Today I’m going an interview with the great author Kevin Rau. He’s the author of the phenomenal H.E.R.O: Metamorphoses, and H.E.R.O: New Markets. He’s also written others in the series, but I’ve not read them, so I can’t judge them. However, I look forward to reading the others.
1. Would you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a software developer/manager at a small company by day, by night I put on my mask and write novels. (It only seems silly if I see myself in the mirror.) I’ve been a superhero, fantasy and sci-fi fan since I was a child, and I’m also a long-time gamer (both computer games and role-playing games). I collected comics for many years, although I stopped nearly a decade ago when I was married.
2. Would you be willing to give us a brief rundown about your fantastic H.E.R.O. novels?
In a nutshell, I wanted comic-book action in book form, with all the extras that novels can bring over comics, such as dialog, minor plots, and depth given by many thousands of words. I chose a low-to-mid power level for my supers to “keep it real,” and to avoid dealing with ultra-powerful supers that deal with worldly events, as the series is focused on one (huge) city in my super world. I started the series off with a very in-depth walkthrough from three new heroes’ viewpoints, and then after a few books expanded into a larger set of heroes active in Metrocity. Each novel has a self-contained story, so the core plotlines will be wrapped up in that story. However, there are also plots that continue through the books, much like a television series. It’s grown quite a bit so far, to 12 books (9 novels, 2 short stories and 1 illustrated guide), and over a million words. (For general information, an average published book tends to be about 100,000 words, and most comic books have 1,500 to 2,500 words.)
3. How do you prepare to write? Are you an outliner, or a seat-of-your-pants style writer?
I select the core batch of plotlines that will be handled in that book, and then write up a large list of ongoing “issues” that need to be addressed for different characters, often due to plotlines that have crossed books. I very roughly outline the first 6-12 chapters, and then go by the pants. I often have no clue where the twists of a story will take it when I begin, as the personalities of the characters dictate what they’ll do when I happen to write a scene, and strange things sometimes occur.
4. Your H.E.R.O.s are grouped into three categories (that I’ve seen so far): Blaster, Mutant and Brick. Are there any combinations, or will there be?
The categories are (officially) Blaster, Brick, Mutant, Psychic, and Elemental, with both Mutants and Blasters serving as somewhat broad categories for those with unusual physical abilities, or energy-based abilities, respectively. There are indeed combinations. Example characters include Spartan (Brick with some blaster abilities to absorb fire), Zonk (Brick with rubber body and fireworks blast), and Lady Celeste (Mutant with psychic powers).
5. If you were to change, and could choose, would you be a Blaster, Brick, or Mutant?
That’s a tough decision, and would depend upon if I was the only hero around. In our real world, I’d probably choose a Brick, for very little could hurt one here. I wouldn’t mind being a mutant, so long as I didn’t look extremely non-human. I doubt I’d want to be a blaster, unless I could choose the energy type. Disintegration would be extremely useful, but there aren’t a lot of good uses for fire blasters…
6. What’s the hardest part about writing your novels?
These days, it’s focus. I have a tough time working a full day, going home, and then sitting at a desk and writing all night. Writing is a very intense mental activity, so it can wear a person out after enough time, day after day, and week after week.
7. Your cover art is pretty amazing. Do you do it yourself, or did you hire it out?
I make my own cover art. Having said that, I buy the 3D art assets (such as the base male and female figures), change them, and tweak or create my own materials (the colors on skin/clothes/etc.). So I guess it’s fair to say that it’s a mix of my art, based on separate art items made by other people.
8. What tools did you use for the cover art?
I use Poser to create the 3D characters, put in lights, change the camera angle, and render it. Paint.NET is my tool for materials, background, etc. I’ve got a few more, such as for 3D object manipulation, but those two handle 95% of my art time.
9. Do you write full-time, or part-time?
I write full-time in the evenings and weekends, and work as an I.T. Manager full-time during “regular business hours.”
10. I’m sure you get this a lot, but: Why superheroes?
I love superheroes. As I mentioned above, I was a collector of comic books for a long time, but wanted more story and dialog. I watch just about every (somewhat) major superhero movie that comes out. There’s something about being able to do more than a normal human, and being able to save the day would be great.
11. You are the only writer I’ve read that uses the story-telling method of getting each of your MC’s perspectives with a dash of third person perspective. What do you call it?
I’m not sure there is an official term. I suppose I would call it “shifting first-person,” although a friend of mine calls it “multi-personality writing mode.”
12. What made you decide to use that style?
I wanted readers to see what the character saw, to feel the experience through them. I shift the viewpoints to let the reader see each of the primary heroes in the story (or villain, in some cases). Sticking with a single first-person mode wouldn’t allow for that, and third-person felt too distant. (Not that I don’t write in that mode, the novel I’m just finishing up is a fantasy novel, and uses third-person.)
13. Where can we find your novels?
The e-Books of them can be found on all major e-retailers, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Smashwords. I’ll include links to the first book for those below (the first full novel is free, by the way), since that’s the normal place to start. You can also find all the links on my website, on the book’s page at: http://www.kevinrau.com/books.asp
Paperback copies can be found through Amazon or Createspace, and links to them are also at http://www.kevinrau.com/books.asp
H.E.R.O. – Metamorphosis can be found free at (also on international sites of them, search for the book name, or by Kevin Rau):
I also post information on my author Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/herobooks
Robert – thanks much for having me here!
Thank you for being here, Kevin. If anyone clicks the images, they’ll be taken to purchase pages, or Kevin’s website.