IDI – Normally, I make the introduction when interviewing an author, but today, I’m going to let my author introduce himself as I could not do it better than he does. Ken, please tell us about yourself.
KM – I used to have a pretty straightforward bio which talked about my life, loves, pastimes and writing. Quite recently, I changed it to something which I thought might be a little more intriguing. It begins like this:
Most folk believe that technology rules their lives. They’re wrong. Dark conspiracies and ancient magic actually dominate this planet. My one mission in life is to open people’s eyes to that fact.
My name is Ken Magee and I tell people I write contemporary fantasies which blend adventure and humour with technology and magic. My books live under the tagline ‘ancient magic meets the Internet’. I pretend that they’re works of fiction, because I’m afraid of the powerful people behind the conspiracies… I’m hoping a ‘fiction’ writer will slip under their radar.
I quite like this as an introduction, although sometimes I wonder if it makes me sound like a crazy person. I do go on to talk about myself, of course, here’s the sort of thing I say:
Up until the point when I discovered about the frightening plot which deliberately caused the recent global financial meltdown, I’d led a fairly normal life. I’d worked for many years in the computer industry in roles ranging from programming through to sales. In the middle of it all, I’d served in the Naval Reserve… which was hard work, but fun. Then in 2010, I decided to make time to finish Dark Tidings, the book I’d started many years earlier (writing not reading). I would have finished it sooner, but life got in the way. It’s finished now (the book, not life).
IDI – It took you many years to complete your first book. Give us a rundown of your ‘writing process’ from beginning to finished product.
KM – The first book was a little different in the sense that it took a very long time to complete. I had worked out the main plot idea many years ago when the Internet was just beginning to evolve, but I didn’t have time to do anything with it so it just bubbled about in my head, maturing and eventually morphing into what became Dark Tidings.
Once I started writing, I had the main structure and plan pretty clear. I wrote the first three or four chapters, just to get the story flowing and then I wrote the final chapter. I’ve taken this approach with all my books. This means I know exactly where the story is going and, roughly how it’s going to get there. After that, the characters can take over and make the journey happen, hopefully in an exciting and funny way.
When the first draft is complete, I rope in a couple of friends to beta read the story. Based on their feedback, I do a full edit myself, before handing the manuscript over to a professional editor for proofing and polishing.
That’s the book finished, apart from the blurb and cover, but they require a completely different process. Another story for another day.
IDI – What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about writing? How has this helped you as a writer?
KM – Listen to the feedback you get. It sounds like easy advice to accept, but it can be hard if someone is criticizing your baby.
Over the last few years, I’ve had a lot of feedback from my readers, my beta readers and my editors. All of it is valuable, although I haven’t always incorporated the advice in the final manuscript. In my mind, it’s really important to understand the comment and to try to appreciate why it’s being made. That way, I can decide whether changes are needed or not.
IDI – Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?
KM – I guess the answer is my family and I think the dedication which I wrote at the front of my first book sums it up pretty well (I’ve added who’s who in brackets):
To Carol (my wife), for putting up with all the long hours – and years – spent typing on the computer! Also, big thanks to Jenny (my daughter) for her enthusiasm about my efforts, Chris (my son) for keeping my technology ticking, and Daniel, Lewis, Allegra, Athena and Alexander (the grandchildren) for constantly reminding me that magic is real.
IDI – How much time/effort do you give to social media as a means of self-promotion?
KM – I find self-promotion very difficult and it’s something I’m not very good at. I’ve read plenty about the best way to market myself, but I’ve yet to find anything which really works for me. I do all the usual things like participating on various book-related forums (Goodreads, KindleBoards etc). I also play a bit on twitter (@KenMageeAuthor) and I have my own website (http://www.kenmageeauthor.com/).
But, as anyone who uses social media will tell you, you need to engage with people rather than try to sell your books, or yourself, all the time. The problem I have with that is that I love engaging with people so the whole exercise can be very time-consuming. For that reason, I try to limit my time on social media to around 45 minutes a day. Sometimes it turns out to be longer than that, seldom does it turn out to be shorter!
IDI – Last, but not least, who is your favorite author, and why?
KM – Terry Pratchett, without a doubt. I absolutely love his Discworld series and anyone who’s read any of them will probably spot Sir Terry’s influence in my writing style. He gave me the taste for fantasy, humor, magic and wizards, I just wish I had finished Dark Tidings sooner… before JK Rowling stole my limelight!
Terry Pratchett was a perfect gentleman as well as a fantastically original writer. His passing was a great loss to the writing world, he will be missed.
IDI – Thank you so much for appearing on Ink Drop Interviews, Ken. It was a pleasure!
KM – Before I go, I’d like to thank you for this fantastic opportunity to talk about my writing. As I said, I’m not good with self-promotion, so it’s great to get this sort of publicity. And if you want to know more about me or my writing, please check out my website or go and grab one or all of the books: Amazon – Website