Eos Quarterly: Kevin Holton

1. First, tell us a little about yourself. When did you want to become an author? What inspires you to do what you do? Who are you?

I was always a voracious reader, even as a little kid. My fourth grade teacher saw me reading Heinlein’s Puppet Masters one day, and as so put-off she asked me not to bring the book to school anymore! Needless to say, I didn’t listen. I’ve also had a long-standing interest in horror—King, Koontz, Barker, Gaiman—and when I was nine, I decided I wanted to be a writer too. I draw a lot of influence from their collective works, as well as my love of technology and spirituality.

2. What are some quirky and or unique aspects about you and your art?

I like blending extremes, or seemingly opposed ideas, like gods casually chatting in a local coffee house about their favorite sitcoms, mortals being friends with the Grim Reaper, or using cybernetics as a way of accessing psychic powers (since science and spirituality are so often seen as mutually exclusive). That last one’s a big idea in my more sci-fi work, a subgenre I’ve come to call Psybernetics. I’m currently writing a novel with this idea, where the protagonist builds a literal third eye and uses it to read minds.

3. Eos is “the place in-between genre and form. A place dedicated to diversity and the dawn of equal representation in the arts.” What does the mean to you?

To me, it’s writing about whomever you wish without being prohibited. No, “Oh, we don’t publish stories about disabled people” or “The story might sell better if this person was (insert race/gender/sexuality/creed/etc.)” Stories that are simply about whatever demographic, without exploiting diversity for increased viewership. Attempts to force diversity for the sake of sales never seems to work out well, but allowing writers to put forth their best, most genuine work has generally panned out quite well, for readers, writers, and publishers alike.

4. What do you think makes a great story? How do you think your piece Lifetime Guarantee fits into or varies from that description?

A great story, to me, is about relatable characters. Even the most bizarre, futuristic, or twisted piece of fiction can seem real and engaging if the characters act in recognizably human ways. The villain who used to run a pet adoption agency, the mighty hero who struggles with addiction, etc. Lifetime Guarantee plays on that in a few ways: foremost, I think pretty much everyone has dealt with the frustration of a company not backing its product, especially now that everything is so advanced and expensive, yet seemingly made cheap and easy to break; the narrator’s vulnerability, both biologically (since he needs a new pancreas) and emotionally (as he turns to his wife for support) are part of that too. I also like using little details, like referencing The Ring or talking about his shoddy HR rep, to play on the way so much of our daily lives are overlooked despite contributing to who we are. Of course, the fact that Caleb is essentially given a death sentence due to his cybernetic pancreas’s imminent failure adds a certain tension.

5. How has writing affected your outlook on things? Has it made you take chances or see things in a different light?

I think trying to publish/sell any act of artistic creation is taking a chance already, but for me in particular, it’s definitely a way to broaden my scope. From the story side, I love writing to unfamiliar anthology calls—genres I don’t usually write in. I had a dieselpunk story picked up a little while back, and before that, a cryptozoological piece about an ancient man-shark hybrid. Even if you get rejected, trying that teaches you to think in new ways, bringing fresh ideas to your routine work. Character-wise, writing antagonists, especially those I myself wind up disliking, is about coming to understand what makes people who they are. I always say, “Few people are born monsters, and even those few have a story to tell.” Look for the motivation, the little human details, and you’ll find all sorts of new ways to understand the people in your life.

6. Do you have anything major coming up in the near future? Ex). A new book, workshops, or an exhibit?

I do have one novel out for consideration, and I’m working on another, the one mentioned above. No major works currently heading to press, though. I might also have a book of historical non-fiction in the works soon, but can’t share much yet.

7. Finally, do you have any advice and or tips for aspiring artist, poets, and writers out there who come from diverse and or marginalized backgrounds?

To steal a movie tagline, “Never stop never stopping.” But in seriousness, keep going. Creative pursuits are jobs, just like any other, so prove your qualifications and make sure no one can turn their nose up to you. I recommend a day job, especially for those of us with disabilities, as a steady income and health insurance really take some of the stress and pressure off. With daily survival taken care of, you can focus on your creative career. Get up early and do it first thing in the morning so your most alert, conscious energy goes into that project. I personally find the most success with traditional routes, but hey, some people have made profitable and widely-known careers by posting free stuff on their blogs, then selling book-length compilations. In summary, work hard, do your creative thing before your day job, and find what works for you. Or marry someone awesome who doesn’t mind bankrolling your passions.

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