Kevin has lived all over the U.S. but currently lives in the southwest. He has daughters and loves to read. When he had a heart attack, he realized he needed to work on his writing if her ever wanted to get his books out.
He is published with Modern Folklore Press, where his current book is coming out.
One of his favorite books is:
Bookstores he enjoys:
[00:00:00] Stephen: All right, well, Kevin, uh, welcome to the podcast. Thank you for taking some time to talk to me today.
[00:00:06] Kevin: Well, thank you for having me.
[00:00:09] Stephen: Great. Um, so we wanna talk about your book first for all the readers out there. Uh, but before we talk about that, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and where you’re from and maybe a little bit about your background and what you like to do besides writing.
[00:00:24] Kevin: Sure. I, my name’s Kevin Fellows. Uh, I live in the desert, Southwest. I also lived in upstate New York for a while. I, and I was born and raised in New Hampshire. Oh,
[00:00:37] Stephen: okay.
[00:00:39] Kevin: Um, as for what I like to do, um, I like to read, that’s probably my number one thing to do these days. That’s not writing. Um, And I cook, uh, spend time with my daughters, uh, struggle a little bit to teach myself guitar and, um, [00:01:00] I try to exercise with running and biking.
[00:01:04] Stephen: Nice. And how long you been trying to play guitar?
[00:01:08] Kevin: Oh, God, years. Um, I was, I played bass in a band way back, uh, in the eighties. Um, and, uh, switched to acoustic guitar probably a decade ago, just for my own purposes.
[00:01:28] Stephen: Okay. I, I, I sound the same. I played bass for rock band group, uh, back in the eighties, friends, and, uh, I’ve always had trouble trying to play guitar.
[00:01:39] Trying, I don’t know. The, the strings are too close. Uh, it’s too hard to switch between the chords for me. Yeah. I don’t know.
[00:01:46] Kevin: It’s, it’s those extra two strings. This, it’s just too much. Yeah.
[00:01:50] Stephen: Can’t, my brain can’t handle it. Yep. Same. What have you been cooking? Anything good lately?
[00:01:57] Kevin: Um, one of my daughters, [00:02:00] uh, really likes Korean food, so I’ve been doing some various types of Korean rice and meat dishes.
[00:02:08] Stephen: Ah, does she like kimchi?
[00:02:11] Kevin: Actually, she does not. I do. Does she?
[00:02:14] Stephen: Yeah. It’s not exactly something everybody likes, right. Um, all right. So why did you, so obviously you’re not, uh, like right outta high school or anything right now. Why did you decide to start writing?
[00:02:29] Kevin: Well, I’ve been writing actually since I was in high school.
[00:02:33] Okay. Um, so the first. Thing that got me started was probably a Steinbeck and Hemingway English class, and I was really bored during the Hemingway semester, and I, as any 17 year old arrogant boy, uh, just thought I could do better. So I started writing a novel in class. [00:03:00] It was called, um, the Meaning of Life.
[00:03:03] Uh, nothing. Nothing. Again. No IRRs at all. Yeah. Yeah. Um, uh, but then, you know, I got more serious about it as I got a little older and in my late twenties, early thirties, I was submitting short stories to the magazine market. And back then that was, you know, send a printed manuscript with self-addressed stamped envelope and.
[00:03:30] Get responses and I eventually got to the point where I was getting some, um, you know, personalized responses. Um, still rejections, but they were personalized. So I thought I was climbing the ladder.
[00:03:44] Stephen: Um, and that, that is, that’s better than a
[00:03:46] Kevin: lot. Yeah. Um, but then life kind of intervened, you know, marriage, kids, um, things of that nature and finishing school at night, um, building a career, [00:04:00] uh, to support that family.
[00:04:02] So, uh, I was still writing on weekends and mostly writing, you know, longer epic style fantasies and. Um, not really focusing much on craft, just writing because I enjoyed writing, uh, but always had in the back of my mind that I would be publishing at some point. So, Um, what pushed me over the edge probably was, um, four years ago this month I had a heart attack.
[00:04:34] Oh. And yeah, uh, at that point I realized all those stories that I thought I was gonna write someday might, there might not be a someday, right? So, I really got serious about craft and figuring out how to do this whole writing thing. And I spent about five years, uh, really five years focused on that. Four years of it [00:05:00] since the, the heart attack.
[00:05:02] And I attended some workshops and, uh, went to some, uh, conferences and, uh, like I said, just really focused on how do you write. A novel or short story and um, tried to get a lot better at it. And, and
[00:05:21] Stephen: I think that’s pretty interesting how a lot of people talk about that. You know, a near death experience, uh, something happens, changes their lives with their health and they realize, Hey, what do I really want to do?
[00:05:33] What, you know, if I only am days? And, you know, you pretty much were pushed into awakening to what you really wanted to do.
[00:05:43] Kevin: Yeah. I mean, I knew I. That, that’s what I wanted to do. And I had just had kind of a vague idea that it was kind of after my career. I worked in technology for years and I, I felt like after my career was over, then I could, um, focus [00:06:00] on writing.
[00:06:00] But again, the, the heart attack really made me think that, you know, I shouldn’t wait. I should just be doing what I wanna do. Now. Right.
[00:06:12] Stephen: I, I also find that interesting cuz there’s a very large number of new authors I talk to that are coming from computer tech backgrounds and also play music. Uh, it’s like sometimes it seems like a very, uh, Common thing.
[00:06:29] Uh, you know, do you like computers? Do you play music? Well, you could be an author, you
[00:06:33] Kevin: know? Yeah. Um, it’s, I find it interesting that while the music part I get that’s creative, um, even just playing it is there’s something creative about it and. I’d listened to your interview with, uh, Nosa and how he does mechanical engineering with Right, and sees that as a creative, um, energy.
[00:06:57] I found that what I was doing in [00:07:00] technology was just a drain. It was not. The only impetus it had for writing was, Hey, stop doing this and go write, uh,
[00:07:11] Stephen: Uhhuh. And, uh, I know a lot of people do development, computer coding programming because it, it is creative. It kind of tickles that same part of the brain.
[00:07:22] But what happens is, as you do it and as you get better and you do it longer, you end up moving into management and areas that aren’t as much fun. That’s right. So it takes away from that.
[00:07:32] Kevin: Yeah. I, I eventually got to management as well. Um, although, and, and I think the other part of that was that added to stress, which certainly contributed to the heart attack.
[00:07:45] So Sure. That was something that I, I knew. I should stop doing and I should really just focus on the creative, uh, work of, of writing stories. Great.
[00:07:58] Stephen: So the story you’ve been working on, tell [00:08:00] us about, uh, the book you’ve been working on. Uh, sure. That you have.
[00:08:04] Kevin: I started writing, well, I’ve been doing, uh, national novel writing month in November for many years, and I decided in 2018 to do something a little different and not write a novel, but I was gonna write short stories all month.
[00:08:22] Um, that was kind of an effort to. Get better at writing short stories and to just produce a lot so that I would have some stories to edit Afterwards, I found a, an idea for, I. A world in which I could set several of those stories. And I wrote, I think 12 stories for that. Nano and four of them were set in this world.
[00:08:51] And the world is a a, it’s a city that’s a medieval city. But it’s moving [00:09:00] through time and place and it lands in these different times and places and people wander into it. Unfortunately, the city then moves on and the people who are in this city find that they can’t get back to their own time and
[00:09:19] Stephen: Nice.
[00:09:20] So. Do you consider what you’re writing? Fantasy or science fiction?
[00:09:26] Kevin: Yeah, that’s an interesting dilemma. Um, this book, I feel, is firmly fantasy because it deals a lot with magic and the. The time travel element, you could argue is maybe some sort of natural phenomenon, uh, that could possibly be explained by science, but I don’t try to explain it.
[00:09:49] And the characters don’t either. They, well, a couple of them do, but. Most of them don’t. And you know, they’re just trying to survive and trying [00:10:00] to figure out if staying is the best thing or if leaving for some other time and place is a better option.
[00:10:08] Stephen: Okay, so, so I ask, is there, I’ve talked to a lot of authors, um, and it seems like the.
[00:10:16] Categories we’ve kind of grown up with are, are really getting gray and fuzzy around the edges. Um, my, my, I mean obviously the best example I always have is Star Wars, where George Lucas thinks of it as a fantasy and you know, when it’s viewed like that, it’s. Definitely different than sci-fi. Um, is this the type of book you’ve always written, or, or no.
[00:10:42] Do you write all sorts? Okay.
[00:10:44] Kevin: No, like I said, I was writing kind of a lot more what you would consider epic fantasy, maybe even a one or two dark fantasy type things. Um, this, like I said, came about as just trying to push myself to write some short [00:11:00] stories. And when I sent my. Stories that I thought was going to be a collection.
[00:11:07] I added two more. So there were six. I thought there were gonna be a collection that I could have published while I was, um, trying to finish a novel. And I sent the collection to, um, Kat Howard, who’s a science fiction writer, fantasy writer, and um, editor. And she looked at it. While she was looking at it, I started to think maybe that should be a novel.
[00:11:37] And her feedback was basically that she wanted more and she thought it should also be a novel. So I decided that with that advice and my own realization, I should turn it into a novel. And so I spent the rest of 2019, um, shaping it more into a novel. [00:12:00]
[00:12:01] Stephen: Okay. And I like that approach. I think that’s interesting cuz I’ve written a story that started off as a bunch of short story adventures that I’m adjusting into.
[00:12:12] I’m more of a, uh, collected story that form a cohesive. One cohesive story, you know? So it’s kind of novel like and that’s not an original idea. Actually, I found there’s been some more famous, popular authors that have done that.
[00:12:26] Kevin: Yeah, I mean a lot of the books that we think of as classics were serialized first in newspapers and magazines.
[00:12:34] Stephen: Right. So do you think that approach helped you, uh, get the, the thing done and wanna get it published? Cuz you said you’ve been writing for years, so obviously you have some material you could have. Used or worked with, uh, do you think doing it this approach helped you get to publishing?
[00:12:53] Kevin: I, um, yeah, I knew I needed, uh, a back list of some kind.
[00:12:58] And so, like I said, I thought it would be a [00:13:00] collection of short stories and then that would just be a way to get something out fairly quickly. Um, but then when it became a novel, I still wanted to try to get it out as quickly as I could to then start working on the next thing. And, um, It really did kind of provide me a focus.
[00:13:19] One, it was very different than what I was doing. It was a bit challenging because the structure, again, was a more serial type type structure, not like, um, your typical three act four-part, um, you know, hero’s journey kind of thing. Right. It was, it was very different than that. And, That was challenging just to kinda learn how other people had done those kinds of novels.
[00:13:47] And, um, there was a lot of energy. And, um, the other thing that happened was in 2019, um, I lost that it job that I’d had for many years. [00:14:00] Um, so I was laid off and I had the time and I said, this is perfect. Um, I’ve, I’ve got the time, I’ve got. Enough money to to tide me over for a few months, and I’m gonna push, I’m gonna try to finish this book and get it out.
[00:14:17] Stephen: Nice. And it seems like, uh, the last couple years, uh, with all the changes a lot of people have gotten, uh, that, that like push and that, hey, I don’t have, uh, forever and have really wanted to get some writing done. I think that’s great that we can do that. I, so I’m assuming this is, uh, self-published, right?
[00:14:37] Kevin: Well, it is technically, but one of the things that I was doing as I was trying to make that transition from it to some other career was to, um, go into publishing. And so I’ve started a small press. Okay. Um, The, the press is called, um, modern Folklore [00:15:00] Press, and it’s going to be publishing mostly science fiction and fantasy, speculative fiction.
[00:15:07] And, um, it will eventually publish other people, but right now it’s only publishing me. So technically it’s self-published. Yes.
[00:15:18] Stephen: Okay. Uh, and have you gotten any feedback from people on the book yet?
[00:15:24] Kevin: Yes, um, uh, I’ve talked to a few people, uh, these days. We’re not talking directly with a lot of people, but I’ve talked to a few who have read it and they enjoyed it, and that was, um, nice to hear.
[00:15:40] Um, my Goodreads and Amazon ratings are at. Four. I don’t have a lot of either, but they are at nice four stars, which feels good. I know there’s some one stars coming and I’ll have to deal with that. But, uh, um, right now it’s been pretty good. [00:16:00] And then, um, I did submit this, the novel for a professional review, which I have to say that is a more nerve-wracking process than sending it off to an editor.
[00:16:11] Um, cuz. You don’t know what they’re gonna say. They might find something really terrible about it, and then it’s gonna be published as a review and there’s nothing you can do. It’s out of your hands. Right. Um, But I was fortunate. I got a four star review and the text of the review was really positive, very warm, and I think the reviewer really got the novel and what I was trying to say.
[00:16:41] Stephen: Good. So, uh, where did you get that
[00:16:44] Kevin: reviewed? Um, that was through Rey’s Discovery Service Discovery.
[00:16:49] Stephen: Okay. Yep. Um, Where can we get the book? Is it, I assume on Amazon, but did you go wide or are you staying with Amazon right now? [00:17:00] Yeah.
[00:17:00] Kevin: Again, because I’m running a small press, I’m taking the long view and working a bit more like a traditional publisher.
[00:17:08] So yes, it is available wide. Any bookstore anywhere. In fact, I, I did a few BookBub ads and they sent me a note saying my ads weren’t working. And the reason they did that was because they’re very focused on eBooks, and those ads did not have any clicks to any of the ebook stores, but they had. A lot of clicks to IndieBound and um, um, uh, what’s the, uh, book bookshop.org and bookshop.uk So I knew that people were buying the paperback.
[00:17:51] And they were buying it from independent bookstores.
[00:17:55] Stephen: Interesting. So why do you think that was?
[00:17:59] Kevin: [00:18:00] Well, I kind of think that’s partly because the book is a different type of fantasy. It appeals to people who read widely across multiple genres, and they’re not really focused on finding, you know, as many eBooks of the same kind of thing as they can find.
[00:18:19] They’re more interested in what I consider the, just the, the luxurious aspect of sitting down with a good book and, and reading it. And, um, obviously they’re readers who support their local bookstores.
[00:18:37] Stephen: Nice. That’s, that’s probably a good demographic to target if, uh, That’s who you think they are. Cuz that’s how I read.
[00:18:46] And I know I’ve gotten to discussions with other authors that they, they like, well if you write fantasy you have to write every book fantasy and stay fantasy. And, and I mean, but I don’t read that way and a lot of my friends don’t. [00:19:00] So it’s good to hear somebody else with kind of the same. Thoughts and running into the same thing.
[00:19:06] Kevin: I did a little bit of, uh, very informal, very unscientific research into how people figure out what book they wanna read next. And I, I think I asked about 20 people some questions about this and. Obviously the number one way that people hear about new books is word of mouth, and that’s always been the case.
[00:19:29] It doesn’t matter whether it’s traditional or indie published, that’s just always the case. But I went a little deeper and I asked them, what is word of mouth mean? Does it mean through a Facebook group or read it, or you know, How do you find it out? These things, and the number one way that people communicate that they love a book is they text their friends.
[00:19:58] And of course, there’s no [00:20:00] way to really market to texts, at least not yet. Um, but. It did kind of confirm what I thought was spending a lot of money on ads through Facebook or, um, you know, something like that probably wasn’t gonna make sense because that’s not where people were hearing about the books they wanted to read.
[00:20:24] They were hearing it from their friends and family and they were hearing about it not necessarily face to face, but through, through texting.
[00:20:35] Stephen: Oh, well that’s interesting. Uh, I’m going to have to think about that and ask some others about that and, uh, see how,
[00:20:43] Kevin: yeah, again, my sample size was pretty small,
[00:20:45] Stephen: but, but still, uh, that’s, I think, uh, what we all need to do is figure out.
[00:20:52] How to get ahold of the people who like your book. And that’s, I mean, at least you did a little, and that’s something to pursue. That’s definitely an area people [00:21:00] haven’t used a lot of, obviously.
[00:21:02] Kevin: Right. And I think it does go back to, you know, knowing your, your readers. Uh, and, and when you’re first starting out, that’s really hard because how do I know who likes my book because nobody’s seen my book.
[00:21:16] Right, right. Um, It, it’s something you learn over time and you do have to try different things. I mean, yes, I’m trying advertising through Amazon and, and BookBub and trying to figure out what that means for me and the type of things that I write, um, and the specific book that I have out right now. Um, but it’s, um, yeah, it’s, it’s a bit of a challenge.
[00:21:44] It takes some work.
[00:21:45] Stephen: Yeah. So, So this book you have out right now, is it, what was the name of the book again? I’m sorry.
[00:21:52] Kevin: You know, I was just thinking we, we haven’t actually mentioned that it is, um, called at the End of the World, [00:22:00] the city in the books called at the End of the or or the End of the World is the name of the city.
[00:22:06] And so, It’s, um, at the end of the world and there’s a short story, uh, reader magnet that I did called a map at the end of the world. And I’ve actually written a book of poems that I’m going to bundle together with the short story, um, that’s called Poems from the End of the World. Oh,
[00:22:32] Stephen: nice. Okay. And I, I’d love to hear if you think the reader magnet helps.
[00:22:39] Uh, are you planning on doing a second book following this, a sequel?
[00:22:45] Kevin: No, this pretty much is a standalone, which again, is making it more difficult to market because, um, I think there is some traction for, um, people across all genres who like to see [00:23:00] at least two books. Um, If they really loved the characters, but the way the plot turned out, the way the characters made their decisions, I don’t really, I would have to introduce an entirely new cast of characters to do a second book.
[00:23:16] And so I won’t say never, but it’s not in my current plans. Got it.
[00:23:22] Stephen: Okay. Um, So for you, uh, growing up writing, uh, I assume, and you said you like to read a lot, so what are some of your favorite authors and favorite books?
[00:23:36] Kevin: Yeah, I read widely. Um, I lead a read literary fiction, science fiction, history, non-fiction, um, just kind of across the board.
[00:23:49] I used to read a lot of horror when I was much younger. Um, so I’m gonna focus on kind of the more recent [00:24:00] current. Um, books that I, or re uh, sorry, authors that I’m kind of following. Um, I think Sophia Samar is probably one of our best fantasy writers. Uh, she has a short story collection called Tender, uh, published by Small Beer Press.
[00:24:20] That is, uh, just a, a wonderful book and I go back to it. Again and again for inspiration. Um, Arcadia, Martine, um, memory of Empire. I thought that was one of the best science fiction things I’ve read in recent years. Um, well when I was younger, Tim Powers, you know, a Nobus Gates and those kind of books were a big influence on me.
[00:24:46] Um, also Ursula, Kayla Guin, both her fantasy and her poetry. Um, David Mitchell, who wrote Cloud Atlas and the bone clocks. Um, [00:25:00] and I was able to actually meet David and, uh, we talked for like five minutes about crap. Nice. Um, he’s a really nice guy and I really, uh, enjoyed the both his books and his conversation.
[00:25:16] Um, NK Jemison, Mary Robinette, Koal guy, Gabriel Kay. Those are all people that I really enjoy reading a lot. Uh, I’ve also met Rob, Mary Robinette, um, and she’s amazing. Um, very recently. Uh, I read a book called Mem by Bethany c Morrow, uh, which was, it’s a very short book, um, but it’s a really interesting kind of a what if, um, speculative fiction, but full of a very emotional, um, impact.
[00:25:58] And I, I [00:26:00] really found that to be very, I. Entertaining. And, um, from a writer’s perspective, uh, I learned a lot from it. Um, and then probably the last one I, I will mention was Amanda Hackworth, who wrote the Unwritten Library, um, which is kind of a wild and crazy book and write up my alley.
[00:26:27] Stephen: I’ll have to put some links to some of those.
[00:26:29] Uh, for anyone that’s looking for similar books. Um, also down where you live. Um, do you have a favorite local bookstore?
[00:26:40] Kevin: Yeah, this is a tough one. Um, obviously nobody’s spending time inside bookstores these days. Um, There’s one that is in downtown Las Vegas called The Writer’s Block. It’s not easy for me to get to, [00:27:00] so I don’t go there, but I have ordered online from there.
[00:27:04] However, um, as I mentioned, I grew up in New Hampshire and every time I go back to New Hampshire, I stop in at Gibson’s bookstore in Concord, and I love that bookstore. So,
[00:27:18] Stephen: Nice. Okay. I like to put links to bookstores, uh, for people going around. Alright. Well David, uh, I appreciate you having taken some time to talk to me about your book.
[00:27:29] Before we finish this section of the, uh, podcast up, why, what would you tell people on why they should get your book and read your book?
[00:27:40] Kevin: Um, because I think it is different, it is a fantasy, so you can kind of escape to it. It’s got a little bit of, um, alternate history and some contemporary characters as well.
[00:27:56] Um, and I don’t know, I, [00:28:00] I love books with an ensemble cast, so if you like, um, an ensemble I. Grouping, then I think this book would be for you. Um, sure there’s world building, there’s some magic, but the, the focus really is on the characters and their relationship between each other. Uh,
[00:28:20] Stephen: and Kevin, uh, where can we find your book and find you online?
[00:28:24] Kevin: Uh, as I mentioned, the book is anywhere, any store, Cobo, apple, Amazon, your local bookstore, even the library. Um, I managed to get my local public library to. To order it and, and, and I borrowed it. So I, I would suggest that anybody wants to do that. They can, um, I’m easy to find online. Um, just kevin j fellows.com.
[00:28:51] Um, I am on Twitter and Instagram, uh, both as at Kevin J Fellows. Um, I do [00:29:00] have a Facebook, but I don’t do a lot there. It’s also Kevin J Fellows. Um, but, uh, Twitter and, um, Instagram are where I spend most of my social, social media time. Uh, but kevin j fellows.com is probably the most direct and easy way to find me.
[00:29:18] Stephen: Well great. Thank you and I appreciate hearing about your book. I hope some people find it interesting. Uh, and thanks for taking some time to talk to us about it today.
[00:29:26] Kevin: Ah, I loved it. It’s great. Thank you for listening to Discovered Wordsmiths. Come back next week and listen to another author discuss the road they’ve traveled, and maybe sometime in the near future it might be you.