The Title of Your Work or Group:
“From the Edge of Darkness”; “Shattered Honor”
Where are you from?
Long Beach, California
In what genre do you write?
Generally horror but I also love to write sci-fi, fantasy, and historical fiction
In your own words, what is your book about? If you were not the author and trying to explain this awesome book you just read to a friend, what would you say about it?
“From the Edge of Darkness” is a collection of 13 short stories. They range from serial killer pieces to ghost stories to creature features. I was pretty much allowed to run amok and just have fun with it. What I like most is that each story is different. There really aren't two in the collection that are alike and I like to think that there's a little something for everybody!
The forthcoming book, “Shattered Honor” is a whole different animal entirely. It deals with a man who comes home from the war in Afghanistan to a life and a perception of himself that is completely different. He sees this darkness inside of himself and has real trouble letting go of certain events in Afghanistan. They haunt him. Without giving away too much, I will say that they literally haunt him. He feels himself unraveling and his relationship with Shannon beginning to crumble as terrible, dark things appear in his mind. Ultimately, Danny has to either self-destruct or confront his past and travel a darker path in order to break free from his past and rebuild his life.
What is your writing style? Do you follow all guides and rules? Synopsis, outline etc. or do you just sit down at the computer and type to see what happens.
Once I have a general nugget of an idea, I will basically just sit down and start hacking. I take notes along the way to maintain consistency (and so I don't forget something important!) but I don't typically do outlines at all. I'll flesh out the idea as I go along and spend some time developing the characters in my head but as far as the writing itself goes, I don't have a rigid structure. That doesn't work well for me so I tend to just start throwing everything against the wall and once I have all the words out, I'll go back and try to arrange them into something pretty. Once that's done, I'll polish it and send it to editors.
Have you ever written anything and thought; " The world has got to see this!" ?
Honestly, no. It's hard enough for me to let friends and family see my work. It takes me a little time to warm up to the idea of somebody actually seeing my work. Once I get used to it though, I'm fine and don't get too heebed out by others seeing it. But I still don't recall ever saying “the world has got to see this” about anything I've written. Guess I need to work on those insecurities a bit, huh?
Do you have an editor and Cover Designer or do you do this yourself?
I have awesome folks I rely on for my editing. I know that I'm not a top-shelf grammarian but I do “okay”... but I want to put out good, quality work so I know that I need others to help me out with that. As for cover designs, a good friend of mine recreated a photo I'd found online and thought was perfect for “From the Edge of Darkness” and I'm having the cover for “Shattered Honor” done for me. It's not quite ready yet but I've seen the early stages of it and really love it. I would like to learn how to do my own covers as well though.
Who is your favorite author. Not just someone that you read a lot. I wanna know whose book you read that made you suddenly know that if you didn't do this for the rest of your life then you would never be happy.
Honestly, the first book I read that made me realize I really wanted to write was a book called “Watchers” by Dean Koontz. I think I was like 13 or so at the time and remember being absolutely terrified as I read that book. And I thought that was SO cool. To be able to evoke genuine emotions with just words was a pretty amazing and eye opening thing for me. It really sparked something inside and I realized that I wanted to write.
As far as who my favorites are now though, it's hard to narrow it down to just one person. Stephen King of course. Ernest Hemingway. Edgar Allan Poe, John Irving, Michael Connelly, Margaret Atwood, George Orwell... I could go on. It's hard to narrow it down to just *one* favorite! They all move me in some way and I appreciate them for different reasons!
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I think the most challenging thing is to stop letting myself get distracted. Facebook, Twitter, hell even reading news stories is always a nice, big, shiny distraction for me. I need to learn to stay off the Internets when I'm trying to work! As far as the mechanics of it go though, I think my biggest challenge is making sure everything is consistent... if he was using a knife in one sentence, he better not be shooting somebody in the next. Just making sure everything stays consistent is probably one of my bigger hurdles. I sometimes forget things after, you know, posting an update on Facebook. :-)
Do you write your characters or do they write themselves through you?
I would say that they basically write themselves through me, I suppose. I usually get a general idea about them as I start into a story and then things begin to reveal themselves as the story progresses. As I write (and even when I'm not), I'm usually thinking about the story and the people in it. It helps me to add some flesh to their bones. Once the first draft is done, I have a pretty clear picture of them so that when I go back in to do my own round of revisions, I can really nail them down and flesh them out.
Do you ever write yourself into the characters?
I try not to. There is usually a disturbingly high body count in my work and I like living. :-) Kidding. I definitely never intend to write myself into my characters. I tend to think my characters are more interesting and compelling than I am. But somebody once mentioned that some of the “issues” some of my characters have really sort of sound like some of my own personal issues. Like fears, bad family relations, and things like that. So I guess that perhaps unintentionally, I do sometimes unintentionally slip something of myself into certain characters.
Is writing your full time job or are you "Keeping your day job"? So to speak.
Eventually, I would love for writing to be my full-time gig. That is my ultimate dream and goal. So I'm working hard to make that a reality. Until then though, you gotta pay the bills so I slog along in the pit of despair with the rest of humanity.
If you could go back in time and meet one famous person or legend in history, who would it be?
Hmmmm... one person? Probably Thomas Jefferson. One, I find him an utterly fascinating and compelling figure and I'd love to pick his brain. I have a degree in History so I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to all things historical.
There are millions of new books released every year. What in your mind makes yours stand out from all those millions in your genre?
That's a good question. I like to think that in my books, you'll find something you can relate to. Though horror has its scares, gore and violence, I try to not be gratuitous or kill just for the sake of killing. I try to create something through my characters that people can relate to. No, perhaps you've never been to war but you can certainly relate to the feelings of loss and the fear of losing a relationship that's precious to you. Perhaps you've never played Russian Roulette but I think a lot of people can understand the feeling of desperation and have to question what they would do if their backs were really up against the wall. Even in the creature features I write, I try to infuse them with real emotions that we can all relate to. I try to make my characters somebody you might know or somebody you can sympathize with. I try to write an honest story that you can really engage with. I actually have seen a lot of horror that basically seems content to go for the cheap, gory scares and doesn't go out of its way to connect with people.
In the world of Indie, marketing is very difficult, especially if you don't have the funds to pay for it. Have you found a great free way to market your work that you think other Indies will benefit from?
Honestly, I'm still feeling my way around this. I'm still pretty new to the whole self-marketing and self-promotion deal. “From the Edge of Darkness” and “Shattered Honor” are both being put out by a small Indie house called Fey Publishing. I've loved the experience and love working with them and will do so again but I also want to focus on putting out short story collections as well as novellas and I want to do that on my own. So I'm learning as I go... right now, the only real “marketing tools” I'm intimately familiar with are Facebook and Twitter. Trying to build up something of a readership and get the word of mouth going. It's a slow process but it's one that can build a really solid foundation. I'm also trying to learn new and fun ways to market myself. But like I said, it's a process that I'm only just now really learning.
Links to find and follow his work:
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/kevinmsaito