OMG! Women write zombie books! @ApacoTaco

Tis the turn of Stevie Kopas 
with her incredibly Boring Author Interview Revisited

What’s so great about your crap book? (Don’t want the boring details, a couple of lines is suffice!)
Breadwinner and Haven are great because I wrote them. I put a lot of
time and effort into creating a horrific world for people to get killed
in and I’m excited about it. You’ve got a good solid mix of character
flow, post apocalyptic adventure and zombie madness. What’s not to

If you
didn’t have your book professionally edited: What made you think you’re
so perfect that you didn’t need to pay a professional?

I didn’t have the money to pay anybody and at the time I didn’t know anybody who I trusted with editing my books.
I know a brilliant chap called John Hudspith (gotta get the plugs where you can!)

so basically you’re the same as all the rest of the authors on Amazon
and you’re the Next Best Thing. I don’t think so. Come on, tell me why
should I spend time reading YOUR book over more well-received authors?

a female author in a male dominated genre. I’m also a younger author
still in her twenties in a genre dominated by older, more seasoned
authors. But I’ve got what it takes to run with the big boys and I never
have been, never will be afraid to put my name out there, get my hands
dirty and do the damn thing. So if you don’t want to read an awesome
horror/zombie book written by a lady like me then you must be too

What qualifications do you have for writing in your genre?
I have absolutely no qualifications for writing in my genre…unless you count my years of secret professional zombie hunting. Then yeah, I don’t see how anybody else could be more qualified than me.

Many authors use their qualifications to show off their so-called talents i.e. crime writers are often coppers (police, for the non-Brits present) and the book becomes boringly technical. How have you managed to keep your knowledge low key? Or haven’t you bothered?
I’m not usually supposed to tell people about my years spent in the underground zombie market, but because of my experience with discreet killing, black market trade and sales, I have the upper hand on a lot of people who don’t realize how at any moment, if it weren’t for people like me, things could get out of control and we’d have a zombie apocalypse on our hands.

I’m feeling so much better with you on the streets to protect me, but when you hunt zombies can you keep the noise down? All that wailing (no sure if that’s from you or the zombies) is driving me insane!

What part of the world do you come from?
I live in Florida, the very tip of the southeastern United States.

What do you think of your government?
My government told me to tell you that I love them.

Not on your zombie hunting list then?

If you were me (you know, perfect) and knew nothing about a person and you were told to interview them, what’s the one question you would ask? (answer it).

So I guess I’m asking myself what my favorite video game is. Self, what’s your favorite video game? That’s a tough one self, I’d have to call it a toss-up between Fallout and Bioshock.

Do you have any bad habits, or stupid rituals you HAVE to do in order to write?

It always ends up with me either tweaking out from too much coffee or getting shitty from drinking too much wine.

You get shitty from drinking wine? I end up conducting crap interviews!

Authors are usually labelled as ‘dreamers’ and ‘loners’. Have you been labelled as such?
If I have, nobody’s told me to my face. I don’t discriminate and think everyone has asshole tendencies, so if I had to choose between being around people all the time or being by myself, I’d choose hanging with me, me, me. But I do love having an active social life, even if it means I have to tell people to fuck off from time to time.

And what implications do you think that has on a writer?
I think writers need to stop labelling themselves. What’s the point? You want people to think you’re “weird” or “different” because you sit in a basement and drink by yourself while you write you think is your magnum opus? A lot of writers take themselves way too seriously and in turn, disrespect other writers by projecting their pompous vibes onto others. I don’t have time for that, what you see is what you get with me and as a writer, that just means I’m a writer, I don’t have a label or a name for it.
You said it, sister! I’ve no time for ‘up their arses’ authors. Why does ‘being an author’ make some so bloody arrogant? Ugh! OK, best get off this subject before I go into a full-blown rant.

Describe your perfect death (in case I have to kill you)?
Please make sure I’m sleeping, preferably after drinking a good bottle of wine.

Give me the first, middle and end line in your book.
First, middle, and end lines of The Breadwinner, Book 1 in The Breadwinner Trilogy:

  1. Franklin Woods was the most upscale community a person could find in Columbia Beach, Florida.
  2. Veronica’s heart was caught in her throat and her thoughts raced.
  3. She felt his eyes on her but never took hers off the burning building.
First, middle, and end line of Haven, book 2 in The Breadwinner Trilogy:
  1. The gentle rocking of the boat gave Samson little comfort. 
  2. “Fuck.” She whispered under her breath. 
  3. She closed her eyes and gave no further thought to the waking world.

Thank you, Stevie, good luck with your zombie hunting.

Comment and judge on this short story: Monster Race

**The winner of WWBB’s short story competition will win a review and an author spotlight. Your comments will help me decide the winner.**

John Hudspith
Alice settled on the warm grass, sun behind
her, breeze coming left to right; a strong breeze at that – just the thing for
a monster race because the critters go faster with the wind at their tails.

Alice didn’t have long to wait. A skeletal
dog came bounding into view in dreamy slow motion. The dragon behind had a
funny jaw, sort of hooked like a parrot, and it was stretching wider and wider.
Alice was certain the dog would be swallowed whole if it didn’t get a move on.

Too late. The bones in the dog’s neck
separated and its skull went rolling forward. Alice gasped when she realised
the rest of the dog had vanished. The dragon’s mouth was firmly shut, it looked
fatter too and went sailing past without any clue that it might be feeling
guilty at all. Dragons were sly things. Poor dog.

Alice smiled at the size and pure beauty of
the boldest, whitest horse she’d ever seen. Shame it had six legs. It reared
up, crashed down, up, down, then its hooves galloped into a roll, so fast they
became a blur. It was plain to see what made the handsome horse so speedy. A
trio of fat goblins were in pursuit, but that wasn’t the bad of the matter. No.
Behind the goblins (which now dispersed so quickly Alice only blinked and
they’d gone) came a fat grey snake, easily big enough to swallow the dragon,
never mind the six-legged horse. Alice held her breath as it neared the
speeding stallion. Its forked tongue curled out, stretched, then zapped at the
horse’s hind legs which evaporated into fine mist. The horse tumbled and broke
into bits, legs scattering like old bones thrown by a witch. Alice laughed.
This was fun.

Then came a giant. Well, Alice presumed it
was a giant. His legs and arms were normal sized but his head was definitely
bigger than Alice’s house. He didn’t move very fast – due to the small legs,
obviously. And he’d no hope of winning the race. Not unless he cheated. Alice
watched as the giant lumbered. The others way in front had gone now. This giant
was boring. He didn’t even look at her. Didn’t smile. Just rolled by with his
ginormous head.

Alice sighed and wished the giant away and
in seconds a new racer entered the game – a black rat – bigger than giant big
head. Alice clapped her hands because the rat was fast and soon nipping at the
giant’s ears. Its snout opened wide and began sucking giant big head inside.
His little legs kicked for mercy.

“Eat him all up,” said Alice, just as the
rat spread its black form upwards and outwards. Now it was a hooded figure, one
long arm extended to the racers in front.

“Ha!” Alice laughed, then the dark figure
vanished behind Ma’s bloomers.

“Watching the clouds again, sweetheart?”


“Think it’s going to rain?”

“No Ma, it’ll pass.”

“Who won today?”

“The man in the hood, Ma…” Alice got up and
skipped down the yard. “…He always wins.”


Kimi’s secret is out – her brain is the key to successful time travel – and a ruthless greylian bounty hunter will break every bone in her body to get at it. As if that isn’t bad enough, the best looking boy in the world turns into a cannibal intent on devouring every last bit of her. Sometimes life really does suck.
Can Kimi thwart the bounty hunter, kill the boy of her dreams to save her own life, tame her greatest fear and keep herself from becoming greylian toast? Not without help. 

Tulpa Bentley returns with old favourites the famoose, Big Sue the giant with OCD, madcap mentor Stella, and chief of fuzz the monkey Rehd along with a whole host of new crazies in an adventure bigger and bolder than before.

An interview with a child star!

An interview with Kimi Nichols 
from the YA fantasy novels 
by John Hudspith

Lovely to meet you, Kimi Nichols! Everyone, this is
Kimi back from her latest adventure in `Kimi’s
Hello, Kimi.

Read Kimi’s Secret FREE!
Kimi’s Fear – new low price!
Hi, thank you for having me.

Kimi, your first adventure began in the book `Kimi’s Secret` written by a guy
called John Hudspith, he was pretty clever, writing about your adventures (must
give him some credit I suppose, although I know you did all the heroics!). It
must make you feel quite special!

Ha! Me, special? Don’t think so. But I
do feel lucky, very lucky to be the chosen one. Not many thirteen year-olds get
to do such cool stuff like getting every bone in their body broken or sucking
dodo brains through a curly straw.

Have you recovered from your amazing adventures,
and are you ready to answer all sorts of questions for your fans?

Yep, I’m good. The boss puts me in
stasis whenever I’m not in his head so it’s great to get the chance to come out
and chat.

Will you ever go back to Mousehole and have a
‘normal’ life? Would you want to?

I love Mousehole, so peaceful, and the
people are lovely, well, apart from Old Grot.

Who’s Old Grot?

She looks like a witch and drives a bus
through the village ten times a day, and, you know the streets are really narrow,
right? Well, she blocks cars in and just stares at the drivers. She’s so rude.
Now that I have my mojo I’d like to go back there and shoot a few stunners up
her –

Errr, okay, Kimi…

Exhaust pipe, I was going to say
exhaust pipe.

Right. So, would you ever go back there and live a
normal life?

Maybe when I’m old and grey – if the
boss lets me live that long. I’ve seen some pretty scary thoughts in his head.

Scary? How do you mean?

Last time I checked he had devised
forty-two ways of killing me off.

You’re joking me?

No, I’m not, and some are really gross.

Like what?

Erm, like one time, he has this scene,
right, where I’m involved a mid-space twirly collision with a farmer who’s
transferring his genetically engineered pigs from Heart to Earth and I end up
as this deformed monster who runs amok eating everything in its path –
including dog droppings – and I grow to the size of a house before being blown
to pieces by a tank.

You made that up!

Did not. Another scene he’s got roughed
out has the atoms in Little Hand going all, erm…funny, erm, what’s the word…


That’s it. And the mutating spreads and
I end up looking like a wrinkled prune and the only thing that will keep me
alive is to float in space so he hangs me from a star, like forever.

From a star? Aww that’s quite romantic.

Romantic? You’re funny.

How did you get your deformed hand? Birth defect?
Or is it because of your mojo?

Oh, I do know the name but can’t
remember it. It’s something to do with being trapped in my mum’s womb and that
left the grooves in my hand and stopped it from growing.

I think it’s clever how the grooves add focus when
targeting your mojo.

Yeah, the boss does come up with some
cool stuff for me.

What are your favourite cool things?

Roasted dodo, that is delicious. Erm, flying in UFOs, and riding with my inner
crow for games with the magic man, and twirlies, I really like twirling, and
shooting stunners, and doing the separation.

What do twirlies feel like? Don’t you get dizzy?

I’m meant to, but you know, having
one’s atoms disassembled and reassembled is really quite a buzz, though the
boss had me acting all discombobulated to begin with.

John Hudspith
On a scale of 1 to 10 how scary are the greylians?

One hundred million thousand. They
creep me out. It’s that weird cupcake smile. I always think they’re up to
something – even Granp the good greylian, Stella’s friend.

How does Stella like living in the ‘real world’? Do
you think she could settle there?

Erm, I don’t know. Never really asked
her. You should get Stella in for an interview – she’s hilarious off-page.

Do you ever feel like running away and hiding when
the going gets tough?

Every time the boss opens Word. He
drinks tea, black, with two teabags left in the mug, drinks it all day long,
and by the time he reaches his fifth mug I’m usually suffering.


He has this image, like a poster,
pinned on the wall of his mind, it shows me stuck up a tree and he’s throwing
rocks at me. Says it’s good for my character.

I suppose you can’t really hide then.

Well, there is one place in the bottom
of his mind that he hasn’t discovered yet. It’s blacker than black in there and
I’ve got my eye on it just in case. Don’t tell him will you?

I won’t. You have a lot of friends who are so
brave, funny and kind. But if you HAD to choose ONE to spend the rest of your
life with who’d it be? ( I think
I know.)

Book 1 in the
Kimi’s Adventures.
Oh, erm, it’s really hot in here. Next
question before I die, please.

If you were to die, would Bentley cease to exist?
How old is he, really? Does his intelligence alter whatever age he becomes?

Yes it does. Which is fun to play with.
I don’t know how old he really is, but I love that I can command his age to
suit my needs. Every girl should have a Bentley.

And would he cease to exist if you were to die?
No, apparently, once a tulpa loses its
human carrier it retires to Mercurial Waters, which is like a ghostly swamp
place on Heart. And sometimes they go on vacation to Earth space and have fun.

Like ghosts returning to old haunts?

Ha! Exactly that, yes.

What about those greylians…did you ever find out
how greylians use the loo?

Urgh, yes. Stella told me but I can’t
repeat it here. Your readers would puke. Apparently, you remember Balancer
Stubbs? She’s supposed to be, like, security or something right, but one day,
on a spying mission, she had to stake out the toilets and a greylian came in
for, erm, a number two (can I say that here?)…

You just did.

Author John Hudspith (da boss)
…Well, you know that tube that comes
out of their mouths to suck up their food, well, urgghhhh, I’m sorry, makes me
gag just thinking about it, but Stubbs was off sick for a month and needed

You’re funny, Kimi.

I’m serious. Greylians are gross.

What was life like for Balancer Stubbs before
becoming a balancer?

I’m not really sure. Though I did
overhear her talking to Ruthie one day. She was telling her about her mother
who is a detective for the government and how she once met the Prime Minister.

And you met the Queen herself in `Kimi’s Fear`. How
was that for you?

I was shaking a lot. But it was cool
that she wore pink just for me. I do like her Maj.

You mentioned Ruthie. For those that don’t know,
Ruthie is a monkey and married to the chief of fuzz, Rehd, and for me they make
a great pair. Who is your favourite monkey?

I love Ruthie. She’s so cute the way
she gets me to paint her nails and she loves dressing up. All the monkeys are
cool, although whenever Big Sue is doing a scene with a monkey he insists they
use breath freshener, which is a bit rude really.

Big Sue is a man, isn’t he, a very strange man.

Yeah he’s obsessed with cleaning. He’s
nice though.

Do you have any life ambitions? Doctor? Teacher?

I’d like to go on proper missions. Two
books in and I’m yet to have one. Don’t you think that’s a bit odd?

Wouldn’t you say your adventures were the best
missions to have?

They’re still not, like, real missions.

In `Kimi’s Secret` you got to go back in time and
save the day, then in `Kimi’s Fear` you got to spend some quality time with
Perry, again saving the day. Sounds like real missions to me.

I didn’t like the Fear one much, to be
honest. Perry was awful at times.

You know, I knew
there was something up with him! But how do you feel about him now? Still
fancy him?

I like Perry, but I don’t fancy him.

What do you like about him?

He’s got a complexion to die for,
amazing white teeth and a brilliant smile and his hair is all funky and
gorgeous and when he’s collecting pots in the Rabbit’s Foot he’s so clever the
way he balances so many without ever dropping a single one…and he cooks a mean
dodo curry, and there was one time, in band camp –

You fancy him.

I like Mr Purse, too, but he was
modelled on Stephen Fry. Have you seen that nose?

Let’s get this right: for every five
minutes in Earth space, it’s five hours in Heart space. That means you’re older
in Heart, than in Mousehole, what with the twirling back and forwards?

Kind of. Bentley says it: `buggers with your being` – let me get
this right… it’s, erm, the time diff can age you but the atom reassembling goes
towards regeneration so the one `almost` cancels out the other.

I’m not sure I understand.

Well, to quote Stella: `it’s two steps back and one-point-nine steps

I think everyone would like a mentor like Stella.
She really did you proud, eh? She certainly surprised me. Did your parents know
her (and your other Heart friends, come to think of it) and was she/they
specially selected to help you conquer your missions?

Yeah, Stella was always lined up to be
my mentor. The boss says she’s there to prevent obvious info dumps and to
lubricate the plot points but I just think she’s super cool. And I love that
she calls me sister.

If you could choose one scene out of all the scenes
that you have starred in to be your absolute favourite scene – what would it

Erm, that’s hard because every scene is
an amazing scene.

Did your boss tell you to say that?

You got me. Five quid and the pizza of
my choice.

Dodo toppings?

No, actually, my favourite pizza is
banana and salami with garlic and Dolly Mixtures.

Amazing taste buds you have there! So go on, tell me your
favourite scene.

I think it was going back in time to
when I was six years-old and it was Christmas morning and there I am standing
over my younger sleeping self and I give her a prod to wake her up and – she
can’t see me of course – she stares right through me and grins and oh my I was
so cute.

I remember that – it was a lovely

Yeah, and the weird thing is I have
this memory of being six and waking suddenly and thinking Santa was downstairs
and all the time it was the older me waking me up. That was pretty cool.

Is there going to be a third Kimi book?

I hope so but to be honest I’m kept in
the dark.

You must have some idea of what your boss is thinking.

Well, don’t say anything but I have
been snooping in his ideas box and I have seen a few hints.


Erm, well, there’s Fifty Shades of Mojo I’ve seen, and erm, what was the other
one…something about happy vampires: Big
Sue’s Diaries

Happy vampires?

No – gay – yes that was it, Gay
Vampires. But I don’t get where I would fit in.

If you could create your third adventure yourself,
what would you do?

Erm, let me see, something warm and
cosy, probably set on Barbados with glorious sunsets and good food and hot sand


Oh, sorry, daydreamer me. Ha!

Would your co-star be Perry by any chance?

Can I go now?

Thanks, Kimi – you are a star!

Thank you.

Read Kimi’s Secret absolutely FREE!
And download the sequel, Kimi’s Fear, at a reduced price!

Read my review of Kimi’s Fear HERE

Get your world in order and the reader will Believe – The Truth Is Out There!

Science fiction – getting your world in order
John Hudspith

How often do you put a book down simply because the writer
has failed to coerce you into suspending belief and accepting his alternate
Creating a sci-fi world, be it a full blown otherworld with
all the bells and whistles, designed to suspend reader in a depth of
all-encompassing fiction, or a mild shot of dystopia delivered with minimalist
subtleness intent on merely supporting the story, or somewhere in the middle of
these two extremes, one thing is certain: there are a few key ingredients to
use when cooking your creation. Okay, thinking about it, there’s more than a
few – choices are infinite. Cooking up real deal fictional physics intent on
creating a believable world boils down to three main ingredients.

Passion + Belief +
Take one hefty dose of Passion, mix with very Strong Belief,
add unbridled integrity, and stir until the cows come home.


If writing flying cars into your world, then you will do a
better job if you’re keen on cars. If your passion is driving, pimping your
ride, then the fictional flying cars you create will no doubt be something

If your dystopia has elements of warfare, and it just so
happens that you are gun nut, or a marine/policeman/soldier then the
soldiers/policemen/weapons you create will surely be something special.

That old writers’ adage: `write what you know` is an adage for a reason.

I’d like to add another: `write what is you`
In my case, for the creation of Kimi’s Secret it was: Aliens, ghosts and magic.

These are the things that tortured my youth with bafflement,
worked their way into my bones and have held me ever since.

Spielberg wowed me with Close
Encounters of the Third Kind
around the same time as my mother had us spellbound
with tales of spirit forms, and around the same time the news was buzzing with
young girls being flung around by poltergeists, Uri Geller bending spoons, and
thousands of people throwing themselves into frenzies at PK (psychokinetic)

Never a believer, always the sceptic, hoping to witness the
evidence that would prove little grey men were real, that ghosts were indeed
some manifestation of human energy, and that we humans could really defy the
laws of physics and move objects just by thinking about it.

This fascination for everything Fortean was ingrained at
that impressionable age, so when I had an idea for a novel; a time-travelling
conundrum, fuelled by aliens – or greylians as I fondly christened them – I
pondered the notion of uncovering a world where these things could brought into
being, not just alien greys but my mother’s ghosts, the magic of psychokinetics,
and anything else mythical or unexplained that I could make fit.

I had the first key ingredient: Passion. I would not only write what I knew, I would write what was


In creating such a world where Kimi Nichols could play in Kimi’s Secret, I had the Passion, the
Me, now it was time to Believe.

If you have the passion then belief will come hand in hand,
right? But belief in what? Belief in your ability to do well by your passion.
Belief that you will not let your passion down. Belief that you can dig deep,
put in the hours, days and months; research, confirm, approve, build until this
fictional science becomes one; its own world. And it’s important to have that
Belief and to make it strong because the final ingredient depends on it.


How far do you go with your research? How far with the
planning, the checking, the marrying of fictional facts? To the centre of the
earth, of course. Be amazed how one simple idea – the size of a world’s gravity well, the complexities of dimensional
time travel, talking monkeys, Tulpas, Adepts, alien abduction, dodo
regeneration, Elementals
– be amazed that any one thing is connected to
another in some way, and that if your Passion and Belief are to materialize
into something solid then you need the integrity to follow it through, to make
it happen.

The story world in its foetal stage in my embryonic mind
seemed plausible. I had to start writing. Not the novel, but the history books,
the geology, physiology, the laws of time and space of this place that would
govern every little thing. I made lists, sketches, and jotted down story,
scene, character and plot ideas as they came to me and ended up with reams of
creation on my hard drive and a spare room full of storyboards and clippings.

A year had passed. The baby in mind was almost fully grown.
It was time to put my manufactured science to the test.
Time to give birth to the story.

Passion – love of
Belief – you can
do this.
Integrity – push
your boundaries, cross the t’s dot the I’s and make your fiction fact.

Get your world in order and reader will Believe – The Truth
Is Out There!

Kimi’s Secret

With a deformed hand, an affection for animal skulls, and a soft spot for Marmite, Kimi always knew she was different – but never how much until she’s thrown into the supernatural dimension of Heart, given powers beyond comprehension, a mission to alter the past, and a secret which must never be revealed.

Look out for the sequel: Kimi’s Fear – materialising soon!

And read John Hudspith’s interview from April 2012 here

Kimi’s Fear…
something to whet your appetite

The grey aliens – or greylians – hidden away in the paranormal
dimension of Heart, have worked with man for centuries, abducting, probing,
advancing science to aid mankind; but Kimi’s jump through time and dimension in
Kimi’s Secret brought about the death
of a revered greylian General. Now the authorities want to pin the blame on
Kimi learns that fears are real in the blip – the band of no-time which sits between dimensions – and that fears
always contain the truth. She must jump once more, pausing within the blip and
taming her greatest childhood fear – the
under-the-bed monster
– and return with evidence to prove her innocence or
she’ll be thrown in a greylian oven and served up as breakfast.
But Kimi’s secret is out – her
brain is the key to successful time travel
– and a ruthless greylian bounty
hunter will break every bone in her body to get it. As if that isn’t bad
enough, the best looking boy in the world turns into a cannibal intent on
devouring every last bit of her. Sometimes life really does suck.
Can she thwart the bounty hunter, kill the boy of her dreams to
save her own life, tame her greatest fear and keep herself from becoming
greylian toast? Not without help.
Tulpa Bentley returns with old favourites the famoose, Big Sue the
giant with OCD, madcap mentor Stella, and chief of fuzz the monkey Rehd along
with a whole host of new crazies in an adventure bigger and bolder than before.
Kimi’s Fear is magical but dark, sad but romantic, and
meaningful but bonkers all rolled into one
profound, scary as hell, and all the makings of a classic.”

Kimi’s secret – YA fantasy at its gory best.

Wanna see something really scary?

When death comes knocking on your door there is really only one place to hide. Dragged screaming to the paranormal world of Heart, where ghosts are real, big cats prowl, aliens are greylians, monkeys rule, trolls troll, fairies are vermin, the Adepts always know best, magic is mojo and roasted dodo is the dish of the day; Kimi Nichols is handed a secret that must never be revealed. To do so would mean the end of mankind. 
contains imploding toads, gravity-defying clowns, liquefied brains, a sadistic dentist and a deformed taxidermist; great dollops of blood and bogies, half a million crows, and a giant with OCD.
Gothic horror meets supernatural sci-fi; Kimi’s Secret will leave you gagging, breathless and sleeping with the light on.

This book will be FREE Sunday 6th May and Monday 7th.
Download it FREE while you can.

An interview with John Hudspith – author of Kimi’s Secret

What inspired you to write Kimi’s Secret?

A couple of things.

Firstly would be life’s
inherent need for equilibrium. Not just human life, but all life-forms, in
their drive to survive, procreate and evolve into better mechanisms, show,
through the patterns of their structures and actions, an ever-present need for
balance. We humans display this need quite brashly with our crude means of
communications and all too often ill-thought thoughts and actions, causing
disruptions and blow-holes to infest the peaceful, less sentient ever-present
strive. This process is the bedrock of all story-telling, and so Kimi became a
Balancer, the force for good over evil.

Secondly would be my love for
the challenge of a big production. Being a successful production manager of one
sort or another for a huge chunk of my life makes me reasonably proficient
where plot and arrangement are concerned. I wanted to stamp my take on the
balance of life while using those techniques learned through years of
experience. I’m reasonably happy with the result. Maybe if I could go back and
tweak it just a teeny bit more here, and add a bit there, and – oh shut up and
move on!  

that’s an on-going problem for writers. I don’t think any writer can say with
perfect honesty that their book is finished. How long did it take to write
Kimi’s Secret?
From the spark that would not
die, to a very generous serendipity bringing many wise and giving peers,
through the constant climb of understanding the craft and discovering the
complex intelligence and vast power contained within so little ingredients as
26 letters and a few bits of punctuation to bat them about with, Kimi’s Secret
took five immensely enjoyable years.
Five, by the way, being a
digit of magical connotations, receives many nods and configurations within the
pages of Kimi’s adventure.

is a fantasy for YA. Is that genre your niche? Or would you/have you
written anything else?
I don’t much like genres. Unfortunately
though, they exist, cemented at the root by conventions created via perception
– and – wait for it –
need. Sigh.
Does Kimi’s Secret best fit the Y/A tag? I think 90% of Y/A readers may enjoy
the read, but I don’t think it’s limited. I’ve had comments and reviews from
much older readers as to how they could not put Kimi down. Kimi’s story could
have been told in virtually any genre: horror for adults, romance, erotica,
storybook for littleuns, virtually any. I like writing in these other genres,
too. I fancy trying some horror next.

Kimi’s Secret certainly has elements
of horror in it. The crows do bring back memories of watching (cowering)
Hitchcock’s The Birds. I’m enjoying the humour as well. You have a talent for
tongue-in-cheek funnies and it comes across well in Kimi’s Secret. 
Is the lead character, Kimi, based
on anyone from real life?
Visually, for my eyes only,
Kimi is based on a young girl called Farrel Smith who sang so beautifully in
2009’s Britain’s Got Talent. I say for my eyes only because Farrel is the
character I saw in my mind’s eye when watching the scenes rolling out, and she
is the one I would sketch into the storyboards. But in the book I don’t give
much to reader in the way of description. I show them the clothes she likes,
and indicate some length of dark hair, but that’s about it. The story is told through
Kimi’s eyes and I wanted the reader to live that and to build his own image of
the heroine.

Intellectually, Kimi is
merely the vehicle into which I jump, adorned in her assumed skin, to handle
the next situation.

Smith, really? I see Kimi as a little dishevelled. A tomboy. I know you have
her as wearing pink in the book, but that pink in my mind’s eye, is a dark off
coloured pink. There are no girlie characters. Even Stella is a
pulled-through-a-hedge character.
Now that’s interesting. You took my hints of description and built
your own character to live the story with. I’d love to hear what other versions
of Kimi have been created by her readers.

So, why a girl? Why not Jimi?
Good question. Three reasons.
When I first came up with the idea for Kimi’s tale there was this kid called
Potter or something, and he was doing incredibly well – I didn’t want clichés
or comparisons.

Secondly, I wanted the
challenge: to play the lead as a young girl, think her thoughts, make her
decisions, become her character and live it effectively and portray it
convincingly on the page. It took a few years, and a lot of steers from a lot
of good peers, but I think I eventually got somewhere near acceptable.

And thirdly, some of the
things Kimi has to go through are really quite terrifying, exhilarating, or
just downright icky, and I thought it would be more fun torturing a girl than a
You mention Potter. Now, to me, Kimi’s
is more Alice in Wonderland or Narnia: it’s madness, Kimi’s state
of confusion and wanting to do right, her sidekick Bentley (Mad Hatter/Mr
Tumnus). But then, I’m probably the only person in the world who hasn’t read
Harry Potter!
Alice, Wonderland, Looking
Glass, Jabberwocky, all in my top ten reads. The intense chutzpah of Lewis
Carroll really does float my balloon. A huge inspiration, Carroll gets a few
nods in Kimi’s Secret. I made him a Balancer Adept, founder of the dodo farms;
gave him a statue at the end of Carroll Street in Middling which is home to The
Rabbit’s Foot where Kimi lives. Oh, and I even tumble a crow down a rabbit

you have a disturbing incident with crows when you were a child?
Ha! Not at all. Although hang on,
now that I think about it…I do remember watching Hitchcock’s `The Birds` at the
impressionable age of seven, and an image of that slumped guy with his eyes
pecked out will always be mine, along with that schoolroom scene where the kids
are singing “huffety-puffety-rah-rah-rah”
as the crows gather on 
the phone wires and climbing
frame outside, and the kids make a run for it, and the crows swoop and charge
and rake claws through the scalps of screaming youngsters. Great film, and yes,
probably an influence. I love birds, used to watch them for hours from my
window, sketching their various forms. I remember finding a few in distress and
taking them home and nursing them better. And another time I found an abandoned
young thrush so I popped him in a blackbird’s nest and the blackbird reared it
with her own. Fascinating characters.

You watched that at seven! OMG! I was terrified
watching it as an adult. Yes, you managed to bring all that terror back and I
can see why adults will love Kimi’s Secret as well. You don’t pander to the
child-reader, you are telling a fantasy story which happens to have a young
protagonist, but I’m glad to know you don’t have anything against birds!

Bentley is, or was thought to be an
imaginary friend of Kimi. It’s interesting that you built on this common
pretend-play that children sometimes go through. Did you have an imaginary
friend as a boy?
No but my
best friend did. I was extremely fortunate to have to sit still, in bed, for
two years. Instead of playing outside with my pals I was sat in bed with new
tools: sketch pads, books, and a TV I could watch until God saved the Queen and
the white dot went beep. I got to watch all the cool Hammer Horrors and stuff
like Creep Show, King Kong, The Ants, Karloff, Cushing, Price, and of course
Hitchcock. Given this delightful enforced stillness, my imagination was allowed
to grow. So when my best mate David talked to his imaginary friend, or
pretended to share his cars with him or feed him a biscuit, I would tell him
stop having a laugh. I might also have been the one who told him Santa was
fantasy and that the tooth fairy would nibble at his throat if he didn’t put
soil under his pillow.

Was there a character you struggled
Every one of them. Achieving
good character is to achieve correct character, i.e., to wear the skin, to use
the words that would come through this character’s time of growth of culture of
surrounding, of his reason for being right up until the time I meet him. That
takes some doing, some drafts, to get anywhere near acceptable, and yet, I find
the only way is to act out those scenes time and again until gradually the
character is revealed. And the hardest of all were the two greylian characters.
Not having the benefit of wearing human skin, I had to start from scratch.
Whether that worked well or not I do not know.

How much research did you do for
Kimi’s Secret? I know people tend to think that with fantasy you can “make it
all up” but usually this isn’t the case and much work has to go into it.
While building the world of
Heart and uncovering its ethos I must have researched for a solid year; firstly
by reading popular Y/A such as HP, Twilight, Pullman et al and so ensuring that
my own stamp would be original. Second came the finer workings, the code of
Heart, the geology, history, culture, the very science which makes it all tick;
every aspect formed into a credible mould rooted in fact. Every detail
researched, checked, placed carefully into the weave. It was, and still is, a
lot of research.

How many unpublished books do you
have lurking under your bed?
None. But there are quite a few unwritten ones in my head.

Kimi’s Secret didn’t end, there is a To Be Continued how far are you into the next book? Will there be more and more adventures (books) of Kimi?
I’m writing the sequel to Kimi’s Secret – working title: Kimi’s Density and the Vampire Dairies. (Sorry but it makes me chuckle every time I open the doc.) At the moment I have ideas for another half dozen Kimi adventures and that’s before I open the can of books under my bed. Who knows? If I could only get more time to write. Hmm.

What made you go down the
self-published route?
The novel won one of youwriteon’s Book Of The
Year awards and the prize was free publication. I asked if they would wait
awhile because I had only just started submitting to agents. One agent bit, but
asked if I could cut the word count by 40% to save on production costs. If I
could do that they would be willing to pitch it. I gave it a go but it just
wasn’t working. Whether simply incapable or incredibly vain or a mixture of
both I told them no thanks and decided to collect on my prize. Don’t get me
wrong, I fully understand where this agent was coming from. I know very well
that production costs are paramount, yet I had written the epic that I wanted,
and if that meant going it alone in order to make my desired mark then I was
very happy to do so.

Are you still in touch with that agent? Would
they be interested in future work from you?
I’m not in touch with that agent but I am
considering contacting them again with a view to pitching the sequel.

Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as
word count?
Not at all. Never any goals. I prefer just to
write and see what happens. Some days I scrape the barrel, other days I dig up
gold. Writing is a lovely place to be.

There is some “swearing” in the novel that made my eyebrows rise. I’m not an avid reader of YA so I’m not sure if this is the norm or not, but how’d you get away with the word “shit”?
I find it amusing that I can eat brains, kill crows, shoot holes through greylian guts, murder people in cold blood, and get up to stuff Hannibal Lecter would be jealous of, yet use the word `shit` once (or is it twice?) among 90,000 words and it raises eyebrows. This brought up interesting discussion with the first school collaboration. Pupils decided unanimously that the small amount of cussing brought a realism that they appreciated. Swearing in Y/A fiction is commonplace – Kimi is quite tame in comparison to some.

How do/did you deal with rejection letters? Any tips?
haven’t submitted anywhere for a couple of years, but in the early stages when
I fired those begging letters off I made the same mistake that 99% of
submitting writers do – my work, my writing, was simply not good enough. If
you’re considering submitting you should consider the basics before you send
poop to the agent’s doormat.

simple fundamentals:
you had an editor look at your submission?
·                  Have
you had a proof-reader look at your submission?

submitting their begging letter to agents have not. And it shows. A good editor
will advise not just on the original worth of your work, but on voice,
viewpoint, pace, structure, characterisation, dialogue, story arc, as well as
offering suggestions for story/prop/scene improvements and solid advice on
blurb, synopsis and begging, sorry – query – letter. And a good proof-reader
will give your submission the final polish ensuring it will slip gracefully
into grateful agent hands.

You work as an editor as a side-line. But who
edits/critiques your work?
very fortunate to have had the guidance of a top wordsmith: Mr Mathew Cohn. The
guy is a genius, taught me a helluva lot, and shaped Kimi’s Secret into what it
is. I owe him so much I even named Kimi’s adversary General Cohn after him.
Apart from Mathew I am fortunate to belong to a small but intelligent writing
group (if it’s pants they tell me it’s pants), and I have the eyes of a dozen
beta readers to keep me straight. On top of that I am currently collaborating
with the pupils of 
Blaenavon Heritage VC Primary School in Wales for the sequel, so I think it’s fair to say that
with so many helping hands moulding the ingredients, the end result is sure to
be pretty tasty.

You had the help from pupils of Portree Primary with Kimi’s Secret?
Portree Primary worked with me on Kimi’s Secret.  Blaenavon Heritage VC Primary School are involved with the production of the sequel. Working with the kids, receiving their drawings, notes, feedback, is an absolute joy. We have only just got started and have many competitions lined up to take us through to the summer holidays.

Now I’ve finished reading Kimi’s Secret, I’m interested in how you came up with the plot. It’s amazing how you finish the story, how it all comes a full circle and everything ties up. And then just when you think it’s all over it isn’t and the whole thing is given an extra twist.
Many readers have commented on the twisting plot, wondering how I put it together. The answer is time, perseverance and continuously consulting half a dozen internal writers on every plot point. Simply, I would reject the first two or three ideas I came up with and dig deeper until I came up with better. My plotline storyboard ended up a confusion of pins, arrows and crisscrossing threads but the end result was worth the effort.

Click and listen – spooky: Kimi’s Secret by SCHMUCKFENSTER

In the northernmost spire of his black-brick chateau, John Hudspith edits fiction by day and scrawls scary stories by night. 

Kimi’s Secret won a highly coveted youwriteon book of the year award and has had huge acclaim in every room in John’s house. 

John may look handsomely ancient but he’s really only 30. Five years to write a first novel takes it out of one’s mojo – that and the time-travel. But Kimi is alive now, waiting to suck you in and thrust you onwards. John is working on the sequel and hopes to see daylight before Christmas.

The line-up for May on Wise Words

It’s almost May! Summer is around the corner for old Blighty. We’ve a hosepipe ban already, so you’d think it would be Vitamin D all round, wouldn’t you? Ha! This is England, probably the only country where you’d get rain, drizzle and more rain and a hosepipe ban simultaneously!

Love it!

This month the theme is OPEN. The touring authors can write whatever they like!

First up is an interview with John Hudspith, the author of Kimi’s Secret, and a review of his very excellent children’s fantasy on The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly Reviews 

Then, on May 6th Diane Griffin author of Protect your Teens, followed by Acicia Beumer and Aaron Slaton on May 9th. Pandora Poikilos will be spotlighting her novel on May 11th, which sounds very exciting. 

Hillary Peak, on the 16th May, tells us how she’s enjoying the Facebook experience, and then on 18th Virgil Moore and his book Demon Vampire is dropping by with his guest post. Ray Gorham comes next, followed by Kristy Taylor with their guest posts (and no, I don’t know what they are about!)

Last, but not least, is Christine Agro with her non-fiction 50 Ways to Live Life Consciously. I wonder what she’ll be guest posting about?

I, for one, am looking forward to May!