Monday, September 28, 2015

K.M.Herkes: Author Interview & Spotlight

Please welcome to my blog, K.M.Herkes, science fiction/dystopian author of Flight Plan.


When terrorists fire-bomb Naomi Kwan’s San Francisco apartment block, her police record makes her a target for corrupt officials eager to shelter the true culprits. Innocence is no protection; dead scapegoats tell no tales. She flees her powerful enemies before they can silence her, but she can’t stay hidden forever. As conspiracies unravel on all sides, her fate rests in the hands of allies she doesn’t even know she has. 

Justin Wyatt is in no shape to go adventuring, but when the men who saved his life need help rescuing a friend in peril, he can’t refuse. Carl and Parker are determined to liberate a woman trapped by escalating violence, but they need resources only Justin can provide. He joins their mission without a second thought. 

A daring escape and a desperate rescue are only the beginning. Mysteries in Naomi’s past will collide with Justin’s secrets, and unraveling the plots that tie them together will lead to explosive consequences. 


Making New Friends
an excerpt from Flight Plan by K. M. Herkes

Carl carried Justin to one of the benches, then retreated to the opposite side and hunched over to face the floor. His hands were so tightly clenched together that the knuckles were white.
Naomi considered questions and went with, “Is he okay?”
That one should pull Carl back from whatever emotional edge he was teetering on. Caregivers were predictable that way, and even if Carl had lied to her about everything else, Naomi was sure she hadn’t been wrong about that part of his story.. It took one to know one.
Carl sighed. “Okay is a relative concept with Justin. So is normal. What do you want from me? I’m busy licking my wounded ego here. If you can’t be grateful, can you be elsewhere?”
He couldn’t have picked a better way to hurt Naomi’s feelings if he’d tried. Selfish child, whispered the memory of Mam’s voice. Naomi’s throat went tight. She turned to leave, but when Justin moaned, concern made her hesitate. “Are you sure he’s okay?”
Carl sighed again, more heavily this time. “And he calls me nosy. Yes, I'm sure, but that won't satisfy you, will it? Go on, rub your curiosity bump until it stops itching.”
Since Carl wasn’t watching, Naomi stuck out her tongue at him before she knelt beside Justin. The man looked normal enough. He was broad-shouldered and wiry like a gymnast, on the short side of average height, with dark wavy hair and Caucasian features under sun-browned skin. The stubble on his throat was scratchy and thick, his skin was moist and hot, and his pulse thudded along fast and shallow.
Naomi checked for signs of injury. Justin's left leg was impaired severely enough that she would’ve suggested corrective surgery, not that anyone had asked her. The damage wasn’t recent, though, and the odd cuff on the man's ankle served no obvious purpose. It definitely wasn’t a splint.
She sat back on her heels.
“Unconscious with elevated pulse and fever doesn’t worry you?”
“Not yet. If he starts shivering, then I’ll panic.”
“Whatever.” She was hardly in a position to argue. She toyed with the odd splint-like device. “What’s this on his ankle? It isn’t rigid enough to be a brace. And it isn’t a bond cuff.” She knew what those looked like.
“Don’t touch—”
Carl’s warning came a little too late. Naomi fell back from the bench as its occupant abruptly disappeared. Her rump hit the floor, and a slight breeze warned her just before something landed on her feet. Static tickled her legs.
Invisible Justin cursed the whole way to the rear of the cabin. A pocket door slid open to reveal bathroom fixtures and slammed shut again. Naomi looked back. “A relative concept, you said,” she said, fighting down giggles. “That’s what you meant? That’s his normal?”
“I did warn you,” Carl said mildly.

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I write, I grow things, I camp and hike, I pacify cats, and I do a lot of research online and off. If our assorted alphabet-soup national security agencies really do monitor citizens based on keyword searches, then I'm probably on all of the criminal watch lists in existence. 

Otherwise, I am mostly quiet with a thirty-percent chance of loud, and the rest is subject to change without warning. Professional development has included classroom teaching, animal training, aquaculture, horticulture, retail management, inventory operations, and customer service. Personal development is ongoing.


1. An alternative future techno-thriller? This sounds really interesting. What made you decide on this genre? Elements of Sci-Fi and Fantasy and little bit of other genres as well. What books influenced you growing up?

The genre picked me. I literally teethed on science fiction; my dad’s copy of Cities in Flight has incriminating incisor marks in the cover. It’s possible that Curious George Gets a Medal (in which he orbits the earth and comes back) was my first reading experience, and the hook was well and firmly set once I read Andre Norton’s Moon of Three Rings. I was nine. Narnia and the Lord of the Rings came soon after, but so did Bradbury, Heinlein, Dickson, LeGuin, Asimov, Clarke, Vonnegut, Herbert, Sturgeon, Simak…my generation was never promised flying cars.We were promised a bleak, polluted, corporate-driven future.
Influences are influenced by availability. The Pern books and Star Wars were my adolescent addictions. If I’d been born later I would’ve been all over Tamora Pierce, the Warriors books, Pamela C Dean, and J. K. Rowling, and I’d probably have built a fantasy world first.

2. I notice many of your books have A Story of the Restoration in the title. Are they stand alone books? What is the Restoration and how do you have the books organized?

I wrote all of them to be stand-alones, but some stand better than others. Like any series, later novels will reveal plot elements from earlier ones. Novices, Controlled Descent, and Turning the Work are all excellent introductions. They’re distinct in tone; Turning the Work took a romance slant, Controlled Descent is techno-adventure, and Novices has coming-of-age story elements.
The full chronology currently goes like this:

Controlled Descent
Turning the Work
Flight Plan
Joining in the Round

Controlled Descent, Flight Plan and an as-yet unwritten novel (title: Safe Landing) will eventually make a trilogy with TtW and JItR sandwiched between the trio like romantic meat in a double-decker techno-adventure bun.

3. Tell us about your publishing experience. Did you look for an agent or publisher or did you decide to self publish? How have things worked out for you so far?

I did not attempt a traditional query process. Writing can be an art form, but publication is a business. The book industry is flooded. Big legitimate publishers are both drowning in submissions and floundering financially. Small presses are hard to tell apart from predatory ones. They’re all looking for things I don’t have to offer.

I chose to write stories that lack “page-turning appeal” and have no readily-identifiable genre market. Yes, chose. With a lot of groundwork, professional networking and rep-building through short story submissions, I might have eventually attracted an agent or publisher. Or not. Instead I put my work onto the market independently and immediately. That gave me an excuse to study fields I wanted to learn or review-- graphics, layout, formatting, blurb-writing etc -- instead of drudging through weeks of publisher research and exercising my weak synopsis- and query-writing skills.

I’ve blogged extensively about my decision-making process, and I don’t promote independent publishing as the One True Way. It worked best for my initial goal: to find out if my words would appeal to anyone else. The answer has been a resounding and heartening yes. Next goal: more readers.

4. What are you currently working on?

I’m wrapping up another short book for my Restoration Stories collection. Story ideas don’t come to me in chronological order. This one will follow Novices, and it will eventually be a prequel trilogy. It gets complicated because I’ve written the third prequel book before the second. I haven’t decided yet whether to publish it or just shelve it for a year or so.

I’m also prepping the next short in my Rough Passages series. Lockdown will release in October. And because I always have ideas, I’m tinkering with a follow-up for the prize-winning story published in DevilFish Review. It has a title: Alexis Hightop and the Gargoyle Tea Party. The plot is simmering in my head.

5. What have you learned since you became an author that you wished you knew first starting out?

I’ve learned hundreds of things since starting down the independent publishing rabbit path, but I can’t think of a single one I wish I’d known beforehand. If I’d known then how much time and mental energy authoring sucks up, I might’ve made a different decision. I might’ve lost my nerve and decided to not publish after all. And I’m happy I did, so it’s all working out for the best.

6. For those reading about your book today, what can you say to them to convince them to give your book a try?

Trying a new author is a leap of faith. I get that. Don’t listen to me yelling, “Jump!” Trust the readers who have gone before you. Read the reviews. Read the samples to dip your toes in the story, but then...then I say, just dive in and float happily from beginning to end.

Good stories are about stepping into a different world and leaving this one behind. They’re about meeting people you wish were real and who make you care passionately about their fates. My stories will give you all that and more. Are they science fiction? Fantasy? Both, maybe. Or neither. They’re definitely worth your time.

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