Mortimer’s life as a mouse is a mix of anticipation and then overwhelming fear. His days are spent underground in a burrow, waiting for dusk, when he must sneak about, gathering pine nuts to feed his growing family. His greatest fear is the eagles, that sometimes hunt over his forest at twilight. When the worst happens, Mortimer begins a terrifying yet breathtaking journey.
What does the future hold for Mortimer now that he has been pushed out of his burrow onto this terrifying journey? Kevin Tinto, the author behind the thrilling ‘ICE’ series has returned to ItsWriteNow.com today to share the wild ride that has led to his fantastic foray into the world of children’s books. Kevin, it’s great to see you back here at ItsWriteNow.com! I always love chatting with you as you’re always been busy beavering away which means you always have something new and interesting to share with us about your author journey. What’s been going on since we last chatted in early March?
ICE GENESIS published on March 26th, 2018 and is an Amazon Bestseller. ICE GENESIS is the second book in the ICE Trilogy. ICE REVELATION is due out late fall. I’m thrilled to see readers embracing ICE GENESIS. It’s always an author’s concern (terror) after selling a debut bestseller that you’ll fall into the sharpened-bamboo-boobytrap known as the ‘sophomore jinx’ that haunts so many authors.
The first book, which they’ve worked on for years is a smash hit, then in a short period of time, they’re required to deliver a second novel. The second novel is a major letdown, to the reader. It’s a career killer for many authors.
It was especially important I didn’t fall victim to the ‘jinx’ because ICE GENESIS was the second book in a three book series. If it went south, then no one would read (besides my mom) the third book. Even though the first book knocked it out of the park…it’s toast as well.
Writing a series right off the bat is a double-edged sword. If you hit it out of the park, you’re set up with a built-in audience, drooling for the second, and third. If you can keep the momentum and reader interest in the second book, you’re home free on the third!
If the second book dies on the vine…that might be it for the writer. It’s high stakes poker, but as a new author, it has the ability to send your writing career ballistic in short order.
Thanks to Ed Stackler, my editor, and a world-class and New York Times #1 bestselling editor, GENESIS hit it just right. Ed understood better than I did, the importance of having a fantastic product–and to avoid, at all costs, a losing follow up. He was relentless in bringing out the best I could write, and I re-wrote a lot, until I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and better understood when he said, “This is not ICE. Try again.”
Having said that! I’m here to introduce and promote my latest thriller: Mortimer Mouse. This one is off my normal genre. It’s a children’s book.
I’m really looking forward to seeing how you took on the challenge of writing book for children as it’s so different from ICE. And of course we will get to it, but after following your journey in the ICE series for so long, I just want to spend a little more time delving into the power of “This is not ICE. Try again”. What steps did you take to make sure that ICE GENESIS wasn’t just a pale imitation of ICE, and was instead a new, forward-moving instalment of the series?
I had to do a lot of rewriting on ICE GENESIS, solid, for three months prior to the Amazon publish date of March 26th. I was still solving problems and making changes based upon Ed Stackler’s suggestions, a month before the drop date. I went into a seven-day-a-week writing mode, and I still maintain that pace today.
After a week of that total immersion, my writing got a whole lot better, and it felt like I was inside the story and the characters, not working from the outside. You don’t know what day it is, but it blows open the right side of the brain. The step-up in creativity is startling.
It’s interesting that you found this step-up in creativity while working so many hours, as I’m sure many people would find working under that level of pressure would see a decline in creativity. Now that you’re experimenting with a seven-day-a-week writing schedule, do you find that writing has turned into a more energizing or exhausting pursuit?
Both. I’m laying awake at ten at night, looking at my watch, waiting for 4:30am to come around so I can get back at it…but by 4pm, I’m wiped out.
Well, we can’t let you be wiped out here, so let’s make sure you’re still energetic by turning our attention to Mortimer Mouse! What’s the tale of Mortimer Mouse about?
I’m here (today anyway) to talk about Mortimer Mouse. In the course of writing thrillers, we deal with conflict, anger and fear within every page. Everyone, even non-fictional, must handle emotion. Emotion, developed in humans to survive life and death situations by charging the body with adrenaline, allowed them to escape a predator, for instance.
Mortimer lives in a forest burrow. He is frightened all day and all night. It consumes him – it has always consumed him. His fear and his existence are centered on twilight. For only a few minutes day he must venture outside the burrow and search for nuts to feed the family.
He is snatched by an eagle and the worst has happened. Mortimer is headed for his death, yet, as the eagle flies down low over the river, Mortimer can’t help himself. The flight over water, the crushing burden of fear, waiting for the worst is now gone. He suddenly shouts out in joy. The eagle, now curious why Mortimer is shouting for joy, facing his demise, lands on a cliff top. Thus begins Mortimer’s adventure. Mortimer learns that facing his fear head on, changes his life in ways he could not anticipate.
Obviously, Mortimer makes it beyond what he initially expected, otherwise it would be a rather short story, so we know there’s more to his adventure than seeing the world from the top of a cliff. Looking back, what thoughts led up to the development of Mortimer’s adventure on top of the cliff and beyond?
The most toxic emotion known to man and women is anger. The counter to anger is fear. While fear can be seen as (generally) less destructive, it is every bit as toxic as anger to the individual. People are spending more and more time in safe and controlled environments. You would think would eliminate fear, yet, this isolation, internal or external, intensified it.
Oh, there’s so much to be said about the fear and isolation in today’s world and what it is doing to people, that we could talk for days about these topics. Or at least I can, you might not get at a word in edgewise! With so much to be said about these topics, what was the central idea that you focused on?
Life is full of challenges and opportunities. Needless to say, that success in life, of any type involves taking on challenges. Now, challenges, are being morphed into something to be afraid of… Instead of taking something on as a challenge, that needs to be broken down into workable parts, that challenge becomes something akin to a lethal beast.
A white shark charging you from two-hundred feet down is something to legitimately fear. Feel free to allow those natural hormones and skills to kick in–like walking on water. Here anger might even be appropriate. So, swearing at said fish is perfectly okay.
Being afraid to tackle something as simple as a manuscript, for instance, applying for a new job–or any job at all, getting out of the house, trying and experiencing new things…these are NOT TO BE FEARED. Yet they are…
Mortimer lives in fear – and he has legitimate fears. Eagles, claws and what happens if those should be seen up close and personal. When the worst happens, as bad as it could possibly be, he loses the burden of fear he has carried his entire life. He might only live a few more minutes, but he lives those moments in ecstasy. The fact that he’s not reacting as the eagle expected, leads to a whole new series of events–events that Mortimer could have never dreamed of, while shivering down in the burrow, dreading with his every fiber, the coming twilight.
It really is sad that so many people find that challenges are no longer things to be embraced, rather only things to be feared. As we’ve been chatting about your books for a while now, I know that you’re not going to let a little fear take over your life. How has your attitude towards fear, and your life experiences influenced the direction of this book?
People label me as a risk taker. Without this debilitating emotion burdening you with a thousand pounds of chains, like Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol, there is no limit to what you can accomplish, and easily accomplish!
Operating without fear doesn’t mean you take lethal risks or non-calculated risk. Drink half a bottle of wine and get in a car behind the wheel?
These are the same people who won’t put a toe in the ocean, for fear said Great White will bite it off. Nor will they venture or take on a new sport or hobby, a business, etc.
They don’t fear the obvious; getting killed in the car…yet avoid even the most benign of behaviors, that could improve their life, or their families lives.
It always amazes me that people are terrified of things that statistically are ridiculously remote, like those Great White shark attacks, but continue to get behind the wheel of their cars. But I’m glad to see that you have a more accurate perception of risk because it has enabled you to write awesome books like this one. So, how did you go about crafting the characters, their personalities and of course their attitudes to risk to highlight the world of opportunities and challenges?
These characters are an amalgamation of peoples and behavior I watch everyday, as a writer and a member of the human tribe. More often than not, observing these behaviors are cautionary tales on what not to do or how to act.
A perfect example in the news recently, right here in Marin, was a bike rider named Jeffrey Smock. He gets into a shouting match, ends up pulling this guy from a truck, and beats him half to death. Now, Jeffrey isn’t some transient. He’s a Silicon Valley, startup genius, who started and sold tech companies for millions of dollars. He’s got it all, living in Ross, family and kids. Now thanks to one outburst of anger, he’s a convicted felon, went to prison, and the guy he beat up is probably going to liberate him from the balance of his ten million dollar savings account. Not to mention the damage he’s done to his wife and kids. Damage that YOU CANNOT UNDO. That’s an example of how anger will destroy a person in the wink of an eye.
Fear is much more prevalent. It’s a pandemic. Almost everyone I know is paralyzed with fear, to the point where they effectively, do nothing their entire lives!
The Navy SEALs have the perfect saying. “Embrace the suck.” “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.”
*Laughs* Embrace the suck! I love it! I’m not sure if it’s going to cure the fear pandemic, but I hope it helps! Was ‘get comfortable with the uncomfortable’ the biggest thing that you learnt to do while taking the plunge into kid’s books, or was there something greater that you learnt along the way?
It’s a concept that I would occasionally think about. But during the writing of Mortimer, and certainly after, I get up every morning and thank God, that I’m not enslaved by fear.
Nike has it right: ” Just do it.” You have the balance of eternity to lay in a coffin, not taking any chances, seeking out challenges that make life worth living, doing things that have a significant impact on you, your family, even the planet.
As someone who isn’t enslaved by fear, I’m guess that this isn’t a thought that you at the front of your mind when you write. So, what do you keep in your mind as you write?
The characters. They all live inside me. They pretty much dictate the direction of the story.
Okay, I’m not going to get you to answer the next question about if we’ll get to see these characters again because that really gives away the direction of ‘Mortimer and the Eagle’, so instead, can you share a bit about your characters who we will get to see in the future.
Wow…I’m booked solid right through 2020. I have another children’s book, ready to publish in May. This is a more epic adventure, that features a blind hippo named Marus, leading his clan of hippos across Africa in search of the River in the Valley of the Sun.
ICE REVELATION is under way, and I will be buried during the summer making sure it rocks the reader from page one, right up until the ambulance arrives to administer a shock to the chest, they’re so invested in the characters.
First of the year I’m writing VORTEX, based upon an unsold film treatment written AEI. Wow! What a story…this is a standalone book. Two more kids books: Bolo and the Island of Death, the sequel to Marus, and Miranda’s Search for the Great Humpback Whale.
After VORTEX, I have a prequel to ICE called ARK.
Wow, being booked up to 2020 is amazing! With so many projects listed there, you might actually be booked beyond that, but I’m either way, I’m excited to see how it goes! However, I hope that you’ve scheduled in a bit time to travel during this period. Perhaps a little travel to take a literary pilgrimage. I’m not sure if I’ve asked you this before, but have you been lucky enough to have gone on a literary pilgrimage?
I’ve been all over the planet. It all gets stored up in the human equivalent of The Great Library in Alexandria for future use. I spent a lot of time in the southwest, researching for the ICE Trilogy. My kind of literary pilgrimage would be flying aboard an aircraft carrier onboard the COD transport, hooking a three wire, then spending a couple days watching flight operations.
That would be awesome! I think you need to find a way to make that happen! Maybe you can drop your name as an up and coming fabously famous author to get this done. How has your work been going on your author branding strategy been progressing across your work?
Sure. To that point, the ICE TRILOGY is a brand. Once you have the three books complete, it can sell so many other ways; film, foreign language rights, video games, TV series, etc. I also created my own publisher: Three Dog Publishing.
I really love that you’ve taken the time to bring this brand together to make sure it has the greatest impact possible. As an author who is taking so much time to build a strong brand and products, do you feel that your writing voice has progressed, and continues to progress as you keep writing?
I continue to get better at making characters so real, readers love them, or hate them, and let me know about it…
You’ve certainly done that, and if I’m not mistaken I think I can hear them calling you, so I’d best let you return to them. We’ve certainly run the gamet over the topics, but was there anything we missed?
A couple important points on execution. Writers might avoid picture books, because of the cost of the illustrations. All my illustrations were done for $5 a piece, via Fivver.com. So was the cover!
I remember that you got your cover for ICE from Fivver too, so I’m glad to see the site is still working for you, and helping bring your voice to the world of readers. Kevin, thanks so much for dropping in today to chat about your newest adventure ‘Mortimer Mouse’, and I can’t wait to see more in the future!
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘Mortimer Mouse ( ASIN: B07CPC9BL3 )‘.
Want to find out more about Kevin Tinto? Connect here!