NOTE: Commentary is made as a private citizen and not as Regional Coordinator for Silent No More or Leader of Rachel's Hope, unless otherwise stated.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Welcome I.O. Kirkwood to "An Author Speaks"!

~Wordsmith ~Storyteller ~Alternate historian ~Metal junkie

In between bouts of banging her head, blogging, and twittering, she's also the author of "Subatomic Revolt," volume 2 in Mike Lynch's No Revolution Is Too Big series.

What five words describe you?
The five words that best describe me are tenacious, passionate, witty, curious, and loyal.

What are you working on at the minute? What is it about?
I’m working on volume 3 of the Needless series and I’ve just managed to overcome a terrible case of writer’s block. Volume 3 is the middle volume and I got stuck right at the midpoint of the story. Middles have always been my biggest hurdle. I was starting to panic when Verity, the main character, started whispering to me about how I needed to take my panic and the stress I was feeling and feed it into her story. She’s feeling pretty overwhelmed herself: she’s fighting game demons that are reaching into her world through a game system called the Holobox. One of her friends is missing, another she managed to help rescue, but now she’s watching evil creatures called ‘wights’ sneak into her every day world. That’s quite a load to carry because there’s this book that calls her by name as the heroine who is going to save the day. Verity put my life into perspective.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from
your most recent book?

I was looking for pictures of Verity and the actress who most reminded me of her was Katie Holmes though I could definitely see Emma Watson or Jennifer Lawrence in the role. Verity is complex. She’s very sweet, but she’ll kill a demon on a dime with no questions asked. She loves her mother and even her step father, but she feels more like a lab experiment than their child. She wants friends, but she’s used to going it alone. Life is very difficult for Verity and the actress would need to be able to convey Verity’s strength and vulnerability.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Tam Lin by Pamela Dean would be my pick. The premise is built on the Ballad of Tam Lin, a Scottish work about a young woman who falls for a doomed knight errant. Tam Lin has been enchanted by the Faery Queen and will be sacrificed as a tithe to Hell if the woman who loves him and carries his child doesn’t pull him from his horse on All Hallows Eve. She must hold him tight and not let him go until he completes many transformations. Only then will he be free. Pamela Dean wrote a very relevant and contemporary story based on this ballad and I have read it many times. Just talking about it makes me want to read it again.

What is the hardest thing about writing?
Plotting is the hardest part for me. I need the structure, but I’m what writers call a “pantser” at heart. I have The Needless series plotted out right through the end but only the major points. I know each character gets a volume. I know what their basic issues are and the types of events they need to experience to intensify internal conflicts, but the characters reveal themselves to me as I go. I have to back track and put stuff in and that drives me crazy because then I have to make sure everything else fits. Near the end of a story, I’m about fit to lose my mind as I read through several times to make sure there aren’t any inconsistencies or unintentionally loose ends.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
I just went through this so here’s what I did. First, I panicked. Then I tried to force myself to write. I think we can all agree that only works to a certain point. Then I looked at everything I had to do, including all my deadlines for the metal music magazine, my series, and my life, and I broke down and cried because I was so overwhelmed. Once I got over myself, I got out an agenda, broke everything down into manageable bits, assigned them due dates, and just plugged away. There are so many things that can cause writer’s block and feeling like a failure isn’t going to help. I hate letting people down. I have to learn how to say no to other writers with awesome projects. I just want to do everything, and I think this quote best describes my dilemma: “You can do anything you want, you just can’t do everything you want.”

Where would your dream location be for writing?
A tree house! I would love to have my own little tree house hideaway where I could go to write. Either that or a portable office, say like one of those tiny homes that you can hitch to the back of a truck. I don’t need much space. I don’t need many things. If I have the basics to survive, my lap tap, and a pot of coffee, I’m good to go. It just has to be mine.

When creating characters, are they based on people in your life?
No. I base characters on pictures in magazines and qualities that I see around me. I have imaginary friends, a host of them, and they will appear in my stories as themselves, but they aren’t based on people that I can touch. Whether or not my characters live in alternate realities while I’m just a figment of their imagination is another matter all together. Wouldn’t it be amazing if someone was writing a best seller about my life in some parallel universe? That would be crazy.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I have only received one review from a high school friend who is so proud of me she’d be unable to give me a bad review. I don’t know how I’d react to a bad review. I’m terribly thin-skinned in some ways and very impervious in others. I review other people’s works on a regular basis, mostly albums and live performances. I try to be as constructive as possible in my assessment because artists put their hearts and souls into their work. I feel a responsibility to give them my full attention when I take apart what they’ve done to report to my readers. The most constructive reviews come from the 3-3.5 star ratings on a 5 star scale. That’s a solid mark, but there’s work that needs to be done and hopefully the reviewer has told me what worked and what didn’t. I’d read those reviews and higher. I’d just look at the 1-2.9 stars for the ratio. If the low marks are outnumbering the higher marks, then I need to figure out what I’m doing wrong without torturing my sensitive artist’s soul with every venom-dipped word. Seriously, there are people out there who get their jollies from stomping on hard-working artists. Those who can are doers, those who can’t are critics and the worst are those who are frustrated by their inability.

If you couldn't be a writer, what would you be?
A musician, hahaha. I’d be the people I critique. Oh goodness. I’ve been in a band before as a vocalist. I’m not too shabby but I’ll stick to karaoke at this point. I have enough experience that I don’t feel like too much of a hypo-critic when I write a review of someone else’s performance. I love music, especially heavy and extreme metal music, and I have to give a thumbs up to all the musicians out there who are pretty much making the medicine that keeps me sane on a day to day basis. Music inspires me. I write and create to a soundtrack of In Flames, Battlecross, Allegaeon, Nile, King of Asgard, Meshuggah, Crimson Shadows, After the Burial, Revocation, Bloody Hammers, Our Last Enemy, and wow, the list just goes on. And throw some Evanescence in there too.

What would you tell your younger self that would have helped you in your writing career?
Be patient with yourself. Writing is an art and just like painting or dancing or playing an instrument, it takes years to achieve proficiency much less brilliance. Yes, everyone is supposed to know how to write, but not everyone is wired to write stories. I think that’s what trips up writers. We’re supposed to somehow have this writing thing down early on, but that’s not the reality. I've read just about everything Terry Pratchett has ever written and I must say, his later works far outshine his earlier ones. As a writer, you live your characters’ lives and to truly live another life, you must also live your own. You must grow and mature into a beautiful flower made of stories that is carefully weeded by craft and nourished by the fertilizer of all your traumas and triumphs. This flower represents the human condition because that is why writers write: to express the many facets of being human. So be patient, young I.O. For everything, there is a season.

Where can we buy your books?
The Needless e-books are available on,, and Just plug in I.O. Kirkwood in the site’s search engine and they’ll come up. I also have one paperback on those sites, No Revolution Is Too Big, to which I contributed one of the nine adventures.  There are eight other authors who contributed to that book and they each wrote fabulous stories.

How can we keep up with you? Blog, Facebook, etc......
You can go to my blog at and that will link you to my Facebook, Twitter, Google +, you name it. You can also put I.O. Kirkwood into a Google search engine to find me. I also write for so you can find me there. I look forward to hearing from everyone. If you want to give me a review and test how I’ll react, it’s only $0.99 to read one of my New Adult Fantasy volumes or the Science-Fiction volume (No. 2 – Subatomic Revolt). Post your review on and if you’re one of the first ten, I’ll be sure to include my reaction to your review in an upcoming blog post.

Thanks for having me!

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