Friday, June 15, 2012

Meet the Author: Keven Newsome


Keven Newsome is a graduate student at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he is pursuing a Master of Arts in Theology specializing in Supernatural Theology. He writes stories that portray the Supernatural and Paranormal with an accurate Biblical perspective. He is the author of Winter, a thriller published by Splashdown Darkwater. He currently lives in New Orleans, LA with his wife and their two children.

Keven is also the founder and administrator of The New Authors’ Fellowship and produces music and video through Newsome Creative.

Find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thewordcrafter,on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kevennewsome, and on Youtube at www.youtube.com/kevennewsome.

Q: How do you get ideas for stories? Specifically, what gave you the idea for Winter?

A: My ideas can come from any source, really. I have a different approach to writing than a lot of people, so my ideas may not be what you expect. I take a "story first" approach, which means the underlying theme or take-away value is what I build first. Characters and events are designed around the underlying theme in a way that best supports it. With that in mind, my ideas come from observing the human condition and hearing the life stories of other people.

However...I have been known to take a weird dream or two and develop it into something cool I can include in a larger story. I can think of at least one dream that made it into Among Dragons and one that made it into Winter 4.

The idea for Winter came from a mixture of things. Originally, it was about two story ideas. I had this idea to write about someone with the gift of prophecy. Originally, this idea was following some teen space opera track. I also wanted to write about a Goth girl, as a means of telling the story of someone who is not what they seem and how God can take a broken life and transform it into something beautiful. I don't know when or how the two ideas merged. But they did. I suppose I can claim divine inspiration on that one.

Q: When did you start writing? Do you feel that God specifically called you to write, or is it something you took up on your own?

A: The first thing I wrote was in 5th grade and it was fan fiction for a Nintendo game that I was really into. I wrote about 5 pages of jumbo sized messy hand-writing, complete with King James English because that's how they talked in the game.

Telling stories was something I did from then on. My attention span wouldn't always suffer me to write them down, so often I sketched things and just verbally told the story behind the picture. In high school I started actually writing short stories and flash fiction, eventually beginning a novel at some point.

But the thing that bothered me was that I had no idea how to write what I wanted to write and still glorify God. I knew I wanted my writing to glorify God, even if it wasn't specifically evangelistic. But I wrote fantasy and horror type stuff and my biggest questions was WJRT? Would Jesus read this? So I stopped for a while when I went off to college.

That's when I discovered the speculative Christian genre, helmed by the amazing Frank Peretti. My eyes were finally open to how I could do this and get Jesus to read it. After college I began Among Dragons...and the rest is my meager ten year writing history.

Q: Do any of your characters take over the story, or do they generally stay well-behaved?

A: Stories are like children and authors like parents. It's the authors job to raise the story and guide it to become a successful adult. But the story will become what the story wants to become, ultimately. No author knows specifically how a story will end when they first begin, no matter how much pre-planning they've done. Do my characters take over? No. But I don't focus on characters. The STORY takes over. The story evolves to be what the story is supposed to be. The characters shape it. The plot defines it. And in the end I see that I've written precisely what the story was supposed to be and that it was the only story it could have been.

Now, I HAVE had characters who have opted out of a story. One character in particular, Chloe, was supposed to have a much larger role in Winter. I had originally wanted her to be to Winter what Draco is to Harry. But Chloe didn't want to be involved. She wasn't a part of the story, so she stayed out of it. I'm trying to convince her to be a part of Winter 2, but I'm not sure it'll stick.

Q: How did you decide to write speculative fiction?

A: Because normal fiction is boring. If I want "real life" I'll just go outside and get some sun. Speculative brings me to new worlds and new possibilities. It allows me to exercise a level of creativity that you can't get anywhere else. Fantasy was my first love, so my first novel was fantasy. I speak fantasy quite fluently, having devoured most of the pioneers in the genre. I'm not talking about the popular, best-selling, type stuff. I seek out the ground-breaking fantasies, Tolkien, Lewis, Robert Jordan, and Robin McKinley. Horror was my second love. Things like HP Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Poe. Scifi takes third place, with HG Wells, Jules Verne, and William Gibson.

All that to say...why did I decide to write speculative? I couldn't help it. I write and speculative spills out.

Q: What gave you the idea to do an audiobook of Winter? And can you tell me a little about putting it together?

A: I always wanted to do an audiobook, but I had no idea how. An author friend introduced my to ACX. After looking into it I decided to go for it. ACX.com is a website run by Amazon. It stands for Audiobook Creation Exchange. ACX does two things for authors.

The first is that ACX is a facilitation system for creating audiobooks. They database books posted by rights holders who want to create an audiobook. They also database producers and actors who want to voice audiobooks. The rights holders can search the producer database, listen to samples from voice actors, select one, and request an audition. Likewise, the producers can search the book database, find one they're interested in, download the audition script, and send an audition to the rights holders. It goes both ways. In my case, the voice actress found me. After the rights holder and a producer is paired, ACX provides an online system with which to develop and upload the audiobook.

The second thing ACX does is distribution and contract management. This is optional. You can either choose to pay your producer out right, or you can go with a 50/50 royalty share facilitated through ACX. You can opt to do you own promotion and distribution, or you can allow ACX to take control and distribute through Amazon, iTunes, and Audible.

I went with the 50/50 royalty share and ACX distribution, because there was absolutely no upfront cost to me.

Lindsay Zana was the voice actress who submitted an audition for Winter. She did such a great job that I quickly saw we could turn this into more of a performance production than just a reading. She does different voice for every character so convincingly that sometimes you think there's more than one person. The level of emotion she puts into some of the more charged chapters is just amazing. Lindsay suggested the audio effects. Together we developed some voice effects for special events, such as premonitions or God speaking or the end sequence where Winter's voice goes weird. There's also an effect put on TVs and telephone conversations to make them sound a little more authentic.

Music was fun. I pretty much oversaw that. I chose music from Zero-Project, who I've used before for my Winter trailers. I also chose a couple tracks written by Tobias Mitter. Both of these musicians have their music available in CC license through Jamendo.com. There isn't music in every track, so don't worry. It's only there in some of the more important scenes. And it's never overly loud so as to compete with the voice acting. It's simply background mood music. Chalk it up to my on-going attempt to put more multimedia into the writing industry.

We circumvented the standard ACX interface and did most of our communication through email. That's fine, because ACX actually encourages you to do that.

Q: What was your favorite part of putting together an audiobook?

A: It's one thing to read your own book. And it's something else to see that book in print available to the whole world, with gushing reviews from readers. There's nothing like it really.

But when a voice actress as talented as Lindsay Zana gets a hold of it and brings it to life...I mean, REALLY brings it to life with emotion and movement and a voice. It's surreal. It's invigorating. It's inspiring. Winter may never become a movie. But this audiobook is absolutely the closest it could come. That's because this isn't just an audiobook. It's a performance. It's an experience.

And being there each step of the way, hearing each chapter as it unfolded, breathlessly waiting for the next and constantly wondering what Lindsay was going to do to blow my mind again...THAT was my favorite thing.

Q: Can you tell me a little about your upcoming projects?

A: Winter 2. November 2012. It makes the first book feel like a Preface. That's all you need to know.

And I can't wait! Thanks, Keven, for joining me on Magical Ink today. If any of you would like to check out the Winter audiobook, here is the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Winter/dp/B008BRDASS/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1339774244&sr=8-5&keywords=keven+newsome

2 responses:

Kristen Stieffel said...

This is awesome, Keven. The audiobook seems like a great project, and I'm looking forward to Winter 2. :)

Keven Newsome said...

Thanks Kristen! And thanks Heather for having me over!

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