ABOUT THE BOOKThey kept to the shadows so no one would know they existed, and preyed on the nameless who no one would miss. Where did they come from, and who was protecting them? In a city that had seen every kind of savagery, they were something new, something more than murderous. And one woman, who had thought she had lost everything there was to lose in life, would soon find that nothing could possibly prepare her for what would come when she entered their world.
INTERVIEW WITH KEVIN DOYLE
Kevin, what’s the story behind the title The Litter?
It kind of seemed obvious. Once I had the main plot premise, along with the age of some of the participants, the word “Litter” just kind of popped into my head.
Where’s home for you?
I’m a lifelong Midwesterner. Born and lived most of my life in Wichita, Kansas. But for over a decade Columbia, Missouri, has been home.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
That nobody owes anyone anything. It all has to be earned.
What do you love about where you live?
Columbia is a city of about 100,000 people, and it has a vibrant, engaged citizenry. There’s a ton of little hole-in-the-wall eateries, theatres and music venues. But at the same time, a short drive in any direction presents all sorts of outdoors opportunities. It’s equidistant between Kansas City, St. Louis and the Ozarks, so you never lack for stuff to do.
What is the most daring thing you've done?
Considering that I’m terrified of heights, zip lining ranks right up there.
Do you have another job outside of writing?
Not even sure you could call writing a job, seeing as how it brings in very little money, especially when compared to the amount of work. My main career is as a high school teacher, English and public speaking.
What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
If I had some way known that I would end up teaching (it was totally unplanned on my part), I probably would have gone into either social studies or foreign language. Fewer papers to grade.
What’s one of your favorite quotes?
I’m not sure who originally said it, but I saw it reprinted in Small Town, by Lawrence Block: "Witing is an occupation at which you can earn a fortune, but you can’t earn a living."
If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
The Gulf Coast, probably Mississippi or Alabama. Already making plans to head down that way when I retire in about nine years.
My dad lives down there — in Alabama — and loves it. How did you create the plot for this book?
It sounds like a cliche, but I woke up one morning with a scene imprinted on my mind. It’s actually the final scene in part II of the book. Once I had that scene jotted down, I just had to go backward and forward to finish it up. I wrote about the first three or four chapters, then I flashed ahead and wrote the final chapter. Then I wrote the fifth, then the next to last, and went back and forth like that until I had it basically in shape.
Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
To the best of my knowledge, no. Though one of my students claims I owe him royalties because I used his last name for the name of a street in the book.
Who are your favorite authors? Lawrence Block and Robert B. Parker are among my most recent favorites. Although Parker really began phoning it in around the halfway point. I’ve recently experienced a lot of Robert Crais and have just started reading Michael Connelly. I also have a huge soft spot for Arthur C. Clarke.
What book are you currently reading and in what format?
I do almost all my reading in paperback and hardcover. A few months back, I lucked out. Walking through one of our local used bookstores, I came across several copies of the Doc Savage Omnibus volumes. Doc Savage reprints were my absolute favorite reading as a kid, and right there were six volumes containing around thirty stories that I’d heard of but never read. I snatched them all up and for the last few months have been reliving my youth. Once I’m finished, I plan on re-reading Block’s When the Sacred Ginmill Closes. Then probably get back to Connelly.
Do you have a routine for writing?
No real routine. During the school year, I work it in when and where I can, usually trying to do at least a couple of pages a night.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
A review that showed up on Goodreads for The Litter. Paraphrased a bit, the reviewer said “This book scared the hell out of me.” Also, several people who read The Litter have commented that they had trouble sleeping for a while afterwards. The average seems to be two nights.
Yikes! Now that's scary. If you could be a ghostwriter for any famous author, whom would you pick?
Block, hands down. I would say Parker, but I doubt I could even come close to the job that Ace Atkins has done.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
A short story of mine called “The Old Dogs.” It’s another one that came to me from a snippet of a dream. I woke up in a literal cold sweat (honestly) with my heart racing. I jotted down this one image I managed to retain, and the next afternoon started playing around with it. But the basic plot line was so disturbing that I could only write about half a page a day, and this was during the summer break, because I couldn’t stand any more than that. I managed to sell it right off the bat, but when it came out in magazine form it took me two or three attempts to sit down and read it because I knew where it was going and didn’t want to get there. It’s since been reprinted by another ‘zine, so it must have been halfway decent.
What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it?
An editor of a local lifestyle magazine, back when I was twenty and first trying my hand at all this, looked over an article I’d written and told me he couldn’t use it because “You’re not a very good writer.” In retrospect, it doesn’t sound that harsh, but at the time it sucker punched me. After a couple of days, I shook myself off and decided to learn the craft as well as I could.
How did you find your publisher and how long did your query process take?
This is probably going to tick some people off, but I really don’t get the whole self-publishing thing. I know things are changing, but to me it doesn’t really feel legitimate. Besides the fact of how expensive it could get. So for me, and I’m not one to dictate to others, traditional publishing was the only way to go.
That being said, so far I’ve dealt exclusively with small presses, just as I do with small magazines. As for finding them, I basically use Duotrope, which, for me, is well worth the yearly fee.
One nice thing about the small presses is that there usually isn’t that long of a wait to hear back. When I sent One Helluva Gig to Vagabondage Press, it took them only a few months to send me an acceptance.
Once Gig came out, I was putting the finishing touches on The Group and felt a lot more confident that maybe something would happen. What I wasn’t prepared for, though, was that three weeks after I began submitting it, I received an offer from Barbarian Books. My first full-length mystery novel, and three weeks after sending it out I had an offer in hand.
My newest work, The Litter, took a bit longer, but not all that much. I finished it at the end of June of last year and began sending it out in July. It racked up several rejections before Night to Dawn made an offer a couple of days after Labor Day.
Bottom line, when it comes to sending books out and having them accepted, I’ve been very, very lucky.
I'll say. But I would respectfully disagree with you on self-publishing. My book is doing much better now, as a self-published author, than when a small press published it. I think there's room in the market for both. What are you working on now?
Currently, I’m working on a sequel to The Group. It focuses on the cops who were secondary characters in the first book, and doesn’t really include the original protagonist at all. I had hoped to have a first draft finished before school broke for the year, but that didn’t happen, so right now I’m way behind.
ABOUT THE AUTHORA high school teacher and fiction writer living in central Missouri, Kevin R. Doyle’s short stories of horror and suspense have appeared in over twenty-five small press magazines. In 2012 his first e-book, a mainstream novelette titled One Helluva Gig, was released by Vagabondage Press. In January of 2014, Barbarian Books released his first full-length mystery novel, The Group, and in February of 2015, Night to Dawn Magazine and Books released his horror novel, The Litter.
Connect with Kevin:
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