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Jul 19 2015

Writing Superheroes: Steven McKay–the Sequel

 

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All good superhero stories, have a sequel–something else happens after he first foe is vanquished.  How does your sequel begin (after the publication of you first/most recent book….)

In my last book, The Wolf and the Raven, Sir Guy of Gisbourne was vanquished, with a terrible scar and an eye missing for his troubles. In the new novel, Rise of the Wolf, Gisbourne is back and, as you’d expect, rather annoyed…In terms of beginnings, this is the first time I’ve used a prologue. I never really understood why they were needed but, looking at the structure of the book, I thought this would be a better way to kick things off than the first chapter. I hope my readers agree!

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All super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity.  How has yours grown and changed since you started life as a superhero? 

My editor, who’s been with me since the first book, Wolf’s Head, was quite complimentary about my hero, Robin Hood, in this third novel. She say’s he’s “matured into an interesting but very tough man”. He was only about seventeen when the story began and a lot’s happened to him since then. He’s still a very young man but his experiences have mad him hard, ruthless and pretty unforgiving. At the same time, he’s now a father and I know very well how that changes a man. Danger and death seem much more of a threat when you want to get home to a little one and Robin must be realising that now.

 

Do you have any side kicks or a new superhero team member? What are their superpowers?

Still the same cast, pretty much, from Wolf’s Head. I tried to bring Little John into things more this time around as he’s a fantastic character and didn’t really have much to do in the previous books. His superpower is clearly his size. The man’s almost seven feet tall! Even Batman would have a hard time in a fight against Little John. In Rise of the Wolf I decided to try and make more of one of the female characters – I’m well aware that quite a large portion of my readers are women so I try to have good, strong female characters but, at the same time, they must be realistic and “of the time”. It’s not tokenism or a ploy to draw in the female readership – I have an amazing little daughter myself and let’s face it, without strong women we’d all be in trouble…It can be hard writing female characters as a man but I think I manage it fairly well.

 

Have your superpowers grown and changed since your last adventure?

Again, my editor was quite complimentary, telling me my writing is more assured. All I can do is continue to read as many books as possible and try to soak up the best traits of each writer I enjoy. Making my novels into audiobooks has also been a great experience – hearing someone read your words really shows up flaws such as word repetition and pacing. I’ve tried to take that on board this time around. In general, I believe that I’m able to think more like an editor now since this is my fourth book (counting the novella Knight of the Cross) and I’ve learned a lot in the last couple of years.

 

What new supervillian have you faced on your latest project and how did you vanquish it?

Just my baby son, Riley! I work full-time so every spare moment is precious. Riley is only a year old so I couldn’t get much time to write as he’d be up until all hours, wandering about the room wanting me to read to him or just needing nappies changed or whatever. My two kids are the most important thing in the world to me so my writing goes out the window if they’re needing attention. Thankfully, he’s now at the stage where he – usually – goes to sleep at about 8pm and I can spend the evening working on my books. In the two years since I first published Wolf’s Head I’ve managed, almost, to put out three full length novels, one novella and one short story (which is free to anyone signing up for my mailing list!) so I’d expect to write a lot more now that Riley isn’t a baby any more.

 

What new lessons have you learned during this new adventure?

Not to get too stressed out about publication dates. I have people asking me when the next book will be out and, originally, I wanted to publish Rise of the Wolf about six months ago. But it’s not been possible and I got quite stressed about it. My readers will appreciate it, I’m sure, as the final version of Rise of the Wolf will be much better than it would have been if I’d rushed it.

 

What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?

Wolf’s Head just received its 300th review on Amazon.co.uk yesterday, that was pretty amazing. The amount of positive reviews and fantastic feedback from my readers is always mind-blowing.

Being taken down to London by Amazon’s KDP team for the book fair in 2014 was the one most memorable things for me as a writer though. It was a great few days, going from reading meters in my day job to rubbing elbows with authors like Mel Sherrat and the head honchos at Amazon. A lot of people complain about Amazon but I have a lot to thank them for and I’m sure most self-published writers do too.

 

Tell us about you new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.

Rise of the Wolf is the third in my FOREST LORD series. It’s basically the end of this part of Robin Hood’s adventure – there will be one final book after this but it will be a different story altogether. A couple of people read my first draft and said it was the best book so far but then my editor flagged up quite a few issues with it. I’m hopeful that, once I revise and polish it all up, this will be a real step up from both Wolf’s Head and The Wolf and the Raven. Ultimately, if you enjoyed any of my other books you will enjoy this. It’s more of the same but bigger and better (I hope)!

 

What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?

The next thing for me will be having Rise of the Wolf turned into an audiobook. My usual narrator, Nick Ellsworth, is on board and just waiting on the final draft before he gets to work on it so if you’re an Audible member look out for it. After that I’ll be putting out another novella around Christmas time which stars Friar Tuck. I’ve looked at the yearly success of songs like Wham!’s “Last Christmas” and Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everybody” and hope to tap into that seasonal market. If it worked for Noddy Holder why can’t it work for me?!

 

 You can find Steve at:

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