Interview with Kevin McGrane

What is your e-reading device of choice?
I use two: my Nook and my smart phone. I am so jazzed about my phone as a reader! I have some of my all-time favorite books right in my pocket.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I have an eBook page on my blog, "The View from Windy Hill"; it's link is featured in my banner. Also, I employ Facebook. I admit I need to work on more distribution venues.
Describe your desk
Ha! My desk is a large, canvas, three ring binder with multiple pockets and a heavy zipper! As a deacon in the Episcopal Church, I buzz around the diocese a lot, so I have what is essentially a "portable office". I take it with me everywhere. It is where I do all of my first drafts - by longhand! I don't sit down and begin to type my books and essays until it is well into second draft. I sit at the kitchen table in the mornings when it's time to word-process.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a working-class, Irish immigrant household in St. Louis, MO, USA. Words, books, and story-telling were as common as breathing in my home, with a father, mother, and three siblings around the table sharing their stories of the day. Story-tellers where/are greatly respected in my family.
When did you first start writing?
I must have been in the 5th grade when someone informed me that one could be a "writer", someone who actually got paid and made a living writing stories and books. This was a revelation to me - it had never occurred to me before! I believe that is when I first tried my hand at writing.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I first conceived of the Cloud Rider series when I was walking through an electronics section of a store. On one of the giant HDTV screens was a series called "Planet Earth", and they had incredibly beautiful shots of wildlife made from a helicopter about 100 feet overhead. And I thought wistfully, "That is so cool, to drift above this beautiful world so slowly and softly," and I had the kernel of my series. I wanted to write about the beauty of this world, the beauty of this life, and why we must all work together to protect it.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
When my teenage children gave me an e-reader for Christmas several years ago, I looked into e-books and a major light bulb went off in my head: this is the future; it ranks up there with Gutenberg and his printing press! Suddenly, I no longer had to scramble through the impossible obstacle course that is the hard-copy publishing world. I could publish my own books in my own way, without anyone's permission. It was a revelation for me when I published my first book, and I realized that anyone on the planet could access it and read it on Day One.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is awesome. Its technology is user-friendly and rock-solid. For many authors, the writing part is where their talent lies, not necessarily in the technical aspects, and Smashwords makes that easy for me. Also, they have broad partnerships with other distribution channels, which make my books easily accessible to people everywhere, with all kinds of electronic devices. What's more, they have great suggestions for marketing.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When someone reads my book and they were moved by it. To influence someone is without parallel for a writer.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. It is one thing to be a writer, but another to be a writer who is read and discussed. The feedback I get from my readers is like letters from family.
What are you working on next?
My next book is an adult novella, and then a historical mystery. The first is serious, the second more fun.
Who are your favorite authors?
I gravitate towards 19th century American authors, like Emerson, Thoreau, and Twain, but my all-time favorite is J.R.R. Tolkien.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Life itself. I'm in love with it. I'm in love with this incredible place God has created called Earth, and all the people in it. When I rise in the morning, I say a single-word prayer, "Servium!"
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
As a deacon in the church, I'm a pretty busy guy. I spent as much time as I can with my darling wife, and with my family. We live on a ten acre homestead in the Ozarks, so that keeps us pretty busy, too. And I love to read!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Mostly by referral. A number of my friends often ask, "Hey! Have you read this?", and tell me about a book they've come across. I don't just read anything - time's too precious to waste on a bad book. I only read books that peak my interest or are recommended. Usually recommended.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. It was called "The Neo-genic Wars" and it was terrible!
What is your writing process?
Pens and notebook. I start making notes of the things that are floating in my head and are bugging me to be written down,then I start to make an outline. I always work with an outline, even if it's a simple one. From there, I'm pretty methodical. I figure out how many words-per-day I want to write, calculate how long it will take me to write the first draft, then budget time to do it at least 5 days a week.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Doctor Doolittle. It's a series of children's stories, and I just loved them as a child. I remember going to the library with my mother and brothers to look for them all. I always think of summer when I think of Doolittle.
How do you approach cover design?
I have some ideas about what I want, and I only want photos or classic paintings. No original artwork.. I work with one of the suggested Smashwords cover artists, and I'm very pleased with her.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Lord of the Rings, for it's scope and other-worldliness; Walden, for it's reflection and common sense; The Bible, as it is central and foundational to my faith; The Works of Emerson, for it's transcendentalism; Leave of Grass, for its power.
What do you read for pleasure?
The Classics: Homer, Shakespeare, Chaucer, etc.
If you were to give any piece of advice on writing, what would it be?
I would give five pieces of advice: 1. Read, 2 Re-read, 3, Write, 4. Re-write, 5, Work to write, not to be published.
Published 2015-06-11.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Mr. Lincoln and the Case of the Murderous Irishman
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 24,130. Language: English. Published: July 24, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
It’s 1847 in the wild frontier of Illinois. Attorney Abe Lincoln and his law partner William Herndon are hard-pressed to keep a young Irish immigrant lad out of jail on an attempted murder charge. All this, while Abe tries to prove exactly who owns Abner, the 300 lbs. prize winning Poland pig: the Blackfoot woman who smokes a pipe or the white man with a head like a pumpkin? Mystery and fun!
Martin Elling
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 9,330. Language: English. Published: June 16, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
This is the story of a young man who discovers his life's vocation among the working poor of the city, and inspires others to search for their vocation in the details and the peoples of their own lives as well.
Children of the Wind
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 36,580. Language: English. Published: June 9, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
Valinara and Cue rally their respective peoples to defeat the war lord Genghis and protect the cloud ships.
The Cloud Riders
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 40,350. Language: English. Published: April 13, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
(5.00)
Tess, a 17 yr. old Forest girl, finds herself aboard the vast airship “Sun Chaser” as a guest of the Windymirs. She explores the exotic continent while falling in love with their 18 yr. old son, Cumulus. The warlord, Genghis, wants to steal a cloud ship and turn it into a weapon of war, and it is up to Tess and "Cue" to stop him.