Archaeologist Leah Andrews stumbles upon something inexplicable in southwestern New Mexico: inside a dark cavern lies an undiscovered, Native American cliff dwelling abandoned for 800 years. While twisting through one of the narrow underground passageways, Leah’s flashlight illuminates the remains of a violent massacre. Ancient human remains—all slaughtered in a long-ago massacre—cover the cavern floor, along with a number of brilliantly colored, granite crystals. The rare crystals are native to only one place on earth: a frozen mountain range in central Antarctica. Could Native Americans have traveled to the frozen continent of Antarctica 800 years prior to the first known human exploration?
What has Leah stumbled upon in the underground caverns and where will it lead her? Kevin Tinto, the best-selling author behind the thrills in ‘ICE’ has returned to ItsWriteNow.com for the third time to share where his amazing author journey has taken him since our last deep dive into your writing career up in early 2017. Kevin! It’s fantastic to chat with you again! What’s been going on since we last explored your author journey? Where has your authorship journey taken you?
Ellen! Working on the sequel to ICE: ICE GENESIS. GENESIS launching KINDLE ON 3/26/18. The paperback version will follow about 14 days later.
That’s super exciting. We’ve got to chat a little about GENESIS in a minute because I want to know how it’s going, but let’s set the screen and of course, we need to check in on the statistics for Ice. What do the numbers look like as of today?
ICE has sold more than 300,000. 2,140 reviews–up from the 600 when I first promoted on IWN.
Those are some awesome stats! And I love that you’re not shy about sharing them because I think it gives other Indie authors solid proof that a writing career can really happen. For the readers who are just being introduced to ICE, can you share a little taste of the early days in your writing career where ICE was just some thoughts in your head?
The concept for ICE came about after living in New Mexico for a couple of years. A big mystery is why Native Americans, known as The Anasazi, or The Ancients, lived in these very dangerous cliff dwelling for a period of 200 years, out of ten’s of thousands before, and a thousand afterward. What compelled this radical departure from the norm?
When you’re talking about a radical departure from the norm, my first thought is that your characters will have to very strong willed to work through the resistance that comes from deviating from the norm. How did the characters grow into existence around this question of operating outside of the norm?
That’s a hard question to answer. My characters form pretty fast. Once they become ‘real people’ for lack of a better term, in my mind, they have their own set of behaviors emotions, motivations.
One of the keys to writing successful fictional characters is that in your head, they are not fictional. Real characters can be a real pain in the ass. I might want them to load onto a helicopter, in a snowstorm at night because they have to crash two pages later, in order to move the plot forward.
One of my main characters, Jack Hobson is a seasoned, world-class mountain guide. He’s survived numerous helicopter mishaps. There’s NO WAY Jack gets on that helicopter. He tells the author off in no uncertain terms, then gets a couple of horses in order to make it over the mountain pass with both feet on the ground, thank-you very much.
*Laughs* Go, Jack! The horses sound like a much better choice!
Of course, at some point, Jack might be swearing to himself, wishing he’d taken the author’s advice because he’s pinned down by bad guys. If your characters are simply ANOTHER PLOT DEVICE NECESSARY TO MOVE YOUR STORY FORWARD–YOUR BOOK WILL FAIL. Don’t fall into that trap. Readers love characters–NOT PLOT. That’s what made Seinfeld work. “It’s about nothing!” Just hanging out with great characters.
You’re exactly right, that’s what made Seinfeld work, but you can’t fool me, I know that your book is about more thing than nothing. What was the central something that you wanted readers to engage with as they read the ICE series?
One of the large themes in ICE is one of world stability. If one country located a stash of hyper-technology, highly advanced technology-by thousands of years, how would the balance of the countries around the planet react? High technology would upset the balance of power. All pretense of detente would fly right out the window; we’d be on the edge of nuclear war. Where this technology came from–that question you’d think would shake our culture to its very foundation, quickly takes second place to getting a hold of those technology jewels, regardless of the cost.
In Ice Genesis, this theme continues and what appeared to be a miraculous gift, becomes a curse.
World stability and the impact of technology are all the flavour of the news at the moment, but are there other aspects of Ice that you have a more direct connection with, like were the things that you took from your life and included in the series?
ICE and ICE GENESIS are taken right from my experiences as a high-altitude climber, pilot, diver and adventurist. A lifestyle that places you squarely in a situation where, in-action, results in death.
If you’re climbing off the summit of a mountain, and you’re suddenly so fatigued, you cannot continue, you can’t call a timeout, game over, etc. If you stop climbing down–you die.
So digging deep, way deeper than 99.9% of people ever dream of, drawing strength, mental and physical you had no idea existed within your body and mind, creates a whole new way of thinking. Nothing that happens in ‘regular life’ bothers you.
You watch people panicking over the most inane situations and thank God you haven’t lived in a bubble, where minor occurrences are emergencies.
The result: alcohol and opiate abuse.
Navy SEALS have a saying: Embrace the Suck. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Set goals and execute. Life is combat. Think it’s tough now? Wait till you’re 60, and by avoiding challenge and conflict, you finally broke. I see that everyday. Taking the easy path ain’t so easy. Don’t fall for it.
Since you’re an adventurist and are always exploring those not-so-easy paths, I have to ask, have you used had the chance to take a literary pilgrimage adventure yet?
Sure. I try to get to as many places that are in my novels as I can. To that end, I’ve been pretty much everywhere on the planet. That’s not as important as it used to be. With Google, you can travel to some amazing places never leaving your kitchen table.
Google really is handy for those last minute spur of the moment adventures! And there’s definetly some adventures in the ICE books that would lend themselves for a nice Google tour. Now, we’ve mentioned GENESIS a few times now but haven’t really gotten into it, so for those who aren’t familiar with the series, how does do the ICE adventures fit together?
I wrote ICE as a stand alone novel. After ICE, I immediately finished another novel, using the same key characters called ARK. After ICE published and reached bestseller status, it was obvious readers wanted to continue the ICE narrative. Publishing ARK, while expedient, would have thrown readers for a loop, since it took the characters on an entirely different journey, with no relationship to ICE. The more difficult path was developing, from scratch, more in the ICE narrative. Not just one additional book, but two. For readers who love a series, this gives them a chance to enjoy the characters for three books, while getting a satisfying pay-off and ending with book three. Book three, in the ICE series is ICE REVELATION. That should hit Amazon in the early fall, 2018.
Early fall 2018 is not long now! It must be incrediblity satisfiying to see yourself towards the end of the ICE series. Looking back over the course of the series, where do you feel you learnt the most?
For ICE I had all the time in the world. For ICE GENESIS, I’m was on a short leash time wise. I had no idea, when I started, where the ICE story was headed for one more book, much less two.
This, I think, is one of the biggest causes of the Sophomore Jinx that authors struggle with during the process. You’re shocked you’ve written a bestseller. You’ve got to promote said bestseller You have to write a sequel that can MATCH UP with a bestseller, and do it on a shortened time frame. You go from being a literary bohemian, hanging around with writers who will never finish their novel, drinking coffee–and suddenly you’re professional writer who has to deliver. Topics you brushed over on your first book–they are back, and you can’t brush over them this time.
Did you find the transition from literary bohemian to professional writer energizing or exhausting?
I placed GENESIS on the 90 day pre-sell on Amazon, December 16, 2017. Sure, I thought, I’m in good shape. Manuscript is solid. Then I send it to my editor. Not in such great shape, after all. Nothing like pressure to bring out your A game. The interview is March 2, 2018. I’m working day day 66 in a row–no days off. I won’t make that mistake again. Still, when you’re at that level of immersion–you brain kicks into creative warp drive. You don’t know what day of the week it is–but those chapters are just as real as your own family. It is exhausting, but you’re also doing something you enjoy.
Check with your editor before publishing release dates! Probably not one of the most often relayed bits of author advice I’ve heard, but it certainly is one of the most important ones. With 66 days non-stop work under your belt there must be times when you’re exchausted. What thoughts have kept you going and helped you maintain that creative warp drive mode?
Two things are critical to me. Emotion and movement. Sometimes I say I write like I use a GoPro sports camera. A GoPro is designed to be used up close and personal. Sucking your video audience into a ride down the Colorado River, for instance, to the point they have to get up and change their clothes because they feel like they just fell out of the boat, along with you and the GoPro.
Do you feel that you’ve been making better videos with that GoPro now that you’ve been solidly progressing on your writing adventure?
I reminds me of riding motorcycles. At first, it’s all you can do to focus on staying on the road. After thousand and thousands of miles, you see everything in every direction. You know what cars will do, before they do it.
As you can now see your writing from all of these new directons and it’s position in the wider market, what direction have you pursued with your own author brand?
I learned a lot from author, A.G. Riddle. Gerry Riddle is one of the original indie authors to earn mega-seller status. He’s sold more than 5,000,000 books, film options, you name it. He spent time building a brand online. He also sells his own hard copies and paperbacks, through his own publishing company.
I did a presentation at ThrillerFest in New York City last July. Lee Child said he sticks with Reacher because everyone knows the character, they know what they will get when they buy a book.
It’s always a great idea to learn from the best, and you’re certinatly doing that with A.G. Riddle and Lee Child. So, let’s take a leaf out of Lee’s book and look at what we can expect from the both you and ICE series in the near future. What can you share?
With ICE GENESIS Inbound, my focus will switch to ICE REVELATION, the last in this series. After two in a series, you’re on a roll, and you know the ending. As an indie writer, promotion never ends. You’ve got to push at 100% everyday. You might have the best book on the planet, but readers have to sort through up to 15 million kindle books to find it. The vast majority of those books, not very good.
But as you’ve mentioned in our earlier chats, if you can make a name for yourself in those 15 million Kindle book options, you have a bright future, and Kevin, you’re one of those with a very bright future. Thanks so much for sparing a few moments to chat with me today, and I’ll be eagarly awaiting the rest the series with your growing legion of readers!
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘ICE ( ASIN: B01557MW80 )‘.
Want to find out more about Kevin Tinto? Connect here!