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April 18, 2013 / minusbar

Author Interview: Kenny Soward (Rough Magic)

A Daily Dose of R&R is happy to have Kenny Soward, the author of “Rough Magic,” with us today!

Kenny is fresh off releasing his debut novel, Rough Magic, and was kind enough to let me bombard him with questions. He’s a fun guy with a great book. If there are any fantasy lovers out there, come check it out and be prepared to get sucked into the world of GnomeSaga!

For convenience sake, the following has been abbreviated.

Kenny – K            Me – R

R: Thanks Kenny for stopping by to let me pick your brain!

K:  Hey! Happy to be here.

R:  Kenny, first can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you came to be a writer?

K:  Sure. I’m just a regular Kentucky boy. Born in Covington, a few miles south of Cincinnati, OH. Grew up in Ft. Mitchell. Did all the crazy stuff kids did back then. No video games to speak of, so we had to be creative. Played a lot of sports, jumped bikes, collected scars.

K:  When I was five or six, I had an uncle who instilled the “reading bug” in me. I devoured every book I could find but was mostly interested in Epic Fantasy and Horror. Around the age of twelve, my English teacher made us write in a journal. I started writing and never looked back.

R:  So what is the first story you can remember putting to paper?

K:  I wrote a lot of silly stories in my ensuing journals through my teens. I seem to remember a lot of stuff about a guy who wore a lion-type outfit, haha. Maybe that was the “Thundercats” influence. My first serious try at writing was a post-apocalyptic tale, much like the urban fantasies you see out today.

R:  So how did the concept for Rough Magic come about? It’s certainly not Urban fantasy and, luckily, I did not recall any Thundercats.

K:  Yes…I’m now far removed from the Thundercats! Those first stories, mostly just bits and pieces, were written in the mid-80’s.

K:  Rough Magic came about based on the main character, Nikselpik, and my time playing Everquest. He was the second character I ever made, so by that time I was a little jaded with the game. I used him as my vehicle to be a complete smartass. I would enter a “zone” and start yelling obscenities and calling people names. My guild loved it. I could usually get everyone cracking up in short order. Someone said I should write a book about Nik. I was like…hmmmm.

R:  Haha, that is kind of hilarious.

R:  Also, I’m glad you brought up Nikselpik. You describe him as a Necromancer,  but I found him to be quite different from what I envisioned one to be. Tell me a little about Necromancers and the magic they wield in the world you’ve created.

K:  My view on necromancers in the world I’ve created isn’t very far from what is normally presented in Epic Fantasy. Raising the dead, speaking with the dead, and generally performing questionable rituals most folks would find abhorrent.

K:  For Nik, he is certainly more of a wizard at this point in the series, albeit plagued by an serious addiction. Without giving any spoilers, I’ll tell you that Nik explores this dark path a lot more in the future as part of his character growth, or death, however you see it.

R: It’s interesting to me that you said Nikselpik was the original character that spurred this idea along. When reading this I felt more time was spent with Niksabella. How did her character come to be?

K:  I’m glad you noticed that. Good question.

K:  While playing Nikselpik in Everquest, I started getting serious thoughts for what might actually be a book. So, I made Niksabella as his sister, and played them simultaneously – Two computers. She was a mage. They were quite lethal as a team. As time went on, I’d write little stories for my own amusement, and for my guild.

K:  Over time, Nikselpik, still a bit of a cuss, became dangerous and outspoken, while Niksabella was more reserved and almost monk-like in her dedication to her craft. For that, I sort of fell in love with her because that’s how I look at writing; sore shoulders, no sleep, long nights pouring over minute details. Over even more time, themes emerged that mirrored my relationship with my own brother, which was staggering to realize, let me tell you.

K:  I wrote rough magic with the idea it would be Nika’s book, but you’re right, Nikselpik totally took it over. He just did it. I couldn’t stop him. What can I say, he’s a bastard! J

R:  Hmm, Niksabella “was” a mage?

R:  Does that mean we won’t get to see any of those “bad” spells of hers in the next book?

K:  Oh no. Book II is Nika’s.

K:  I really just scratched the surface with her in Rough Magic.

R:  So is it common for Gnome siblings to have such similar names?

K:  I don’t think so. I think, because no one really knows much about their “true” past, including them; the names were given to them as marks of power.

K:  All they really know right now is that they were brought up by their aunt in a little seaside hovel. And their aunt is dead…so the possibilities are endless.

R:  So do you have a set story that you’d like to tell with GnomeSaga, or are you enjoying learning that as you go?

K:  I’ll be honest. I have massive scenes of epic proportions in my head for the Gnomesaga series. These are the types of things you don’t have to write down. They’re just incredible, at least to me, emotional, powerful discoveries where the character is already evolved to a certain point. I sort of build everything up to those moments with all the twists and turns imaginable. I don’t seem to have a problem getting all those roads to lead to the same place.

K: As I go, I enjoy hearing the crap that comes out of Nik’s mouth (SMH) and the battles where the characters must show their true character, or not. I also love seeing relationships develop where characters from the two story lines start to intersect. Those moments send chills up my spine.

R:  It’s certainly good to know you have a vision for where you want the series to be.

R: What part of writing the books has proven the most difficult for you?

K:  The technical aspect of writing, in general, was the most difficult for me on Rough Magic, and continues to be a challenge on The Tinkermage. To do it right, and to make it a pleasurable read…wow.

K:  Even though I’ve been writing for a very long time, I feel I’m just now pulling it together. A style, that is. It took a lot of editing work with Joe Martin to break me of some bad habits that continued to show up in drafts of Rough Magic.

R: What about specifically within the story?

K: As far as the story goes, there were some minimal challenges developing the motivation of some of the characters, but it was fun. Some characters just don’t talk as loudly as they should, and you have to sort of bring it out of them.

K:  Or in my case, “wring” it out of them.

R:  So what do you enjoy reading when you’re not busy writing stories about Gnomes tearing each other apart with magic?

K:  I enjoy reading good fantasy, urban or epic, horror, and hard-edged comedy. My favorite contemporary authors include Caitlin R. Kiernan, China Mieville, Stephen King and a local Lexington writer, Donna Ison.

K:  Two recent authors I’ve been blown away by are Mark Lawrence and Jeff Salyards, and I also read a lot of stuff by my peers. The list is too long to name.

K:  Currently, I’m working on George R.R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones” series  and Zach Jernigan’s “No Return.”

R:  You’ve mentioned some great books and authors in there, several of my favorites, actually!

R:  In your own words, blurbs and book bios aside! How would you describe Rough Magic to a prospective reader using 15 words or less?

K:  I generally have two approaches. For someone who is not even familiar with fantasy, I say: “Somewhere between Harry Potter and Lord of The Rings, with more blood.”

K:  For fantasy fans, I’d say: “Gnomish siblings, a wizard and tinkerer, must overcome dark forces to save their world.”

R:  That first one is amazing! Haha..

K:  Yeah, I try to keep it simple.

R:  Thanks a lot Kenny, you’re almost in the clear. Just one more question left. It’s a toughie though, so I hope you’re ready.

K:  Should I put on my jock strap?

R:  Yes..

R:  The Zombie apocalypse starts tomorrow. What’s the plan? Are you a survivor, or is it time to start biting throats?

K:  I’m a survirvor. We happen to own and train with several firearms, so the plan is to invade someone who is currently putting all their life savings into doomsday prepping, take them over, and live happily ever after.

R:  Kenny Soward, a man who looks after his fellow neighbor.

K:  That’s right!

R:  Thanks a lot Kenny for taking the time to chat with me!

K:  No problem…it was futtering fun!


Checkout Kenny on Facebook and get all the update info on GnomeSaga, giveaways and places to buy! Currently you can enter to win Rough Magic over at Goodreads (Open til April 30th).

Win or lose though, make sure you check this book out!



Roger Bellini


One Comment

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  1. J.M. Martin (@martinjm70) / Apr 18 2013 1:28 pm

    Futtering great interview. Now I plan to shelter with Kenny Soward when the impending apocalypse arrives.

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