Born and raised in Arizona, Kevin got hooked on superhero comic books at an early age. He felt that the reading primers about Dick and Jane and their dog, Spot, were poorly plotted and featured flat, lifeless characters. Naturally, he wanted to read about heroic people in tights pummeling naughty people in tights—and he wanted them to keep up a steady patter of puns and make lots of references to back issues. Comic books were thirty-five cents back then and he got two dollars for his allowance when his dad remembered to give it to him. Life was awesome.
He remembers vividly seeing Star Wars when it was first released. He was seven years old, and his parents took him to see it at the Cine Capri in Phoenix, the largest screen in the state. When that Star Destroyer came looming out of the top of the screen, it was the coolest thing ever. Now he was hooked on comics and science fiction, though he hoped the Princess Leia coffee-roll hairstyle wouldn’t ever catch on in this galaxy. He played with TIE fighters, X-wings and action figures, and he used the Force and a plastic light saber to keep the peace as a Jedi. His beagle, when dressed with an appropriate wig, made a satisfactory Wookiee.
In high school he discovered the twin stimulants of Mountain Dew and Van Halen, which completed the now-famous social equation: Soda + guitar rock + comic book collection = hardcore nerd.
He attended college at Northern Arizona University, earning a degree in English Education. It was during this time that he first got the writing bug, thanks to Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He worked for the college newspaper both as an editorial cartoonist and as a feature columnist, and started a novel that he never finished featuring frogs and a junior high principal. It would be the first of many unfinished novels.
He taught high school English for three years in California before returning to teach in Arizona, where he taught for another fifteen years.
Kevin’s first novel, The Road to Cibola, took him six years to write and is an utter piece of trash that will never, ever be published. He can’t even tell you what genre it is. It involves the Russian mafia, Aztec treasure, eco-terrorists, and a national network of chop shops. However, from this experience he learned the extremely important lesson that he could finish a novel while holding down a day job. He’d work faster next time, and maybe write something that belonged in a bookstore.
He decided to try an epic fantasy. He wrote for three years and came up with 200,000 words or so, which turned out to be a bit long for an unknown author’s debut. He chopped it down and sent off a 114,000-word version to some agents, who all rejected it, but he also sent it to one publisher, who replied after only two weeks that it had passed the “first round” and would get passed on to other editors soon. He danced in the kitchen and put the letter on his fridge. A modicum of slush pile success! However, no other word came for many moons. He began to work on something else while he waited.
Kevin had an idea for a web comic featuring a Druid who could communicate mentally with animals, especially his own hound. Zuda.com was running a contest, and he scripted out eight pages and completed six of them before realizing that if he submitted his work, DC would own a piece of the characters, or maybe own them outright. He didn’t want that, because he liked these characters too much to share with anyone else. So he wrote a novel about Atticus and Oberon instead, and it turned out to be great fun and easier to write than anything else he’d tried before. He finished writing Hounded in eleven months, and still hadn’t heard back from the publisher about his epic fantasy. What the heck, he said, let’s try to get an agent with the urban fantasy.
He sent out a round of twelve queries and got some nibbles, but all ultimately rejected him. Sigh. He tweaked his first chapter for the twentieth time, revised his query letter, and sent out another round of twelve queries. He got some more nibbles, more rejections, but also an offer of representation from Evan Goldfried at Jill Grinberg Literary Management! Yay! Happy dance in the kitchen!
Evan sent Hounded to nine publishers on September 9, 2009, along with teasers for the next two books in the series. Inside of two weeks, four of those publishers bid on the book at auction. So it only took him nineteen years to become a “fortnight success.”
The point for aspiring writers: please note that Kevin wrote three books and got rejected a lot before he landed an agent and a publishing contract. He did it without any contacts in the industry—he was just a name attached to a story. And that story wasn’t for everyone—twenty-three agents passed on it and five out of nine publishers passed on it too. Luckily, all you need is one agent and one publisher to like your story. Keep writing and don’t give up!
Hunted, book six of the Iron Druid Chronicles, will be out June 25. Kevin is now working on a Star Wars novel set in the Classic era. His nerd dreams have come true. He’s also working on book seven of IDC.
He still collects comic books.