Today, I’m interviewing the author of fantasy and fairy tale retellings with a twist, the creative genius Kyle Robert Shultz.
Welcome to the blog, Kyle! Here’s a cup of coffee to warm your hands. Let’s start by diving into your author bio—specifically the part that says you began writing in your early teens after being bitten by a radioactive book. I am very curious what this radioactive book was, and what the first book/story you ever wrote was about? Please do divulge the details to us! 🙂
Hi Elise! Thanks for the coffee. *slurp* The fateful book was The Magician’s Nephew, the first fantasy book I ever read and my favorite of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. In my opinion, this particular volume of the series is underrated. It’s got everything—journeys to multiple other worlds, a witch-queen rampaging across Edwardian London, a scattered old magician experimenting with interdimensional travel, a flying horse… I just love it. Plus, even though it’s a kids’ book, it actually includes a fully-realized multiverse, the concept of which Lewis does a great job explaining. This, I think, paved the way for all the mind-bending sci-if and fantasy I would come to embrace in the future, as well as the stories I would one day write myself.
The first book I ever wrote was an utterly terrible portal fantasy, which was one of my twelfth-grade homeschool projects. I live in fear that my homeschool evaluator will blackmail me with it one day. She may still have the only copy I haven’t destroyed. But, being charitable to my younger self, at least it got me started on the road to author-dom.
I loved The Magician’s Nephew! It was my first C.S. Lewis book and still holds a special place in my heart.
When drafting a story, do you start with the story world or with the characters first? Some writers create a character, and from there make up a story for them, while others start from a story idea and from it build their characters. Which is it for you?
These days, the characters come first. I first envisioned the Afterverse (the parallel reality where all my stories are set) long before I came up with any of the characters who now populate it. Initially, when I tried to use it in a story, I threw in “stock” characters who really weren’t that interesting. Then I got the first sparks of inspiration for the characters whom my readers have since come to love, and my whole approach to writing changed. Now my strategy is to dream up an interesting character and figure out the most effective way to mess up his or her life.
By the way, auto-correct tried to turn “sparks of inspiration” into “sporks of inspiration”. Just thought I’d mention that.
Haha, the sporks of inspiration were at work! 😀
What experiences have helped shape you as a writer?
Sharing my first book, The Beast of Talesend, on a writing critique website was the first big step I took toward actually being an author. I was terrified to do it, but once I did, it finally pushed me beyond just writing stories and keeping them stashed away on my hard drive where nobody could see them. Then came the next scary experience, which was publishing Beast on Amazon. This taught me to move on from endlessly polishing my stories and truly finish them. It wasn’t until I had written several more books, though, that I actually got past the biggest hang-ups which had held me back from pursuing writing as a career for years. I still battle impostor syndrome from time to time, just like everyone else, but I feel like I now know how to cope with those moments when they come.
I can relate to endlessly polishing stories. You want your book to be the best it can possibly be, but the publish button must be pressed eventually.
Tell us about the Afterverse you’ve built. What sort of universe is it?
The Afterverse is a parallel universe where all fairy tales, myths, legends, and classic stories are real historical events. The timeline created by the combination of all these tales has created a world roughly similar to our own, but with some major differences as well. For one thing, magic and monsters exist, and for another, the names of most cities and countries are different. England, for example, is Camelot in the Afterverse. America is called Neverica, Africa is Anansica, Australia is Ozstralia, and so on. My books explore various places and time periods in this world. The Beaumont and Beasley series is set in 1920’s Camelot, in the city of Talesend (the Afterverse version of London). The Crockett and Crane series takes place in the Old West, in 1890’s Neverica. Further books will explore still more times and places throughout the Afterverse, and even venture into alternative realities.
The Afterverse sounds like my sort of place! I’d particularly like to visit Ozstralia. 😉
What inspired you to write the Beaumont and Beasley series?
The name. 😀 I had written “Beauty and the Beast” down in a notebook while trying to find a way to make the Afterverse click, and it struck me that the names Beaumont and Beasley tied in perfectly with the name of the fairy tale. Then I just had to create characters to go with the names. I experimented with various ones, none of whom felt right. One day, I got the image in my head of a newly-cursed Beast trying to cope with his transformation in the middle of 1920’s London. That’s how Nick Beasley began. Cordelia remained little more than a cardboard cutout until I wrote her introductory scene in The Beast of Talesend. Instead of behaving like the prim and proper Lady Beaumont that I had initially envisioned, she threw a dinner roll at a woman’s hat because she didn’t fancy it. From that moment on, her personality was just as strongly established in my mind as Nick’s.
Now I know what to do the next time I see a hat I don’t like. XD
Tell us a little about your protagonist, Private eye Nick Beasley, from The Beast of Talesend. What is his biggest flaw? Is he the type to get himself into trouble, or does trouble find him?
Nick is a private detective who spent most of his life believing that magic and monsters didn’t exist. His sudden transformation into a monster via magic forced him to change his mind on this point. Prior to his curse, his biggest flaw was arrogance, and though he’s now a more humble, likable person, that flaw isn’t completely gone. He still tends to think that he knows best, and to keep the people he loves in the dark in order to protect them. This will ultimately lead to devastating consequences, both for Nick and for everyone he cares about. While Nick doesn’t go looking for trouble, choosing instead to meticulously plan things out with the hope of avoiding surprises, his plans more often than not lead to trouble anyway.
What book or series are you currently working on? And what works do you have in store for us this 2019?
Right now, I’m working on Beaumont and Beasley Book 5, The Strange Cases of Beaumont and Beasley, as well as The Thirteenth Knight, Book 1 in the Blackfire series (and my NaNoWriMo project). In early 2019, I’ll be continuing the Crockett and Crane series and building towards climactic events in the Beaumont and Beasley books that will shake the entire Afterverse to its foundations. I also have a few additional spin-off projects in the works, including Tarzan and Mowgli (a superhero series) and Netherfield (Pride and Prejudice with magic and dragons).
Tarzan and Mowgli as superheroes? I cannot wait to see that!
Thank you for dropping by my interview lounge, Kyle! It was a pleasure discussing books and writerly things with you. I hope the coffee had enough sugar.
*slurp* It was perfect, thank you. 😀 And thanks for having me on your blog!
You can follow Kyle Robert Shultz and all of his book projects over on his Website, where you can also subscribe to his newsletter.
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