Wednesday, October 8, 2014

INTERVIEW WITH DALE KUTZERA

Today, we're joined by Dale Kutzera, who's sharing what it was like to indie publish his book ANDY MCBEAN AND THE WAR OF THE WORLDS.


Why indie pub?

I wrote screenplays for a number of years and anyone who has worked in
the entertainment industry understands the inherent lack of control writer have. Your script may or may not sell. They may or may not make it. If they do make your story into a film or television program, they might take liberties you never anticipated. They could make your story far better than you expected, or much worse. There are similar hurdles in the world of traditional publishing, where authors gives up a good deal of control to editors and publishers.
Not so with self-publishing. To quote old TV show, "The Outer Limits," I control the horizontal and I control the vertical. I really like that.

Tell us about the illustrations—which are incredible and fun.  What was the process of creation like?  Or, can you tell us about your artist Joemel Requeza?  How did Requeza come to do the illustration work for ANDY MCBEAN?

I have fond memories of reading classic stories like Swiss Family Robinson, The Mysterious Island, and Treasure Island in additions with wonderful illustrations. I felt that "Andy McBean" would also benefit from illustrations. They will clarify the action and help lure in young readers. I found Joemel Requeza the old fashioned way…via the internet. He responded to a post I made for an illustrator and had a style that I really liked.  I knew what scenes I wanted illustrated, and drew rough sketches of what I was after. Then Joemel worked his magic. Everything is digital these days. Joemel lives in the Philippines, created the artwork digitally, and emailed me the files.

Why MG?

Good question as I've learned the real money is in Romance! I chalk this up again to a feeling of being liberated by the world of independent publishing. There is no one saying, "No, that idea won't work." If an idea pops into my head and sticks there, it sort of demands to be written. It won't take no for an answer. My first novel was a Hollywood crime story, and I thought it would be nice to write something youthful and innocent, fun and exciting. 

You’ve got a cinematic background.  Tell us about it.

I wrote stories from a very young age, and I liked to paint and draw. These two passions melded into the world of filmmaking. I made short films through high school and college and eventually moved to Los Angeles where I wrote about film for magazines and wrote screenplays and teleplays. I was fortunate to work on two shows, "Strange Frequency" for VH-1 and "Without a Trace" for CBS. I also made the anti-war satire "Military Intelligence And You!" which had a small theatrical distribution. Like the song says, "It's nice work if you can get it."

Did that background help or hurt the process of writing an MG novel?  How so?

There's no doubt that writing prose is different from writing a screenplay.  Screenwriting is often about imagining the finished film and then making notes as you're watching the film in your head. That doesn't work with a novel. I had to remember that (aside from the illustrations) I just had words to deal with. I do feel, however, that screenwriting is good training for breaking a story, keeping the action moving, and not larding the book up with a lot of extraneous details. 

Did you have an interest in space when you were young?

I had a great interested in space movies. Just like Andy, I had model space ships hanging from my ceiling, but I never wanted to be an astronaut. I wanted to create other worlds and make movies about them.

Tell us about the relationship between Andy and Been’Tok.

The book took a few drafts to get right, in large part because I discovered that relationship grew more interesting with each draft. The novel is almost entirely from Andy's perspective. We see what he sees and feel what he feels. Here and there, however, there are smaller passages - not long enough to be official chapters - from the alien's perspective. I wanted both characters to learn from the other and bring out the best in each other. That is part of growing up and this is very much a book about a boy growing up and understanding the bigger world around him.

What was the reason or inspiration behind choosing a hearing impaired / ill character?

I have to come clean there and say that Andy's illness was a calculated decision on my part to build sympathy for the character. I knew what kind of kid he was, but didn't really know why and the idea of having him survive leukemia gave me that explanation. It also motivated his parents to be over-protective and that was another hurdle for him to overcome. And it explained how, in some ways, he's a bit socially awkward and behind his peers. In short, it added a host of interesting complexities.

What were the influences behind the creation of Been’Tok?

The project started, obviously, as a reinterpretation of H.G. Wells "War of the Worlds." One part of Wells' text that stuck with me was his description of the aliens.  In particular, he compared them to a bear. A careful reading of Wells story will show that he was referring to the size and color and not to fur, but for some reason the idea of a furry alien stuck with me. The other aspects of the character stemmed in part from the famous mechanical tripods. I figured that an alien race that makes three-legged vehicles may also have three legs, and maybe three eyes.  I doodled a lot on the look of Been'Tok, and even hired a handful of different artists to send me concepts. 

What’s ahead for you?

THE SEQUEL!  It may be a bit mercenary, but the conventional wisdom is books in series sell better. I was very focused on giving that theory a test, and so I'm busy finishing the second Andy McBean book. I'm happy to report Joemel Requeza has contributed a half-dozen illustrations and they are terrific!

ANDY MCBEAN is available for .99 for a limited time at Amazon, B&N, and Kobo.

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