Celestial Summoner is a serial killer mystery where the NYC detective couldn’t find the culprit in Kansas without a psychic profiler. Follow this dark journey through middle America to see what happens.
Kyle Roberston joins me today to chat about his thriller, ‘Celestial Summoner’ a tale of psychic profiler and serial killers. Kyle thanks for spending a little time with me today. Let’s go back in time to when this book was in its infancy. What was the genesis of the plot, and how did it evolve?
This story began as an idea to write a horror, but it morphed into a paranormal thriller. As I was writing, Trent Reznor, Tool, Pantera, and Metallica influenced the scary scenes, and Sade, Sia Fuhler, Bjork, Rosoin Murphy, and Angela Winbush helped with the romance.
If I’m not mistaken, I believe that you are the first author who has mentioned that music has influenced the writing process. I’m surprised that I’m only seeing this around the hundred mark of interviews and not earlier as I have personally found that music has heavily motivating my own writing. Apart from the heavy music influence of music, how else do you approach writing?
Before I begin to write, I outline every chapter/ Every element has a place before I even have a title. I write with feeling, but I execute mechanically.
Is research a large part of your outlining mechanics?
When you write fiction, you have to research everything. I looked up art, technical design, human anatomy, medieval torture, police procedure, Czechoslovakia, older ’60s television shows, and all the other literary tidbits packed in the story. To write great fiction, you have to entail a bit of fact in the mix. It gives the reader permission to embrace their suspension of disbelief. Writing fiction, good fiction is a meticulous art.
Do you also include aspects of your own life into the art to try and add more elements of emotional fact?
I think experiencing the teen phase of being left out, because I read comics, and was a dungeon master instead of getting the touchdown influenced my psychic profiler’s reputation of being an alienated ‘witch’.
How did the characters come to you?
I have this method of filling out my character’s dating profiles. That way, I know them, their actions, and what they would say. I also check out online baby name sites for whichever ethnicity they are.
*Laughs*, I love that idea. It’s really good way to find out little nuances of your characters in a more interesting way that simply filling out a character profile. To me it also sounds more robust as well. Do you find after doing such intensive work with the character’s specific traits that you end up dreaming about them?
When I write, I believe I do ‘method writing’. I absorb my characters for that period. If they feel real to me, I hope to make them feel real to the reader.
Who felt most real to you, or was your favorite to write?
I think my Czech psychic profiler was the most fun to write about. Her story was a deep one. She goes from liking Rosemary Clooney’s Sway, to Burl Ives.
Is there anyone from the cast of characters that you would most like to go out and socialize with?
I actually like the forensics tech, Belagio. He’s a meticulous nerd like me :)
Overall, when you look back at your meticulous approach to writing this novel, what aspect gave you the most fulfillment?
I was able to flesh out my characters. That gives them enough depth to have an engrossed reader care about them.
About how long did it take you from start to finish to give this depth to your characters and plot?
Four months. I have a method to streamline, and alleviate the dreaded writer’s block. I outline my books before I start. That way, I can just write, and use more feeling instead of trying to force the magic. If done properly, magic is chomping at the bit to flourish.
Wow, I’d love to hear a little bit more about the streamlining and techniques that you use to alleviate writer’s block. I spend too much time dancing around that damn block, and any advice as to how to knock it over would be much appreciated.
I write every day. Even if I don’t have an idea. If you don’t use that writing muscle, it atrophies, and you get rusty quickly. I know. When I was in Germany in the military, I spoke German fluently, but when I got back to the states, and had no one to speak it with, I forgot most of it. When you set up your book correctly, you can do 3 to 7 thousand words a day.
Wow, that is an impressive pace. I don’t think I’ve run across many other authors who can do that much in a single day. So I’m guessing with getting that much done in a day your primary occupation is writing?
I used to work like a maniac in sales, but I was stricken with impaired sight due to diabetes type 2. I got a transplant, and I don’t have it anymore. My sight is still damaged though. I wrote to ward off boredom, because after being used to 16-hour days, and not being able to work anymore depresses you. I can still imagine, so I learned how to write.
It’s great that you’ve managed to redirect your energy from sales into writing. When you were learning to write, what did you find out about editing?
When I edit, I do certain things. I check over every chapter to see if it’s accurate, and when I’m finished writing, I wait a week, and go over the entire book again. That’s the ‘Fresh Eyes’ technique. Then I let a retired English teacher read it again for different eyes. When it’s good enough, I publish it.
Before you publish it you need a book cover, so you are no doubt working on that alongside the editing and completion of the writing. How do you go about cover design?
I have a very experienced cover designer named Vikiana. She gives me different covers, and angles, and then I post them to see which one is the favorite one.
And when you have it all ready to go it is published. What have you taken away from your own experiences of self-publishing?
When you get an idea, research that idea before you start writing. You might not know what a viscus limited slip differential, or paliperidone palmitate is, but one of your readers might be an automobile engineer, or a schizophrenia doctor who might. Go mechanical. Outline every chapter. Write your skeleton version of your book. Outline it before you really write your book. It may take a day or two, but your writing will be much quicker. EDIT YOUR BOOK! Get sick of reading your book. You should be your greatest fan, when you tire of it, and let another read it, the book will be ready. Post about the progress of your book on your blog, or social media. Make them stand in line new iPhone style to get your new book. Even if it gets tough, don’t quit.
And when you worked through this process for the first time and received your first review, how did it feel?
When I got my first book review to my first eBook on Amazon, it was a 5 star from someone I didn’t know. That 5 star gave me validation. I wasn’t doing the whole ‘cog in the machine’ paradigm. I actually was the machine. That feeling is insurmountably amazing.
As you are now the machine, do you have anything else in the works?
Since I write fiction, I can do whatever I can create. Right now, I’m doing a book on bullying, but because it’s me, and textbooks are boring, and overused, I’m doing a science fiction edutainment tale. You might just like it, and get inspired by it.
I like the idea of getting past textbooks. I do have to admit I love the idea of textbooks, but their utility as paperweights often does tend to win out. I will have to keep checking in with you to see how it pans out :). Now I’d like to move us into the final section of the interview where I’m essentially going to throw random questions at you to see what sticks. Let’s kind of continue on from your last response and find out which authors have inspired you in the past to write?
First, my favorite writer is Phillip Kindred Dick, then Stephen King, Arthur Charles Clarke, and Issac Asimov. I like science fiction, and certain horror. Throw in Peter Straub, Michael Chrichton, and Clive Barker, then you’ll have my influence party.
*Laughs* An influence party. That sounds like really fun to attend. What are you currently reading?
I’m writing now. I don’t want any errant ideas not of my own tainting my work.
Fair enough. As that is the case, do you perhaps have a favorite book that you read as a child that could substitute for the previous question?
Any Encyclopedia Browns, or Judy Blume books.
Solid choices. Who is your favorite literary character?
I actually like Stephen King’s universal bad guy character, Randal Fagg.
Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
My philosophy I live by is karma is the unforgiving consequence of morality. Do onto others as you would like to have done for yourself.
Is there a book that you wish that you had written?
Michael Moorecock’s Elric. I like the entire concept of that book.
I haven’t read that one, but I will have to look into it. What is your favorite quote?
Insanity is repeating the same thing over, and over again, and expecting a different outcome.
*Laughs* I like really that one, but I’m not 100% sure if it always applies anymore. I could have sworn that it doesn’t always apply when you are doing IT testing :). What is your zodiac sign?
If you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature what new animal would you create?
A Komodo-pterodactyl. Wait, that sounds like a Syfy movie. Naw, I’ll stay with that one.
It does sound a bit like a sci-fi movie, but it’s weird enough that I just have to accept the answer without modification. I’d love to see it in action! On a tangent, can you stand on your hands unassisted?
Nope. Sight impairment screws with your Eustachian tubes. I can’t even walk up a slant.
What is your favorite quote from another author?
“I like her; I could watch her the rest of my life. She has breasts that smile.” Phil K. Dick.
If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
All of Bill Gates’ money to Robin Hood it to the indigent.
I’m not sure Bill needs any help giving his money to the indigent; he’s doing a pretty good job of that himself. Can you curl your tongue?
Which are cooler? Dinosaurs or Dragons?
What’s the most unusual name you’ve ever come across?
That’s a great one. A nod to history and putting many letters in a single name. What is your favorite word?
*Laughs* Another word that I can’t spell! Before we get to the final question, is there anything you think that I should have asked you today, but have missed?
Every book I write stems from a question, so when I get a new interesting one, I write about it. That’s my way of doing it.
Well, you’ll never be bored because I don’t think that you will ever run out of questions :). Finally, do you have a quote or line from your book that you think sums it up that we could use to entice new readers to take a look at it?
“I abhor violent killing. If a child needs to be disciplined, I’m fine with that. He might learn his lesson if the disciplinary action is harsh enough,” she said as she turned on her stereo.
Interesting, interesting. A bit of violence, a bit of intrigue. I think it could work well. Kyle, thanks again for joining me today and I hope that we’ve enticed some new readers to think about picking up a copy of ‘Celestial Summoner’.
Want to find out more about Kyle? Connect here!