doing the inspection to make sure that you are willing to put the relationship on the line. If you are not, don’t do it. End of story.