Saturday, January 10, 2015

Words With an Author | Iain Reading

Hey Fantabulous Readers!

Today we're joined with Iain Reading, author of the Kitty Hawk series!

1. How did you get into writing? When did you first start writing?

I first started writing about two years ago, just after I first came up with the idea for the Kitty Hawk series of books.  The idea was so appealing to me and I so much wanted to see how those adventures turned out that it just sort of pushed me into actually sitting down and writing them.

2. Where did you come up with the idea for Kitty Hawk? Who/ what is your inspiration?

I think the initial idea just came out of nowhere when I was lying in bed one day.  It kind of occurred to me that "wouldn't it be cool if there was a book about a female pilot whose name was Kitty Hawk?"  And because I've always been interested in things like Amelia Earhart and De Havilland Beaver Seaplanes and Humpback Whales and what not, the idea just sort of took on a life of its own, like it was writing the story for itself.  However, all these thoughts were quickly followed by being absolutely convinced that someone must have thought of the idea already.  I've had other ideas before and always found out that someone had thought of them already.  So I was so sure of it that I didn't even bother Googling it until the next day.  When I did, however, I discovered that apparently no one HAD thought of it already.  And the race was on to do something about it before someone else did.

3. Are any of your characters based on people you actually know, if so which ones?

I think there are bits of a lot of people I know (myself included) in many of the characters in my books.  Sometimes they are even based on people who I happen across in day-to-day life.  Just off the top of my head, for example: the helpful crew of the Alaska Fjordlines in book number one are real people; the cemetery maintenance worker at the Key West cemetery in book two was real, as was Roger the US National Park Ranger at Fort Jefferson / Dry Tortugas; Erik the defender of Icelandic nature in book three is based on a simple picture of a red-haired student at the University of Reykjavik that I saw online (including the blue paper airplane he was throwing at the camera, which became a hobby of one of the other characters in the book - Albert); and so on.  Inspiration comes from everywhere, it seems.

4. Have you written anything before Kitty Hawk?

I once wrote a very terrible book, long ago, about love and loss.  I basically wrote it for the sake of simply finding out where the story was going.  It wasn't a planned-out book so once I started it I was curious to see where it would end.  But it's really very terrible.  Seriously.

5. If you had to pick only five books from your bookshelf you could keep, what would they be?

Contact by Carl Sagan
The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux
IBM and the Holocaust by Edwin Black
It by Stephen King
A Night To Remember by Walter Lord

6. Who is your favorite character from any book and why?

I think Kitty Hawk herself is definitely my favorite character from any of my own books.  She is really inspiring to me.  She does so much and is so brave and clever and resourceful.  I definitely am living vicariously through her.

7. How long did the writing process take for Kitty Hawk? From conception of the story to final publication?

The first step was thinking about the story for a few months, just mulling it over in my head, and struggling to try and find a voice for her in the book.  Once I found that voice the writing went incredibly quickly and I had finished the book in a matter of weeks.  Following that was the editting and whatever else, which took another couple months.  All told it was probably about six months from start to finish.

8. Who are some of your favorite authors?

As previously mentioned, Carl Sagan, Paul Theroux, but to that list I would add another couple of writers whose books I would immediately buy if they came out with something new: Mark Kurlansky (Salt: A World History; Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World) and Thomas Hager (The Demon Under The Microscope; The Alchemy Of Air).  And finally, to this list I would add my newest absolutely favorite author Francesca Lia Block (The Elementals; The Hanged Man; Weetzie Bat).

9. What actors/ actresses could you see playing the characters of your book?

Strangely enough, I sometimes imagine that some of the characters in my books as certain famous actors or actresses.  For some reason the characters just seem to fit with the look somehow.  I am sometimes asked who I would like to have play Kitty Hawk herself if there was a movie made of the books, and I always answer that if that ever happened that there is surely some unknown actress out there somewhere who would be perfect for the role.  That said, however, if I had to pick a known actress I would probably have to say that Claire Danes from her older film Romeo and Juliet would probably be a pretty good fit.

10. How did you come up with the title and cover of Kitty Hawk? Did they morph as you wrote the book, or were they constant?

One of my writing processes is to actually create the cover of the book almost before I actually finish writing the book itself.  It helps to inspire me, somehow.  So for each of the four (soon to be five) Kitty Hawk books I have commissioned cover art during the writing process itself.  I choose elements from the book that I want to have included, and work with an artist to bring those elements together.

11. Are you planning to write any other books?

Just recently I finished the fifth book in the Kitty Hawk series, which should be out as soon as I sort of get my life together a bit.  I also just finished a book about the wars and genocide in Bosnia that has a bit of a fantastical spin to it.  And I am just started on a new book series for middle-grade which involves dragons (more to follow on that).  Once all THAT is done, I will do a second book in the Wizards of Waterfire series.  And then back to Kitty Hawk again for book number six.  So....  lots of things planned.  Where will I find the time?

12. What would your advice be to someone who's aspiring to be a writer?

My best advice would be simply to write the book that you are able to write, and not kill yourself and frustrate yourself and depress yourself trying to write something that you are incapable of writing.  Personally, there are many amazing books I would love to write, but I know that I simply can't do it.  I guess it basically boils down to being the writer you ARE, instead of trying to be someone or something else.

13. Finally, just to wrap things up, what's your favorite color and why?

I think my favorite color fluctuates over time, from Caribbean Blue to Royal Purple to Basic Black.  It depends on my mood, I suppose, like some kind of psychological mood ring.