Bryce: Okay, let’s start with you. Tell me everything about yourself in three sentences.
Kai: Kai isn’t my real name, but it’s how everyone’s known me since I was 25, and I’m not married yet, so Viola isn’t actually my last name – basically, I hide behind personas and writing lets me do that in spades. I’m a shade over 32, a Nanowrimo and Scriptfrenzy ML, role-player, photographer, poet and soon to be graduate at the University of Gloucester, UK. I don’t sleep much and love nothing more than constructing crime scenes in my head.
Bryce: You say you’re a role-player. What are your favorite games? What’s one that you would consider a classic?
Kai: Classic has to be things like Warhammer 40k and Space Hulk, dungeons and Dragons, but I’m equally at home in Rogue Trader as I am in Agone or Call of Cthulu. My favorite are the home brew ones we write ourselves – I love writing systems myself.
Bryce: Do you have systems that crossover with your fiction?
Kai: I’m designing two right now – one to go with Glass Block, that should be a working forensic RPG, and another one for another of my hard sci fi books called ‘Black Monday’. Both are basically 2 d10 systems with some mechanics that make them interesting.
I think the fun of being a writer is being in control of everything – and it feels natural to design games around my books – after all, who knows the universe better than me?
Bryce: What are a few of your favorite authors or books?
Kai: Neil Gaiman and Ian Rankin have been fairly influential on my works – as have Alistair Reynolds and David Foster Wallace. My flat out favorite book has to be Chasm City, by Alistair Reynolds and American Gods by Neil Gaiman though – you don’t just feel the world, you’re in it – and that’s something that I really find difficult to experience in some other books. Not that they aren’t as well written, but with Chasm City and American Gods, it’s not like watching the narration, you’re right beside the narrator.
Bryce: I remember being totally blown away with the whole concept and world Gaiman created in American Gods. It set my head reeling with story ideas for weeks. I guess good fiction does that.
What process do you use when you write? Do you outline everything, scratch down a bunch of ideas on note cards, do you just sit down and invent it all as you go, or do you do something else entirely?
KAI: I used to just sit down and write whatever was clearest and then just lace up the pieces in between – I found building the major plotline helped more than forcing myself to think it through.
But about three years ago, I was in an accident, and banged my head. Overnight I forgot about 95% of my work, and if I stumble across it now, it takes a while for me to realize I’ve written it. I sometimes hit the same ‘gotta write the big scene’ but mostly now I work to outlines and copious notes. It’s painfully slow compared to how I used to go, but I’m teaching myself to manage faster again.
My favorite method right now is a mix of Scrivener and a process called ’30 day drafts’ – by Karen Weisener (I think!).
Bryce: Tell me about Glass Block.
Elliot has, it seems, pissed off his chief, and has been given a job that no one wanted â€“ consultant on a â€˜big brother with blood’ game. A rigged game where one of the ten survival experts win, and the prisoners execute one another â€“ it’s win-win. The TV people get their sensationalist footage, and the prison service get 10 of the worst of their prisoners, not â€˜eligible for execution’ out of their hair.
What happens in the next 36 hours shatters everything that Elliot thought he knew about his world, and suddenly he’s running for his life in walls made of glass, and where freedom could contain the threat of worse, such as a nanite infection….
Bryce: Awesome. What are you going to be working on next?
Kai: Immediately after this? My dissertation – I finish up Uni on June 30th
After that, I’m not sure – I’ve got books 2 and three in the series that makes up Glass Block in the pipeline for edits, so I’ll get them lined up, and then I might switch to another series I’m writing.
I’ve got outlines for about 60 books, right now, though, so I’m not really starved for choice, and I’m really lucky, ideas just seem to hit me from all angles sometimes. Ideally, I’d like to stop working as a copywriter/coder (which is how I fund everything right now)and write fiction full time.
I’ve also got a couple of non fiction books in the works – a second edition of ‘Pictures in the Dark’ – which covers living and surviving with Bipolar disorder, and another project that touches on Forensic Lingusitics, which I love.
Bryce: Wow. You must be pretty busy. What are you studying at the university?
Kai: Creative Writing and Psychology – I’ve been studying since 2007, and I’m really looking forward to graduating. A fter that I’m saving up to do my Masters and PHD in Forensic Linguistics
Bryce: How exactly does one get interested in Forensic Linguistics?
Kai: Lol. Possibly by being a language geek?
I’m excited about it because language is as unique as fingerprints, and being able to track and monitor language may help in the detection and solving of crime. On a less ‘criminal’ level the ideas that forensic linguistics show and uncover are also useful to writers. For example, using the same language as a person you’re writing for would make a ghost writer more effective. Using the key reaction phrases in copy elicits a response, which again, is to do with the words you choose. Even something as simple as an interview and how we ask or answer questions lets people form an opinion about us and shows them language choices we may otherwise have not shown.
Like I said, geeky
Bryce: What else would you like to tell everybody?
Kai: Don’t give in – no matter what your dreams are. I’ve had a lot of challenges in my life, and it’s only made me more determined to follow my dreams. I was told I’d never be able to do much with my life – so I adapted and work from home as a copywriter. Mental or physical health shouldn’t hold us back – and if you’ve got a story to tell – tell it. Someone out there will want to ‘hear’ it.
Where can folks learn more about you and your book?
Kai: Oh, I’m all over the place – chances are people already know one of my blogs
http://darknesspd.com is the main blog for Elliot’s series and the other stories in that universe (his two friends also have novels outlined – Jack Harper is a private detective, and Morrigan Roth deals with ‘sex crimes’ and crimes to do with clones). For now it’s focused on Elliot, but I’m running a project where all of the cases that either haven’t made it into the books, or aren’t part of the outlines are appearing on the blog every two days, so it’s a nice way to explore the universe and get to know Elliot before the book launches.
Other than that, I’m restructuring my blogs so they all feed into http://kaisbloggingnetwork.com – but I’m still working on it, and it’s constantly evolving.
Bryce: Thanks, Kai.
Note to everyone: Glass Block will be available on June 4th.